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50 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024

In this article, we will look into the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to the 10 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024.

Global Development Prospects

2023 presented us with contrasting narratives, including the persistent international strains and regional humanitarian crises, particularly the ongoing Israel-Palestine war. In terms of economic development, the year showed resilience and progress on many fronts. Now looking ahead, according to a report by the World Bank, global growth is expected to be 2.4% in 2024, compared to 2.6% in 2023. The decline in growth can be attributed to strict monetary policies, frail global trade, and feeble financial conditions. The short-term economic forecasts present varied prospects, with major economies witnessing slower growth. Whereas, emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) show signs of improvement.

Global Trade and Commodity Prices

In 2023, the global trade growth was the slowest in the past 50 years, apart from global recessions. This led to a contraction in the global goods trade. However, the services trade continued to recover from the repercussions of the pandemic. According to the World Bank, trade growth is anticipated to increase by 2.3% in 2024, indicating a recovery of demand for goods and trade. Recent conflicts have accelerated geopolitical risks around the world. The ongoing war in the Middle East has not hugely impacted commodity prices, however, it is expected to result in high energy prices, affecting global trade and leading to high inflation.

Growth Outlook of Emerging and Low-Income Economies

The report forecasts EMDEs to grow at a rate of 3.9% from 2024 to 2025. Among these countries, economic development in China is projected to significantly decrease this year, as a result of weak consumer sentiment and a continued slump in the property sector. Apart from China, EMDE growth is expected to increase from 3.2% in 2023 to 3.5% in 2024. It is anticipated to grow further to 3.8% in 2025. This progress indicates a rebound in trade and evolving domestic demand in many large economies.

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Low-income countries (LICs) are projected to grow at a rate of 5.5% in 2024, compared to 3.5% in 2023. The LICs are expected to maintain the growth and grow at a rate of 5.6% in 2025. This growth recovery can be attributed to metal exporters, and countries hit by conflict in 2023 such as Sudan. Despite the notable growth prospects, many LICs will still encounter challenges such as increasing debt-service costs, slow debt restructuring, and political instability.

Global Inflation and Poverty

According to a report by the United Nations, global inflation is expected to decline to 3.9% in 2024, compared to an estimated 5.7% in 2023. In 2023, global inflation fell from the highest recorded inflation of 8.1%, in almost 30 years. The decline can be attributed to moderation in global commodity prices and a decline in demand amid restrictive monetary policies. Developed countries have witnessed a noticeable decline in inflation. However, core inflation rates are still relatively high, due to increasing service sector prices and restricted labor markets. In most of the developing countries, inflation peaked in 2023 and is expected to moderate in 2024.

Despite the decline in inflation rates, food prices increased in the third and fourth quarters of 2023, especially in regions including Africa, South Asia, and Western Asia, due to delayed price adjustments from global to local markets, sluggish local currencies, and climate disasters. High food prices lead to food insecurity in developing countries, affecting the poorest households the most. An estimated number of 238 million people endured acute food insecurity in 2023, an uptick of 21.6 million people from 2022.

The inflationary trend in developing countries has washed away the efforts made in poverty reduction, leaving millions of people vulnerable. Poverty rates remained higher than pre-pandemic levels in many low-income countries, especially in Africa and Western Asia. A large chunk of the population in the least developed countries is poor and suffers from extreme food insecurity.

Due to poverty and the prevalence of inequality in the world, these countries lack opportunities to progress on the global front. According to another report by the United Nations, 14% of the world's population faces considerable challenges to economic development and growth. This not only limits their access to necessities but also hinders them from availing opportunities that could improve their economic situation. This results in countries falling into high debts and economic crises, which further aggravates due to the untenable debt burdens imposed by the global financial system. Apart from economic factors, issues such as poor governance, unequal distribution of resources, health crises, absence of proper infrastructure, and restrictive labor markets are some of the root causes leading to decreased development in these countries.

