The Poorest Countries in Asia

By Ferdinand Bada on January 22 2020 in World Facts

Asia as a continent is very diverse economically.

Asia is the largest continent in the world as well as the most populous. While Asia is home to some of the strongest economies in the world, such as China, there are also some weaker economies. For the purposes of this analysis, a country’s measure of wealth is calculated based on the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP). The GDP per capita method based on the PPP is preferred because it provides a clearer picture of a nation by accounting for inflation and the cost of living. According to this measure, the poorest country in Asia is Afghanistan, followed by Yemen and Nepal.

The Poorest Countries in Asia

Data from the 2017 International Monetary Fund shows that Afghanistan was the poorest country in Asia with a GDP per capita of $1,889. The second poorest country was Yemen with $2,300 while Nepal was third with about $2,690. Closing the top five was Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with $3,131 and $3,652 in the fourth and the fifth positions respectively. The last country was Myanmar with a GDP per capita of $6,285. Compared to some countries in the world, especially those in Africa, these countries are richer.

Afghanistan is a country that has had a turbulent political period in the past, especially while it was under the Taliban regime between September 1996 and December 2001. The Taliban period was extremely detrimental to the economy to the extent where the per capita income in 2001 was only $200. In fact, the economy was on the brink of complete collapse. However, following the end of the detrimental regime, the economy has been improving to what it is now. The major natural resources driving the economy include gold, fruits, opium, nuts, and others. In addition, the country has vast mineral deposits (worth at least $1 trillion), which have not been exploited.

Pakistan is an example of a country whose fortunes have turned. Historically, during the whole of the first millennium CE, the country was one of the wealthiest in the continent. However, it was overtaken by the likes of China and India in the 18th century. Despite these changes, the country is currently among a group of countries that have been classified as the Next Eleven. These countries have the potential of becoming the biggest economies of the 21st century. Interestingly, data shows that periods of martial law in the past have had a positive influence on the economy. The economy depends on sectors and resources including services, industry, agriculture, copper, coal, gold, oil, natural gas, and others.

The least poor country on the list is Myanmar, which is also known as Burma or officially as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The country is rich in several natural resources such as historical sites, gems, jade, oil, natural gas, and other resources. However, there is a huge disparity between the poor and the rich, which has contributed to the low GDP per capita. One of the main causes of this disparity is the long-running ethnic strife. These civil wars have created an opportunity for a few key individuals to amass wealth while most people wallow in poverty.

The Poorest Countries in Asia

RankCountryGDP Per Capita
1Afghanistan1,889
2Yemen2,300
3Nepal2,690
4Tajikistan3,131
5Kyrgyzstan3,652
6Papua New Guinea3,803
7Cambodia4,010
8Timor-Leste5,008
9Pakistan5,354
10Myanmar6,285

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