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Countries of the Third World


Kathmandu and the Himalayas, Nepal
Wish you were here. Picture postcard from the Third World. Kathmandu, Nepal, the mighty Himalayas in the background.
Image: Avel Chuklanov



The Third World

The term Third World was originally coined in times of the Cold War to distinguish those nations that are neither aligned with the West (NATO) nor with the East, the Communist bloc. Today the term is often used to describe the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia/Oceania.

Many poorer nations adopted the term to describe themselves.

Over the years, the meaning of the term has become an elastic word. On this page, the term Third World is used to identify the countries with substandard, underdeveloped, or underperforming conditions in certain fields, which are in great need of development.

And yes, it's a mess. It almost seems as if the very different humanitarian conditions of the people on this planet are a mirror of the conditions in heaven and hell and all instances in between.

In this article, the term Third World is also used to refer to the underdeveloped state of countries in certain areas that are in great need of development.

Below Third World Countries by various categories:
These countries can be called Third World Countries in terms of Political Rights and Civil Liberties.
Third World Countries in terms of their Gross National Income (GNI)
Third World Countries in Terms of their Human Development
Third World Countries in Terms of Poverty
Third World Countries in Terms of Press Freedom



Political Rights and Civil Liberties Gross National Income (GNI) Human Development Poverty Press Freedom





 
Subsistence agriculture
Many countries of the Third World have an agriculture-dependent economy, and subsistence farming is widespread.
Image: Silvia De Giovanni
 

Third World Countries in terms of political rights and civil liberties.



The most repressive regimes in the world.


List of countries with the worst records for political rights and civil liberties. Within these countries and territories, state control over daily life is pervasive and wide-ranging. Independent organizations and political opposition are banned or suppressed, and fear of retribution for independent thought and action is part of everyday life.
According to the Freedom House report Freedom in the World 2007, there are eight countries judged to have the worst records:


Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Also included are two territories, Chechnya (Russian Federation) and Tibet, whose inhabitants suffer intense repression. These states and regions received the Freedom House survey’s lowest rating: 7 for political rights and 7 for civil liberties.

The report also includes nine other countries that are at the bottom of Freedom House's list of most repressively governed countries:
Belarus, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Zimbabwe.
The territory of Western Sahara (most of the region is controlled by Morocco) is also included in this group.

While these states scored slightly better than the “worst of the worst,” they offer minimal scope for private discussion while severely suppressing opposition political activity, impeding independent organizing, and censoring or punishing criticism of the state.
(Source: Freedom House Freedom in the World 2007)

Not much has changed since 2007, except that the flow of refugees from poorer countries toward first-world countries has increased significantly.

2020 List of countries with a very poor record on political rights and civil liberties.
Listed below are the countries with the least freedom scores. About half of these countries are in Africa. Four states are communist countries, China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba. More than half of the countries on the list are countries with a predominantly Muslim population.
Some of the countries with poor freedom scores are among the very poorest nations with underdeveloped economies, such as South Sudan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where per capita income (GDP (PPP)) is less than $1,000 per year, or less than $3 a day.
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Flag
Country
Population
Freedom Score

 

1
Flag of South Sudan
South Sudan
11,000,000
-2/100
Since independence from Sudan in 2011, political elites have presided over rampant corruption, economic collapse, and atrocities against civilians, journalists, and aid workers. [1]
 
2
Flag of Syria
17,500,000
0/100
Syria is a country with a predominantly Muslim population (87%). In Syria, political rights and civil liberties have been severely compromised by one of the world's most repressive regimes and by other belligerent forces in an ongoing civil war. [2]
 
--
Flag of Tibet (1914-1951)
3,430,000
1/100
Tibet is ruled by China. Residents of both Chinese and Tibetan ethnicity are denied basic rights, and authorities are particularly rigorous in suppressing all signs of dissent among Tibetans, including manifestations of unique Tibetan religious beliefs and cultural identity. [3]
 
3
Flag of Turkmenistan
6,000,000
2/100
Turkmenistan is a repressive authoritarian state with a predominantly Muslim population where political rights and civil liberties are almost completely denied in practice. [4]
 
4
Flag of Eritrea
est. 5 to 6 million
2/100
Eritrea is a militarized authoritarian one-party state that has not held a national election since independence from Ethiopia in 1993. [5] Under the pretext of defending the state's integrity and ensuring its self-sufficiency, Eritreans are subjected to a system of national service and forced labor that effectively abuses, exploits, and enslaves them indefinitely. [OHCHR]
 
5
Flag of North Korea
25,660,000
3/100
North Korea is a one-party state run by a dynastic totalitarian dictatorship. Surveillance is pervasive, arbitrary arrests and detentions are common, and punishments for political offenses are harsh. [6]
 
--
Flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara)
Western Sahara
570,000
4/100
Spain occupied western Sahara until 1975 when the Spanish ceded administrative control of the territory to a joint administration by Morocco and Mauritania. Now Morocco controls the most populous area along the Atlantic coast, but civil liberties are severely restricted, mainly related to independence activism. More recently, the US administration under Donald Trump has recognized Morocco's sovereignty over the territory. [7]
 
--
War Flag of Novorussia
Eastern Donbas
(6,000,000)
5/100
Eastern Donbas refers to Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have been occupied by Russian and Russian-backed separatist forces since 2014. [8]
 
6
Flag of Equatorial Guinea
1,356,000
6/100
President Mbasogo has maintained a highly repressive authoritarian regime since 1979. Oil wealth and political power are concentrated in the hands of the president's family. The government frequently detains the few opposition politicians in the country, cracks down on civil society groups, and censors journalists. The country has a predominantly Christian population[9]
 
7
Saudi Arabia Flag
34,800,000
7/100
Saudi Arabia is an absolute Islamic monarchy that restricts nearly all political rights and civil liberties. The regime relies on pervasive surveillance, criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending funded by oil revenues to maintain power. [10]
 
8
Somalia Flag
15,893,000
7/100
Somalia has struggled to rebuild a functioning state after the collapse of an authoritarian regime in 1991. The country with a predominantly Muslim population is now split into several semiautonomous regions. Its territory is divided among the federal government, five federal member states, the jihadist Shabaab militant group, and a separatist government in Somaliland. [11]
 
--
Flag of Crimea republic
2,200,000
8/100
In early 2014, Russian forces invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula to the Russian Federation through a referendum, a move that was widely condemned as a violation of international law. The occupying government severely restricts political and civil rights, silenced independent media, and applies antiterrorism and other laws against political dissidents. [12]
 
