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HDI Tier




Very High

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Developing Countries 2024

Although exact definitions vary, a developing country is generally defined as one whose industrial and/or economic development has not yet reached full maturity. This shortcoming leads directly or indirectly to social, political, economic, and environmental challenges that significantly impede quality of life in that country.

Also known as low-income, underdeveloped countries, and/or middle-income countries—a reference to their stunted economies—developing countries are less industrially advanced than countries classified as high-income, or developed countries. The most challenged among them are often given the sub-classification of least developed countries.

How do we know if a country is a "developing" country?

The United Nations uses a metric called the Human Development Index (HDI) to determine whether a country is fully developed or still developing. The HDI considers a broad range of factors, including economic growth, life expectancy, health, education, and quality of life. The highest possible HDI score is a 1.0, and any country that scores less than .80 is considered developing. Of the 191 countries analyzed in the 2021/22 Human Development Report, 125 scored below .80 and were considered developing (see table that follows text).

Another frequently used method of determining whether a country is developed or developing is to examine that country's nominal gross national income (GNI) per capita, which is a useful at-a-glance tool to estimate a country's overall standard of living. Countries whose nominal GNI rises above a certain threshold (which changes slightly each year) are classified as developed, while those whose GNI falls below that amount are considered still developing.

For example, for 2022, the World Bank classifies countries and territories whose GNI is $12,696 or higher as High Income economies. Anything below that number would be considered a developing country (though World Bank prefers the terms Upper-Middle Income, Lower-Middle Income, and Low Income). In 2022, 80 of the 217 countries and territories tracked by World Bank qualified as High Income, while 137 qualified as developing economies/countries.

It is worth noting that these two methods are not always entirely in sync with one another. For example, the U.N. would consider Argentina a developed country thanks to its 2019 HDI of .830, which is above the .800 threshold. However, World Bank classifies Argentina as Upper-Middle Income and still developing based upon its 2020 GNI of $9070, which is well below the $12,695 dividing line.

Difficulties faced by developing countries

Many developing countries encounter similar challenges, including income inequality and/or widespread poverty, low education and literacy levels, inadequate infrastructure, and government corruption. Their energy production can be inadequate and they may experience higher rates of violence against women. They may even struggle with health risks such as decreased access to safe water and sanitation, high levels of pollution, and an increased percentage of people with infectious diseases. The United Nations and many other aid organizations have established programs to help developing countries overcome these and other social, political, economic, and environmental challenges they face.

