Least-Developed Countries (LDC)

Least-Developed Countries (LDC)

Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) are underdeveloped nations facing structural challenges to sustainable development. Currently, 46 countries are listed as LDCs by the UN. These nations have limited human assets and are susceptible to economic and environmental shocks. Specific international support measures aid their development.


Least-Developed Countries represent nations struggling with significant obstacles to achieving sustainable development. These countries, often referred to as "emerging markets," encounter unique challenges due to their underdeveloped status. With fewer human assets compared to more developed nations, LDCs are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks.

International Support Measures

To aid LDCs in their development journey, the U.N.'s Committee for Development Policy (CDP) Secretariat of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs created measures to facilitate international support. These measures encompass both development assistance and trade opportunities not available to more advanced countries.

Criteria for Inclusion

The CDP Secretariat employs specific criteria to determine which nations qualify as LDCs. These criteria consider income, human assets, and economic vulnerability.

  • Income Thresholds: LDC designation is determined by gross national income (GNI) per capita over a three-year average. The income threshold is set at $1,018, with graduation occurring at $1,222.
  • Human Assets: Five indicators in the health and education subindex are used to gauge a country's human assets.
  • Economic Vulnerability: The economic vulnerability index evaluates susceptibility to economic and environmental shocks, with higher vulnerability indicating significant impediments to sustainable development.

List of Least-Developed Countries

As of September 2020, the United Nations identified 47 nations as LDCs. Here is a list of some of these countries along with the year they were included:


Year of Inclusion


Year of Inclusion

Angola1994Lao People's Democratic Republic1971
Burkina Faso1971Malawi1971
Central African Republic1975Mozambique1988
Democratic Republic of the Congo1991Niger1971
Eritrea1994São Tomé and Príncipe1982
Gambia1975Sierra Leone1982
Guinea1971Solomon Islands1991
Haiti1971South Sudan2012
United Republic of Tanzania1971Vanuatu1985

By 2024, Bhutan, Kiribati, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Solomon Islands should exit the LDC category according to the CDP's recommendation in March 2018. This marked a significant moment, as it was the first instance of the committee suggesting multiple countries for graduation in a single review. Throughout the 47-year history of the LDC category, only five nations – Botswana, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives, and Samoa – have successfully graduated. The committee has also slated Angola for graduation in 2024.


Least-Developed Countries have limited human assets and are vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks. The United Nations supports their development through specific measures. Some countries have graduated from the LDC category, but others still face challenges. The international community should provide targeted assistance and trade opportunities to promote sustainable development.

Least-Developed Countries (LDC)
Committee for Development Policy (CDP)
Gross National Income (GNI)
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