9
Flag of Tajikistan
9,314,000
9/100
The authoritarian regime of President Emomali Rahmon, who rules the Islamic country since 1992, severely restricts political rights and civil liberties. In recent years, political opposition has been crushed by a sustained campaign of repression, and the government exercises tight control over religious expression and activity. [13]
 
10
New Libya Flag
6,871,000
9/100
Libya has been plagued by internal divisions and intermittent civil wars since a popular armed uprising in 2011 deposed and killed longtime dictator Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi. [14]
 
11
Flag of Uzbekistan
34,244,000
10/100
Islamic Uzbekistan remains an authoritarian regime with little movement toward democratization. No opposition parties operate legally. The legislature and the judiciary effectively serve as instruments of the government under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who initiates reforms by decree. The media continue to be tightly controlled by the state. [15]
 
--
South Ossetia Flag
South Ossetia
54,000
10/100
South Ossetia is a breakaway territory of Georgia; it maintained de facto independence after the end of a civil war in 1992. A war in 2008, which also involved Russian forces, led to the displacement of the remaining Georgian government and many ethnic Georgian civilians. Local media and civil society are largely controlled or monitored by the authorities, and the judiciary is subject to political influence and manipulation. [16]
 
12
Flag of  China
1.44 billion
10/100
The People's Republic of China is the most populous country on the planet. China's authoritarian regime has become increasingly repressive in recent years. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has tightened its control over the state bureaucracy, the population of autonomous regions, ethnic groups, the media, online speech, religious groups, universities, businesses, and civil society associations. It has undermined its own already modest rule-of-law reforms. The country has built an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state and a sophisticated Internet censorship system to monitor and suppress public criticism. [17] [HRW]
 
13
Flag of Central African Republic
4,745,000
10/100
The country suffers from pervasive insecurity and a lack of state authority in large parts of the nation. A number of peace agreements between the government and various armed groups didn't improve the security situation. Violent attacks on civilians, including sexual violence, are an acute risk in many areas. There is little support for independent journalists, and nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers, especially aid workers, operate at great personal risk. [18]
 
14
Flag of Azerbaijan
10,067,000
10/100
Azerbaijan is considered the most secular country with a Muslim majority. Power in Azerbaijan's authoritarian regime is concentrated in the hands of Ilham Aliyev and his extended family since 2003. Corruption is widespread, and formal political opposition was diminished by years of persecution. In recent years, the authorities have carried out a sweeping crackdown on civil liberties that leaves little room for independent expression or activism. [19]
 
15
Flag of Bahrain
1,500,000
11/100
The kingdom is one of the most repressive states in the Middle East. Since the violent crackdown on a popular pro-democracy protest movement in 2011, the Sunni-led monarchy has systematically abolished a wide range of political rights and civil liberties, dismantled the political opposition, and cracked down on persistent dissent among the Shiite population. [20]
 
--
Palestinian flag
1,900,000
11/100
The political rights and civil liberties of Gaza residents are severely restricted. Israel's de facto blockade of the territory, along with its periodic military incursions and violations of the rule of law, has imposed serious hardships on the civilian population, as has Egypt's tight control over the southern border. The Islamist political and militant group Hamas gained control of Gaza in 2007. [21]
 
16
Yemen Flag
29,826,000
11/100
Yemen, long the site of a series of minor internal conflicts, has been ravaged by a civil war involving regional powers since 2015. Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened that year to support President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government against the Houthis, a rebel movement that has its roots in the Zaidi Shiite community, a large minority in Yemen. Civilians have suffered direct violence from both sides, as well as hunger and disease caused by the disruption of trade and aid deliveries. Elections are long overdue, normal political operations have ground to a halt, and many state institutions have ceased to function. [22]
 
17
Flag of Sudan
43,849,000
12/100
The military leaders and civilian protesters who toppled the repressive regime of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 are uneasy partners in a transitional government that, if successful, will be replaced by an elected government in 2022. The civilian space is slowly opening up to individuals and opposition parties. Still, security personnel associated with the abuses of the old regime remain influential, and their commitment to political and civil liberties is unclear. Like many countries in Northern Africa, the majority of Sudan's population is Muslim. [23]
 
18
Flag of Burundi
12,044,000
13/100
The democratic gains made after the end of the 12-year civil war in 2005 were undone by a shift toward authoritarian policies and violent repression against anyone perceived as opposing the ruling party. The UN accused the country of various crimes and human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence, in a September 2017 report. [24]
 
19
Flag of Laos
7,124,000
14/100
Laos is a communist, Buddhist, one-party state in which the ruling party dominates all aspects of politics and severely restricts civil liberties. There is no organized opposition and no truly independent civil society. Reporting on the country is limited by the remoteness of some areas, the suppression of domestic media, and the opacity of the regime. [25]
 
20
Cuba Flag
11,280,000
14/100
Cuba is a one-party communist state that prohibits political pluralism, bans independent media, represses dissent, and severely restricts basic civil liberties. The government continues to dominate the economy, despite recent reforms that allow some private-sector activity. [26]
 
21
Flag of Venezuela
32,220,000
16/100
Venezuela's democratic conditions have deteriorated drastically in recent years due to the government's continued concentration of power and the crackdown on the opposition. The authorities have closed virtually all channels of political dissent. They restricted civil liberties and prosecuted perceived opponents without regard to due process. The country's severe humanitarian crisis has left millions unable to meet their basic needs, and many Venezuelans have been driven into mass emigration. Government corruption is pervasive, and law enforcement agencies have proven incapable of curbing violent crime. [27]
 
22
Flag of Chad
16,245,000
16/100
Chad has held regular presidential elections since 1996, but no election has ever brought about a change in power. Parliamentary elections are routinely postponed and have not been held since 2011. Opposition activists risk arrest and severe mistreatment while in detention. The state faces multiple insurgencies led by militant rebels in the north and by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. [28]
 
23
UAE Flag
9,890,000
17/100
Limited elections are held for a federal advisory body, but political parties are banned, and all executive, legislative and judicial powers ultimately rest with the seven hereditary rulers. Civil liberties of both citizens and non-citizens, who make up an overwhelming majority of the population, are subject to significant restrictions. [29]
 
24
Iran Flag
84,000,000
17/100
Elections are held regularly in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Still, they do not meet democratic standards, in part due to the influence of the Guardian Council. This unelected body disqualifies any candidate it deems insufficiently loyal to the clerical establishment.
Ultimate power lies in the hands of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the unelected institutions under his control. These institutions, including the security forces and the judiciary, play an important role in suppressing dissent and other restrictions on civil liberties.. [30]
 