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HDI Tier
HDI 2021
World Bank Classification
GNI per Capita 2020 (current US$)
BahamasVery High0.799-
MalaysiaVery High0.798-
ThailandVery High0.797-
BulgariaHigh0.796Upper-Middle Income$9,630
SeychellesVery High0.795High-Income $12,200
GrenadaHigh0.788Upper-Middle Income$9,410
ChinaHigh0.785Upper-Middle Income$10,550
AlbaniaHigh0.785Upper-Middle Income$5,210
Sri LankaHigh0.783Lower-Middle Income$3,720
IranHigh0.776Lower-Middle Income$2,960
Bosnia and HerzegovinaHigh0.776Upper-Middle Income$6,080
ArmeniaHigh0.774Upper-Middle Income$4,220
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesHigh0.773Upper-Middle Income$7,310
MoldovaHigh0.767Upper-Middle Income$4,560
North MacedoniaHigh0.764Upper-Middle Income$5,750
MexicoHigh0.757Upper-Middle Income$8,480
BrazilHigh0.756Upper-Middle Income$7,850
Dominican RepublicHigh0.756Upper-Middle Income$7,260
UkraineHigh0.755Lower-Middle Income$3,540
PeruHigh0.755Upper-Middle Income$6,030
MaldivesHigh0.753Upper-Middle Income$6,490
ColombiaHigh0.752Upper-Middle Income$5,790
EcuadorHigh0.746Upper-Middle Income$5,530
LibyaHigh0.746Upper-Middle Income$4,960
CubaHigh0.742Upper-Middle Income$8,630
AlgeriaHigh0.740Lower-Middle Income$3,570
TurkmenistanHigh0.740Upper-Middle Income$7,220
AzerbaijanHigh0.738Upper-Middle Income$4,480
TongaHigh0.738Upper-Middle Income$5,190
JordanHigh0.736Upper-Middle Income$4,310
ParaguayHigh0.730Upper-Middle Income$5,180
MongoliaHigh0.730Lower-Middle Income$3,740
TunisiaHigh0.729Lower-Middle Income$3,300
Marshall IslandsHigh0.729Upper-Middle Income$4,940
EgyptHigh0.726Lower-Middle Income$3,000
LebanonHigh0.725Upper-Middle Income$5,370
South AfricaHigh0.721Upper-Middle Income$6,010
UzbekistanHigh0.721Lower-Middle Income$1,740
GuyanaHigh0.721Upper-Middle Income$7,130
VietnamHigh0.718Lower-Middle Income$2,650
Saint LuciaHigh0.717Upper-Middle Income$8,560
PalestineHigh0.715not rated-
FijiHigh0.715Upper-Middle Income$4,890
SamoaHigh0.708Lower-Middle Income$4,050
IndonesiaHigh0.707Lower-Middle Income$3,870
JamaicaHigh0.704Upper-Middle Income$4,670
BelizeHigh0.698Lower-Middle Income$4,110
KyrgyzstanHigh0.696Lower-Middle Income$1,160
PhilippinesHigh0.692Lower-Middle Income$3,430
BoliviaMedium0.691Lower-Middle Income$3,180
VenezuelaMedium0.690not rated$13,080
SurinameMedium0.689Upper-Middle Income$4,620
MoroccoMedium0.688Lower-Middle Income$2,980
GabonMedium0.687Upper-Middle Income$7,030
BotswanaHigh0.680Upper-Middle Income-
TajikistanMedium0.677Lower-Middle Income$1,060
BhutanMedium0.677Lower-Middle Income$2,840
El SalvadorMedium0.669Lower-Middle Income$3,630
IraqMedium0.667Upper-Middle Income$4,680
NicaraguaMedium0.665Lower-Middle Income$1,850
BangladeshMedium0.662Lower-Middle Income$2,030
TuvaluMedium0.653Upper-Middle Income$5,820
Cape VerdeMedium0.650Lower-Middle Income$3,060
Equatorial GuineaMedium0.647Upper-Middle Income$5,810
IndiaMedium0.633Lower-Middle Income$1,920
GuatemalaMedium0.630Upper-Middle Income$4,490
KiribatiMedium0.627Lower-Middle Income$2,960
HondurasMedium0.620Lower-Middle Income$2,180
NamibiaMedium0.616Upper-Middle Income$4,500
LaosMedium0.615Lower-Middle Income$2,520
VanuatuMedium0.614Lower-Middle Income$3,190
EswatiniMedium0.612Lower-Middle Income$3,410
Sao Tome and PrincipeMedium0.609Lower-Middle Income$2,060
GhanaMedium0.600Lower-Middle Income$2,340
MyanmarMedium0.599Lower-Middle Income$1,350
KenyaMedium0.596Lower-Middle Income$1,840
CambodiaMedium0.596Lower-Middle Income$1,500
NepalMedium0.591Lower-Middle Income$1,190
AngolaMedium0.590Lower-Middle Income$2,140
ComorosMedium0.585Lower-Middle Income$1,400
CameroonMedium0.581Lower-Middle Income$1,520
Timor LesteMedium0.574Lower-Middle Income$1,990
ZambiaMedium0.565Lower-Middle Income$1,160
Papua New GuineaMedium0.564Lower-Middle Income$2,720
Solomon IslandsMedium0.564Lower-Middle Income$2,300
HaitiMedium0.551Lower-Middle Income$1,320
ZimbabweMedium0.549Lower-Middle Income$1,140
NigeriaLow0.542Lower-Middle Income$2,000
MauritaniaLow0.538Lower-Middle Income$1,670
PakistanLow0.537Lower-Middle Income$1,270
Ivory CoastLow0.530Lower-Middle Income$2,280
TanzaniaLow0.529Lower-Middle Income$1,080
LesothoLow0.522Lower-Middle Income$1,100
SenegalLow0.512Lower-Middle Income$1,430
DjiboutiLow0.512Lower-Middle Income$3,310
BeninLow0.502Lower-Middle Income$1,280
Guinea BissauLow0.482Low-Income$760
DR CongoLow0.475Low-Income$550
Sierra LeoneLow0.456Low-Income$510
Burkina FasoLow0.445Low-Income$770
Central African RepublicLow0.387Low-Income$500
South SudanLow0.381Low-Income$1,090
showing: 125 rows

How many countries are considered developing?

There are 125 developing countries in the world.

Frequently Asked Questions