In this article, we will be taking a look at the 30 least developed countries in the world. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 10 Least Developed Countries in the World.

Despite the constant stream of bad news that we’re used to hearing 24/7, the world has actually improved by leaps and bounds, especially in the last half century. Constant developments and innovation in technology have led to a future that few could have imagined. Just a decade ago, when smartphone usage was increasing, the high costs associated with it, few could have imagined that over 6 billion people would be using them in 2023. In a similar vein, the standard of living has improved vastly in recent decades, allowing for greater efficiency and better value for money. Life expectancy has improved drastically. While countries in Western Europe and the U.S. have enjoyed a high standard of living for decades now, health and wealth inequality was never higher. For example, in 1950, Norway had a life expectancy of 72 years; in Mali, life expectancy was just 26 years. Currently, life expectancy in Mali is around 59 years, over twice what it was 70 years ago. Of course, this doesn’t mean that standard of development in Western Europe has increased significantly; Norway’s life expectancy has also increased by more than 10 years and is now at 83.2 years.

30 least developed countries in the world

30 least developed countries in the world

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Poverty has historically been widespread across Asia and Africa, the latter of which is home to most of the least developed countries in the world and we’ll discuss the reasons later, and with higher poverty comes a low standard of living. Great progress has been made in this regard in Asia, where countries such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam had significantly high levels of poverty in the 1980s, but have made significant advancements in reducing the level. In fact, global levels of poverty have continued to fall every year since 1990 until the Covid-19 pandemic. This reduction in poverty has also achieved the target of reducing wealth inequality as resources are more evenly and equitably spread.

However, once the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the year saw 70 million people being pushed into poverty with their incomes declining significantly and tens of millions of people across the world being let go from countries. 2020 saw the highest number of people being pushed into poverty since records were kept from 1990, while also being the first year in a long time that income inequality increased globally. While wealthier countries were able to adopt necessary fiscal policies and spending that helped alleviate most, if not all, of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on poverty, the least developed countries in the world had less to spend, and hence, were able to achieve less.

Meanwhile, Africa has not seen similar levels of success as compared to many Asian countries which is why it is now easily the poorest continent in the world. There are several reasons for this, chief among them that poverty begets poverty. If you only have a small amount of money to spend, you are limited in ways to spend it and improve the lives of people which is why the cycle continues. For example, African countries have a much lower budget for education because of which illiteracy rates in many countries are high, and when education is out of reach for the general population, chances of improvement are low too.

Another reason is income inequality, which is why the wealthiest live a life of luxury even in the least developed countries in the world. While income inequality is prevalent in developed countries with the U.S. being the best example, as billionaires in the countries gained trillions in net worth while the rest of the population lost trillions, income inequality in poorer countries inhibits growth and improvement there. After all, Africa is home to some of the richest reserves in the world, and yet, dominates the poorest countries in the world. Of course, there are plenty of rich countries in Africa too, but the overwhelming pictures of the continent paints a negative picture.

While the level of development in these countries may not be very significant, the potential for the least developed countries to grow is unmatched, which is why some of the highest growth rates globally are also displayed by some of the least developed countries in the world. Companies are also working on improving standards of living, such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) allocating billions for affordable living, while companies such as Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) and Fluor Corporation (NYSE:FLR) are working on construction in the U.S. To learn more about such companies fixing problems at least in the U.S., you can head on over to the 15 biggest issues in America and the companies working on solving them.

To determine our list of the least developed countries in the world, we considered the life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, and gross national income per capita, with data obtained from the Human Development Index. We have calculated a score based on each country’s ranking for each criterion, with the highest score for the least developed nation. So, let’s take a look at the countries with a high growth potential yet are struggling with their standard of living, starting with:

30. Côte d’Ivoire

Insider Monkey Development Score: 161.33

The economy of Côte d’Ivoire is currently stable which is why it barely makes our list of the least developed countries in the world.

29. Senegal

Insider Monkey Development Score: 161.67

There are several major industries in Senegal including tourism, fishing, agriculture and mining, in addition to major deposits of natural resources.

