Many people know poor countries as war-torn ones or those in perceived poor continents such as Africa and Asia. Europe is hardly ever associated with poverty. However, regardless of the quality of oranges in one’s basket, it isn’t abnormal to find one that is tasteless or has gone bad. The same scenario is true for Europe. Although many of the continent’s 44 countries rank among the richest globally, others are poor by global standards. There are numerous criteria used to determine a country’s economic standing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) uses a country’s GDP per capita to achieve this. Europe’s GDP per capita is USD 21,767. Below are the nine poorest countries in Europe, as per IMF’s statistics. While the countries listed below may be the poorest in Europe, they are not necessarily on the list of the 20 poorest countries in the world.
List of Poorest Countries in Europe
Moldova is a land-locked country in Eastern Europe and the poorest in Europe, with a GDP per capita of USD 2,289. Its currency is the Moldovan leu. The country’s low economic status can be attributed to its political instability and economic decline over the years following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Other factors include food insecurity, poor industrialization, and issues arising from the country’s decision to adopt a market economy. This has seen a majority of its citizens live below the international poverty line.
With a GDP per capita that stands at USD 2,639, Ukraine ranks second among the most impoverished countries in Europe. Its official currency is the Ukrainian Hryvnia. Before the end of the Soviet Union, Ukraine’s economy was ranked among the best-performing among the union’s member states. The country had invested heavily in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Weak infrastructural development, government corruption, and the Russian regression contributed to the collapse of the union. During the transition period, most Ukrainians ended up in abject poverty. The country’s decision to abandon the planned economy system for the market economy system is believed to have caused the country’s economic decline.
With a GDP per capita of USD 3,893, Kosovo is the third poorest country in Europe. The Euro is the country’s official currency. Before February 2008, Kosovo was still considered part of the Serbian government. To date, the Kosovo government is partially recognized, forcing it to largely rely on foreign assistance to run. Kosovo’s economy was negatively affected by the 2009 global financial crisis and the Eurozone crisis soon after. Notable progress has since been made in the country’s trade, and the construction industry is currently on a recovery path.
Albania has a GDP per capita of USD 5,261 and ranks fourth among the most impoverished countries in Europe. The country’s currency is the Albanian lek. Unemployment is the main reason for the poor economic standing. Upon the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a change in government policy culminated in the country’s economic decline. Similarly, challenges faced while transitioning from the socialist planned economy to the mixed capitalist economy contributed significantly to its low economic status. However, Albania’s economy has been improving over the years, owing to its abundant natural resources, including natural gas, minerals, and oil. These resources have attracted numerous trade partners that have contributed to the growth of the country’s GDP.
5. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina uses the convertible mark as its currency. Its GDP per capita is USD 5,917. The main contributor to the country’s low economic status is its persistent conflict. For instance, during the 1992-1995 war, in which most working men participated, the country’s population was stripped of human resources, a key component of development. With the majority of the remaining population being women, there was an inadequate workforce to run the country’s economy. Over the past 20 years, there has been some growth in the country’s economy, but not enough to restore it to its state before the war broke out.
6. North Macedonia
North Macedonia is ranked sixth poorest of the 44 countries in Europe. The country’s USD 5,442 GDP per capita is due to trade, which accounts for close to 90% of its GDP. The country attained its independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Its poor economic standing is due to high unemployment. In recent years though, North Macedonia’s GDP has grown significantly following the adoption of an open market economy. The country’s currency is the Macedonian denar.
Serbia is the seventh poorest country in Europe. The country’s GDP per capita is USD 5,900. In 2009, the country experienced a severe economic recession after eight consecutive years of growth. Consequently, between 2009 and 2012, it experienced a shrink in its GDP, resulting in an increased public dept. Attempts by the government, through new economic policies, to boost the country’s economic growth have been undermined by the numerous natural disasters. Serbia has, in the recent past, experienced earthquakes and floods that have left a dent on its economy.
Belarus was also a member of the Soviet Union. Before the collapse of the union, the country had one of the enviable economies among member states. With a per capita GDP of USD 6,283, it is ranked the eighth most impoverished country in Europe. The country’s official currency is the Belarusian ruble. The global economic recession experienced by most European countries between 2005 and 2011 did not spare Belarus, which was yet to recover from the fall of the Soviet Union.
Montenegro’s energy sector is the main contributor to the country’s USD 7,669 GDP per capita. Urbanization has been a significant setback in the country’s utilization of its natural resources, and it even threatens their depletion. An increase in refugees and internally displaced persons has also negatively impacted its economy.
Europe is the second-largest economic block in the world. However, some countries on the continent are yet to recover from the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Such countries have largely remained poor.
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