They say that money and does not give happiness, and certainly economic wealth does not necessarily predict the level of satisfaction and welfare of the user. However, it is necessary to maintain a certain economic level to keep our basic needs satisfied.

The same thing happens when we talk about a country: having money does not mean that it is well distributed, but it does allow us to be able to manage basic services and goods to guarantee the well-being of citizens.

Although some countries have great economic wealth and fortune, there are many others that suffer from serious shortages, to the extent that most of their population is impoverished, have difficult access to food and water, and sometimes face social, health and humanitarian difficulties. Throughout this article we will make a brief review of the 25 poorest countries in the world .

The world’s poorest countries based on GDP

One of the most common ways to value a country’s level of wealth is the use of indices such as the Gross Domestic Product or GDP, which refers to the total amount of capital a country has produced during the year . Based on this index and the data collected by the International Monetary Fund or IMF (taken between 2017 and 2018), we can consider the 25 poorest countries to be the following.

1. Tuvalu (’35M)

According to IMF data, Tuvalu is the country with the lowest registered GDP. The former Ellice Islands have been part of Polynesia since 1974.

Despite its beauty, this territory is poor and not very fertile, and its inhabitants do not have drinking water. It is so low in relation to the sea that its inhabitants have had to be evacuated frequently due to the rise in the water level.

2. Nauru (101M euros)

Part of Micronesia, Nauru is a republic that is constituted within a single island and which happens to be the second of the countries with the lowest registered GDP. In the past, when the island was exploiting phosphate extraction, it became a country with a level of development close to that of the so-called first world, but over time it has entered an economic recession.

3. Kiribati (165M euros)

Formed by the island of Banaba and various coral atolls, this country is also part of Oceania. With a life expectancy of about 60 years, its inhabitants have to cope with a great lack of natural resources in their territory. Kiribati ranks third among the world’s poorest countries in terms of GDP.

4. Marshall Islands (‘184M)

Among the territories that form part of Micronesia we can find the Marshall Islands, one of the countries with the greatest poverty and lack of economic resources .

5. Palau (275M euros)

The third of the Micronesian countries on this list, Palau is a republic whose GDP is the fifth lowest on the IMF’s record.

6. Federated States of Micronesia (‘321M) (‘tixag__7)

The fourth and final country in Micronesia is called the Federated States of Micronesia, and is also one of the poorest. They are highly dependent on foreign aid .

7. Sao Tome and Principe (‘348M)

A former Portuguese colony, São Tomé and Príncipe is part of the African territory and consists of several islands in the Gulf of Guinea archipelago. And with an annual GDP of 348 million euros, it is one of the poorest countries on record.

8. Tonga (403M euros)

The Kingdom of Tonga can be found in Oceania, and is made up of almost two hundred islands. Economically it depends on agriculture and tourism, and is the eighth country with the lowest annual GDP.

9. Dominica (‘440M)

This country and island is one of the poorest in terms of annual GDP. One of the Windward Islands, is an important part of the Caribbean and depends largely on the banana industry .

10. Comoros (574M euros)

In Southeast Africa, the Union of the Comoros is a country made up of several islands. It is one of the poorest countries in all of Africa.

11. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (‘695M)

In the north of Venezuela, this island country whose most relevant island is St. Vincent and has an economy focused on the banana industry and the sale of stamps. Its economic situation fluctuates largely due to seasonal changes.

12. Samoa (‘744M)

Polynesian island country with agriculture as its main economic engine, it depends to a certain extent on external aid to maintain itself, although changes in its financial policies have allowed its economic situation to improve .

13. Vanuatu (‘779M)

Located in the Pacific and eastern Australia, Vanuatu is a country whose main economic engine is agriculture, albeit at a subsistence level. This tax haven also has one of the lowest annual GDPs.

14. Saint Kitts and Nevis (‘878M)

Island country located in the Caribbean, the fourteenth member of this list obtained an annual GDP of about 878M

15. Grenada (998M euros)

The island of Grenada is part of the Antilles, and is an island country whose main source of resources are tourism, construction and trade .

16. Solomon Islands (‘1,154M)

Part of the Oceanic Melanesia, the Solomon Islands is a country whose annual GDP is among the lowest in the world.

17. Guinea-Bissau (‘1,195M)

The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is an island country bordering Senegal whose economy is a survivalist one, centered on agriculture and livestock . The timber industry is also relevant, due to the large percentage of forests in its territory.