28. Uganda

Insider Monkey Development Score: 161.67

Uganda has the potential to escape our list considering its significant natural resources, regular rainfall, mineral deposits and fertile land. However, lack of political stability has led to Uganda not being able to fulfil its true potential.

27. Sudan

Insider Monkey Development Score: 162.33

Sudan’s huge oil deposits have been a significant contributor to its economy over the years though agriculture still employs around 80% of the country’s population.

26. Eritrea

Insider Monkey Development Score: 162.67

Estimates suggest that 32% of Eritrea’s GDP is dependent on inflow of remittances by overseas worker remittances.

25. Comoros

Insider Monkey Development Score: 162.67

Fishing and subsistence farming have formed the basis of Comoros’s economy though few natural resources, lack of infrastructure and a high population are the reasons why the country has struggled in its development.

24. Rwanda

Insider Monkey Development Score: 163.00

Rwanda has done incredibly well to recovered from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide but is still one of the least developed countries in the world.

23. Madagascar

Insider Monkey Development Score: 165.33

Madagascar has established a strong tourism sector which was negatively impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. Other major industries in the country include agriculture, textile and mining.

22. Ethiopia

Insider Monkey Development Score: 167.33

Ethiopia’s government is in the process of privatizing many state-owned enterprises in a bid to boost its economy, with Ethiopia being one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. The ongoing civil conflict in the country’s Tigray region has been quite detrimental to the nation’s economy.

21. Lesotho

Insider Monkey Development Score: 168.67

Even though it is economically integrated with South Africa, Lesotho is still one of the least developed countries in the world. Most households in the country are dependent on agriculture.

20. Gambia

Insider Monkey Development Score: 170.00

An economy reliant on agriculture, Gambia has little mineral deposits to boast of.

19. Democratic Republic of Congo

Insider Monkey Development Score: 170.33

Even though the Democratic Republic of Congo has vast natural resources, with the European Union Generalised Scheme of Preferences stating that the nation’s reserves are worth an estimated $24 trillion, equal to the GDP of the U.S. Most of the coltan reserves in the world are present in Congo.

18. Togo

Insider Monkey Development Score: 170.33

Togo is easily one of the poorest countries in the world, with political instability, external debts and lower commodity prices all impacting its economic growth.

17. Benin

Insider Monkey Development Score: 171.67

40% of Benin’s GDP comes from cotton, with the commodity accounting for at least 80% of the country’s exports.

16. Malawi

Insider Monkey Development Score: 172.67

Malawi has a GNI per capita of $1,466 while agriculture accounts for at least a third of the country’s economy. With a mean schooling duration of jut 4.5 years, the country has to do a lot more to improve its educational standards and access.

15. Yemen

Insider Monkey Development Score: 174.00

The Yemeni Civil War has made Yemen one of the least developed countries in the world, with the crisis continuing to the present day and being one of the largest humanitarian crises of all time.

14. Liberia

Insider Monkey Development Score: 175.00

Two civil wars in Liberia in the last 35 years have had massive repercussions on the nation’s economy which was among the most developed and fastest growing economies in the 1970s.

13. Sierra Leone

Insider Monkey Development Score: 176.67

Sierra Leone’s economy has been overdependent on mineral exploitation, especially gold and diamonds, neglecting other areas of improvement and diversification that could possibly boost the economy.

12. Afghanistan

Insider Monkey Development Score: 176.67

The least developed country in Asia, Afghanistan’s current situation is largely a result of actions of the U.S. and Russia, with the former’s presence for decades and sudden leaving in 2020 resulting in the Taliban gaining back control and the country regressing even further.

11. South Sudan

Insider Monkey Development Score: 178.00

South Sudan is the newest country in the world, gaining independence in 2011, but the South Sudanese Civil War caused major damage to the country’s economy because of which economic stagnation and poverty have marred the nation’s progress.

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Disclosure: None. 30 least developed countries in the world is originally published on Insider Monkey.