25
Cameroon Flag
26,546,000
18/100
President Paul Biya has ruled Cameroon since 1982, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) has held on to power by rigging elections, using state resources for political patronage, and restricting the activities of opposition parties. Security forces use force to crackdown on anti-government protests. The insurgent group Boko Haram continues to attack civilians in northern Cameroon, and security forces responding to the insurgency have been accused of committing human rights abuses against civilians. The conflict between security forces and separatists in Anglophone regions in the northwest and southwest has intensified, resulting in numerous civilian deaths and displacements. [31]
 
26
Flag of Democratic Republic of the Congo
89,561,000
18/100
The political system in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been crippled in recent years by the manipulation of electoral laws and procedures by political elites.
Citizens are unable to exercise basic civil liberties freely, and corruption is endemic throughout the government. Physical security is compromised due to violence and human rights abuses by government forces as well as armed rebel groups and militias active in many areas of the country. [32]
 
27
Eswatini Flag
Eswatini (Swaziland)
1,160,000
19/100
Eswatini (aka Swaziland, until 2018) is a monarchy currently ruled by King Mswati III. The king exercises supreme authority over all branches of the national government and effectively controls local government through his influence over traditional chiefs. Political dissent and civic and union involvement are severely punished under sedition and other laws. Other human rights concerns include the impunity of security forces and discrimination against women and LGBT+ people. [33]
 
28
Flag of Belarus
9,397,000
19/100
Belarus is an authoritarian police state in which elections are openly rigged, and civil liberties are curtailed. After permitting limited displays of liberalism during the pursuit of better relations with the European Union (EU) and the United States, the government visibly backtracked to strengthen control over the scarce space for freedom. [34]
 
29
Vietnam Flag
96,209,000
20/100
Vietnam is a one-party state that has been dominated by the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) for decades. Although some independent candidates are technically allowed to run in parliamentary elections, most are banned in practice. Freedom of expression, religion, and civic engagement are severely restricted. The authorities are increasingly cracking down on citizens' use of social media and the Internet. [35]
 
30
Republic of the Congo Flag
5,518,000
20/100
By severely suppressing opposition President Denis Sassou Nguesso has held onto power for more than three decades in the oil and timber-rich country. Corruption and decades of political instability have contributed to poor economic performance and high poverty. Abuses by security forces are frequently reported and rarely investigated. There are a variety of media outlets, but independent reporting is severely limited by widespread self-censorship. Human rights and pro-government nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) scrutinize state abuses but also practice self-censorship to avoid reprisals. [36]
 
31
Flag of the Russian Federation
146,749,000
20/100
Power in Russia's authoritarian political system is concentrated in the hands of President Vladimir Putin. With loyalist security forces, a subservient judiciary, a controlled media environment, and a legislature consisting of a ruling party and pliable opposition factions, the Kremlin is able to manipulate elections and suppress genuine dissent. Rampant corruption facilitates shifting links among bureaucrats and organized crime groups. [37]
 

 
The list of countries with an abysmal human rights rating is not exhaustive. The list is only the tip of the iceberg. See the full report on Freedom House.

See also below: Third World Countries in Terms of Press Freedom

 


Who knows tomorrow. Ghana people at the river. Washing clothes in the river is still a common method of doing laundry in many less developed parts of the world.
Image: Hugues
 



Third World Countries in Terms of their Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.



Global poverty is one of the world's most serious problems. Poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, but still, more than 40% of the world population live on less than $5.50 a day. 'No Poverty' was one of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


The reasons for poverty in third world countries.
The reasons for poverty in less developed countries are complex. The main ones are poor governance, poor economic planning, high levels of corruption and bribery, human rights violations, lack of security and stability, high fertility rates, the lack of arable land, lack of education, a poor infrastructure, low levels of productivity and high levels of unemployment.
The population is stuck in a cycle of poverty. People have no or limited resources and are vulnerable to abuses such as forced labor and child labor or even slavery, torture, gang violence, and sexual abuse.

Poverty is particularly severe in Sub-Saharan Africa. [UN] [WB]

Per capita income is considered an indicator of a country's standard (or sub-standard) of living. It reflects the average level of disposable income of each person living in a country.

Below is a list of countries with the least gross national income based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita in international dollars.

Simplified, the GNI PPP is the average annual income earned by a citizen of a country.
That means, for example, a citizen of Malawi can spend $2.7 a day to make a living,
a citizen of Haiti just under $5, the average US citizen spends $ 164 daily.

But even these numbers are misleading because the country's filthy rich have much more money to spend and more power and influence than people at the bottom of the social ladder, who are kept in a vicious cycle of poverty.

The list below shows the countries at the lowest end of the income scale.


 
Flag
Country
Region
GNI PPP

 

1
Flag of Burundi
Eastern Africa
783
Burundi is a densely populated country with a high population growth rate, factors that, combined with land scarcity and poverty, put a large portion of the population at risk of food insecurity. About 90% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture. The division of land to sons and redistribution to returning refugees results in increasingly smaller, overused, and less productive plots.
 
2
Flag of South Sudan
South Sudan
Northeastern Africa
884
South Sudan is one of the world's poorest countries and ranks among the lowest in many socioeconomic categories. Problems are exacerbated by ongoing tensions with Sudan over oil revenues and land borders, fighting between government forces and rebel groups, and inter-communal violence. Most of the population lives from agriculture, a smaller part from livestock; more than 80% of the population lives in rural areas.
 
3
Flag of Central African Republic
Central Africa
972
The country's high mortality rate and low life expectancy are attributed to elevated rates of preventable and treatable diseases (including malaria and malnutrition), an inadequate health care system, precarious food security, and armed conflict. Some of the worst mortality rates are in western CAR's diamond mining region, which is impoverished because of government attempts to control the diamond trade and the fall in industrial diamond prices. To make matters worse, the government and international donors have reduced health funding in recent years. The CAR's weak educational system and low literacy rate have also suffered due to the country's ongoing conflict. Schools are closed, qualified teachers are scarce, infrastructure, funding, and supplies are lacking and subject to looting, and many students and teachers are displaced by violence.
 
4
Flag of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Middle Africa
978
Despite a wealth of fertile soil, hydroelectric power potential, and mineral resources, the DRC struggles with many socioeconomic problems such as high infant and maternal mortality rate, malnutrition, lack of access to improved water sources and sanitation. An ongoing conflict, mismanagement of resources, and a lack of investment have resulted in food insecurity. Basic public services like education, health, sanitation and drinking water - are very limited and fragmented, with significant regional and rural/urban variations.

