Special Report

The Poorest Countries in the World

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2. Somalia
> GNI per capita: $870
> 2020 GDP: $4.9 billion
> Life expectancy: 57.4 years
> Population: 15.9 million

Out of 193 nations for which there is data, Somalia is one of just two with a GNI per capita of less than $1,000, at $870. More than two-thirds of Somalia’s population live on less than $1.90 per day.

A number of factors can stand in the way of a nation’s overall economic well-being, including corruption and political disorganization — both of which are significant issues in Somalia. According to Transparency International, Somalia is the most corrupt country in the world. For decades, Somalia had no functional central government. An internationally recognized government finally took hold in 2012, though the country continues to struggle with insurgent attacks from Islamist militant groups like Al-Shabab.

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1. Burundi
> GNI per capita: $780
> 2020 GDP: $3.3 billion
> Life expectancy: 61.6 years
> Population: 11.9 million

Burundi is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is by far the poorest country in the world, with a gross national income per capita of just $780 — a fraction of the worldwide GNI per capita of $17,535.

In most of the wealthiest countries, a large percentage of the GDP comes from exports, typically well beyond the 29.5% average for all countries. Yet Burundi’s exports make up just 5.0% of its GDP, the lowest share of any country. More than 86% of Burundi’s residents live in rural areas, the second highest share among countries. Agriculture and related industries account for 28.5% of Burundi’s $3.3 billion GDP. Worldwide, agriculture makes up just 3.5% of all economic output.

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