There are many countries that are enjoying affluence today. These are the countries where most of the citizens are enjoying good lives that are free from want. But this does not mean that poverty is a thing of the past. In fact a great portion of the world’s population is still suffering from poverty today. Some countries are so behind others when it comes to economic development that the people living in those countries are sure to have difficulties in meeting even the most basic of the necessities of life.
The Wealthiest and the Poorest Countries in the World
So what are the poorest countries in the world? It is not easy to determine how wealthy or poor a country is as compared to others. It is easy to see that a country like Finland is rich and affluent as compared with a country like Zimbabwe, but how can one determine the ranking?
The best method for measuring a country’s wealth is through its GDP or Gross Domestic Product. This is the total measure of a country’s economy. A further refinement of this is the per capita GDP or the GDP against the total population of the country. This is supposed to measure the average wealth or poverty of the population of the country.
But using the GDP or even the per-capita GDP of a country is not really a good way of comparing the relative wealth and poverty of countries. The problem is that the GDP is expressed in the local currency used in the country. That makes it next to useless in comparing the wealth of countries. What economists prefer is the per capita GDP of the country that is based on the purchasing power parity or the PPP. The per capita GDP PPP of countries is a good way of measuring the wealth and the poverty of nations because it takes into account the differences in the living conditions and in the inflation rates in the countries. The GDP is then converted into a common currency which is then used for comparisons.
Wealth in the world is still concentrated in three regions. These are the Middle East, Europe and North America. Qatar is by far the world’s richest country with a per-capita GDP (PPP) of over $105,000. Luxembourg comes at second place with a per-capita GDP (PPP) of $80,000. When we come to the third place which is Singapore we only have a per-capita GDP (PPP) of $61,000.
After that, the differences are no longer that big. The United States only manages to get the third spot with a per-capita GDP (PPP) of $51,000. But when we go down the list to the bottom part of it, we would see a huge difference. According to the ranking made by the International Monetary Fund, the world’s poorest country is the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the per-capita GDP (PPP) is just at $394.
List of the World’s Poorest Countries
Some of the richest countries in the world such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Brunei Darussalam are oil rich countries. These countries are getting a huge deal of income from the petroleum resources and have small populations, which explains the high per-capita GDP (PPP). Other rich countries belong to Europe and North America which are the pioneers in the Industrial Revolution. But when it comes to the world’s poorest countries, an overwhelming number of those can be found in Africa.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The country became the poorest in the world in 2010. We have already mentioned that the per-capita GDP (PPP) there is just at $394. With a population of over 71 million, poverty is very widespread throughout the country. As expected, the other measures of how well a country is doing are also very low for D.R. Congo. Life expectancy and literacy rates are way below the world average. The country was known as Zaire until 1997. The main reason for the poverty of the country is war. The Second Congo War is considered to be the deadliest conflict since World War Two. It has already claimed 7 million lives, most of those innocent civilians.
To say that Zimbabwe’s economy is in a very bad shape would be an understatement. Just to illustrate how bad things are, the country released a hundred trillion dollar banknote in 2009. With a GDP (PPP) there of $584, people are having a hard time in the country. To make things worse, life expectancy in the country is the lowest in the world today. Life expectancy for men is just at 37 years old while for women it is just at 34. The health problems are complicated by the HIV and AIDS. One fifth of the population is known to be infected with the deadly virus.
This landlocked country has a GDP (PPP) there of $648 making it the third poorest nation in the world. The main reason behind the poverty of the country is the never-ending civil war that is fought along tribal lines. More 80% of the population are living in poverty and there is little hope for them because of the poor legal system and the landlocked geography of the country. More than 90% of the country’s export revenues are derived from selling coffee, its main product.
Liberia has a history that sets it apart from the other countries in Africa. The country was founded by slaves who were freed from the U.S. The freed slaves in turn enslaved the local population and they colonized the country. They established a government system that was patterned after the United States. All of this was lost when in 1980, the president of the country was deposed. A period of violent civil wars followed and the country was plunged into chaos. Today the fighting has ended but the country is still very poor with a GDP (PPP) there of $716.
The country of Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia. In the 1960s a separatist movement started in Eritrea and it fought a bitter war of independence for 30 years. Conditions have not improved much since independence was won and it is further aggravated by the war that it has fought against Ethiopia. Though the country has considerable natural resources, it is not being harnessed for the people. The country remains to be one of the poorest in the world.
Central African Republic
Central African Republic is one of those countries that should be very wealthy if the only basis for wealth is the amount of resources that can be found within its territory. The country has considerable mineral resources including uranium, diamonds, and gold. It has lumber and has plenty of hydropower potential. There is also plenty of arable land. But despite all of these resources, the country is still mired in deep poverty.
Niger has a GDP (PPP) of 853.43 which really places it on this list. The country’s biggest problem is that most of its land is made up of the Sahara Desert which makes it unfit for any kind of agriculture. The situation is further worsened by the fact that the country is fraught with political instability. There is also very little freedom in the society there which makes individual progress hard to attain.
More than half of Malawi’s population lives below the poverty line. The GDP (PPP) of the country is only 893.84. Back in 2000 the IMF stopped giving aid to the country because of widespread corruption in the government. Because the aid was stopped, there was hardly anything left for development in the country.
The main sources of income for Madagascar are tourism, agriculture and mining. The economy of the country took a downturn when the number of visitors dropped dramatically. It is further hampered by the unwillingness of investors to put their money in the country where there is so much uncertainty.
The country has a GDP (PPP) of $1,072.19 which in some ways isn’t too bad for the country. Afghanistan has seen conflict for so many years that most Afghans today would have no idea what peace time is like. It has taken on the Soviet Union and now the United States is still maintaining a military presence there. Constant war is the main problem of the country.
Mali remains dependent on foreign aid even though the country is decidedly rich when it comes to mineral resources. Its biggest problem is the fact that most of its land is desert which makes it useless in agriculture. But there are some improvements within the country.
These are the poorest countries in the world today. As can be seen from the list, most of these countries are from Africa and one of the major reasons why they have been unable to make any economic progress is because of fighting and wars which have left these countries devastated.