The 30 Poorest Countries in Asia

Out of seven continents, Asia is the biggest in the world, occupying more than 17.2 million sq mi, which is approximately 30% of the world’s total land area.

There are currently over 4.6 billion people in Asia – about 59% of the world population.

Asia has 49 countries and is one of the strongest collective economies in the world.

The health of an economy is measured in several ways, including Human Development Index (HDI), Thriving Places Index (TPI), and Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

In this article, we measured by gathering the data for GDP per capita per country. Based on recent data, the country with the highest GDP per capita is Qatar, with a GDP of Int$ 97,262.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the country with the lowest GDP per capita is Yemen, with a GDP of Int$ 1,925. Here is a complete list of the 30 poorest countries in Asia by GDP.

All numbers are in international dollars.

The Poorest Countries in Asia

NumberCountryGDP (in Int$)
1Yemen 1,925
2Afghanistan 2,474
3East Timor3,119
4Tajikistan 3,856
5Nepal 4,199
6Myanmar 4,831
7Cambodia 4,930
8Pakistan 5,224
9Kyrgyzstan 5,323
10Palestine 5,664
11Bangladesh 5,812
12Syria 6,373
13India 7,333
14Uzbekistan 7,830
15Laos 8,519
16The Philippines9,061
17Iraq 10,038
18Jordan 10,590
19Lebanon 11,564
20Vietnam 11,677
21Bhutan 11,928
22Indonesia 12,431
23Iran 12,882
24Armenia 13,513
25Sri Lanka13,638
26Azerbaijan 13,909
27Georgia 14,856
28Mongolia 15,709
29Turkmenistan 17,415
30China 18,931

1. Yemen – Int$ 1,925

Yemen

Located in the Middle East between Oman and Saudi Arabia, Yemen is the poorest country in Asia with a GDP per capita of Int$ 1,925.

The country’s GDP ranks 185th of all countries in the world and 168th on the Human Development Index of the United Nations.

It has a total population of 30,399,243 and a 38.5% urban population. The GDP composition is 20.3% agriculture, 11.8% industry, and 67.9% services.

The economy of Yemen is highly affected by continuous war, which resulted in increased inflation, discontinued exports, limited imports, and infrastructural damage.

Moreover, it caused a high risk of major infectious diseases, an increased unemployment rate of 27%, and extremely limited food sources.

2. Afghanistan – Int$ 2,474

Afghanistan

Afghanistan ranks second in the list of Asian countries with the lowest income. It is situated in Southern Asia, with Pakistan and Iran as neighboring countries.

It is home to 37,466,414 residents and covers an area of 652,230 sq km. In world rankings, its GDP is ranked 175th with a GDP composition of 23% agriculture, 21.1% industry, and 55.9% services.

Its economy is reliant mostly on foreign grants and aid, as well as on agriculture and trading with China.

Due to political issues, drought, Taliban war, and COVID-19, its economy remains unstable, causing a 5% inflation rate, -1.9% industrial production growth rate, and 23.9% unemployment rate.

3. East Timor – Int$ 3,119

East Timor

East Timor or Timor Leste, is situated in Southeastern Asia and northwest of Australia with a population of 1,413,958 occupying a land area of 14,874 sq km.

It is the third poorest country in Asia and 183rd in the world.

The country has a real GDP growth rate of -4.6%, a GDP public debt of 3.8%, and a GDP composition of 9.1% agriculture, 56.7% industry, and 34.4% service.

Moreover, the unemployment rate is 4.4% and approximately 41% of the total population is below the poverty line.

It is a challenging time for Timor Leste to rebuild its infrastructure and create jobs for the young.

Although its oil and gas industry generates 90% income for the economy, it is not enough to generate jobs.

4. Tajikistan – Int$ 3,856

Tajikistan

Located in Central Asia and west of China, Tajikistan has a population of 8,990,874, the 96th largest population in the world. In GDP comparison world rankings, it places 157th in the world.

Its economy’s real GDP growth rate is 7.1% with an inflation rate for consumer prices of 7.7%.

