Top 10 Poorest Countries in the World – 2017 List

As cliché as it may be, many believe that money makes the world go round. Upon second thought, this notion really doesn’t seem to be too farfetched at all. In general, some of the most powerful people in the world tend to be the richest ones, and some of the richest people in the world tend to become some of the most powerful. Whether an accurate unit of measurement or not, a multitude of people around the world will end up defining their success through the money they’ve made throughout their lives. If not anything else, money is an easy unit of measurement to work with because it’s probably the only directly quantifiable measure of success there is.

With all of being said, quite possibly the only thing as powerful as having money, is lacking it. There is such an obvious disparity between rich and poor all over the world. Furthermore, even the definition of the word “poor” is relative to the context and location. Having money can surge a nation forward, while not having it can hold a nation back. To see just exactly how powerful this is, here are the Top 10 Poorest Countries in the World.

10 – Guinea (GDP per capita of $523.10)

GuineaTypically, the wealth of a country is measured by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, which is the purchasing power of all goods and services produced in a country, divided by its population. In essence, this defines the purchasing power of a single person within the country. To begin this list is Guinea, with a GDP per capita of $523.10. Guinea hasn’t seen a period of economic stability since the 1990’s, when their mining and agricultural industries did them well. Since then however, Guinea has fallen victim to sever sociopolitical crises, which rapidly decayed the state of their economy. Much of their economy is still largely based on agriculture, which is difficult because farmers only have access to outdated information and obsolete technology, as investors tend to shy away from the nation entirely.

9 – Ethiopia (GDP per capita of $505.00)

Shoppers and vendors make their way down a flooded street in Merkato, one of Africa's largest market areas, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Interestingly enough, Ethiopia has historically been a relatively wealthy nation. Although today, and throughout recent years, this really hasn’t been the case. To its credit, Ethiopia theoretically has the right practices in place. They’ve been undergoing a large political reform, one of the benefits of which is the supposed facilitation of economic growth and stability. In fact, since 2007, Ethiopia has places itself above many sub-Saharan African nations in terms of its economic performance. Although regardless of this, it remains one of the poorest nations in the world, only holding a GDP per capita of $505.00. This is a result of Ethiopia’s large population, and dependence on a poorly funded, underdeveloped, and vulnerable agricultural industry as a staple in their economy.


8 – The Gambia (GDP per capita of $488.60)

Next on the list is The Gambia, both one of the African continent’s smallest and The Gambiapoorest nations. With an area of roughly 11,000 square kilometers, and a population of roughly 1.8 million people, The Gambia struggles immensely with trying to make economic leaps forward. Although there are multiple factors to consider, what is likely their biggest hindrance is the lack of diversity within their economic system. The Gambia relies primarily, and almost solely, on farming and fishing to drive their economy. Both of these are incredibly vulnerable to poor weather conditions. It also doesn’t help that the soil fertility of the farming land is typically low, further decreasing both the quantity and quality of seasonal yields. These alone causes several ripple effects towards their economy and the subsequent living conditions that the people of the nation have to endure. With a GDP per capita of $488.60, and over half of the population living well under the poverty line, the people of The Gambia are subject to such a poor standard of living that the nation falls into a “hunger season” when rainfall is at its peak.

7 – Democratic Republic of the Congo (GDP per capita of $484.20)

Democratic Republic of the CongoDirectly juxtaposing the previous entry in the list, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Africa’s second largest country, holding a staggering population of roughly 77 million people. A large population isn’t always a good thing however, as (especially with poorer nations) this just means there is less money to go around. What is even more intriguing about this case, however, is the fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is actually very rich in valuable natural resources. Similarly, the land expands over 2.35 million square kilometers, much of which is forests, although it also holds a great expanse of farmable lands and waters. In spite of all of these things, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been subject to a very unstable, corrupt political system that has been holding back the potential of the nation’s wealth drastically. As a result of this, with a GDP per capita of $484.20, a large portion of the nation’s people remain unemployed, and their lack of money thus results in their living within greatly inadequate living conditions.

6 – Madagascar (GDP per capita of $463.00)

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Although this remains a list of the world’s poorest nations, some of the nations on this list are actually making progress in securing economic stability for themselves. Madagascar, unfortunately, is not one of these countries. Over the last 20 years, the standard of living within this island country has declined significantly. With a population of more than 20 million people, Madagascar has a GDP per capita of $463.00, with about 70 percent of the nation’s people living under the poverty line. Once again reliant primarily on agriculture, the vulnerability of the industry, lack of potent farming land, and the growing population only make their economic situation worse and worse over time.

