Special Report

25 Poorest Countries in the World

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5. Niger
> GNI per capita: $1,250
> 2019 GDP: $12.9 billion (135th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 23.3 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 62.0 years

Niger exported just $539 million of goods in 2018, less than the vast majority of other countries. Gold accounted for over $300 million worth of these exports, with much of the rest coming from agricultural products.

More than 83% of Niger’s population lives in rural areas, and its economy is more reliant on agriculture than almost any other nation’s is — 38.2% of its GDP comes from agriculture, forestry, or fishing. Niger’s GNI per capita is one of the lowest in the world, at $1,250.

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4. Democratic Republic of the Congo
> GNI per capita: $1,110
> 2019 GDP: $47.3 billion (91st out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 86.8 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 60.4 years

Like many other countries on this list, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in valuable mineral resources. Rather than being an economic boon, however, control of these resources has fueled violence and a civil war that has resulted in millions of deaths and government corruption.

The country ranks among the poorest in the world with a GNI per capita of just $1,110. More than three-quarters of the country’s 86.8 million residents live on $1.90 or less per day, below the poverty line set by the World Bank.

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3. Malawi
> GNI per capita: $1,080
> 2019 GDP: $7.7 billion (150th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 18.6 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 63.8 years

Malawi’s GNI per capita of $1,080 is a fraction of the worldwide GNI per capita of $17,591. More than 70% of the nation’s residents live on $1.90 per day or less, as compared to 10% of the world’s population overall.

Malawi is a largely rural country with an economy that relies on agriculture. Nearly 83% of the country lives in rural areas, and tobacco accounts for more than two-thirds of its total annual export value.

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2. Central African Republic
> GNI per capita: $1,060
> 2019 GDP: $2.2 billion (178th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 4.7 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 52.8 years

The Central African Republic has the second lowest GNI per capita, at just over $1,000. It exported less than $100 million worth of goods in 2018 — which accounts for a very small share of its GDP — over 70% of which was wood.

Like many other impoverished nations, the Central African Republic has among the worst health outcomes in the world. It has the lowest life expectancy at birth of any country at 52.8 years — nearly two decades lower than the worldwide average life expectancy. It also has the highest infant mortality rate, at 84.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

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1. Burundi
> GNI per capita: $780
> 2019 GDP: $3.0 billion (174th out of 206 countries)
> Population (2019): 11.5 million
> Life expectancy at birth in 2018: 61.2 years

Burundi is the poorest country in the world by a wide margin. Its gross national income per capita is just $780, as compared to a worldwide GNI per capita of $17,591. It is the only country with a GNI per capita below $1,000. More than 70% of its population lives on $1.90 per day or less — over 8 million total people.

Like many other countries that rank among the world’s poorest, the majority or Burundi’s residents live outside urban areas — 86.6% reside in rural areas, the second highest share of any country and nearly double the worldwide share. The country had just $272 million in exports in 2018, far less than most other countries, 41.5% of which was in gold.