Countries With the Lowest Incomes

GNI refers to "Gross National Income".
GNI refers to "Gross National Income".

The Gross National Income, or GNI, represents the sum of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plus any other net income received from overseas. Therefore, the gross national income measures both the domestic income of a country and the income it receives from abroad.

The GNI per capita measures the average income earned by a person in a given country and is calculated by simply dividing the total GNI of the country by the total size of the population. Generally, GNI per capita is used to compare the state of wealth of a population and the standard of living in a country with those of other nations. Taking into account all the considerations listed above, it becomes quite easy to understand why the countries with the smallest GNIs per capita tend to be developing countries which struggle with poor Infrastructure in terms of social welfare and economic development alike. All data below comes from the World Bank

Countries With the Lowest Incomes


Burundi, with a GNI of 730 international dollars, is the country with the smallest GNI per capita. Even if the country is in the process of transitioning from a post-conflict economy to a stable, peacetime economy, poverty remains at troublingly high levels. The country is focusing on developing its basic social services, modernizing the public finance sector, and upgrading institutions and infrastructure across the board. Though it possesses a modernized industrial establishment, it above all relies on the agricultural sector, energy production, and mining for the majority of its revenues. The growing economy will increasingly offer more employment opportunities, and hopefully improvements in the standard of living will be quick to follow.

The central African Republic

The Central African Republic ties with Burundi to be the country with the lowest income. While it’s true that the country has recently been devastated by a political crisis, the Central African Republic was among the countries with the highest poverty rates well before the recent tumultuous events. The country possesses abundant natural resources but, unfortunately, they are generally very underdeveloped. Subsistence agriculture represents almost one-third of the gross domestic product. Exports of diamonds and wood, while relatively significant domestically, have clearly not been enough to raise the economy to the level of a major global power.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a per capita GNI of only $870. Despite its natural resources being plenty, the DRC has longtime struggled with high levels of poverty and very low incomes. This is due to a variety of complicated factors, including the residual impacts of colonization and rampant corruption in the country. 

Other Countries With Low per Capita GNIs

Besides these countries, Niger, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone are all struggling with extreme poverty as well. Within them, GNI per capita rates vary from 990 to 1,500 international dollars. This often becomes even more concerning when considering that income disparities often leave the general population in an even poorer state the already bad numbers would suggest. Collectively, these countries need strong economic reforms to begin to fight poverty and increase the welfare of their citizens and secure stronger standings on the global economic scene.

Gross National Income (GNI) per Capita

RankCountryGNI Per Capita (USD)
2Central African Republic730
3Democratic Republic of the Congo870
5Liberia 1,160
8Sierra Leone1,500
10The Gambia1,660

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