5 – Liberia (GDP per capita of $454.30)

Liberia PovertyThe Second Liberian Civil war was a conflict within Liberia that lasted from 1999 all the way through 2003. A quick look at history will show that wars generally don’t leave involved nations economically intact as a result. Liberia is no exception to this. Having just been subject to a 14 year-long political conflict that not only ravaged lands, but also needed to make use of some of Liberia’s already finite resources, the nation was left economically crumbled by the civil war. It is also of no benefit that Liberia is, once again, primarily reliant on agriculture to drive its economy. The GDP per capita of the war-torn nation stands at $454.30, and in 2010, it was estimated that more than 80 percent of the nation’s people were living less with less than $1.25 per day. With low yields due to old farming technologies, as well as having overall poor infrastructure, Libera only marks the halfway point down this list of the poorest countries in the world.

4 – Niger (GDP per capita of $415.40)

NigerAside from being one of the world’s poorest, Niger stands as one of the world’s most underdeveloped nations across several categories. Although it continues to make developments in reducing infant mortality, and enhancing education, the development category of poverty has unfortunately remained rather stagnant, keeping the nation’s GDP per capita at $415.40. Niger’s economy is driven by two main forces: the extraction of valuable natural resources available within the nation (including gold, uranium, and even oil), and small-scale agriculture. Unfortunately, both of these economic sources can easily be devastated by random shifts in climate and weather, and thus Niger has struggled in developing themselves economically.

3 – Central African Republic (GDP per capita of $333.20)

Like Liberia, the Central African Republic has in the past been victim to war and
Central African Republicsignificant political instability. The landlocked central African nation also supports very, very poor infrastructure, thus limiting the efficiency of the distribution of the nation’s resources. Furthermore, this nation also shares similarities with most other African nations in that its economy is mostly directed by agriculture, although an estimated 45 percent of the Central African Republic’s export revenues are from diamonds. However, because of the poor infrastructure and governance that the nation has to deal with, only about 4 percent of the actual arable land that the nation holds is actually used. As a result, the majority of the working population that works within the industry suffer immensely, holding the nation to a GDP per capita of $333.20.

2 – Burundi (GDP per capita of $267.10)  

BurundiHaving suffered from recurring violence and political disputes, it is no surprise that Burundi ranks as the second poorest nation in the world, even though the country is working tirelessly to rebuild itself. Aside from the estimated 300,000 civilian casualties resulting in a 67 percent poverty rate, the violent political rivalries were also detrimental to Burundi’s agricultural development. Even now, the nation ravaged by war holds very little farmable land, and any land that may be used for small-scale farming is still fragile due to the vulnerability to shifting climates and weather conditions. With the population growing rapidly, food prices rising, and a GDP per capita of $267.10, Burundi places as the second poorest country in the world.

1 – Malawi (GDP per capita of $226.50)

MalawiHolding a population of 16 million while also being one of the smallest African nation doesn’t set you up for accumulation or distribution of wealth. Arguable the most underdeveloped nation in the world, Malawi suffers greatly in essentially all categories available. Access to education, general standard of healthcare, infrastructure, and quality of living conditions are all limited or substandard. Because the nation is unable to develop in general, they’re for all intents and purposes stuck with trying to drive their economy using only the most primitive levels of agriculture. With common weather variations, as well as injuries and fatalities facilitated by poor health care, Malawi’s world lowest GDP per capita of $226.50 doesn’t seem like it will be rising too significantly any time soon.

Sometimes days may seem tough. Maybe things just didn’t go the way you want, or perhaps you’re frustrated with where your life stands currently. While many may have perfectly valid reasons for frustration, it is equally as important to take moments everyday to appreciate the reasons your life may be great. There’s privilege to be seen everywhere, even in something so simple as the internet connection required for you to have read this article.


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Paolo Mojica
Originally from Manila, Philippines, Paolo Mateo Mojica moved to Canada to begin studying at the University of Waterloo. Having a very diverse High-School and University background, he possesses a broad knowledge base of topics, ranging from the fitness/bodybuilding industry, to current developments in the video game world.
  • Moses

    Ethiopian leaders have been bragging about registering double digit growth for the past ten years or more; I am surprised to see Ethiopia listed as one of the ten poorest countries in the world. Can we safely say the Ethiopian leaders are cooking their numbers to make themselves look great ??

  • tom

    farming is poor work by hand.
    hard too.

    • zero

      This article fails to elaborate on the true reasons to such poverty, thus has a lack of depth. I hope we can all stand up to such propaganda and enlighten the world.

  • Zak

    Please check your facts!! According to IMF & World Bank, Ethiopian GDP is over $1,500, making it around the 15th poorest country. Still poor, but improving…

  • AMANUEL KERIE

    I feel sad when i see Ethiopia is among top 10 poorest countries this is the result of our symbolic government because it is undemocratic and dictator
    I hope one day GOD WILL BLESS ETHIOPIA.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=187410430&trk=tab_pro Dr Frank Ashall

      I was a professor in Addis Ababa for 4 years till recently, teaching medical and graduate students. The government oppression there is overwhelming, inside as well as outside of the university. People dare not even say the word, “government.” The government has paid “informers” everywhere, including among students. There are government laws that stifle human rights and freedom of press and speech. In the universities, government party members and supporters are favoured, with mismanagement, corruption, incompetence and inexperience taking precedence over quality of qualifications, merit, experience and competency.

