Special Report

25 Poorest Countries in the World

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10. Madagascar
> GNI per capita: $1,660
> 2019 GDP: $14.1 billion (130th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 27.0 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 66.7 years

Madagascar, an island nation off the coast of East Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GNI per capita of $1,660. Though it exports over $1 billion of agricultural products like vanilla and cloves and has a strong tourism industry, it is dependent on foreign aid.

Development in Madagascar is held back by government corruption and lack of infrastructure. Only about one-quarter of the country’s 27 million residents have access to electricity, and 77.6% of the population lives on $1.90 or less per day.

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9. Chad
> GNI per capita: $1,620
> 2019 GDP: $11.3 billion (142nd out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 15.9 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 54.0 years

Chad’s $11.3 billion economy is smaller than that of some countries home to far fewer people. It has the ninth lowest GNIs per capita, at $1,620.

Poorer countries often face significant health challenges related to poverty and lacking health care systems among other factors. Chad’s life expectancy at birth is just 54 years — nearly two decades less than the global average and the third lowest of any country on Earth. The country also has the fifth highest infant mortality rate of any country, at 71.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

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8. Liberia
> GNI per capita: $1,320
> 2019 GDP: $3.1 billion (171st out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 4.9 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 63.7 years

The West African nation of Liberia, founded by freed American slaves, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Liberia has a GNI per capita of $1,320, and 40.9% of the population lives on $1.90 or less per day. Like many poor countries, Liberia is heavily dependent on farming. The agriculture, fishing, and forestry sector accounts for 39% of the country’s GDP, compared to the global average of about 4%.

Less than half the country’s 15 and older residents are literate, and only about a quarter of the total population has access to electricity. Government corruption is also a barrier to Liberia’s development.

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7. Mozambique
> GNI per capita: $1,300
> 2019 GDP: $14.9 billion (125th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 30.4 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 60.2 years

Mozambique is one of just seven nations with a GNI per capita of $1,300 or lower. It has the fifth highest extreme poverty rate of any nation, as 62.9% of its population lives on $1.90 per day or less.

Mozambique residents are more likely to face significant health challenges than those in almost every other country. More than one in eight residents ages 15 to 49 have been diagnosed with HIV, as compared to 0.8% of people worldwide. Mozambique’s incidence of tuberculosis is 551 per 100,000 people, more than four times the global concentration of the disease.

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6. South Sudan
> GNI per capita: $1,280
> 2015 GDP: $12.0 billion (140th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 11.1 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 57.6 years

South Sudan was formed in 2011, gaining independence from Sudan as part of a peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war. Yet for most of the country’s existence to date it has suffered from its own devastating civil war. Infrastructure is lacking in the country as only about 2% of the roadway is paved, and only 28% of the population has access to electricity.

South Sudan is also one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Though the country is rich in natural resources like oil, water, and fertile soil, the vast majority of goods in the country are imported. South Sudan’s GNI per capita is just $1,280.