Special Report

25 Poorest Countries in the World

Across the globe, more than 700 million people live less than $1.90 a day — the poverty threshold set by the World Bank. Such severe privation is disproportionately concentrated in certain parts of the world.

Gross national income, or GNI, represents the sum of money earned by a nation’s people and businesses within a given year. Unlike GDP, GNI also measures income earned by corporations based in a given country but operating outside of its borders. GNI per capita is a useful measure for assessing the wealth of a country’s population. 

Global GNI per capita — all the income earned worldwide in 2019 — was $17,591. This figure is representative of the pre-tax income the average person earns and is indicative of average quality of life. In dozens of countries, GNI per capita is a fraction of the global average. 

Using data from the World Bank, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the GNI per capita of the 194 nations and special regions with available data to identify the 25 poorest countries. GNI per capita figures for the most recent available year are calculated using purchasing power parity and are in current international dollars. Though some of these countries are in North America and Asia, the vast majority of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa. 

While each of the countries on this list is facing different challenges that impede economic development, often stemming from years of struggles, these countries also often share many common elements. Many of these countries have been plagued by political instability and civil war in recent years and have limited or unreliable infrastructure. Though many of them are rich in valuable natural resources, like gold and oil, these assets often fuel internal conflict. These are the countries that control the world’s gold

Trust in public institutions is also critical for drawing investment and economic development. However, according to a report by the nonprofit corruption watchdog Transparency International, government corruption is rampant in many of these countries. Here is a list of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Low incomes and widespread poverty in these countries has a devastating effect on public health. With relatively limited access to housing, education, nutrition, and health care — all factors that tend to improve health outcomes — life expectancy in these countries is low. With only one exception, life expectancy at birth in every country on this list is at least 3.9 years shy of the global average of 72.6 years.

Click here to see the 25 poorest countries in the world
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology