Top 20 Poorest Countries in Africa

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Africa is home to the poorest countries in the world. These are some of the most unfortunate and poorest nations on earth, with a vast majority of their populations living below the poverty line and struggling to survive every day. This article will explore 20 of Africa’s poorest countries- those that rank as having one of the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita rates in all of Africa.

According to the World Bank, the GDP per capita is a measure of a country’s average income. It is calculated by dividing a country’s total GDP by its population. This gives us a rough estimate of how much each person in that country earns on average. The lower the GDP per capita rate, the poorer the country.

In fact, these 20 countries have the lowest GDP per capita rates in Africa.

In order to maintain a more accurate list of poverty rankings from country-to-country comparisons, we will be using statistics from 2015 and 2016 on the World Bank website unless otherwise noted.

20: Sao Tome and Principe – $2,157.8/year (2020)

The African nation of Sao Tome and Principe has a population of 201,000 people. The country’s GDP per capita is $2,157.8 – one of the lowest in Africa. Despite its low world standing for income among other countries, the island nation benefits from having large offshore oil reserves discovered off their coasts in recent years- though production has yet to commence.

19: Comoros – $1,420.7/year (2020)

The East African island nation of Comoros has a population of over 800,000 people and a GDP per capita of just $880- making it one of Africa’s poorest countries. The country is made up of three major islands- Grande Comore, Moheli, and Anjouan- as well as several smaller islands. Comoros is still trying to recover from a bloody civil war that took place between 1997 and 2001.

18: Madagascar – $471.5/year (2020)

The island nation of Madagascar has a population of over 22 million people and a GDP per capita of just $471.5. The country’s economy is dominated by services – which accounts for over half of its GDP- as well as subsistence farming and fishing. Madagascar has one of the highest rates in Africa of children not attending school, with only 67% enrolled according to UNESCO estimates from 2015.

17: Eritrea – $642.5/year (2020)

The East African country of Eritrea has a population of over six million people and a GDP per capita of $642.5. The country is one of the most militarized in the world, with mandatory military service for all citizens aged 18-40 years old.

16: Sudan – $595.5/year (2020)

The African nation of Sudan has a population of just under 40 million people and a GDP per capita rate of $595.5. Another major issue the country faces is food insecurity, as over half its citizens live below the poverty line and struggle to afford basic necessities such as food- forcing them into further poverty. The nation is also struggling with an ongoing civil war and has been in a state of emergency since 2003 due to the conflict.

15: The Gambia – $773.0/year (2020)

The tiny West African country of The Gambia has a population of just over two million people and a GDP per capita of $773.0. With its small size and meager resources, the country is one of the poorest in Africa. The Gambia is also one of the most densely populated countries on the continent.

14: Guinea-Bissau – $727.5/year (2020)

The West African country of Guinea-Bissau has a population of over two million people and a GDP per capita of just $727.5. The country is one of the poorest in the world, with most of its citizens living below the poverty line. Guinea Bissau is one of the most frequent places in Africa to experience coups d’état, with the country’s first-ever coup taking place in 1980 and another following just two years later.

13: Sierra Leone – $509.4/year (2020)

The West African nation of Sierra Leone has a population of over six million people and a GDP per capita of $509.4. Sierra Leone is still working to rebuild its economy after the end of a brutal civil war in 2002 that lasted for more than ten years and claimed the lives of thousands upon thousands of citizens.

12: Niger – $567.7/year (2020)

The landlocked nation of Niger has a population of over 20 million people and a GDP per capita of $567.7. The country is one of the poorest in the world, with most citizens living below the poverty line. Niger also suffers from frequent droughts that make it difficult to sustain crops and livestock.

11: Togo – $915.0/year (2020)

The landlocked West African nation of Togo has a population of over six million people and a GDP per capita of $915.0. The country is one of the poorest in Africa, with most citizens living below the poverty line. Poverty can also be attributed to low levels of education among its residents- as only 40% are literate according to UNESCO estimates from 2015.