 
5
Malawi Flag
African Great Rift Valley
995
Population growth (5 children per woman) puts pressure on agricultural lands, water, and forest resources. Corruption and the scourge of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi. [CIA WF]
 
6
Niger Flag
Sahel West Africa
1,253
Niger has the highest total fertility rate (TFR) of any country globally, averaging close to 7 children per woman. Because of large family sizes, children are inheriting smaller and smaller parcels of land. The dependence of most Nigeriens on subsistence farming on increasingly small landholdings, coupled with declining rainfall and the resultant shrinkage of arable land, are all preventing food production from keeping up with population growth. [CIA-WF]
Despite significant strides made by Niger over the past decade to reduce the country's poverty rate, the extreme poverty rate remained very high at 41.4% in 2019, affecting more than 9.5 million people. [World Bank]
 
7
Mozambique Flag
Southern Africa
1,279
Mozambique is a poor, sparsely populated country with high fertility (5 children per woman) and mortality rates (HIV/AIDS). The country's high poverty rate is sustained by natural disasters, disease, high population growth, low agricultural productivity, and the unequal distribution of wealth.
 
8
Liberia Flag
Southern West Africa
1,536
Corruption and bribery are endemic at every level of the Liberian government. The country's low agricultural production and low household incomes have created chronic food insecurity since the civil war. Female genital cutting (FGC), with a high mortality rate, is practiced by 10 of Liberia's 16 tribes and affects more than two-thirds of women and girls. [WFB]
 
9
Flag of Chad
Sahel Central Africa
1,618
Conflict and the climate crisis exacerbate hunger and poverty in Chad. 40% of Chad's population lives below the poverty line. Impoverished, uneducated adolescents living in rural areas are most affected. Surrounded by countries at war, Chad also suffers from environmental degradation and rapid desertification. The people in Chad are among the most affected by the global climate breakdown. [WFP]
 
10
Togo Flag
West Africa
1,640
Togo is one of the more densely populated African nations with a TFR of 4.22 children born/woman. Togo's population is estimated to have grown to four times its size between 1960 and 2010. The population suffers from recurring ethnic tensions and periods of political unrest. Poverty and inequality remain extremely high, particularly in rural areas where 69% of households were living below the poverty line in 2015.
 
11
Madagascar Flag
Indian Ocean, Southern Africa
1,647
The island country in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique, is on the United Nations list of Least developed countries. The population is predominantly rural and poor; chronic malnutrition is prevalent, and large families are the norm. Agriculture, including fisheries and forestry, accounting for more than a quarter of GDP and employing about 80% of the population. Deforestation and erosion, exacerbated by bushfires, slash-and-burn agriculture, and the use of firewood as the main source of fuel, are serious problems for the agriculture-dependent economy. [CIA-WFB]
 
12
Sierra Leone Flag
West Africa
1,711
Sierra Leone is a small country in West Africa. Decades of economic decline and 11 years of armed conflict had dramatic consequences on the economy. Despite the wealth of mineral resources, poverty is still widespread among more than 60% of the population. [UNDP]
 
13
Haiti Flag
Hispaniola, Caribbean
1,728
For decades, Haiti has been the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Located on the island of Hispaniola, the country has been hit by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes that caused the death of many people and great damage to homes, livestock, and infrastructure. The country continues to experience periods of political instability, corruption, gang violence, drug trafficking, and organized crime, which hinder Haiti's economic and social development. [HF]
 
14
Eritrea Flag
East Africa
1,824
Eritrea is a multi-ethnic country in East Africa at the Red Sea in the Horn of Africa. The one-party state is run by President Isaias. The private sector in the country was gradually replaced by extensive state control, designed to concentrate scarce resources, and more and more restrictions were imposed on the population. The government developed an institutional framework to force workers into indefinite military and national service. The resulting austerity and extensive government controls spurred the migration of people and capital. [WB]
 
15
Yemen Flag
Arabian Peninsula
1,931
Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since early 2015. Before the conflict escalated, it was the poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); now, according to the UN, it is suffering from the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Because of war, poverty in Yemen has jumped from 47% of the population in 2014 to a projected 75% in 2019. [WB]
 
16
Afghanistan Flag
Central Asia
2,073
The multi-ethnic country is poor due to decades of complex and protracted conflict combined with a changing climate, gender inequalities, rapid urbanization, and a lack of jobs. Over half of the country's population lives below the poverty line. Food insecurity is on the rise, caused by conflicts that cut off entire communities from livelihood opportunities. Concerns about corruption, transparency, and illegal industry (such as the illicit opiate industry) further exacerbate the situation. [WFP]
 
17
Kiribati Flag
Southwestern Pacific Ocean
2,126
Low incomes and weak infrastructure due to the country's remote location away from international markets foster poverty in the island nation. It is estimated that about one in five households and nearly one in four Kiribati residents live below the basic needs poverty line. Families affected by poverty face difficulties on a daily basis. [Save Kiribati]
 
18
Burkina Faso Flag
West Africa
2,203
Burkina Faso is experiencing rapid population growth (nearly 6 children per woman), increasing pressure on the country's limited arable land. Only about one-third of the population is literate, and unemployment is widespread, limiting the economic prospects of Burkina Faso's large working-age population. Despite food shortages and high poverty rates, Burkina Faso has become a destination for refugees from Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Mali in recent years.
 
19
Gambia Flag
West Africa
2,239
At least 70% of the population are farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture and cannot afford improved seeds and fertilizers. Crop failures caused by droughts between 2011 and 2013 have exacerbated poverty, food shortages, and malnutrition.
 
20
Guinea-Bissau Flag
West Africa
2,340
Guinea-Bissau's history of political instability, a civil war, and several coups (the most recent in 2012) have resulted in a fragile state with a weak economy, high unemployment, rampant corruption, widespread poverty, and thriving drug and child trafficking. [WFB]
 

 

Sources of GNI per capita (PPP) by Country: IMF, World Economic Outlook, October 2020. Different but similar rankings are to be found at World Bank - GDP per capita, PPP (current international $) and Central Intelligence Agency: COUNTRY COMPARISON :: GDP - PER CAPITA (PPP)


Market scene in Mandalay
Market scene in Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Image: kk. nationsonline.org
 


Third World Countries in Terms of their Human Development.


The Human Development Index (HDI) is published annually by the UN.
It measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development:

1. Life Expectancy Index (LEI): Life expectancy at birth (in years)

2. Education Index (EI) Mean years of schooling (in years), and Expected years of schooling (in years)

3. Income Index (II): Per capita income (PPP $).



Definitions:
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living - or the lack of it.

Life expectancy at birth: Number of years a newborn infant could expect to live if prevailing patterns of age-specific mortality rates at the time of birth stay the same throughout the infant's life.

