The Poorest Countries in Asia 2024

Not only is it the most populated continent on the planet with around 3 billion people. Asia is also the largest continent in the world. However, it is also the continent with the greatest socio-economic contrasts, since it has some of the richest nations on the Globe and, also, the poorest that are victims of totalitarian and genocidal regimes.

The good side of the balance is made up of great powers such as South Korea, China, Japan, Singapore or Indonesia. Almost all of them became major industrial and technological centers during the 20th century in areas such as technology, medicine or architecture.

The most populated territory on the planet suffers from economic insecurity and some 500 million people, especially women and children, live below the poverty line.

But the other side of the coin of the Asian continent is reflected in the fact that it is also home to the poorest countries in the world. Among the top 50 regions with the lowest GDP per capita figures, 11 are in Asia. 

The most populated territory on the planet suffers from economic insecurity and some 500 million people, especially women and children, live below the poverty line.

Causes Of Poverty In Asia

Asia is a continent of contrasts. It has the largest number of billionaires in the world and, at the same time, is home to about two-thirds of the planet’s poor. The inequality of wealth distribution is alarming. 

Only a small percentage of the population accumulates enormous fortunes and another larger proportion of people do not have enough to eat.

Among other causes of poverty in Asia is poor human management of resources, mainly generated by authoritarian regimes.

But Asia also suffers greatly from extreme weather events, such as typhoons and cyclones. These destroy cereal, palm and rubber crops, products that are in high demand around the world. Millions of families depend on agriculture to live.

Also, earthquakes and tsunamis are a threat to the Southeast Asian area. In 2004, there was a major natural tragedy in Indonesia that cost years of recovery.

Asia’s Poorest Countries

The list of the poorest countries in Asia, according to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) published by the International Monetary Fund in the last year, is made up of the following countries:


Afghanistan has a GDP per capita of €498 and is the poorest country in Asia. However, it has great potential in the agricultural and mining sector, which has not been possible to take advantage of due to armed conflicts, both nationally and internationally.


Tajikistan has a GDP per capita of €810 and more than 40% of its population lives with a very low poverty rate. In 1997, it suffered a civil war that stagnated the country and especially impeded its economic development.

Tajikistan has about 10 million inhabitants and is a landlocked country. More than 70% of its population lives in rural areas and it is women who are in charge of the crops because men emigrate to the city or other countries in search of better work.

In rural areas, the lands are not very fertile and there is no investment in agricultural machinery, equipment and infrastructure to increase production. Added to this is a heavy external debt, a seasonal electricity shortage and a weak government.


Yemen has a GDP per capita of €824 and has been suffering a political, social and armed conflict for more than 6 years, classified as one of the worst humanitarian and development crises the world has ever experienced. More than 15.6 million people suffer from extreme poverty in Yemen and the war has claimed more than 1 million lives.


Kyrgyzstan has a GDP per capita of €1,170 and a high infant mortality rate. In this sense, one in five children dies due to lack of adequate nutrition and timely medical care. Since its independence in 1991, it has experienced numerous problems such as political and social instability, as well as weak governance and corruption.


Nepal has a GDP per capita of €1,197 and is located between two Asian giants such as China and India. It is a country with great seismic activity and attracts many tourists because it is the region where Everest is located.

A quarter of the population is below the poverty line. Nepal has been living for more than 10 years in a political transition that left the civil war and its people depend on agriculture, which has been affected by natural tragedies.

The poorest country in Asia is Afghanistan. According to a Fewsnet report, more than 72% of the population lives below the poverty line. Additionally, they are at risk of acute food insecurity.

Why Is Afghanistan Poor?

According to the International Monetary Fund, Afghanistan is the poorest country in Asia due to the strong repression of the Taliban, armed conflicts, droughts and floods. Poverty is widespread throughout the country and three-quarters of people living in rural areas suffer from food shortages and extreme poverty.

The person most responsible for this dramatic situation is the Taliban regime, which ruled the country between 1996 and 2001. In just five years the representatives of this political-religious organization, internationally condemned for its orthodox interpretation of Islamic law, denied the supply of food of the UN to almost two hundred thousand hungry people.

During this time, the Taliban were especially cruel to the women and girls of the country. They prohibited minors from going to school, while they prohibited women from working in any activity other than medical care, since men are prohibited from clinically treating women or girls. If women broke any of the rules imposed by the Taliban, they were flogged, stoned to death, or publicly executed.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, the United States and NATO invaded the country until 2021, the year in which their troops and the rest of NATO representation withdraw. During those years, the Taliban were expelled from power, but in May of that same year they regained control of the country, when the Islamist insurgents gradually reconquered the territory and the provincial capitals.

Read Also: Poorest Countries in the World

In August 2021, the Taliban took Kabul on Sunday, August 15. And since then they have reimposed strong control in Afghanistan. Since then, the all-powerful Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice reimposed the mandatory wearing of the burqa in public places for everyone, a measure that adds to the long list of limitations for Afghan women and girls.

Afghanistan’s economic activities are focused on agricultural production and this has been slowed by long years of conflict, severe droughts, terrible floods and lack of investment in equipment and infrastructure.

Rural Afghanistan is limited by a lack of security, which leads to little trust and no investment. Therefore, there is no economic growth. The country’s economy is on the verge of collapse, as the new government has not executed any plan to ensure food security.

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