The Poorest Countries in the World

September 3, 2018


In historical terms, there is more wealth now than at any point in human history. Tens of millions of people in developing countries have been lifted out of poverty in recent years, especially in China and India. Despite strong economic growth for some, widespread poverty remains a real problem for others, especially in Africa where many of the world’s poorest countries exist.

Central African Republic

Since its independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic has been characterized by political and economic instability. Today it is ranked as the poorest country in the world, where the average person makes less than 700 US dollars per year. Most of the economy is based on agriculture, and foreign aid is a major source of revenue.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

With a population of close to 80 million and a land area of 2.3 million square kilometers, the DRC is one of the biggest countries in Africa. The country once known as Zaire, however, is also one of the continent’s poorest, where the average person makes around 800 US dollars per year. The DRC is one the world’s leading producers of copper and diamonds, but years of war have hurt economic output.


Malawi is a small, landlocked country in the east of Africa. With more than 90% of the economy based on agriculture and around 85% of the population living in rural areas, it is one of Africa’s least developed countries. Per capita incomes are some of the lowest in the world, and the country is heavily dependent on foreign aid. To make things more difficult, the population is growing at an extremely high rate.


Liberia is the oldest modern republic in Africa, and in 1847 became the first African country to proclaim its independence. For many decades, however, the country has been one of the poorest in the world, where the average person makes around 500 US dollars per year. Multiple civil wars and ongoing political instability have decreased the country’s ability to experience real economic growth.


With an area of only 27,000 square kilometers, Burundi is barely visible on the map of Africa. Despite its small size, the country has nearly 11 million inhabitants, and is expected to grow more in the near future. More than 90% of the country depends on agriculture to make a living, and nearly half of the country’s national income is from foreign aid. With a per capita GDP of only 800 US dollars, it is one of the world’s poorest countries.


Most of Niger is located in the Sahara Desert, so a large percentage of the country’s 21 million people live in the corner of the country closest to the Niger River. Despite depending heavily on agriculture and having little usable land, population growth rates are quite high. Although there are mineral deposits, most of the country’s economy is based on subsistence agriculture. Periodic droughts and climate change, however, have made even that activity more difficult in recent years.


In 1975, Mozambique was one of the last countries in Africa to gain its independence from European colonizers. Almost immediately after independence, the country entered into a civil war that lasted almost two decades. The average person makes around 60 US dollars per month, and the country’s economy has been hurt by years of government corruption and incompetence. Economic prospects have increased recently, but it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.