The Poorest Countries in the World (2024)

March 1, 2024

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Young boys selling drinking water in Africa

This article details the poorest countries in the world based on data from the International Monetary Fund. The list looks at each country’s GDP per capita PPP (Gross domestic product per capita Purchasing power parity). This is the GDP (total value of goods and services) divided by a country’s population.

Many of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa, and these countries share a number of common factors. Countries throughout the continent are often war-torn, and many people are forced to flee from their homes. Population growth in Africa is also rapid, with many countries’ economies struggling to keep pace.

1. South Sudan

GDP per capita (PPP): $493

The world’s poorest country is South Sudan, which suffers from extreme poverty. This North African nation has been torn apart by civil war and political instability. Violent crimes, such as armed robberies and shootings, are common throughout the country. South Sudan is also the fourth most dangerous country in the world.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and is one of the least-developed countries in the world. There are approximately 11 million people in the country, which covers an area of 644,329 km². It’s estimated over 70% of South Sudan’s 10.7 million population live in poverty. There are limited medical facilities; diseases and infections such as AIDs, cholera, and malaria are rampant.

The main export in South Sudan is crude petroleum, although the nation also specializes in forage crops and insect resins.

2. Burundi

GDP per capita (PPP): $936

Although it covers a land area of only 25,680 km², the tiny landlocked nation of Burundi has a population of over 13 million. Part of the country’s financial struggles is due to the rapid population growth and inadequate infrastructure development.

The country’s land has suffered from deforestation and habitat loss in recent years due to agriculture and grazing. In 2005, less than 6% of the country was covered in trees. Food is often scarce: 80% of the population relies upon subsistence agriculture (meaning there are little to no crops or livestock left for sale or to trade).

Burundi experienced two genocides and a civil war during the latter half of the 20th century. Reconstruction efforts have been in effect since the start of the 21st century, but progress is slow. Less than 5% of the population has access to electricity and limited access to clean water and sanitation.

3. Central African Republic

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,138

Despite its rich natural resources (diamonds, uranium, oil, and gold), the people of the Central African Republic live in widespread poverty. The country suffers from political instability and armed conflicts, which means this otherwise naturally wealthy nation is considered the third-poorest in the world. Diamonds and timber account for most of the country’s revenue, but this isn’t put back into infrastructure or to support citizens.

In recent years, the Central African Republic has been indirectly affected by the war in Ukraine by increased prices for essential goods. The country has also been hit by flooding and droughts that have affected agriculture (which accounts for half of the country’s GDP).

Most citizens in the Central African Republic are subsistence farmers. Following the floods and droughts, it’s estimated that 45% of the 4.7 million population has food insecurity. Meanwhile, 79% of the population lives in poverty.

4. Democratic Republic of the Congo

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,565

The biggest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo covers a land area of 2,267,048 km² but has a population that is one of the fastest growing in the world. Most of the population lives in poverty, with 72% living on less than $1.90 a day.

As with other countries on this list, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in natural resources, but years of armed conflict and political instability have taken their toll. The country is one of the largest producers of cobalt and copper, which are both essential components in electric vehicles.

There is a significant lack of quality healthcare and education in the country. The rapidly growing population also largely suffers from malnutrition.

5. Mozambique

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,654

Mozambique is another country rich in resources. It has one of the world’s largest untapped coal deposits, as well as marble, gold, and rubies yet it has a desperately poor population.

Poverty rates have increased in Mozambique, particularly in rural regions. Many people rely on farming, but farmland is often devastated by natural disasters such as flooding, cyclones, and droughts.

In recent years, the country has had frequent attacks from Islamic insurgent groups who want to overthrow the Mozambique government. This has led to a number of terrorist attacks and armed clashes. The country’s economy has also been affected by various cases of corruption by the government.

6. Malawi

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,712

The southeastern country of Malawi is the world’s seventh poorest country. Approximately 85% of the population lives in rural areas, and the economy is largely based on agriculture. However, as the nation relies so heavily on rain-fed agriculture, it makes Malawi particularly vulnerable to climate change. As such, food insecurity is high, especially in rural areas.

