Countries across the world largely vary in terms of economic development. So non-uniform is this distribution of wealth that a person in some part of the world enjoys all riches and luxuries while at the same time another person residing in a different location of the globe dies out of hunger. Countries are classified as rich and poor depending upon their per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While $765 per capita exists as the reference level below which a country is regarded poor by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), some of the poorest countries show extreme economic variation with per capita GDP nearly half of the reference value. Such disparity is a result of certain key factors like geography, population, industrialization level, resources, education, health facilities and also debt in some cases. It is rather unfortunate to know that 9 of the top 10 poorest nations of the globe come from the continent of Africa. Given below is a list of the 10 poorest countries in the world according to data provided by the IMF for the economic year 2013:
10. Afghanistan ($1072.19):
Afghanistan is the only country in this list of top 10 poorest countries that does not belong to the African continent. With a per capita income of $1072.19, Afghanistan is one of the least developed nations of the world. It is a war torn country which has witnessed war and terrorism for last three decades including the war between US backed Mujahideens and Soviet backed government in 1979, the civil war of 1990s, the violent phase of the extremist Taliban government and then the intervention of the US. It is regarded the most dangerous country and has produced maximum refugees and asylum seekers. More than 42% of its population earns less than a dollar a day and the infrastructure is very poor.
9. Madagascar ($972.07):
Madagascar is an island nation present in Indian Ocean off the South East coast of the African landmass. Known as a biodiversity hotspot with 90% of unique species, a few know that 90% of its inhabitants earn less than two dollars a day. After nationalization of industries, the exports from Madagascar fell, industrial production decreased, inflation hiked and debt mounted, making the country bankrupt in 1982. Though liberalization followed, the 1991 political crisis and subsequent instability never allowed the country to develop. As a result 69% of the population still lies below the poverty line and average per capita income is $977.07.
8. Malawi ($893.84):
Malawi is an African nation which is regarded the least developed of all and has the poorest developmental records in past few years. More than 90% of its area is rural and it has a meager per capita income of $893.89. Malawians are characterized by poor health conditions, widespread HIV infections, high Infant Mortality Rates and low life expectancy.
7. Niger ($853.43):
Niger is a landlocked African nation located above Nigeria with 80% of its land area covered by the Great Sahara desert. With the beginning of the millennium in 2000, Niger faced an emptied national treasury. Political instability, violence and corruption have been chief contributors to its economic backwardness. Crimes and excessive discrimination against women has destroyed the social life of Niger. It is marked by poor infrastructure, poor education and health services as well as environmental degradation.
6. Central African Republic ($827.93):
The Central African Republic is mainly an agro-based economy with almost nil tourism and external funds earnings. The dense rain forest cover provides for abundant resources but because of poor technology, poor management and corruption, they lie unexplored. Therefore this country is largely dependent on foreign imports. Armed conflicts and illegal possession of weapons have been creating social unrest ever since the nation achieved independence in 1960s. The March 2013 coup has established practical anarchy and chances of any economic upliftment seem grim.
5. Eritrea ($792.13):
Eritrea is a multi ethnic country located at the Horn of Africa which achieved independence in 1991. The major cause of concern for Eritrea is lack of industrialization. About 80% of the population of Eritrea depends on agriculture and livestock. Eritrea has large Uranium reserves but political instability has hindered its exploitation. Moreover there are violent ethnic clashes and human rights violations which lead to a low standard of living. The remittances constitute the main source of income but the conditions are improving past independence.
4. Liberia ($716.04):
Liberia is a West African country which has witnessed its economy getting devastated in successive civil wars. About 85% of its total population stays unemployed and half of the population earns less than a dollar a day. Poor quality of life is a result of poor education and health services, lack of food, poor sanitation and lack of infrastructure.
3. Burundi ($648.58):
Burundi is a densely populated land locked country of East Africa with a per capita GDP of just $648.58. According to international measures it is also the least globalised country of the world. One major reason of the economic backwardness of Burundi is the poor health of its citizens, widespread AIDS contamination, prevalent malnutrition, lack of health facilities and high death rates. It is a home to plagues, tropical and sub-tropical diseases and one in every fifteen people in Burundi is HIV positive. Civil war conditions prevail in the area due to differences between Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Lack of education, weak legal system and corruption are other reasons contributing to its poverty.
2. Zimbabwe ($589.46):
The land locked African country Zimbabwe is the second poorest country of the world (per capita income $589.46). Zimbabwe is characterized by food scarcity, hunger and malnutrition. A bad human rights record and denial to basic rights of food and shelter is self explanatory of the plight of the citizens of Zimbabwe. Though Zimbabwe possesses a good amount of natural resources, especially rare metals, it has failed to catch attraction of foreign investors because of the high levels of corruption prevailing in the government. Zimbabwe has a young constitution as it became independent from British rule in 1980 and Robert Mugabe has been the head of the state since then. He and his corrupt administrators are often blamed for the economic decline that Zimbabwe has suffered.
1. Democratic Republic of the Congo ($394.25):
The African country Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire, is the poorest country of the world with a per capita income of only $394.25. Though this second largest African country has witnessed 53 years of independence, long periods of initial colonization and successive wars have drained all wealth off this country. The Congo war of 1998 proved most fatal, destroying social and economic life of the people of Congo and making it one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Despite being blessed with mineral and agricultural potential, the nation has suffered repetitive violent clashes and crimes meant to extend control. Corruption and shortage of oil have acted as a nail in the coffin.