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The Top 10 Poorest Countries in the World

Updated on September 3, 2013

Top 10 Poorest Countries in the World

The world we live in is riddled with poverty. Many of us live good lives, and while we may not be rich and famous, we certainly get by. Our country, despite it’s perceived economic difficulties, and large levels of debt, could never be deemed as ‘poor.’ Poverty does exist in America though, and we see it in many of our bigger cities. However, where we see the most extreme examples of poverty is in many other countries around the world, many of which exist in Africa and Asia. To highlight this, here is a list of the Top 10 poorest countries in the world.

There are endless methods and measures used to determine how ‘poor’ a country is. Many take into account numerous other variables, including quality of life and education, while others simply take currency into account. The following list of the top 10 poorest countries in the world is based on a measure known as ‘GDP PPP per capita.’ This measure takes the standard Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but also considers a ‘Purchasing Power Parity’ which allows the relative value of different currencies to be established. The value is taken on a per capita basis to take into account the countries population.

The source for the following data is the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


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10. Afghanistan: $1072.19

Certainly the most well-known country on this list, Afghanistan, located in Asian, is famous for the fact that US has been in the country since 2001, combating terrorism. The fact that the country has been almost constantly at war for decades now has depleted it economically, and the unemployment rate close to 40% does not help matters. Somehow the country, despite its lack of economic prowess, has managed to prove itself quite adept in the art of fighting, but unfortunately this is not good economically and either is the lack of near to nothing in foreign investing. There have been small improvements in the economy recently, due to international aid, and the country’s main economical outputs, agriculture and transport.

Platoon of newly graduated ANA commandos
Platoon of newly graduated ANA commandos | Source

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9. Madagascar: $972.07

Perhaps most famous to many as the name of a DreamWorks Animation movie, Madagascar is actually an island off the coast of Southern Africa, which sits in the Indian Ocean. It is a beautiful country and for this reason it has actually had success in the tourism industry, but unfortunately this has declined recently due to political problems that have taken place, hurting one of its primary areas of growth. Almost 70% of the country’s people live on less than $1 a day, which is considered the national poverty line. The country other main economic areas are agriculture and mineral extraction.


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8. Malawi: $893.84

One of the world’s poorest countries, Malawi is located in Southeastern Africa and has the nickname of ‘The Warm Heart of Africa.’ Unfortunately, the country is extremely undeveloped. It is primarily rural with its main economic focus being on agriculture. The country is hurt by a number of factors, one being the high amount of the disease HIV/AIDs which depletes government funding. Also, corruption problems led to numerous amounts of aid being pulled out which further hurt Malawi’s situation. Then throw in a somewhat infamous incident involving the purchase of a jet plane for the president, which looked to have further depleted the nations waning economy.


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7. Niger: $853.43

Located in Western Africa and largely covered by the Sahara desert, Niger is a poverty ridden country with a slew of external factors such as desertification and droughts which always threaten to further damage an already impoverished population. The nation’s economy is based primarily around on agriculture, livestock and uranium, of which they have some of the largest deposits in the world. However the difficult climate has continuously damaged the first two areas and a drop in the demand for Uranium has hurt that area of their economic growth as well. These factors combine with political instability to create a very unfortunate and difficult to remedy situation, which is what makes Niger one of the poorest countries in the world.

Central African Republic:
Central African Republic

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6. Central African Republic: $827.93

If I told you that the Central African Republic (CAR) has large amounts of key mineral resources such as uranium, gold, crude oil and diamonds you may wonder how it lands itself on a list of the world’s poorest countries. One reason for this is that the country considers its ‘non-official’ trade as, if not more, important than its on record trade, and while diamonds are the country’s most important piece, much of this takes place in secret. Other factors that hurt the country’s economy are its location far from the coast (making exports more difficult), and tough political instability. A recent report states that the country is on the edge of complete collapse, following the ousting of Francois Bozize by a more un-humanitarian leader, Michel Djotodia.

Rebels in northern CAR
Rebels in northern CAR | Source

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5. Eritrea: $792.13

Eritrea is a country located in Northeastern Africa, on the border of the Red Sea. It is famous to many for having had an extremely favorable position along the Suez Canal, which led to other nations seeking to control it in the 19th century. The country is notoriously low in GDP numbers despite also having large levels of a number of resources like gold and copper. The economy of the country was damaged greatly by the Eritrean-Ethiopian War which took place in the late 1990’s as both nations spent millions during the conflict. However, things are looking up, as the GDP has been growing in recent years, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world percentage wise, which is expected to continue going forward.


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4. Liberia: $716.04

Located close to the Sierra Leone in Western Africa, Liberia has a federal employment rate of only 15% and over 85% of the country live on less than $1 per day. In order to function the nation relies heavily on outside influence and aid, largely due to a civil war that took place starting in 1980 and spanned two decades. The war depleted what were already little resources and most investors were driven out of the country or left in fear. The country is also well known for being a player in the notorious ‘Blood Diamond’ exports in the Sierra Leone and was temporarily banned from that trade as a result.

Searching for diamonds in the Sierra Leone
Searching for diamonds in the Sierra Leone

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3. Burundi: $648.58

Currently the third poorest country in the world is Burundi, which is located in Eastern African, near Rwanda, Tanzania and the Congo. Its location away from the coast and locked between many larger bordering countries does nothing to help it’s economic efforts, and either do its problems with HIV/AIDS. The country primarily utilizes its agriculture, in particular producing coffee but this is not close to enough to prevent them from being 80% impoverished. The country, like many on this list, has also been torn apart by civil wars throughout its recent history, which again causes severe damage to it’s economic growth.


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2. Zimbabwe: $589.46

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is not only the second poorest country in the world on this scale, but it also has the very lowest life expectancy in the world, largely due to the fact that over 20% of the population have AIDS. This just emphasizes the poor and impoverished conditions that exist there, which show no signs of getting better. The country has a number of earners within its economy, such as mineral exports, tourism and rural agriculture. A very sad fact is that the country has an extremely good source of diamonds and one of the world’s best platinum sources, but most of the earnings from these endeavors end up being swallowed up by military and political corruptions.

Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Democratic Republic of the Congo

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1. Democratic Republic of the Congo: $394.25

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s second largest country, and is located in the center of the continent. The nation has been war torn for much of its history, with huge wars taking place at numerous points. The ‘Second Congo War’ began in 1998, and is a huge driver of the nation’s poverty. The primary piece of the DRC’s economy comes in the form of mining, and many feel that the country is perhaps the best on earth in terms of Natural Resources that have yet to be utilized. This includes diamonds, which obviously are very lucrative but bring with them the same corruption issues that were mentioned earlier. Between the war, the corruption, the disease and the difficulty of transportation and exports in the country, this creates a very difficult situation and when you consider the sheer size of the nation it is clear that this is poverty on the biggest scale.

AIDS is a huge problem in poor countries
AIDS is a huge problem in poor countries


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    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Thanks very much for the insightful reply TDowling - I think that is a fantastic recommendation, perhaps I can add that as a hub enhancement soon!

    • TDowling profile image

      Thomas Dowling 

      5 years ago from Florida

      An insightful list, jmartin1344. This Hub certainly differs from your typical compilation of the best movies. Although this was well researched I would have liked to have seen a sidebar story about what the "haves" in the world are doing (can do) to help these poor people.

      Voted up! -TD


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