> GNI per capita: $2,055
> 2017 GDP: $23.1 billion
> Population: 11.2 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 61.2 years
Benin, a West African country of about 11.2 million people, is one of only 25 countries in the world with a GNI per capita below $2,100. About half of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day, and over three-quarters live on $3.20 or less a day.
As is the case in many poor countries, health outcomes in Benin lag behind much of the world. Life expectancy at birth in the country is just 61 years, about 11 years shy of the global average. The low life expectancy is partially the result of a high infant mortality rate. There are 98 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births per year in Benin, compared to 39 per 1,000 globally.
> GNI per capita: $2,031
> 2017 GDP: $26.0 billion
> Population: 12.7 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 60.6 years
Despite a wealth of valuable minerals like diamonds, gold, and aluminum ore, Guinea ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world. Only about a third of residents have access to electricity, and the country’s 32% literacy rate is among the lowest in the world. Like many poor countries, Guinea has a largely agrarian economy, with farming accounting for about two-thirds of total employment.
Like many countries on this list, Guinea has had a history of political instability that hampered economic development. In recent years, after a coup and military rule for two years, Guinea became civilian ruled again in 2010, only to succumb to a wave of political violence. In 2014, the country was also ravaged by the Ebola outbreak.
> GNI per capita: $1,990
> 2017 GDP: $36.6 billion
> Population: 16.5 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 61.7 years
A former British territory, Zimbabwe has been an independent nation for less than 40 years. Zimbabwe is one of only 23 countries with a GNI per capita below $2,000. Low-income countries typically rely heavily on agriculture, and in Zimbabwe, farming accounts for 67% of total employment. Economic development is hampered by infrastructure limitations — just 38.1% of citizens have access to electricity.
The younger generation in Zimbabwe may be better equipped to foster prosperity in the coming decades as the country’s leaders are investing in education. Zimbabwe spends the equivalent of 7.5% of its GDP on education, far more than the 4.8% average across all countries with available data.
> GNI per capita: $1,953
> 2017 GDP: $37.4 billion
> Population: 18.5 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 58.5 years
Like many of the poorest countries in the world, Mali’s population is growing rapidly. The West African country’s annual population growth rate of 3.0% is faster than all but a handful of other countries worldwide. The country is also lacking in basic infrastructure. Just 35.1% of Mali citizens have access to electricity. It would take an average of 120 days to bring electricity to those in the country without it, compared to a global average of about 86 days.
The effects of the hardships associated with poverty are evident in the country’s health outcomes. Life expectancy at birth in Mail is just 58.5 years, one of the lowest of any country in the world.
> GNI per capita: $1,814
> 2017 GDP: $22.7 billion
> Population: 12.2 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 67.5 years
Rwanda is a landlocked country in east-central Africa. Its economic development has been hampered by one of the worst genocides in history. In the mid-1990s, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in less than 100 days for their ethnicity.
Though the country has made a comeback in recent years through coffee and tea production, it ranks among the poorest countries in the world, with a GNI per capita of just $1,814. Nearly 80% of Rwandans live on less than $3.20 a day, and over half live on less than $1.90.