18. Seychelles (‘1,326M)

The Seychelles is an island country. Despite being among the countries with the lowest annual GDP, its economy has grown recently and in fact has one of the highest human development indices in Africa. Even so, the country, to the northeast of Madagascar, presents a significant public debt and the majority of the population is in a situation of poverty.

19. Antigua and Barbuda (‘1,342M)

Another island country, which in this case is part of the Caribbean, has tourism as its main economic engine.

20. Gambia (‘1,369M) (‘7 tixag)

The Republic of the Gambia is one of the first non-island but continental territories on this list. Located in the western part of Africa and surrounded by Senegal, its economy is based mainly on agriculture and livestock for subsistence , although it also exports different products.

21. San Marino (‘1,499M)

On European territory and specifically in Italy, San Marino is the only one of the countries on this list on that continent. Tourism is one of the most relevant engines at an economic level. In spite of this, its GDP is one of the lowest in the last year.

22. Cape Verde (‘1,572M)

An African island country close to Dakar, this country suffers from a lack of natural resources and frequent problems resulting from natural disasters. Tourism and services are some of the main economic engines , and its position makes it a strategic point for trade.

23. Saint Lucia (‘1,602M)

Saint Lucia is an island country located in the Caribbean Sea . Its economy is based on the banana industry, although other sectors such as tourism have also become increasingly important.

24. Belize (‘1,649M)

In the northeast of Central America and surrounded by Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is a country with a very high public debt. Agriculture (especially sugar) and tourism are some of the main economic areas of the country.

25. Central African Republic (‘1,726M)

The Central African Republic is another of the few non-island countries on this list. The main economic drivers of the place are the timber and mining sector . Its frequent wars and armed conflicts are one of the many factors that keep its economy from taking off.

The countries with the lowest per capita GDP

While GDP may be an index that tells us how much capital a country enjoys and produces, this does not imply that this wealth is better or worse distributed.

In this sense, a more representative index than the annual GDP is the GDP per capita , the relationship between the country’s GDP and each of its inhabitants: that is, the amount of capital and income that on average would correspond to a citizen of a particular country.

Taking this index into account, the countries that have the least capital and produce and in which the distribution of wealth is also inequitable (often relegating a large part of the population to extreme poverty) are the following.

1. South Sudan (‘208)

The country with the lowest GDP per capita of those valued by the IMF is Southern Sudan, where over the course of a year a citizen can earn an average of This African country is one of the poorest in the world , despite possessing large deposits of natural resources.

2. Burundi (‘258)

This African country is the second country with the lowest GDP per capita and one of the poorest. This country, one of the few whose history dates back to at least the 16th century, suffers from serious problems such as a high presence of the human immunodeficiency virus, an inefficient judicial system and a high level of famine . At the economic level, it depends on external aid.


  • You may be interested in: “The 25 richest countries in the world (according to GDP and GDP per capita)”

3. Malawi (EUR 300)

The third poorest country in the world is Malawi, which in 2017 had a per capita GDP of only 300 euros per year. As in the two previous cases, its population has a short life expectancy and high mortality. AIDS is also highly prevalent, as are numerous armed conflicts and wars. It is one of the most densely populated countries, and its economy is based on agriculture and external aid (although corruption has been observed in its distribution).

4. Niger (EUR 335)

Agriculture, livestock and mining are some of the main economic drivers of Niger, which has a per capita GDP of 335 euros per year. This country has suffered numerous warlike conflicts and coups d’état throughout its history, and is considered one of the poorest countries in the world.

5. Central African Republic (‘370)

Although a few years ago it was considered the poorest country in the world, the Central African Republic not only has one of the lowest per capita GDPs but also one of the lowest annual GDPs in the world.

In spite of possessing a large amount of natural resources, the presence of large recurrent conflicts in this country makes it difficult to improve its economic and social situation.

6. Mozambique (‘376)

Between 2017 and 2018, Mozambique had a per capita GDP of This country has also been besieged by serious conflicts, and its population also has difficulties in eating. Mortality is high and life expectancy is short . Its economy is basically subsistence and based on agriculture.

7. Madagascar (EUR 398)

An island east of Mozambique and other surrounding countries is Madagascar, another country with a lower per capita GDP. The country experienced severe political crises in the past. Its economy is based on agriculture (cinnamon and coffee are the most important ones). Its living conditions and life expectancy of its inhabitants are above those mentioned so far, reaching 60 years of age.