Investment Opportunities in Emerging and Underdeveloped Economies

The road to economic prosperity bears plenty of risks, such as inflation, poverty, and political instability, for least developed countries. However, for investors with a risk appetite, the ETFs in these countries can offer appealing diversification opportunities. These ETFs can be used by investors to hedge against currency fluctuations and associated risks with international markets. Some of the top ETFs in the emerging markets are Commonwealth Africa (NASDAQ:CAFRX), SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF (NYSEARCA:GMF), and VanEck Africa Index ETF (NYSEARCA:AFK).

Commonwealth Africa (NASDAQ:CAFRX) is an exchange-traded fund that invests in both growth and value stocks of companies based in Africa. It invests in public equity and fixed-income African markets. The fund measures its performance against the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and the Dow Jones Africa Titans 50 Index. The Commonwealth Africa (NASDAQ:CAFRX) has an expense ratio of 1.79% and a trailing twelve-month yield of 3.38%.

Commonwealth Africa (NASDAQ:CAFRX) has a total of 43 holdings and a top 10 holdings concentration of 44.42%. MTN Group Limited (OTC:MTNOY) is one of the major holdings of Commonwealth Africa (NASDAQ:CAFRX). The leading mobile telecommunication corporation has a market cap of $10.19 billion, as of January 19. On January 9, MTN Group Limited (OTC:MTNOY) announced that it has decided to expand its mobile financial service across Africa, along with Ericsson. The collaboration between the two companies aims to promote financial inclusivity for both basic users and businesses, by utilizing MTN Group Limited's (OTC:MTNOY) MoMo service on Ericsson's platform. This will provide an extensive mobile finance ecosystem, providing secure transactions, insurance, and loans among other services. This is a joint effort by both companies to empower millions of Africans with financial stability and freedom.

SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF (NYSEARCA:GMF) is an ETF founded by State Street Global Advisors. The fund invests in the public equity markets of emerging economies in the Asia/Pacific region. SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF (NYSEARCA:GMF) invests in the growth and value stocks of companies with diverse market caps. The fund utilizes a representative sampling technique to track the performance of the S&P Emerging Asia Pacific BMI Index. The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.49% and a TTM yield of 2.84%.

SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF's (NYSEARCA:GMF) holdings are dominated by the technology sector, followed by financial services and consumer cyclical sectors. One of the top holdings of the fund is the E-commerce giant, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE:BABA). On November 27, 2023, the company announced that it had joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), to combat climate change. The joint effort amplifies the impact of the initiative, leveraging Alibaba Group Holding Limited's (NYSE:BABA) huge user base and digital platform and expertise in decarbonization efforts along with WBCSD's network and knowledge of the matter. The collaboration aims to utilize Alibaba Group Holding Limited's (NYSE:BABA) platform for broader decarbonization efforts, especially in vulnerable populations in underdeveloped countries.

VanEck Africa Index ETF (NYSEARCA:AFK) is an exchange-traded fund that invests in the public equity markets of the Africa/Middle East region. The ETF invests in the growth and value stocks of diversified sectors including financial services, communication, and basic materials among others. It measures the performance of the MVIS GDP Africa Index, by utilizing a full replication technique. VanEck Africa Index ETF (NYSEARCA:AFK) was launched by VanEck Associates Corporation. The fund has an expense ratio of 0.98% and a TTM yield of 2.29%.

VanEck Africa Index ETF (NYSEARCA:AFK) has a total of 81 holdings. One of the leading companies among its holdings is Naspers Limited (OTC:NPSNY), a multinational internet company based in Africa. As of January 19, the company has a market cap of $28.55 billion. Naspers Limited (OTC:NPSNY) has operations in over 30 emerging markets. On August 29, 2023, Naspers Limited (OTC:NPSNY) announced that it had partnered with the European crowdfunding platform, 4fund.com for payment processing. The partnership will make donating and withdrawing money convenient across the EU. The partnership streamlines crowdfunding in Europe, providing a safe and efficient platform for fundraising.

Now, let's have a look at the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024.

