Poorest Countries in the World

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5. Malawi
> GNI per capita: $1,064
> 2017 GDP: $20.4 billion
> Population: 18.6 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 63.7 years

Malawi is an East African nation that shares a border with Mozambique, another country on this list. One of the poorest countries in the world, a staggering 70.3% of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day. Poorer countries are typically heavily dependent on agriculture and subsistence farming, and in Malawi, farming accounts for 71.9% of total employment.

Like other countries in the region, Malawi is struggling to contain the spread of HIV. Currently, about one in every 10 residents between the ages of 15 and 49 are HIV positive, and, according to the BBC, more than a million children living in the country have been orphaned by the disease.

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4. Niger
> GNI per capita: $906
> 2017 GDP: $19.9 billion
> Population: 21.5 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 60.4 years

Niger is one of only four countries with a GNI per capita of less than $1,000. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger has been marred by coups and political instability. As one of the least developed nations in the world, just 16% of the population has access to electricity. Over 80% of Niger’s population lives in rural areas, and of those who live in urban areas, the vast majority live in slums.

Poverty is widespread in the country as more than three in every four residents live on less than $3.20 a day. Niger is a resource-rich nation, however, and oil exploration and gold mining are driving economic growth. Niger’s economy grew at a relatively rapid 4.9% pace in 2017.

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3. Democratic Republic of the Congo
> GNI per capita: $796
> 2017 GDP: $65.7 billion
> Population: 81.3 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 60.0 years

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country rich in resources like valuable minerals, like copper, diamonds, and gold. Rather than being an economic boon, however, control over these resources has helped fuel a civil war that lead to as many as 6 million deaths.

Basic infrastructure is lacking in the country as only about 17% of the population has access to electricity, and there are no fixed telephone lines. This, in addition to rampant public sector corruption, makes conducting business in the country difficult. As in many poor countries, health outcomes are lagging in the DR Congo. The country has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates, and the average life expectancy is just 60 years.

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2. Burundi
> GNI per capita: $686
> 2017 GDP: $7.3 billion
> Population: 10.9 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 57.9 years

With a GNI per capita of just $686, Burundi is the second poorest country in both Africa and the world. The country’s modern history has been stained by a brutal 12-year civil war sparked in 1994 by ethnic tensions between the Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. Today, Burundi’s public sector ranks among the most corrupt in the world.

Burundi is also one of the least developed countries in the world. Over 87% of the population lives in rural areas, and fewer than 10% of people in the country have access to electricity. Though nearly all pregnant women in the country receive prenatal medical care, the country’s maternal mortality rate of 712 deaths per 100,000 live births is among the highest in the world.

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1. Central African Republic
> GNI per capita: $663
> 2017 GDP: $3.1 billion
> Population: 4.7 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 52.9 years

The GNI per capita of $663 in Central African Republic is the lowest of any country in the world. Despite a wealth of resources like gold, diamonds, and oil, violence has hindered economic development since the country gained independence from France in 1960. After a string of coups in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, religious violence between the Muslim minority and Christian majority has plagued the nation since 2012.

Slightly more than half of the CAR population lives in rural areas, but of those who live in cities, more than 90% live in slums. CAR is the only country with available data where over half of all citizens — 61.8% — are undernourished. The country also has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world and one of the lowest average life expectancies, at just 52.9 years.