12: Malawi – $636.8/year (2020)

The landlocked country of Malawi has a population of over 17 million people and a GDP per capita of just $750. The economy is largely dependent on agriculture, with the majority of its citizens living in rural areas that are only accessible by foot or boat. Malawi is also one of the most densely populated countries in Africa.

11: Guinea – $1,194.0/year (2020)

The West African nation of Guinea has a population of over 11 million people and a GDP per capita of just $1,194.0. In 2010, an estimated 60% of its citizens were living below the poverty line- with many of those people living in abject poverty.

Guinea is also one of the most frequently unstable countries in Africa, with a history of military coups.

10: Mozambique – $448.5/year (2020)

The East African nation of Mozambique has a population of over 24 million people and a GDP per capita of just $448.5. Like many other countries in Africa, most citizens are living below the poverty line- with an estimated 54% being extremely poor.

Mozambique is also one of the largest producers of cashew nuts in Africa.

9: Burkina Faso – $857.9/year (2020)

The West African country of Burkina Faso has a population of over 19 million people and a GDP per capita of just $857.9. The country is one of the most impoverished in the world, with almost 60% of its population living below the poverty line.

8: Central African Republic – $492.8/year (2020)

The Central African Republic has a population of over five million people and an extremely low GDP per capita of just $492.8. The country is one the most impoverished in Africa, with more than half its population living below the poverty line according to World Bank data from 2015-16. There are also high rates of child and maternal mortality in the country.

7: Burundi – $239.0/year (2020)

The landlocked Central African country of Burundi has a population of over 11 million people and a GDP per capita of just $239.0. The majority of its citizens live in poverty, with more than 60% living on less than $USD one dollar a day.

Burundi also has one of the highest population densities in Africa, with almost 400 people per square kilometer.

7: Rwanda – $797.9/year (2020)

The East African nation of Rwanda has a population of over 12 million people and a GDP per capita of just $797.9. The country has made huge strides to improve its economy since the 1994 genocide, but most citizens are still living below the poverty line.

6: Liberia – $632.9/year (2020)

The West African nation of Liberia has a population of just over four million people and a GDP per capita of just $632.9. The average life expectancy in the country is only 57 years old, with many citizens succumbing to HIV or AIDS before they reach adulthood.

Liberia also experienced two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that left the country in shambles.

5: Chad – $659.3/year (2020)

The central African country of Chad has a population of over 14 million people and a GDP per capita of just $659.3. The country is extremely poor, with most of its citizens living in poverty. Chad is also one of the most unstable countries in Africa, with frequent outbreaks of violence and civil unrest.

4: Somalia – $313.9/year (2015)

The East African nation of Somalia has a population of over 11 million people and a GDP per capita of just $313.9. The country is one the poorest in Africa, with most citizens living below the poverty line- especially those who live outside major cities like Mogadishu or Hargeisa.

3: The Democratic Republic of the Congo – $1,846.1/year (2020)

The Central African country of the DRC has a population of over 78 million people and a GDP per capita of just $1,846.1. The majority of its citizens live in poverty, with more than 60% living on less than $USD one dollar a day.

The DRC also has one of the highest population densities in Africa, with almost 400 people per square kilometer.

2: Uganda – $822.0/year (2020)

The landlocked country of Uganda has a population of over 37 million people and a GDP per capita of just $822.0. The majority of its citizens live in poverty, with more than 60% living on less than $USD one dollar a day.

Uganda is also home to the source of the River Nile and is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa.

1: Tanzania – $1,076.5/year (2020)

The East African nation of Tanzania has a population of over 51 million people and a GDP per capita of just $1,076.5. The majority of its citizens live in poverty, with more than 60% living on less than $USD one dollar a day.

These are the top 20 poorest countries in Africa. The list is based on data from the World Bank, which measures GDP per capita in U.S. dollars.

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