  • Kays

    I don’t agree with this list, Ethiopia can’t be on top ten poorest countries.

  • Charles M

    While Paolo has written a good article he has nonetheless rushed in assessing the main reasons responsible for the poverty state of the nation. Reasons like high population in a country or dependency on agriculture and fishing cannot by themselves be the reasons for perpetual poor state of the country. It appears he has purposely avoided mentioning high state of corruption as a significant factor contributing to the never ending poverty of the masses.

    Democracy has triggered massive volumes of corruption in African countries. Ruling parties using favoured civil servants stache away funds from the national budgets to be used in the party campaigns for the next general elections.They fund campaign rallies, buy votes and pay for rigging schemes. Africans don’t vote based on quality of the candidate because the majority don’t have the assessment tools for that. Because corruption is sanctioned at the top level, it quickly flows rank and file within the whole civil structure and becomes cancerous to national development and thereby perpetuating poverty.

    In Africa, under the four/five year term for a government mandate means that diverting funds away is an ongoing activity of the ruling party once in government. And because they are not sure of being voted back in government after the elections, they stache away more to pay for a good life out of government.

    It’s a sad story and never ending situation for Africans especially those in the bottom five. The western world demanded democracy for these countries and ended up creating more problems and exacerbating poverty, they need to come back and help find solutions to corruption. They need to demand transparency and enforce anti corruption in these countries. They have the means and the power to do this. Democracy is fueling corruption which is fueling massive poverty.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=187410430&trk=tab_pro Dr Frank Ashall

    “Double digit” speak is an epidemic used by the media and Ethiopian government to pull the wool over your eyes. I just lived in Ethiopia for 4 years. In the capital, Addis, you will see some areas of wealth and prosperity, but if you look beneath the posh hotels and malls there and beneath the beautiful trees, you will see vast areas of dilapidation and destitution. If you take a bus ride out of Addis in any direction you will see heartbreaking poverty, kilometre after kilometre. If you stop and speak to the homeless- many of them women and families- and to the street children, and to ordinary people there, you will, if you are human, weep uncontrollably. The country is beautiful and the people are generally very lovely people, but the oppression and poverty are cruel and ungodly. Take a look at a handful of the thousands of photos I took while I was there. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a923044ea4899bacc726548a91c757cb57edb8e097f2d71b0661244fe818e9b1.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73b98c629d5c548027d5b42994acbb458eeb008fbc77e7d6f1c00975ec814736.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a8091564c5b62d9f65a151ce538aa1d80b4d0b70c9a86cb87cc0596d74e78483.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0d547cf55aa9e59d92c7b8692bc556deb7d6458b950459777b762829107f1844.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23381ee2b81d7c5b3f586283c5cdc8ea2b27586e9fa3063d920775063be1b729.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a3b5c05eb0709c36762c02db30dae016a54806d3e280d23a60a544502aef7522.jpg

    • Erly Nacsam

      really .. wow i think people their is too friendly

    • James Jones III

      Hey Frank, check out that jerk madlane’s take on why the country’s are poor.

  • veebee

    Yet in Malawi, we have millionaires off proven corruption money! building mansions the likes of Hollywood stars’ homes and driving cars worth millions in themselves. The president is aware and so is the government. A country being raped in broad daylight by its own selfless politicians regime after regime, no patriotism or love of others.. Cry my Beloved Country.

    • Person

      But you have a computer so….

      • veebee

        I do not live in Malawi, i am in UK

    • Prince Psajan

      i like your open heart

  • Chifundo

    I just dont agree with the criteria used in coming up with these lists. They measure a 50 year old country against a 100 year old country. It doesn’t add up to me. Its like expecting a 10 year child do the same things as a 20 year old child. Its impossible.

    • M A Hasnat Bhuiyan

      i agree with you. Really its a great point.

  • Ameeta Nanji

    informative. thanks for writing this artcle

  • Prince Psajan

    you need to add india too

    • shaan

      fool off fool

    • Amrita Parida

      India is among the wealthiest countries.

      • Prince Psajan

        ha really ?
        very sorry to you

        • Shreejit Pillai

          sorry bro ask with your mother and father if they belong to India .I think you even don’t know who is the mother and father of you .So you say fool same word you use for your mother .We Indian know to respect other so respect us .If you not .Go away.

          • Prince Psajan

            if you have your mom and dad
            don’t make me to call them.

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  • Ayal

    Ethiopia is still a poor country, but the data is completely wrong. I am Ethiopian I know everywhere. now Ethiopia is one of fastest developing country in the world. most part of Ethiopian people are wealthy but some part is not.

  • MadLane

    what did you expect from Africa lol. Black people man, they don’t know what they are doing

    • James Jones III

      WOW……….what a racist jerk you are.

  • Izidor Leon

    this list is completley wrong. the poorest country in the world is Somalia at 547$ per capita. Ethiopia has a gdp of 1,637$ per capita