In 2000, the life expectancy in the country was just 44.7 years, which had increased to 65.6 by 2019. By comparison, the global life expectancy in 2000 was 66.8 years and 73.3 in 2019. The infant mortality rate (for under-five) is currently 41.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. A lack of basic healthcare, as well as limited clean water and sanitation, are major contributors to these figures.

As with many other nations on this list, natural disasters often have a catastrophic effect on the lives of people in Malawi. Floods in 2015 killed around 20,000 people and displaced approximately 336,000.

7. Niger

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,730

The landlocked West African country of Niger covers a land area of 1,266,700 km², of which the Sahara desert covers approximately 80%. Its climate is dry and arid, suffering from frequent droughts. Over 27.2 million people live in the country, most of whom suffer from food insecurity.

Niger has an under-five mortality rate of 115.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. In comparison, the mortality rate in the US is just 6.2, and 4.2 in the UK. Although Niger’s rate is much higher than in more developed countries, it is still the lowest rate in the last 30 years. In 1990, the under-five mortality rate was 331.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. The country’s lack of medical care, sanitation, and clean water means diseases are rampant throughout Niger.

As most of Niger’s population is reliant on a small area of arable land, the growing risk of desertification is becoming a real threat. This is the process where vegetation, such as grasslands, decreases and disappears in arid land. The lack of vegetation could lead to more poverty and food insecurity across the nation.

8. Chad

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,863

Despite having considerable oil reserves, Chad is the ninth poorest country in the world. Most of the country relies on rain-fed agriculture and, therefore, suffers from droughts and floods. Corruption and political instability have also taken their toll on the country’s economy.

Chad is Africa’s fifth-largest country and covers 1.25 million km². However, most of Chad is covered in desert and isn’t suited for subsistence farming, which most of the country relies upon.

Around 42% of the population lives in poverty, and an estimated 20% of children will not live to see their fifth birthday. A lack of medical care, clean water, and sanitation means diseases such as malaria, AIDs, and cholera are common.

9. Liberia

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,882

Much of Liberia’s ongoing poverty is a result of civil wars and violent conflicts. The country has also been hit hard by outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Liberia’s economy was much stronger than most other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, following a coup in 1980 and years of a civil war, much of the country’s infrastructure and economy was ruined.

Although Liberia has a favorable climate for agriculture and is rich in water and minerals, the country suffers from political instability. Much of the population relies on subsistence agriculture and suffers from food insecurity.

10. Madagascar

GDP per capita (PPP): $1,988

Madagascar is world-famous for its unique biodiversity — over 90% of its wildlife is endemic to the country. Unfortunately, many of these species are at risk. Climate change has had a poor effect on Madagascar, as has widespread deforestation and agricultural fires.

Most of the population’s 30 million rely on agricultural activities, although productivity can be poor during droughts or locust invasions. The country also lacks a proper education system, which makes it difficult for children to focus on academic pursuits. There is little funding from the government, and most children lack basic school essentials.

The remote location of Madagascar makes trade more difficult and expensive. Within the country, transport routes are also poor. Of the 49,827 kilometers of roads, just 5,780 kilometers are paved.

Poorest Countries in the World by GDP per capita (PPP)

