10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015

Child in the Central African Republic, a war stricken country - Photo Credit: Flickr

Poverty, as mentioned in previous articles, can be measured by establishing a poverty line and evaluating how many people are below it. This poverty line can be absolute —income required to meet basic needs— or relative —a set percentage of the median national income—. However, not only individuals and households can be poor. Countries can be classed as poor or rich in relative terms. This means that they are put in one of these two categories by means of comparing their economy with the economy of the other countries in their region or around the world. The comparison is made using each country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the total amount of goods produced and services provided in the country in a year. While this measure can be flawed —as the parameters used to calculate the GDP vary among institutions— it is helpful in determining which countries need help the most. Keep reading for general and specific facts on low income countries and the 10 poorest countries in the world in 2015.


Source: World Bank Economic Premise, 2013

  • Poverty fell by more than a half in middle and high income countries since 1981. However, the fight against poverty has been much slower in low-income countries, where poverty has only fallen by roughly a third since 1981.
  • The speed with which the population is increasing in low-income countries makes it more difficult to pare poverty growth.
  • The aggregate additional annual income needed to lift every individual out of extreme poverty in low-income countries rose by 33% between 1981 and 2010. This is due to an increase of 103 million in people living below the poverty line and “an average income among the poor that remained almost as low in 2010 as it was back in 1981” (World Bank, 2013).
  • In 2010, low-income countries were home to 29% of those in extreme poverty, second to India’s 33%. The growth in this amount has been slowly decreasing since the turn of the century.


Refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

It goes without saying that all the countries in the ranking of the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015 are classed as low-income countries by the World Bank, however, they are not the only ones in this category. The following list was extracted from one found on the website of the International Business Insider, based on data from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The classification is made by comparing each country’s gross domestic product (GDP) based on purchasing power parity (PPP), a measure that takes into account the relative cost of living and inflation rate for each country. The GDP for each country is contemplated on the list in terms of average annual income per person in the country and expressed in dollars.

  1. Central African Republic

      GDP: 639.938$

  1. Democratic Republic of the Congo

      GDP: 753.91$

  1. Malawi

      GDP: 818.69$

  1. Liberia

      GDP: 934.10$

  1. Burundi

      GDP: 951.10$

  1. Niger

      GDP: 1,069.59

  1. Mozambique

      GDP: 1,208.61

  1. Eritrea

      GDP: 1,210.15

  1. Guinea

      GDP: 1,388.74

  1. Madagascar

      GDP: 1,477.78



Rebel soldier in Central African Republic - Photo Credit: Flickr

It is first among the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015 and the second least developed one, according to the United Nations’ Human Development Index. The Central African Republic was a French colony up to 1960, when it gained independence. Afterwards, a series of autocratic regimes followed by failed democratic elections and an on-going war have impaired its advancement, despite its vast amount and diversity in mineral resources, as well as availability of arable land.


Armed forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - Photo Credit: Flickr

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa or simply the Congo, is the eleventh largest country in the world and the 19th most populated one. It is also second among the poorest countries in the world in 2015 and ranks 176th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Akin to the Central African Republic, the DROC is immensely rich in natural resources; however, a history of political instability, corruption, lack of infrastructure; as well as commercial and colonial exploitation have impeded economic growth and overall development for this country.


Malawi was affected by floods in January 2015. The country largely depends on foreign aid for development, however, it has been suspended due to corruption in the government - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

It is among the smallest African countries and the third country on the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015 ranking. Malawi is a former United Kingdom Protectorate and ranks 173rd on the Human Development Index. The population of Malawi is largely concentrated in rural areas and its economy is based on subsistence farming. Malawi depends on foreign aids for development, however, in 2000 the IMF as well as Norway, Britain and the European Union suspended their disbursements on the country citing widespread corruption and mishandling of the funds by the Malawian government.  In 2013, the then president Joyce Banda sold the presidential jet, as well as a fleet of 60 luxury cars to feed the poor and fight malnutrition, however, these efforts saw little results. Malawi is still fighting a rudimental market and educational system, as well as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the effects of massive floods, which happened in January 2015.


A street in Monrovia, capital of Liberia - Photo Credit: Flickr

Liberia is the only African country to gain self-proclaimed independence without gaining it through revolts from any other nation. Liberia is also a founding member of the League of Nations, the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. It supported the United States during World War II, which made the US invest on infrastructure for the African country. Liberia’s political turmoil began in 1980, when a coup overthrew the government of William Tubman. Alternated military and civilian rules, as well as two civil wars and an ebola epidemic between 2014 and 2015 devastated its economy. Currently, 85% of Liberia’s population lives below the international poverty line.


Burundi peacekeepers - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Burundi is the 5th of the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015. It is also 184th on the Human Development Index. A long history of ethnic strife and military coups have derailed efforts made in development and currently, over 80% of Burundi’s population is below the poverty line


Niamey, capital of Niger - Photo Credit: Flickr

The largest country in West Africa, Niger’s territory is 80% Saharan Desert and 20% arable land, which largely limits the economic activities for its people. Climate change has increased the hardships, as it has caused periodic and extended droughts, as well as salinization of water and desertification of arable lands.


Jolijo, Mozambique - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Mozambique’s economy has been strengthening over the past decade, with developmental efforts being made in the construction, communication and transportation sectors. However, this doesn’t translate in wellness for the people of Mozambique, as extreme poverty is currently widespread in the country. Mozambique ranks 180th on the Human Development Index and 7th among the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015.


Street in Asmara, Eritrea - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Despite having abundant mineral resources, Eritrea ranks 186th on the Human Development Index and 8th on the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015. It has a highly repressive country which led to UN sanctions. Because of this, Eritreans are one of the largest groups among asylum seekers, with thousands of citizens fleeing the country each month.


WHO workers fight the ebola epidemic in Guinea, West Africa - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Guinea has the potential for being one of Africa’s due to its mineral resources. However, corruption and political instability have devastated its economy and growth efforts. The woes have only been worsened by the Ebola epidemic that originated there in 2014.


Avenue of baobabs in Madagascar, which ranks 10th among the 10 poorest countries in the world in 2015 - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

This country is comprised of the island of Madagascar, which is the fourth largest in the world, and of several smaller islands. Its economy mainly depends on agriculture, with main products being rice, cotton, tea and dairy. Economic growth in Madagascar has been undermined by a long-standing history of political strife and coups, thus it being 10th among the 10 Poorest Countries in the World in 2015. Madagascar is also 154th on the Human Development Index.


  • The 10 poorest countries in the world in 2015 are all located in Africa. This is also true for at least 23 out of the 26 poorest countries in the world.
  • All the countries on the list are going through or recently underwent a civil war, a coup or tension between ethnic groups.
  • The majority of the 10 poorest countries in the world in 2015 were colonized in the past and gained independence through violence.
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