50 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024
50 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024

50 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024

Methodology

For our list of the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024, we have defined a least developed country as one with lower HDI and GDP per Capita. HDI comprehensively captures various aspects of a country's human development such as life expectancy, education, and gross national income. The GDP per capita of a country is indicative of its infrastructure, resource distribution, and living standard. We have utilized these two metrics to compile our list, as they provide us with a comprehensive insight into a country's development.

Firstly, we sorted the countries based on HDI and collated a list of 100 countries, reporting the lowest HDI. Then, we sourced GDP per capita data for these countries. We then, assigned ranks to both GDP per Capita and HDI for each country from lowest to highest, 1 being least developed and 100 representing most developed. Then, we averaged their ranks to generate an 'Insider Monkey Score'. Countries with a lower score rank higher on our list and vice versa. The list is in descending order of the Insider Monkey scores of countries.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

50 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024

50. Vanuatu

Human Development Index (2021): 0.607

GDP per Capita (2024): $3,660

Insider Monkey Score: 53.5 out of 100

Vanuatu is a South Pacific island country in Oceania, comprising around 80 islands. It is ranked on our list of the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024. The country reported an HDI of 0.607 in 2021. According to the IMF, Vanuatu reports a GDP per capita of $3,660, as of 2024.

49. Sao Tome and Principe

Human Development Index (2021): 0.618

GDP per Capita (2024): $3,210

Insider Monkey Score: 53.0 out of 100

Sao Tome and Principe is a country located in Central Africa. It is ranked among the least developed countries in the world in 2024. The country reported an HDI of 0.618 in 2021. As of 2024, Sao Tome and Principe reports a GDP per capita of $3,210.

48. Ghana

Human Development Index (2021): 0.632

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,240

Insider Monkey Score: 49.0 out of 100

Located in West Africa, Ghana is ranked 48th on our list.  In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.632. As of 2024, Ghana reports a GDP per capita of $2,240.

47. Zimbabwe

Human Development Index (2021): 0.593

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,860

Insider Monkey Score: 47.50 out of 100

Zimbabwe ranks 47th on our list of the least developed countries in the world. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,860. According to the UNDP, Zimbabwe had an HDI of 0.593 in 2021.

46. Kiribati

Human Development Index (2021): 0.624

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,050

Insider Monkey Score: 46.5 out of 100

Kiribati is a country located in the Micronesia subregion of Oceania. The island country is ranked 46th on our list of the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024. The country reported an HDI of 0.624 in 2021. According to the IMF, Kiribati reports a GDP per capita of $2,050, as of 2024.

45. Tajikistan

Human Development Index (2021): 0.685

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,270

Insider Monkey Score: 46.0 out of 100

Tajikistan is a country located in Central Asia. It is ranked 45th on our list of the least developed countries in the world. As of 2024, the landlocked country reports a GDP per capita of $1,270. According to the UNDP, Tajikistan had an HDI of 0.685 in 2021.

44. Republic of the Congo

Human Development Index (2021): 0.571

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,980

Insider Monkey Score: 45.0 out of 100

Located in Central Africa, the Republic of the Congo is ranked 44th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.571. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,980.

43. Angola

Human Development Index (2021): 0.586

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,450

Insider Monkey Score: 43.5 out of 100

Angola is a Southern African country, located on the west-central coast of Southern Africa. The country reported a human development index of 0.586 in 2021. Angola reports a GDP per capita of $2,450, as of 2024.

42. Côte d'Ivoire

Human Development Index (2021): 0.550

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,910

Insider Monkey Score: 41.5 out of 100

Côte d'Ivoire ranks 42nd on our list of the least developed countries in the world. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,910. According to the UNDP, Côte d'Ivoire had an HDI of 0.550 in 2021.

41. Lao People's Democratic Republic

Human Development Index (2021): 0.607

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,830

Insider Monkey Score: 41.5 out of 100

Lao People's Democratic Republic is a Southeast Asian country, ranked 41st on our list. The country reported a human development index of 0.697 in 2021. As of 2024, it reports a GDP per capita of $1,830.

