Asia is the richest continent in the world. It’s home to some of the countries with the top strongest economies in the world such as China and Japan. However, some of the poorest countries in the world can also be found in Asia. These countries have weak economies caused by a variety of factors such as war and corruption. These often lead to high levels of poverty, low quality of life, and limited trade opportunities. Let’s take a look at the top 10 poorest countries in Asia and learn about their situation. The ranking is based on each country’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP). It measures how much money a country’s economy is worth, divided by the number of people living there.
List of Poorest Countries in Asia
1. North Korea
North Korea is a very private country and does not freely share the details of its economy with the rest of the world. However, the latest data from 2016 found that the country has a per capita GDP of $1,300. This makes it the poorest country in Asia and part of the top 10 poorest of the 186 recognized countries in the world. Around 60% of the country’s citizens also live below the poverty line. Many experts believe that the poor decisions made by its government are directly responsible for its weak economy and high rate of poverty.
Many people know Afghanistan as a war-torn country. This factor also directly contributed to the current state of the country’s wealth. As of 2017, the country has a per capita GDP of $1,900. 42% of Afghanistan citizens live below the poverty line while another 20% are in danger of falling into poverty. The unstable government and constant political conflict within the country are cited as the main reasons for this problem. Because the Afghanistan government can’t focus on its infrastructure and market, its economy and people suffer as a result.
Yemen has a per capita GDP of $2,300 and 80% of its population is under the poverty line. Yemen’s primary source of income is the country’s reserves of gas and oil. Unfortunately, as these resources dwindle, Yemen will become one of the poorest countries in Asia due to the lack of strong governance and basic resources. Though Yemen has the potential to cultivate more valuable resources, researchers suggest that widespread corruption and civil conflict are the reasons why the country is having difficulty building a more stable economy.
Though Nepal has been exhibiting some growth in its economy in recent years, it’s still part of the poorest countries in Asia. With a per capita GDP of $2,700, Nepal is considered to be a struggling nation. Its poverty isn’t caused mainly by corruption or war but by the lack of economic opportunities in the country. Because of its poor location and lack of transportation options to the outside world, Nepal’s economy is mostly closed off. Since most economies rely on trade to increase income, experts believe Nepal needs to create more ways to connect to other countries to become a richer nation.
Like many Arab nations, Syria’s history of conflict has caused problems in its economy. The most recent data shows that the country’s per capita GDP is only $2,900. Also, a whopping 80% of the country lives below the poverty line. This means that a large percentage of the Syrian people don’t make enough money to afford necessities like food, shelter, and water.
A little-known country, Tajikistan is a nation located in Central Asia and is surrounded by Kyrgyzstan, China, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan’s per capita GDP is $3,100. Once a part of the Soviet Union, this independent nation is struggling with an unstable economy caused by corruption and poor economic management. Because Tajikistan also has large financial debts to other countries, experts believe the country will have a hard time improving their economy quickly.
Cambodia is an example of a country whose economy was severely affected by the history of corruption within its government. Based on the most recent data, Cambodia has a per capita GDP of $4,000. Fortunately, the poverty rate of the country has been dropping every year. In 2007, almost half of the country was below the poverty line. In 2015, the percentage had dropped to just 14%. Cambodians are beginning to earn higher incomes thanks to positive changes in their economy overtime.
Bangladesh has a per capita GDP of $4,200, making it one of the poorest countries in Asia. However, despite its low GDP, this Asian nation has been steadily reducing its rate of poverty since the early 2000s. 82% of its citizens were in poverty in 1972. Today, that number has drastically lowered to less than 4%. Experts strongly believe that Bangladesh will be able to completely remove extreme poverty in the country by 2021 thanks to its constant and stable economic growth.
Unlike Cambodia and Bangladesh, Palestine is experiencing a steady increase in people living below the poverty line. Its latest recorded per capita GDP was $4,300. Because of intense civil conflict within the country, more and more people are losing their jobs, homes, and access to basic resources. Though financial donations from other countries are being used to help Palestine recover, it’s predicted that the country will continue experiencing economic decline as the war within the nation continues.
10. East Timor
The tenth poorest country in Asia is East Timor. Similar to Nepal, the main reason for East Timor’s weak economy is the severe lack of trade options. East Timor doesn’t have many valuable resources and has few methods of transportation to other countries. These factors combined make it difficult for the country to support its people’s needs and participate in international trade. The most recent data on East Timor showed a per capita GDP of $5,000.
There are many factors behind why these countries are the poorest in Asia. Some common reasons we’ve seen on this list are war, corruption, poor economic decisions, and lack of resources or access to trade. Thankfully, there are ways for these countries to bounce back. Good government policies and help from other nations are helping poor countries improve their economies every day. This goes to show the value of careful decision making and a helping hand during times of struggle.
I hope that this article on poorest countries in Asia was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Rankings Page!