Mean years of schooling: Average number of years of education received by people ages 25 and older, converted from education attainment levels using official durations of each level.
Expected years of schooling: Number of years of schooling that a child of school entrance age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrolment rates persist throughout the child's life.

Gross national income (GNI) per capita: Aggregate income of an economy generated by its production and its ownership of factors of production, less the incomes paid for the use of factors of production owned by the rest of the world, converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity (PPP) rates, divided by midyear population.

GNI per capita rank minus HDI rank: Difference in rankings by GNI per capita and by the HDI. A negative value means that the country is better ranked by GNI than by the HDI.

Nonincome HDI: Value of the HDI computed from the life expectancy and education indicators only.


Very high human development
Best in class in the category "Very high human development" in 2020 are 1 Norway, 2 Ireland and Switzerland, 4 Hong Kong, China (SAR) and Iceland, 6 Germany, 7 Sweden, 8 Australia and the Netherlands, 10 Denmark, 11 Finland and Singapore, 13 United Kingdom, 14 Belgium and New Zealand, 16 Canada, 17 United States, 18 Austria, 19 Israel, Japan, and Liechtenstein.

Criticism
The above list already shows some of the HDI's weaknesses; Singapore is ranked 11th (out of 185), although it scores extremely poorly on freedom of the press and freedom of expression, as does Hong Kong (4th). The United States, with its systemic racism and elitism and gaping social divide where more than 60% of people live from paycheck to paycheck, ranks 17th.

The United Arab Emirates is ranked 31st, Saudi Arabia is 40th, and Bahrain 42nd, despite being among the most repressive countries in the world, which in our view is the opposite of a Very high human development.

Below is the list of countries with a "Low Human Development," or the "Third World of Human Development."

  

 
Flag
Country
HDI Score
GNI p.c. PPP $

 

157
Mauritania Flag
0.546
5,135
Mauritania is a desert country in West Africa, with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Half the population lives in or around the coastal capital of Nouakchott. The Muslim nation 1981 die Sklaverei abgeschafft (the last country in the world to do so) and criminalized it in 2007. Still, the millennia-old practice persists, largely because anti-slavery laws are rarely enforced, and the custom is so deeply rooted. Women's limited access to education and discriminatory laws perpetuate gender inequality, which is exacerbated by early and forced marriage and female genital cutting (FGC).
 
158
Benin Flag
0.545
3,254
Benin is a country in southern West Africa, between Togo and Nigeria, with a narrow coastline on the Bay of Benin in the south. Benin's economy is dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. About 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Poverty, unemployment, increased cost of living, and dwindling resources are increasingly driving Beninese into migration. The country has become a major supplier of illicit child labor. High birth rates, poverty, and indifference are to blame for the practice of vidomegon, a legacy of a colonial custom in which families sent their children, particularly girls, to wealthy households as domestic servants. Today the children are often young slaves, sold and used as cheap labor. [UN Human Rights]
 
159
Uganda Flag
0.544
2,123
Uganda, a landlocked country in East Africa, has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the country's economy, employing more than 70% of the labor force. But rapid population increase will further strain the availability of arable land. In addition, Uganda's government has failed to adequately invest in health, education, and economic opportunities for a rapidly growing, predominantly young population. The situation is aggravated because the country has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa - only 22% of Ugandans have access to electricity, dropping to 10% in rural areas.
 
160
Rwanda Flag
0.543
2,155
Rwanda is a small, rural country in east-central Africa with a very high population density. Agriculture accounts for more than 60% of its export earnings. Continued population growth and shrinking agricultural land will put additional strain on families' ability to produce food and access drinking water. Rwanda consistently ranks well for ease of doing business and transparency. But Paul Kagame, who became president in 2000 and has effectively run Rwanda since 1994, faces criticism at home and abroad over his political and human-rights record.
 
161
Nigeria Flag
0.539
4,910
Nigeria is a West African country bordering the Gulf of Guinea. Africa's most populous country is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups. The former British colony is one of the world's largest oil producers, but few Nigerians have benefited. Nigeria's persistently high population growth, relatively low per capita income, inadequate infrastructure, and poor public services, such as health, education, social welfare, transportation, electricity, water and sanitation, leave people disenfranchised and reduce economic growth.
Until now, the country has poorly managed its population growth, communal strife, separatist aspirations, banditry, insurgency, irregular migration, and insecurity.
Nigeria must harness the potential of its growing youth population to spur economic development, reduce widespread poverty, and steer large numbers of unemployed youth into productive activities and away from ongoing religious and ethnic violence.
 
162
Côte d'Ivoire Flag
0.538
5,069
Côte d'Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast, is a country in West Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea. The government needs to improve education, health care, and gender equality to transform its large and growing youth into human capital.
Continued strong economic growth in Côte d'Ivoire led to some improvements in social and economic rights in 2019. However, the government has failed to address the root causes of past political violence, particularly entrenched impunity, a politicized judiciary, and long-standing political and ethnic tensions.
[HRW]
 
163
Tanzania Flag
0.529
2,600
Tanzania is an East African country bordering Lake Victoria in the north, Lake Tanganyika in the west, and the Indian Ocean in the east. Its economy is primarily based on agriculture, which accounts for about one-quarter of the country's GDP. All land in Tanzania is owned by the government, which can lease land for up to 99 years. Tanzania is a country of origin, transit, and destination for men, women, and children who are victims of forced labor and sex trafficking; the exploitation of young girls in domestic slavery remains Tanzania's biggest human trafficking problem.

 
164
Madagascar Flag
0.528
1,596
Madagascar is an island located in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa. Like many former colonial countries, Madagascar went through various political states, including insurgencies, provisional governments, one-party rule, socialist economic policies and the threat of secession. The island nation has many untapped natural resources but no capital markets, a weak judicial system, poorly enforced contracts, and rampant government corruption. The country faces rapid population growth and the challenge to improve education, health care, and the environment to spur long-term economic growth. Agriculture, including fisheries and forestry, is a major pillar of the economy, accounting for more than a quarter of GDP and employing about 80% of the population.
 
165
Lesotho Flag
0.527
3,151
Lesotho is a small landlocked mountainous African kingdom that forms an enclave within South Africa. More than half of the population lives below the property line, and the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the country is the second highest in the world after Eswatini (Swaziland). The country has little arable land, leaving the population vulnerable to food shortages and dependent on remittances, which account for about 17% of GDP.
 
