What is a low-income country? According to the World Bank, low-income countries are nations that have a per capita gross national income (GNI) of less than $1,026.
GNI per capita (formerly GNP per capita) is the dollar value of a country's final income divided by its population. Its income is the sum of value added by all resident producers and product taxes not included in the output valuation plus net receipts of primary income from abroad. The numbers provided on this page are GNI per capita converted to current U.S. dollars using the World Bank Atlas method divided by the mid-year population. GNI is converted to U.S. dollars at official exchange rates for comparisons across economies. The Atlas method applies a conversion factor that averages the exchange rate for a given year and the two preceding years adjusted for differences in inflation between the country and the Euro area, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The World Bank classifies countries into several categories. Originally, there were three categories: high-income countries, middle-income countries, and low-income countries. The high-income group has the highest income globally, with a GNI per capita of at least $12,476. The upper-middle-income group has per capita incomes between $4,038 and $12,475. The lower-middle-income nations have GNI per capita of $1,026 to $4,035. Finally, low-income countries have GNI per capita of $1,025 or less.
Low-income countries are often synonymous with underdeveloped countries, also known as developing countries, emerging markets, or newly industrialized countries. These counties receive development aid, which is financial aid given by governments or agencies to boost and support the economic, political, social, and environmental development in other countries. Bilateral aid is given directly from the donor country to another, and multilateral aid is given to an international organization that distributes aid to developing countries. World Bank and United Nations agencies such as UNICEF are examples of organizations that are involved in development aid.
Low-income countries face struggles relating to a poor economy. Issues related to poor economic health include below-average life expectancy, high infant mortality rates, poor educational outcomes, degrading infrastructure, environmental and climate conditions, and poor health outcomes. These low-income countries suffer high rates of illnesses and infections due to lack of clean water, low sanitation levels, malnutrition, and lack of access to quality medical care.
Most countries' numbers in the table below are from 2019, except Somalia (1990), Yemen (2018), and Eritrea (2011). There are currently 24 countries in the low-income country category. Somalia is at the bottom of the low-income country list, with a GNI per capita of $130.