40. Cambodia

Human Development Index (2021): 0.593

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,040

Insider Monkey Score: 40.5 out of 100

Cambodia is a country located in Southeast Asia. The country reported a human development index of 0.593 in 2021. Cambodia reports a GDP per capita of $2,040 as of 2024.

39. Papua New Guinea

Human Development Index (2021): 0.558

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,620

Insider Monkey Score: 40 out of 100

Located in Oceania, Papua New Guinea is a southwestern Pacific country. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.558. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,620.

38. Djibouti

Human Development Index (2021): 0.509

GDP per Capita (2024): $4,030

Insider Monkey Score: 39.5 out of 100

Djibouti is a multiethnic country in East Africa. It is ranked 38th on our list of the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024. The country reported an HDI of 0.509 in 2021. According to the IMF, Djibouti reports a GDP per capita of $4,030, as of 2024.

37. Timor-Leste

Human Development Index (2021): 0.607

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,490

Insider Monkey Score: 39.5 out of 100

Timor-Leste is an island country in Southeast Asia, ranked 37th on our list. The country reported an HDI of 0.607 in 2021. According to the IMF, Timor-Leste reports a GDP per capita of $1,490, as of 2024.

36. Solomon Islands

Human Development Index (2021): 0.564

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,370

Insider Monkey Score: 39.0 out of 100

Solomon Islands is a South Pacific island country in Oceania, comprising around 100 islands. It is ranked 36th on our list of the 50 least developed countries in the world in 2024. The country reported an HDI of 0.564 in 2021. According to the IMF, Solomon Islands reports a GDP per capita of $2,370, as of 2024.

35. Kenya

Human Development Index (2021): 0.575

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,190

Insider Monkey Score: 39.0 out of 100

Located in East Africa, Kenya is ranked 35th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.575. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,190.

34. Mauritania

Human Development Index (2021): 0.556

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,410

Insider Monkey Score: 38.0 out of 100

Mauritania ranks 34th on our list of the least developed countries in the world. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,410. According to the UNDP, Mauritania had an HDI of 0.556 in 2021.

33. Nepal

Human Development Index (2021): 0.602

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,470

Insider Monkey Score: 38.0 out of 100

Nepal is one of the least developed countries, located in Southern Asia. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.602 in 2021. Nepal reports a GDP per capita of $1,470 as of 2024.

32. Cameroon

Human Development Index (2021): 0.576

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,810

Insider Monkey Score: 36.5 out of 100

Cameroon is a Central African country, located in the Gulf of Guinea. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.576 in 2021. Cameroon reports a GDP per capita of $1,810 as of 2024.

31. Haiti

Human Development Index (2021): 0.535

GDP per Capita (2024): $2,260

Insider Monkey Score: 34.0 out of 100

Haiti ranks 31st on our list of the least developed countries in the world. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $2,260. According to the UNDP, Haiti had an HDI of 0.535 in 2021.

30. Myanmar

Human Development Index (2021): 0.585

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,450

Insider Monkey Score: 34.0 out of 100

Myanmar is a Southeastern Asian country, located at the northernmost end of the region. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.585 in 2021. Myanmar reports a GDP per capita of $1,450 as of 2024.

29. Zambia

Human Development Index (2021): 0.565

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,470

Insider Monkey Score: 32.0 out of 100

Located in Southern Africa, Zambia is ranked 29th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.565. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,470.

28. Nigeria

Human Development Index (2021): 0.535

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,730

Insider Monkey Score: 29.5 out of 100

Nigeria is one of the least developed countries in the world, located in West Africa. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.535 in 2021. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,730.

27. Comoros

Human Development Index (2021): 0.558

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,410

Insider Monkey Score: 29.5 out of 100

Comoros ranks 27th on our list of the least developed countries in the world. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,410. According to the UNDP, Comoros had an HDI of 0.558 in 2021.

26. Senegal

Human Development Index (2021): 0.511

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,890

Insider Monkey Score: 28.0 out of 100

Located in West Africa, Senegal is ranked 26th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.511. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,890.

