Poorest Asian Countries 2021

Asia is the largest continent on Earth, spanning over 17.2 million square miles (44.58 square kilometers) and home to over 4.5 billion people as of June 2019. Asia comprises about 30% of Earth's total land areas of 8.7% of Earth's total surface area. Asia is comprised of 48 countries, three of which are transcontinental, having some land in Europe.

Asia is home to very powerful countries, including China, India, Japan, and South Korea. China and India have the world's largest populations, with 1.44 billion and 1.38 billion people, respectively. China and India have the largest and second-largest economies in Asia and the second-largest and fifth-largest economies in the world.

Other countries in Asia are not as prosperous. Below are the poorest countries in Asia based on GDP per capita. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of the standard of living in a given country since it reflects each resident's average wealth.

1. North Korea

Based on available data, North Korea is the poorest country in Asia, with a per capita GDP of just $651. Poverty in North Korea is attributed to poor governance by the totalitarian regime. The free market is nearly non-existent in North Korea. As of 2020, it is estimated that about 60% of North Korea's population lives below the poverty line.

2. Nepal

Nepal is the second-poorest country in Asia. Nepal's per capita GDP is $718. Nepal's poverty is due to political instability and corruption, a lack of industry, and its dependence on agriculture. Despite being rich in natural resources, Nepal has not utilized and capitalized on its resources by selling it to other countries.

3. Tajikistan

With a GDP per capita just above Nepal's at $729, Tajikistan is the third-poorest country in Asia. A lack of infrastructure stagnates Tajikistan's economy. Many skilled people leave the country to search for better work opportunities, leaving Tajikistan with one of the world's largest remittance economies. Additionally, Tajikistan's civil war destroyed about one-fifth of schools in the country, taking away children's ability to receive an education, one of the largest factors in reducing poverty.

4. Yemen

Yemen has a per capita GDP of $851. According to the United Nations, Yemen is ranked 168th out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), meaning that it is one of the world's least-developed nations. Yemen's poverty stems from its civil war, corruption, and economic mismanagement. Because of the civil war, more and more Yemen residents are falling below the poverty line. About 79% of the population lives under the poverty line, and 65% classify as extremely poor.

5. Kyrgyzstan

With a GDP of $1,004, Kyrgyzstan is the fifth-poorest country in Asia. Kyrgyzstan has the second-lowest gross national income (GNI) in Europe and Central Asia, and about 32% of its population lives below the poverty line. The largest factors for poverty in Kyrgyzstan are its dependence on agriculture and the gaps in knowledge and resources among its people. Kyrgyzstan also has few natural resources that are desirable to the rest of the world and can only export cotton and tobacco. Additionally, there is a lack of banking and financial services in the country, preventing people from investing and hindering economic growth.

6. Cambodia

Cambodia's GDP per capita is $1,197. As the sixth-poorest country in Asia, Cambodia has very few human resources and widespread income inequality. Despite recent economic achievements, the country struggles with poverty, and the government has done little to build the necessary infrastructure required to lift millions of its people out of poverty.

7. Myanmar

Myanmar is Asia's seventh-poorest country. Myanmar's per capita GDP is $1,207, just above Cambodia's. About 26% of the population lives in poverty, and poverty is twice as high in rural areas, where about 70% of the population lives. The main factors contributing to slow economic growth are poor government planning, internal unrest, the lack of foreign investment, a large trade deficit, and inadequate infrastructure and know-how to take advantage of the country's natural resources.

8. Syria

With a per capita GDP of $1,266, Syria is the eighth-poorest Asian country. About 80% of Syrians live at or below the poverty level as of 2017, a 45% increase since 2007. The reason for the sharp rise in poverty is because of the Syrian Civil War. The conflict has destroyed health care infrastructure and education institutes and schools. Education is one of the best ways out of poverty, and about 50% of Syrian children no longer attend school because of the conflict. In recent years, Syria has also experienced very high levels of inflation, reaching its highest level of 121.29% in 2014.

9. Pakistan

Pakistan is the ninth-poorest country in Asia. With a per capita GDP just above Syria's of $1,279, about 40% of Pakistan's population lives in extreme poverty. This is despite the country being very rich in natural resources. This is because of several reasons, including corruption and elitism in the Pakistani government, religious and secular conflict, and the lack of democratic ideals. The country also spends the largest part of its national expenditures on defense and, as a result, only spends 2.6% of its total GDP on education. This has caused about half of the country's population to be uneducated.

