The poorest countries in the world are currently spread over 3 continents: America, Africa and Asia. Poverty in underdeveloped countries reaches levels higher than those of the most developed, but this does not mean that there is no inequality in each of the 5 continents, as we will see below.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Article Index

Poorest countries in the world by continents


Several authors, NGOs and international associations agree that poverty in Africa continues to be the most serious on our planet. The most affected areas of this continent, considered in a situation of extreme poberty, are:

  • Niger
  • Ethiopia
  • Mali
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi

Despite its high levels of poverty, Africa is probably the richest continent in terms of flora and fauna, cultural diversity and history. Unfortunately, it is estimated that more than 300 million people live with less than $ 1 a day.

The main causes that lead to problems suffered by Africa in the XXI century are, among others:

  • Health: AIDS and malaria are the diseases with the highest contagion rate among the poorest African countries. This means that the current life expectancy is 49,5 years.
  • Colonialism: the looting of the great European powers during the XIX-XX centuries is one of the causes behind the poverty that the continent lives today. In this period they took a large part of its natural resources (oil, gas, minerals ...).
  • Wars: the internal civil wars that are being lived in the continent have plunged several countries into a situation of absolute poverty. An example of this is the war in South Sudan.
  • Education: the education of the youngest, in addition to a correct sexual education for the couple, reduces the levels of poverty in a country, in addition to infant mortality.
  • Famine: hunger in the Third World continues to hit mainly the countries of Africa, where thousands of children under 5 years of age literally die of hunger year after year.

Water scarcity, inaccessibility of clean water and drought are also direct causes of hunger and poverty in Africa. Drought is a particularly serious problem, as it results in famine and malnutrition.


The highest percentage of poverty in the American continent is found in Latin America. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates since 2014 that Latin American poverty extends to 28% of the countries that make up this subcontinent.

There are several Latin American countries that are included in the list of the most unequal, according to data published by the World Bank:

  • Honduras: 64,5% of the population lives in poverty, and 42% in extreme poberty. It is estimated that children access only 4 years of basic education on average.
  • Brazil: it ranks eighth worldwide and third in Latin America. Inequality is greater if the percentage of undeclared wealth is taken into account, with 13,4% tax evasion.
  • Colombia: Colombia is the most unequal country in health, average salary and education, according to the Human Development Index of the United Nations (UN).
  • Guatemala: the most difficult situation is experienced in rural areas, where 8 out of 10 inhabitants are poor. The inequality rate is close to 55%.

The gulf between the United States and Canada with respect to the rest of Latin American countries is very large. In fact, current figures show that the US and the European Union (EU) account for almost 60% of the world's wealth.

The great difference between poor and rich countries, that is, the United States and the rest of Latin American countries, dates back to the time of independence, at which time, according to various authors, the same rights were not respected for some as for others. , including that of private property.


The latest data from the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) indicate that the European countries most affected by poverty are those in the south and east of the continent, countries where poverty and social exclusion are considered to go hand in hand.

According to Forbes magazine, the ones listed below are the 10 richest countries in the world, ordered from highest to lowest according to GDP, per capita income, level of industrialization, life expectancy and standard, and literacy:

  1. Norway
  2. Australia
  3. Switzerland
  4. Netherlands
  5. United States
  6. Germany
  7. NZ
  8. Canada
  9. Singapore
  10. Denmark

As we can see, half of the world's developed countries are located in Europe. Of the five richest countries, two are in Northern Europe and three are in Central Europe. These are figures that clearly show the economic gap between the south and north of the continent.

As for the Spain, the latest Living Conditions Survey (LCA) reveals that, in recent years, the rates of risk of poverty and social exclusion have stagnated, affecting almost 30% of the population, that is, more than 13 million people.

La Balkan region It is the most affected by poverty and extreme poverty on the European continent. Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia and Bosnia are the five poorest countries in Europe, with a GDP per capita that does not exceed $ 9.800 in any of them.

The European Central Bank (ECB) estimates that the gap is widening between the countries of Northern Europe and those of the East and South, a gap that could lead to numerous conflicts going forward.


Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) are the poorest countries on the Asian continent, where GDP per capita is $ 1.045 or less. If Africa did not host the poorest countries, Afghanistan it would rank # 1 on the world's poorest list.

The main causes of poverty in Asia are:

  • Civil wars
  • Radical Islamism
  • Agricultural economics
  • Dictatorship and lack of freedom
  • Political corruption

In short, Asia is a continent of great contrasts, where the highest and lowest rates of fertility, mortality, migration, etc. can be found at the same time. There is also great disparity both economically and socially.

The two clearest examples of this contrast are India and China, two countries that together account for 50% of the total world population that manages to live on less than $ 1 a day. Malnutrition is the main cause behind mortality in Asia.

Here at the India It is one of the highest percentages of the population in extreme poverty in the world, according to a recent report published by the UN. In 2012 alone, India recorded the highest infant mortality rate in the world.


Despite the fact that Oceania is a continent where poverty and the indigent population have increased in recent decades, Australia y NZ they occupy positions number 2 and 7, respectively, in the list of the most developed countries in the world.

This is so because the highest poverty index is concentrated almost entirely in East Timor or Timor Leste. Although some of the most impressive landscapes on the planet can be found here, the truth is that there is a high rate of absolute poverty.

Other countries in Oceania in a situation of poverty taking into account the average income per person are:

  • Micronesia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Solomon Islands
  • Fiji
  • Vanuatu

East Timor is a country marked above all by the child poverty, largely due to the recent war of independence experienced in the country, where thousands of children were recruited as soldiers until 2002. Other alarming causes are prostitution, violence and malnutrition.

Australia, despite being the second most developed country in the world, has seen the indigence rate increase in recent years. A large part of these indigent people are of foreign origin.

This article has been shared 315 times. We have spent many hours collecting this information. If you liked it, share it, please: