An underdeveloped country is a country characterized by widespread chronic poverty and less economic development than other nations. Emerging markets, developing countries, and newly industrialized countries are often used interchangeably for an underdeveloped country.
These countries have very low per capita income, and many residents live in very poor conditions, including lacking access to education and health care. Additionally, underdeveloped countries have obsolete methods of production and social organization. These nations often experience high birth rates and high population growth, further contributing to their widespread poverty.
The most accurate way to categorize the development of countries is by using the Human Development Index (HDI). The Human Development index looks at each country's human development, such as life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators. Human Development Index ranks countries on a scale from 0-1, from least developed to most developed. There are four tiers: low human development (0-.55), medium human development (.55-.70), high human development (.70-80), and very high human development (.80-1.0).
The United Nations (UN) holds a conference every ten years on the world's underdeveloped countries. During the most recent meeting, the UN set a goal to graduate 50% of the current underdeveloped countries to a higher economic status by 2022. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has created an Integrated Framework of Action to integrate these countries into the global economy by assisting with trade and market access with the hopes of encouraging economic growth and development.
The most underdeveloped countries in the world are referred to as the least developed countries or LDCs. According to the UN, there are 47 LDCs. Among these are Niger, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad, and Burundi. On the other hand, a developed country is one with a well-developed economy and is technologically advanced.