World's Poorest Countries

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff

The rankings below were published in the United Nation's 2011 Human Development Report and reflect the countries with the lowest human development.

1. Congo (Democratic Republic of the)
22. Rwanda
2. Niger
23. Djibouti
3. Burundi
24. Zambia
4. Mozambique
25. Comoros
5. Chad
26. Togo
6. Liberia
27. Uganda
7. Burkina Faso
28. Lesotho
8. Sierra Leone
29. Mauritania
9. Central African Republic
30. Haiti
10. Guinea
31. Nepal
11. Eritrea
32. Nigeria
12. Guinea-Bissau
33. Senegal
13. Mali
34. Yemen
14. Ethiopia
35. Papua New Guinea
15. Zimbabwe
36. Tanzania, United Republic of
16. Afghanistan
37. Madagascar
17. Malawi
38. Cameroon
18. Côte d'lvoire
39. Myanmar
19. Sudan
40. Angola
20. Gambia
41. Timor-Leste
21. Benin
42. Bangladesh

Trends among the world's poorest countries

Since 1970, there has been encouraging news emerging from developing countries. According to the UN's 2011 Human Development Report, life expectancy in developing countries had increased from 59 years in 1970 to 70 years in 2010. School enrollment climbed from 55% to 70% of all primary and secondary school-age children. Also, in the last forty years, per capita GDP doubled to more than ten thousand U.S. dollars.

The World's average Human Development Index (HDI), which combines information on life expectancy, schooling and income, has increased 19% since 1990 (and 41% since 1970). This reflects large improvements in life expectancy, school enrollment, literacy, and income. Almost every country has benefited from this progress. Only three countries had a lower HDI in 2010 than in 1970. Those three countries were Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Poor countries are catching up with the wealthier countries, but not all countries made fast progress. For example, the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have progressed slowly, largely due to the HIV epidemic. Countries in the former Soviet Union have been held back by an increase in adult mortality.

To illustrate the income inequality between rich and poor countries, consider these facts: about 1.75 billion people live in multi-dimensional poverty, meaning extreme deprivation in education, health, and standard of living; 1.44 billion people out of the developing world's 6.9 billion people live on $1.25 per day; 2.6 billion people are estimated to be living on less than $2 a day. Multidimensional poverty varies by region from three percent in Europe and Central Asia to 65% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Information Please® Database, © 2013 Pearson

Sources +