25. Tanzania

Human Development Index (2021): 0.549

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,320

Insider Monkey Score: 27.5 out of 100

Ranked 25th on our list, Tanzania is an Eastern African country. According to the UNDP, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.549 in 2021. Tanzania reports a GDP per capita of $1,320 as of 2024.

24. Benin

Human Development Index (2021): 0.525

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,540

Insider Monkey Score: 27.0 out of 100

Benin is an underdeveloped country in East Africa. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.525 in 2021. Benin reports a GDP per capita of $1,540 as of 2024.

23. Ethiopia

Human Development Index (2021): 0.498

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,790

Insider Monkey Score: 24.0 out of 100

Ethiopia ranks 23rd on our list. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,790. According to the UNDP, Ethiopia had an HDI of 0.498 in 2021.

22. Togo

Human Development Index (2021): 0.539

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,060

Insider Monkey Score: 24.0  out of 100

Located in West Africa, Togo is ranked 22nd on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.539. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,060.

21. Uganda

Human Development Index (2021): 0.525

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,250

Insider Monkey Score: 23.5 out of 100

Uganda is an East African country, placed 21st on our list. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.525 in 2021. Uganda reports a GDP per capita of $1,250 as of 2024.

20. Lesotho

Human Development Index (2021): 0.514

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,170

Insider Monkey Score: 22.0 out of 100

Lesotho ranks 20th on our list. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,170. According to the UNDP, Lesotho had an HDI of 0.514 in 2021.

19. Rwanda

Human Development Index (2021): 0.534

GDP per Capita (2024): $998

Insider Monkey Score: 22.0 out of 100

Located in East Africa, Rwanda is ranked 19th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.534. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $998.

18. Guinea

Human Development Index (2021): 0.465

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,650

Insider Monkey Score: 20.0 out of 100

Located in West Africa, Guinea is ranked 18th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.465. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $1,650.

17. Guinea-Bissau

Human Development Index (2021): 0.483

GDP per Capita (2024): $1,100

Insider Monkey Score: 17.0 out of 100

Guniea-Bissau is a Western African country, ranked 17th on our list. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.483 in 2021. Guniea-Bissau reports a GDP per capita of $1,100, as of 2024.

16. Gambia

Human Development Index (2021): 0.500

GDP per Capita (2024): $985.41

Insider Monkey Score: 17.0 out of 100

The Gambia ranks 16th on our list. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $985.41. According to the UNDP, the Gambia had an HDI of 0.5 in 2021.

15. Liberia

Human Development Index (2021): 0.481

GDP per Capita (2024): $825.98

Insider Monkey Score: 13.5 out of 100

Liberia is an underdeveloped country, located in West Africa. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.481 in 2021. Liberia reports a GDP per capita of $825.98, as of 2024.

14. Malawi

Human Development Index (2021): 0.512

GDP per Capita (2024): $472

Insider Monkey Score: 13.0  out of 100

Located in East Africa, Malwai is ranked 14th on our list. In 2021, the country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.512. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $472.

13. Madagascar

Human Development Index (2021): 0.501

GDP per Capita (2024): $548

Insider Monkey Score: 12.5 out of 100

Madagascar ranks 13th on our list. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $548. According to the UNDP, Madagascar had an HDI of 0.501 in 2021.

12. Sudan

Human Development Index (2021): 0.508

GDP per Capita (2024): $479.04

Insider Monkey Score: 12.5 out of 100

Located in North Africa, Sudan is one of the least developed countries on our list. The country reported a human development index (HDI) of 0.586 in 2021. Sudan reports a GDP per capita of $479.04, as of 2024.

11. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Human Development Index (2021): 0.479

GDP per Capita (2024): $710.16

Insider Monkey Score: 12.0 out of 100

Democratic Republic of the Congo ranks 11th on our list. As of 2024, the country reports a GDP per capita of $710.16. According to the UNDP, it had an HDI of 0.479 in 2021.

Click to continue reading 10 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024.

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Disclosure: None. 50 Least Developed Countries in the World in 2024 was originally published at Insider Monkey.