166
Djibouti Flag
0.524
5,689
Djibouti is a small country in East Africa on the Bab al-Mandab strait, east of Ethiopia. Originally a nomadic nation, it has undergone rapid urbanization since colonial times. The ports of Djibouti handle 95% of Ethiopia's trade.
The majority of Djibouti's population is impoverished and is characterized by high rates of illiteracy, unemployment, and child malnutrition. Due to its strategic location, the US, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, Spain, and China maintain a military presence in the country.
 
167
Togo Flag
0.515
1,602
Togo is a small country in West Africa between Benin and Ghana and the Gulf of Guinea. The multi-ethnic state is composed of almost as many ethnic groups as language groups. The country's problems are due to a high birth rate, and poverty and inequality remain high, especially in rural areas. There are ethnic tensions and periods of political unrest.
 
168
Senegal Flag
0.512
3,309
The country on the coast of West Africa still faces serious development challenges, despite significant economic growth and decades of political stability. More than one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, and 75 percent of families suffer from chronic poverty.
 
169
Afghanistan Flag
0.511
2,229
Afghanistan is a mountainous, Islamic country in Central Asia that has suffered decades of complex and protracted conflict. Add to that a changing climate, gender inequalities, rapid urbanization, and underemployment. Corruption and illegal industry further aggravate the situation. The country is the world's largest opium producer. The Taliban and other anti-government groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade.
 
170
Haiti Flag
0.510
1,709
Despite notable improvements, chronic poverty is still widespread throughout the country. Many people don't have easy access to electricity, water, sanitation, or healthcare.
 
170
Flag of Sudan
0.510
3,829
Sudan is situated in northeastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea. A 30-year absolute rule by President Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir ended with his ouster in April 2019.
The country has experienced protracted social conflict and the loss of three-quarters of its oil production due to the secession of South Sudan. Two-thirds of the population live in rural areas on the banks of the Nile and along almost the entire border with South Sudan. The country's economy is heavily dependent on agriculture. High inflation continues to reduce household purchasing power, and people are unable to meet their basic needs.
 
172
Gambia Flag
0.496
2,168
Gambia is a country on the coast of West Africa and consists of a narrow strip of territory on either side of the Gambia River. About 70% of the population are farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture and cannot afford improved seeds and fertilizers. Crop failures caused by droughts exacerbated poverty, food shortages, and malnutrition. Gambia has sparse natural resources. It relies heavily on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts.
 
173
Ethiopia Flag
0.485
2,207
Africa's oldest independent state is a predominantly agricultural country, with more than 70% of Ethiopia's population employed in farming. More than 80% of the people of Africa's second-most populous country live in rural areas. Ethiopia has the lowest level of income-inequality in Africa. Population growth in Ethiopia puts increasing pressure on land resources, exacerbating environmental degradation, and increasing vulnerability to food shortages.
The one-party state has a planned economy and is heavily engaged in economic development. Key sectors are state-owned, including telecommunications, banking and insurance, and power distribution.
 
174
Malawi Flag
0.483
1,035
Located in Southern Africa, east of Zambia, landlocked Malawi is one of the world's least developed countries. The country's economic performance has historically been hampered by inconsistent policies, macroeconomic instability, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity.
 
175
Flag of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Congo (DRC)
0.480
1,063
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in Central Africa, northeast of Angola. The huge nation is endowed with an enormous wealth of natural resources, but bureaucratic inefficiency, corruption, and patronage, combined with nationwide instability and intermittent conflict that began in the early 1990s, has reduced national output and government revenues and increased foreign debt. Poverty remains widespread in DRC.
 
175
Guinea-Bissau Flag
0.480
1,996
Guinea-Bissau is a country on the western coast of Africa, situated between Senegal and Guinea. Since independence in 1974, The country has been plagued by political instability, a civil war, and several coups, resulting in a lack of development and high poverty. Nearly 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. There is a high fertility rate but also a high infant and maternal mortality rate. In addition to widespread poverty, the country is characterized by a weak economy, high unemployment, rampant corruption, and a flourishing drug and child trafficking trade.
 
175
Liberia Flag
0.480
1,258
Liberia is a country on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. It is classified as a least developed, low-income, food-deficit country. Poverty and food insecurity are high throughout the country and particularly acute in rural Liberia, where half the population lives.
 
178
Guinea Flag
0.477
2,405
Guinea is a state in West Africa that borders the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Despite the mineral resources available, such as gold, bauxite, iron ore, and diamonds, the majority of Guinea's citizens live in poverty. 62% of the inhabitants live in rural areas, 38% in cities.
Although life expectancy and mortality rates of the predominantly Muslim population have improved over the last two decades, the nearly universal practice of female genital cutting continues to contribute to high infant and maternal mortality rates.
 
179
Yemen Flag
0.470
1,594
Yemen is a conflict-ridden Arab country in the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Even before the fighting broke out in early 2015, Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. It has been five years since a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia began bombing the country back to the Stone Age. The impact on the country's infrastructure has been devastating, with major overland routes and airports severely damaged. The coordinated response by the humanitarian community has been hampered by the warring parties and has done little to prevent a catastrophe in Yemen.
 
180
Flag of Eritrea
0.459
2,793
The independent state on the Red Sea became independent in 1991. Since independence, Isaias Afwerki has been Eritrea's first and only president; he rules the country with a highly autocratic and repressive regime. Of nine recognized ethnic groups, the Tigrayans are the largest (55%). The country's subsistence agriculture cannot meet the needs of the growing population due to recurrent droughts, shrinking arable land, overgrazing and erosion of soils, and a shortage of farmers due to conscription and displacement. Eritrea's economy depends on the export of gold, zinc and agricultural products.
 
181
Mozambique Flag
0.456
1,250
The country on the east coast of southern Africa is a low-income, food-deficit country with a predominantly rural population totaling 30 million people. In the last decade, the country has been able to reduce poverty somewhat, but these gains have been accompanied by a growing gap between the better-off and the poor. Mozambique's still high poverty rate is fueled by natural disasters, disease, high population growth, low agricultural productivity and the uneven distribution of wealth.
 
182
Burkina Faso Flag
0.452
2,133
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa, in the southern reaches of the Sahel region. The main causes of the country's poverty are the lack of rural productivity, unmanaged rural exodus, and a growing population. The economy is based on agriculture, which depends on sufficient rainfall, and focuses on growing food and cotton. A rapid population growth, women continue to have an average of more than five children, increases pressure on the country's limited arable land. Only about one-third of the population can read and write, and unemployment is widespread. Cotton and gold are Burkina Faso's key exports.
 
182
Sierra Leone Flag
0.452
1,668
The country on the coast of West Africa is rich in diamonds and other minerals. Sierra Leone's blood diamonds helped finance years of conflict and sustained the civil war (1991-2002). The population, especially women, suffer from a lack of potable water and sanitation, poor nutrition, limited access to quality health care services, and the prevalence of female genital cutting.
 