8. Somalia (EUR 423)

Somalia is one of the best-known and poorest African countries. It is a country that is organized as a federal republic, although throughout history it has not presented a joint and stable government , something that has made its management and economic improvement difficult.

9. Democratic Republic of the Congo (‘444)

This African country also has a high level of poverty, being one of the poorest (it was once the country with the highest level of poverty). With a high percentage of famine and one of the lowest human development indexes , besides having suffered different conflicts, its main economic engine is the mining industry.

10. Sierra Leone (‘448)

Founded by freed slaves and known in recent years to have been ravaged by the relatively recent Ebola epidemic , Sierra Leone is a country with a very low GDP per capita of

With wealth distributed very unequally, it was named one of the countries with the highest level of poverty. Disease and famine are common, as is the population’s dependence on humanitarian aid for survival.

11. Afghanistan (? 504)

Afghanistan is another of the countries with a more precarious economic situation. With a GDP of 504 euros and the presence of a large number of wars and warlike conflicts taking place on its territory, life for civilians is not easy. The main economic engine is agriculture and mining, including its multiple oil fields .

12. Togo (‘540)

Togo is a little known country that lies between Ghana and Benin. Its economy is based on agriculture, although it also has deposits of iron and other minerals in addition to agricultural activity. However, it is mainly subsistence based.

13. Uganda (‘546)

Uganda is another case of countries that, despite possessing a large amount of natural resources, are impoverished and without means. With serious warlike conflicts and situations of corruption, together with the serious indebtedness of the country, they make survival difficult.

14. Burkina Faso (‘570)

With a high population and soil that is difficult to cultivate , this country is another of the poorest in the world. Despite the difficulty of using the soil for agriculture, this sector is one of the most relevant in its economy. However, they need humanitarian and international aid.

15. Chad (EUR 588)

This African country has a per capita GDP of 588 euros, and more than 80% of the country lives below the poverty line . Subsistence agriculture and livestock farming are its most common economic activities.


16. North Korea (EUR 603)

Despite its secrecy and high military budget, North Korea has one of the lowest per capita GDPs in the world. Furthermore, the totalitarian regime that governs it, its isolation and the blockades imposed make it difficult to help improve the situation of the population.

17. Liberia (‘614)

Bordering Sierra Leone, Liberia shares with that country the fact that it is one of the poorest countries with the lowest per capita GDP. Mining is one of the economic engines of this country , often exercised in subhuman conditions.

18. Ethiopia (EUR 639)

This African country, with a per capita GDP of 639 euros, bases its economy on agriculture and mining, as well as on aid from other countries.

19. Gambia (‘651)

The Gambia, in addition to a per capita GDP among the lowest, also has a gross GDP that is equally among the most impoverished. As we have seen earlier, agriculture and livestock are its main economic activities. It is highly dependent on international aid to sustain itself.

20. Rwanda (‘663)

Although it is managing to improve its situation recently, Rwanda is a country with a low per capita GDP of The aftermath of the wars and genocide experienced in the country is still present, so the economic capacity of the country is low. Subsistence agriculture and tourism are some of the most common economic activities.

21. Guinea-Bissau (‘703)

Once again one of the countries where both gross and per capita GDP are among the lowest in the world, Guinea-Bissau’s main economic drivers are agriculture and livestock, as well as the timber industry.

22. Comoros (EUR 706)

This island state, with a high level of unemployment and highly dependent on international aid, has as its main economic activities forestry or the use and management of forests (both wood and other materials), tourism and agriculture (although the latter is usually more of a subsistence activity).

23. Tajikistan (EUR 709)

Located in Asia and northern Afghanistan, Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in Asia, at least in terms of GDP per capita. With more than half of the population below the poverty line and a high percentage of unemployment, cotton and aluminium are some of the products that can make the most money.

24. Guinea (EUR 729)

Agriculture is the majority activity in this country. They also have large mineral resources that can be exploited. However, Guinea is highly dependent on external aid to survive.

25. Benin (‘732)

Located in Africa, the Republic of Benin is the last of the 25 poorest countries in the world if we take per capita GDP as an index for analysis. It is a country rich in resources, but whose economic activity is based on subsistence agriculture .

Bibliographic references:

  • World Economic Outlook Database (2018). International Monetary Fund.