Least Developed Countries

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The Least Developed Countries are countries which according to the United Nations exhibit the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world. A country is classified as a Least Developed Country if it meets three criteria [1] based on:

  • low-income (three-year average Gross National Income per capita of less than US $750, which must exceed $900 to leave the list)
  • human resource weakness (based on indicators of nutrition, health, education and adult literacy) and
  • economic vulnerability (based on instability of agricultural production, instability of exports of goods and services, economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration, and handicap of economic smallness, and the percentage of population displaced by natural disasters)

Countries may "graduate" out of the LDC classification when indicators exceed these criteria. The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States coordinates UN support and provides advocacy services for Least Developed Countries.

The classification currently (as of April 16, 2008) applies to 49 countries.[2]

In 2007, the United Nations graduated Cape Verde from the category of Least Developed Countries. This is only the second time it has happened to a country.[3] The first country to graduate from LDC status was Botswana in 1994. Samoa may become the third country to graduate in this manner [4], with a decision on this issue scheduled for 2008.

Current LDCs

Africa (33 countries)

Asia (10 countries)

Oceania (5 countries)

Americas (1 country)

Graduated LDCs

Contact Details

Website: http://www.unohrlls.org/en/ldc/related/58

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. UN-OHRLLS The Criteria for the identification of the LDCs.
  2. About LDCs, Least Developed Countries, UN-OHRLLS. Accessed on line April 16, 2008.
  3. "UN advocate salutes Cape Verde’s graduation from category of poorest States", UN News Centre, 14 June 2007.
  4. Samoa - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  5. Country profiles, Least Developed Countries, UN-OHRLLS. Accessed on line April 16, 2008.

External Resources

External articles

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