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Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

©Photo: Map courtesy of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the most impoverished and weakest countries across the world with a population of 954 million people representing 13% of the global population in 2015. It is estimated that this will continue to grow until 2050, where 20% of the global citizen population will be living in the LDCs.
The LDCs is comprised of 48 countries. South Sudan is the newest country identified by the Committee Development for Policy at the 2012 triennial review for inclusion in the list of LDCs. Thirty-four (34) Least Developed Countries are located in Africa, thirteen (13) in Asia and the Pacific, and one (1) in Latin America.
The LDCs are defined as low-income countries that are suffering from long-term handicaps to growth, in particular low levels of human resource development and/or severe structural weaknesses. According to the LDCs Facts and Figures of the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), LDCs account less than 2% of the world’s GDP and approximately 1% of international trade benefits.
The United Nations officially established in 1971 the category of the LDCs. They have low-income, low level of human assets, vulnerable to both socio-economic and environmental shocks, and distinctness lies in the profound poverty of their people and in the weakness of their economic, institutional and human resources, often compounded by geophysical handicaps. The LDCs s are particularly ill-equipped to develop their domestic economies and face external shocks or natural disasters. Thus, the group represents the weakest segment of humanity and presents a major challenge to its development partners.

The Criteria for LDCs

​The United Nations officially established in 1971 the category of the LDCs which have low-income, low level of human assets, vulnerable to both socio-economic, and environmental shocks.

The latest triennial review of the list of Least Developed Countries in 2015, the CDP The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) a subsidiary body of the  UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to review and monitor every three years the list of LDCs and make recommendations on the inclusion and graduation of eligible countries using three criteria based income per capita, human assets, and economic vulnerability. The CDP defines the LDCs as "low-income countries suffering from the most severe structural impediments to sustainable development."

Eligibility to Graduate from the LDC List

​Countries that meet two of the criteria for the first time become eligible for graduation and those that do so in two consecutive reviews qualify for graduation from the list. 

The Graduation Thresholds from 2015 Triennial Review are as follows: 
The threshold inclusions is set at an average level of three years of GNI per capita, defined by the World Bank, in identifying blue-income countries.

The graduation threshold is set at 20 per cent above the inclusion threshold. It was $ 1,242 at the 2015 review.
The income-only graduation threshold is twice the graduation threshold. At the 2015 review it was $ 2,484.
Human Assets Index: 66 or above
Economic Vulnerability Index: 32 or below

List of LDCs

LDCs by Region

List of LDCs which are also LLDCs and SIDS

LDCs Project Highlights