184
Mali Flag
0.434
2,269
Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, southwest of Algeria. It covers three vegetation and climate zones; from the north to the south are the Sahara, followed by the Sahel, and the Sudanian savanna. The Muslim-majority country is characterized by a very high total fertility rate, seasonal migration and emigration triggered by poverty, conflict, demographic pressures, unemployment, chronic food shortages, and droughts. Mali's economy depends on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue; cotton and gold exports account for about 80% of export earnings.
 
185
Flag of Burundi
0.433
754
Burundi is a small, densely populated country in Central Africa, on Lake Tanganyika's northeastern shore. Political violence and undemocratic power changes have marked much of its history since independence from Belgium in 1962. High population growth combined with land scarcity and poverty threatens a large portion of the population with the risk of food insecurity. Burundi does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
 
Sources: CIA - The World Factbook, UN World Food Programme, BBC, OHCHR News Archive

 

 
Substandard housing in an alleyway in Panama City, Panama.
Substandard housing in an alleyway in Panama City, Panama.
Image: FranHogan
 

Third World Countries in Terms of Poverty


The world's most impoverished countries.

The least developed countries (LDCs) are a group of countries that have been identified by the UN as "least developed."
United Nations used the following three criteria for the identification of the LDCs.

1. a low-income estimate of the gross national income (GNI) per capita.

2. their weak human assets and

3. their high degree of economic vulnerability.

There are 46 countries listed in the United Nations comparative analysis of poverty,
33 African countries, 9 Asian countries, 3 Pacific island nations, and one Caribbean country.


According to the United Nations, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the economic situation of the poorest nations. More than 32 million of the world's poorest people face being pulled back into extreme poverty because of COVID-19. The pandemic is likely to cause the worst economic crisis in decades among the least developed countries (LDCs). [UN]


List of least developed countries (LDCs)
 

Map of the World with color coded countries: press freedom 2020
Map of the World with countries color-coded for Press Freedom 2020 according to Reporters Without Borders.

blue: Good situation Good situation lightblue: Satisfactory situation Satisfactory situation orange: Noticeable problems Noticeable problems red: Difficult situation Difficult situation dark red: Very serious situation Very serious situation
Map: NordNordWest

 

Third World Countries in Terms of Press Freedom


 
Increasingly brazen authoritarian regimes, repressive laws against alleged false news, populist sentiment and the erosion of traditional media business models are challenging press freedom worldwide.

At the bottom of the list are the usual suspects, countries with an extremely poor relationship with press freedom and freedom of expression. Some of them are already listed in one or another, or even several of the categories from before.

Since 2002, Reporters Without Borders (French: Reporters sans frontières (RSF)), an international non-profit organization based in Paris, France, has published an annual index that ranks 180 countries around the world on their respect for press freedom and the degree of freedom for journalists.

RSF has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

RSF explains that the index is a snapshot of the situation of media freedom based on an assessment of pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework, and the safety of journalists in each country and region.

Below is the list of countries, you can call them Third World of Press Freedom, the "black holes" for news where the privately-owned media is not allowed and freedom of expression does not exist. A list of countries right at the bottom of the latest World Press Freedom Index. The absolute black sheep, the rotten apples among countries with a bad reputation for suppressing freedom of expression and freedom of the press.


Scores
Countries have been given scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 being the best possible score and 100 the worst.

 
 
Flag
Country
Abuse Score
Global Score

 

158
Singapore Flag
0
55.23
Singapore's parliamentary political system has been dominated by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and the family of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong since 1959. The press freedom of the 'Switzerland of the East' is classified as "very bad." The government is always quick to sue critical journalists or apply pressure to make them unemployable or even force them to leave the country.
 
159
Flag of Sudan
42.63
55.33
The overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising in 2019 ended three decades of dictatorship during which Sudan was one of the world's most hostile terrains for journalists. But the military leaders and civilian protesters who ousted Bashir are uneasy partners in a transitional government that—if successful—will be replaced by an elected government in 2022. Civil space in Sudan is slowly opening up to individuals and opposition parties, but security personnel associated with the abuses of the old regime remain influential, and their commitment to political and civil liberties is unclear.
 
160
Flag of Burundi
28.33
55.33
Since independence in 1962, the country has been plagued by tension between the usually-dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. State-run outlets dominate the media landscape. Journalists work under strict press laws and are subject to harassment. Most independent radio stations are still closed, dozens of journalists are still unable to return from self-imposed exile, and those who have remained find it difficult to work freely because they are often harassed by security forces and pro-government militias.
 
161
Flag of Tajikistan
41.90
55.34
The authoritarian regime of President Rahmon, who rules since 1992, severely restricts political rights and civil liberties. Government pressure, exacerbated by an economic crisis, led to the closure of most independent media outlets, including the Ozodagon and Payk newspapers, a high degree of self-censorship, and the exodus of dozens of journalists into self-imposed exile.
 
162
Iraq Flag
58.35
55.37
Iraqi journalists risk their lives when they cover protests or investigate corruptionJournalists who dare to report on the protesters' demands can expect to be harassed, kidnapped, physically attacked or even killed by unidentified militias. Reporting on political or religious figures who are still considered untouchable can lead to prosecution or media bans for disrespecting "national or religious symbols."
 
163
Somalia Flag
57.40
55.45
Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries in Africa for media professionals. Three more journalists were killed in 2019, bringing the total number of journalists killed in the past decade to 50. Political violence and corruption undermine freedom of information in Somalia. Pressure on journalists can come from many sides, especially since much of the country is controlled by non-state entities or autonomous regional governments that do not recognize the authority of the central government, or just barely.
 
164
New Libya Flag
51.93
55.77
The overthrow of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 led to a power vacuum and instability, and none of the warring forces has full control. The situation has taken a heavy toll on Libyan media and journalists. They are now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in which several media outlets have been pressured to serve the various warring parties. The political and military actors in the conflict have turned the media into propaganda tools and news censors.
 
165
Flag of Equatorial Guinea
6.93
56.38
Strict control of the media and pre-censorship are the norm under President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who rules Equatorial Guinea since four decades. Under his authoritarian rule, it is impossible to criticize the president or the security forces. The news coverage of the few media outlets is tightly controlled, and none is truly independent.
 
166
68.88
56.82
RSF calls Egypt "One of the world's biggest jailers of journalists." In recent years, the main weapons used by Egypt to control the media and gag journalists have been the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) and the State Information Service (SIS).
The press freedom situation in Egypt is more than alarming, with frequent waves of raids and arrests. Egypt is now one of the world's biggest jailers of journalists, with some spending years in detention without being charged or tried, others being sentenced to lengthy jail terms or even life imprisonment in iniquitous mass trials.
 