10. India

Finishing the list of the ten poorest countries in Asia is India, which has a per capita GDP of $1,637. Despite having the fifth-largest economy globally in terms of GDP, about 21% of India's population (269 million people) live below the poverty line. Causes for poverty in India include illiteracy, gender discrimination, unequal distribution of wealth, and the increasing population.

Here are the 10 poorest countries in Asia:

  1. Taiwan (-)
  2. Bhutan ($2.21 Bn)
  3. Timor Leste ($2.70 Bn)
  4. Maldives ($4.22 Bn)
  5. Kyrgyzstan ($6.55 Bn)
  6. Tajikistan ($6.95 Bn)
  7. Armenia ($10.57 Bn)
  8. Mongolia ($11.16 Bn)
  9. Brunei ($11.40 Bn)
  10. Palestine ($13.40 Bn)

Poorest Asian Countries 2021

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Poorest Asian Countries 2021

Country GDP (IMF '19) GDP (UN '16) Per Capita
Taiwan$601.43 Bn--
Bhutan$2.84 Bn$2.21 Bn$2.21 Bn
Timor Leste$3.15 Bn$2.70 Bn$2.70 Bn
Maldives$5.75 Bn$4.22 Bn$4.22 Bn
Kyrgyzstan$8.33 Bn$6.55 Bn$6.55 Bn
Tajikistan$7.70 Bn$6.95 Bn$6.95 Bn
Armenia$13.11 Bn$10.57 Bn$10.57 Bn
Mongolia$13.70 Bn$11.16 Bn$11.16 Bn
Brunei$13.32 Bn$11.40 Bn$11.40 Bn
Palestine-$13.40 Bn$13.40 Bn
Georgia$17.21 Bn$14.33 Bn$14.33 Bn
Laos$20.15 Bn$15.81 Bn$15.81 Bn
North Korea-$16.79 Bn$16.79 Bn
Cambodia$26.98 Bn$20.02 Bn$20.02 Bn
Afghanistan$19.99 Bn$20.24 Bn$20.24 Bn
Nepal$28.92 Bn$20.91 Bn$20.91 Bn
Syria-$22.16 Bn$22.16 Bn
Yemen$29.08 Bn$25.37 Bn$25.37 Bn
Bahrain$38.95 Bn$32.18 Bn$32.18 Bn
Turkmenistan$50.35 Bn$36.18 Bn$36.18 Bn
Azerbaijan$45.25 Bn$37.85 Bn$37.85 Bn
Jordan$44.26 Bn$38.65 Bn$38.65 Bn
Macau$58.05 Bn$45.31 Bn$45.31 Bn
Lebanon$58.28 Bn$50.46 Bn$50.46 Bn
Oman$79.46 Bn$63.17 Bn$63.17 Bn
Myanmar$65.67 Bn$65.70 Bn$65.70 Bn
Uzbekistan$49.20 Bn$67.78 Bn$67.78 Bn
Sri Lanka$84.16 Bn$81.32 Bn$81.32 Bn
Kuwait$136.94 Bn$110.35 Bn$110.35 Bn
Kazakhstan$164.21 Bn$135.01 Bn$135.01 Bn
Qatar$193.50 Bn$152.45 Bn$152.45 Bn
Iraq$225.26 Bn$160.02 Bn$160.02 Bn
Vietnam$260.30 Bn$205.28 Bn$205.28 Bn
Bangladesh$314.66 Bn$220.84 Bn$220.84 Bn
Pakistan$278.02 Bn$282.51 Bn$282.51 Bn
Malaysia$373.45 Bn$296.53 Bn$296.53 Bn
Singapore$372.81 Bn$296.95 Bn$296.95 Bn
Philippines$356.68 Bn$304.91 Bn$304.91 Bn
Israel$381.57 Bn$317.75 Bn$317.75 Bn
Hong Kong$381.72 Bn$320.91 Bn$320.91 Bn
United Arab Emirates$427.88 Bn$348.74 Bn$348.74 Bn
Thailand$516.66 Bn$407.03 Bn$407.03 Bn
Iran$484.66 Bn$425.40 Bn$425.40 Bn
Saudi Arabia$762.26 Bn$639.62 Bn$639.62 Bn
Turkey$706.24 Bn$863.71 Bn$863.71 Bn
Indonesia$1.10 Tn$932.26 Bn$932.26 Bn
South Korea$1.66 Tn$1.41 Tn$1.41 Tn
India$2.97 Tn$2.26 Tn$2.26 Tn
Japan$5.18 Tn$4.94 Tn$4.94 Tn
China$14.22 Tn$11.22 Tn$11.22 Tn

Poorest Asian Countries 2021