Non-UN member states are indicated with *

RankCountryGDP per capita (PPP)
1South Sudan$493
2Burundi$936
3Central African Republic$1,138
4DR Congo$1,565
5Mozambique$1,654
6Malawi$1,712
7Niger$1,730
8Chad$1,863
9Liberia$1,882
10Madagascar$1,988
11Somalia$2,062
12Yemen$2,095
13Sierra Leone$2,201
14Kiribati$2,457
15Solomon Islands$2,464
16Mali$2,740
17Burkina Faso$2,841
18Zimbabwe$2,858
19Togo$2,910
20Vanuatu$2,983
21Gambia$2,992
22Guinea-Bissau$3,247
23Haiti$3,260
24Rwanda$3,344
25Lesotho$3,344
26Uganda$3,383
27Guinea$3,415
28Comoros$3,535
29Papua New Guinea$3,581
30Sudan$3,604
31Timor-Leste$3,706
32Tanzania$3,788
33Ethiopia$3,975
34Micronesia$4,129
35Zambia$4,224
36São Tomé and Príncipe$4,251
37Pacific Islands$4,427
38Benin$4,552
39Senegal$4,684
40Cameroon$4,846
41Nepal$5,226
42Myanmar$5,349
43Tajikistan$5,658
44Congo, Republic of$5,785
45Tuvalu$6,076
46Marshall Islands$6,085
47Nigeria$6,322
48Cambodia$6,541
49Kyrgyzstan$6,724
50Palestine$6,821
51Samoa$6,888
52Kenya$6,957
53Pakistan$6,961
54Ghana$7,071
55Angola$7,257
56Côte d'Ivoire$7,395
57Honduras$7,429
58Djibouti$7,475
59Tonga$7,491
60Mauritania$7,949
61Nicaragua$7,990
62Venezuela$8,560
63Bangladesh$9,414
64India$9,892
65Laos$10,269
66Cabo Verde$10,463
67Bolivia$10,625
68Uzbekistan$10,909
69Morocco$10,926
70Guatemala$10,998
71Nauru$11,352
72Belize$11,529
73Namibia$11,972
74Iraq$12,048
75Philippines$12,127
76El Salvador$12,172
77Eswatini$12,392
78Jordan$13,442
79Jamaica$13,513
80Ecuador$13,642
81Tunisia$13,694
82Algeria$14,228
83Ukraine$14,878
84Bhutan$14,920
85Dominica$15,271
86Vietnam$15,318
87Mongolia$15,900
88Paraguay$16,270
89Peru$16,534
90South Africa$16,625
*Kosovo$16,760
91Indonesia$16,843
92Equatorial Guinea$17,237
93Palau$17,448
94Fiji$17,505
95Egypt$17,786
96Moldova$18,367
97Suriname$19,052
98Saint Vincent and the Grenadines$19,136
99Azerbaijan$19,370
100Saint Lucia$19,730
101Barbados$19,860
102Gabon$19,866
103Colombia$20,111
104South America$20,198
105Botswana$20,312
106Turkmenistan$20,551
107Iran$20,694
108Brazil$20,729
109Bosnia and Herzegovina$20,734
110Albania$20,739
111Armenia$21,200
112Grenada$21,337
113North Macedonia$22,576
114Thailand$23,708
115Georgia$24,036
116China$24,839
117Belarus$25,012
118Mexico$25,876
119Libya$26,528
120Antigua and Barbuda$27,062
121Dominican Republic$27,231
122Serbia$27,575
123Argentina$27,576
124Costa Rica$28,025
125Montenegro$29,677
126Central Asia and the Caucasus$29,707
127Chile$30,911
128Mauritius$31,158
129Saint Kitts and Nevis$31,408
130Trinidad and Tobago$31,946
131Kazakhstan$34,476
132Bulgaria$35,853
133Russian$36,562
134Malaysia$39,069
135Maldives$39,173
136Oman$40,022
137Greece$41,593
*Puerto Rico$42,755
138Latvia$42,997
139Türkiye$43,624
140Romania$43,747
141Seychelles$44,057
142Slovakia$44,259
143Panama$44,883
144Croatia$45,087
145Hungary$46,037
146Bahamas$46,299
147Portugal$46,903
148Estonia$47,383
149Poland$47,700
150Czechia$50,889
151Europe$51,873
152Lithuania$52,200
153Spain$52,272
*Aruba$53,196
154Slovenia$53,698
155Kuwait$53,758
156Japan$54,103
157New Zealand$55,034
158Italy$56,016
159Cyprus$56,600
160Israel$56,678
161United Kingdom$58,227
162South Korea$59,349
163France$60,735
164Canada$61,318
165Finland$61,600
166Bahrain$62,751
167Australia$66,098
168Malta$66,716
169Sweden$67,530
170Belgium$67,650
171Germany$68,129
172Andorra$69,042
173Austria$70,821
174Saudi Arabia$71,365
175Iceland$72,492
176Netherlands$75,541
*Hong Kong$76,154
*Taiwan$76,326
177Brunei$76,864
178Denmark$77,480
179Guyana$78,841
180United States$83,063
181Norway$84,851
182San Marino$86,894
183Switzerland$92,519
184United Arab Emirates$92,954
185Qatar$118,148
*Macao$125,511
86Singapore$138,545
187Ireland$143,179
188Luxembourg$145,826

Data Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook (October 2023)

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