167
Yemen Flag
55.17
58.25
The division of Yemen into areas controlled by Houthi rebels, the so-called legitimate Hadi-led government, and the Southern Movement (al-Hirak), has exacerbated polarization in the media. Neutral reporting on the war is rare, as the various parties to the conflict control the media. There are very few foreign reporters on the ground, while Yemeni journalists are trapped in the middle of all these forces.
 
168
Flag of Azerbaijan
58.08
58.48
The power of the authoritarian regime in oil-rich Azerbaijan is concentrated in the hands of President Aliyev. Corruption is widespread, and formal political opposition has been weakened by years of persecution. All Azerbaijan-based broadcasters are in line with the government and main independent news websites are blocked. In a bid to silence journalists who continue to resist in exile, the authorities harass their family members still in the country.
 
169
Flag of Bahrain
21.97
60.13
Bahrain was once viewed as a promising model for political reform and democratic transition, but it has become one of the Middle East's most repressive states. The country is ruled with an iron fist by the Khalifa royal family. The media are under strict state control. The main television and radio stations are state-owned, and the newspapers are pro-government.
 
170
Saudi Arabia Flag
66.37
62.14
Saudi Arabia has one of the most tightly controlled media environments in the region. The country does not allow independent media, and the authorities keep Saudi journalists under close surveillance, even when they are abroad. Despite his talk of reform, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) has intensified the repression since his appointment as crown prince in June 2017. The number of imprisoned journalists and citizen journalists has tripled since the beginning of 2017. The government openly admits that widespread Internet filtering takes place. The authorities target "pornographic," Islam-related, human rights, and political websites.
 
171
Cuba Flag
28.33
63.81
The one-party communist regime maintains an almost complete media monopoly, and the constitution prohibits privately-owned media. The few Cuban bloggers and independent journalists are threatened by the government and watched by security agents, who often take them in for questioning and delete information on their devices. Journalists considered particularly troublesome are often arrested and jailed.
 
172
Flag of Laos
56.73
64.28
Laos is a one-party communist state in which the ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) controls all aspects of politics, the media and severely restricts civil liberties. Lao people are increasingly aware of the restrictions imposed on the official media and are turning to the Internet and social media. But the use of online news and information platforms is restricted by a 2014 decree that Internet users who criticize the government and the ruling party can be jailed.
 
173
Iran Flag
66.41
64.81
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been one of the most repressive countries in the world for journalists over the past 40 years. State control of news and information is relentless, and at least 860 journalists and citizen journalists have been imprisoned or executed since 1979.
 
174
Flag of Syria
82.05
72.57
Political rights and civil liberties in Syria have been severely compromised by one of the world's most repressive regimes in an ongoing civil war. The risk of arrest, kidnapping, or death makes journalism in Syria extremely dangerous and difficult. Journalists were the target of intimidation by all parties to the conflict.
 
175
Vietnam Flag
64.79
74.71
To keep its citizens in line, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and civil society activism are severely restricted in the country. Vietnamese authorities have increasingly cracked down on citizens' "wrong" use of social media and the Internet.
At the beginning of 2018, Vietnam has unveiled a 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit to counter "wrong" views on the Internet. The country's penal code states that "abuse of the rights to freedom and democracy to threaten the interests of the state" is punishable by long prison sentences.
 
176
Djibouti Flag
6.93
76.73
Djibouti's media landscape is strictly state-controlled. There are no private television or radio stations, and the government owns the main newspaper and the national station Radiodiffusion Télévision de Djibouti (RTD).
 
177
Flag of  China
80.43
78.48
China is the Big Brother among the countries that suppress freedom of expression and a free press. Mass surveillance is the instrument to govern the masses. Mass surveillance in China is the network of surveillance systems such as camera surveillance on the streets, Internet surveillance, and newly invented surveillance methods based on social credit and identity used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to monitor the lives of Chinese citizens under the government of CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping. China is the largest media market in the world, but the media operate under the tight control of the government. The state-controlled media are rather a means of providing the population with pro-government information, generating advertising revenue, and keeping the people entertained - bread and games.
 
178
Flag of Eritrea
72.36
83.50
The country is run by dictator Issayas Afeworki, a press freedom predator guilty of "crimes against humanity," according to a June 2016 UN report. Media beyond the state-sanctioned newspapers and broadcasters are nonexistent.
 
179
Flag of Turkmenistan
0
85.44
The Central Asian country is one of the most isolated and secretive states in the world; dissent is not tolerated and mistrust reigns. Turkmenistan's government controls all media, and the few Internet users can only access a highly censored version of the Internet.
 
180
Flag of North Korea
51.93
85.82
North Korea's totalitarian regime continues to keep its citizens in a state of ignorance. The widespread adoption of mobile phones, including smartphones, has been accompanied by technical measures that provide the regime with almost complete control over communications and files transmitted over the national intranet.
 

 
Sources: Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Freedom House, BBC Country Profiles
 

Related Categories:

The First, Second, and Third World
Countries of the First World
Countries of the Second World
Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs)

Rich and poor countries
Categories of development of countries in the world today.

See also: Country Economies Classification
Compare the purchasing power of countries with low income, middle income and high income.


World Resources
The tables present some of the data required to build a basic picture of the state of the World in its human, economic, and environmental dimensions.

 Population and Human Well-Being
Table of core indicators on population, health, education, poverty, infant mortality, and HIV/AIDS prevalence by countries.

 Food and Water Resources
The table contains four core indicators: Intensity of Agricultural Inputs, Food Security and Nutrition, Fisheries Production and Water Resources.

 Economics and Trade
Compare countries by core indicators of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), GDP Distribution by the Sectors Agriculture, Industry and Services, Adjusted Net Savings, Export of Goods and Services, and Financial Flows.

 Institutions and Governance
Shows values of core indicators to evaluate governments and levels of freedom within countries. Compare Freedom Indices of Civil Liberties and Political Rights; Regulatory Barriers, Government Expenditures for Public Health, Public Education and Military; and peoples Access to Information.


More about Population:

 Population by Countries
From the most populated countries to the least populous nations in the world.

 Current World Population
Demographic Data for Continents and Regions of the World.

 Global Village, a Summary of the World
Earth as a village of precisely 100 people.

Population by Continents:
Africa The Americas Asia Australia/Oceania Europe

Most populated cities of the world

Related Categories:
Countries by Area

US States by area
A list of the 50 US States by area size.
 

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