The GDP composition is 28.6% agriculture, 25.5% industry, and 45.9% services.

The economy thrives with some agricultural products including milk, beef, vegetables, and cotton, as well as industries in aluminum, gold, silver, and vegetable oil.

Despite this, the economy still struggles after the civil war, resulting in a public debt ratio of 50.4% of GDP and an unemployment rate of 2.4%.

5. Nepal – Int$ 4,199

Nepal

The fifth poorest country in Asia and 152nd in the world is Nepal, with growing public debt of 26.4% of GDP.

Out of the total population of 30,424,878, about 3% are unemployed, of which 21.4% are 15 to 24 years old.

Moreover, approximately 25% of the population is below the poverty line. While Nepal relies on agriculture for 27% of GDP, industry for 13.5%, and services for 59.5%, its economy heavily depends on remittances, which amount to 30% of GDP.

Its real GDP growth rate is 7.9% and with an inflation rate of 4.5%. Aside from its landlocked location and limited infrastructure, the economy was also weakened by the 2015 earthquake, which caused catastrophic infrastructural damage.

6. Myanmar – Int$ 4,831

Myanmar

Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia, between Thailand and Bangladesh. As of 2021, it has a total population of 57,069,099 where 4% are unemployed and 24.8% are below the poverty line.

Its Int$ 4,831 GDP (PPP) per capita ranks sixth in Asia and 150th in the world. The economy thrives from wood production, metal production, and agricultural products including rice, vegetables, poultry, and fruits.

The economy has an increasing public debt of 33.6% of its GDP related to weak economic governance and corruption. As a result, there is a lack of infrastructure and a weak business climate.

7. Cambodia – Int$ 4,930

Cambodia

Cambodia has a GDP per capita Int$ 4,930, ranking 149th in the world. Out of the total population of 17,304,363, 0.3% are unemployed.

The population below the poverty line is approximately 16% of the total population. Moreover, the country has a public debt of 30.4% of its GDP.

Its economy flourishes from several industries including tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and mining.

Despite these industries, Cambodia is the seventh poorest country in Asia due to corruption, low job opportunities, and inadequate infrastructure.

8. Pakistan – Int$ 5,224

Pakistan

Located in Southern Asia and bordered by India, Iran, Afghanistan, and China, Pakistan is the eighth country in Asia with the lowest income, having a GDP per capita Int$ 5,224.

Moreover, it ranks 147th in the world with a growing public debt of 67% of GDP.

There are 238,181,034 residents, of which approximately 6% are unemployed and 24.3% are below the poverty line.

The economy has a real GDP growth rate of 5.4% and a GDP composition of 24.4% agriculture, 19.1% industry, and 56.5% services.

The majority of the labor force is in agriculture – about 42.3% of the workforce. The economy remains one of the poorest in Asia due to political conflicts and a weak business climate for foreign investors.

9. Kyrgyzstan – Int$ 5,323

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country located in Central Asia. It has 6,018,789 residents covering a total area of 199,951 sq km.

Of the total population, approximately 3% are unemployed and 20% below the poverty line.

Its real GDP growth rate stands at 4.6% with a GDP composition of 14.6% agriculture, 31.2% industry, and 54.2% services.

Its economy is powered by remittances, mining, and agricultural production including meat and cotton.

However, it is still reliant on foreign aid of about 5% of GDP.

10. Palestine – Int$ 5,664

Palestine

Palestine is a sovereign country located in Western Asia in the West bank. It has a total population of 5,159,076 occupying a total area of 6,020 sq km.

Its GDP ranks 10th in Asia and 139th in the world. Moreover, it has a score of 0.708 in the Human Development Index (HDI), ranking 115th in the world.

Many Palestinians suffer from unemployment, about 27.4 % of the population. The economy of the country continues to decline due to political disputes and import and export restraints.

11. Bangladesh – Int$ 5,812

Bangladesh

With a GDP per capita Int$ 5,812, Bangladesh is the 11th poorest country in Asia and 137th in the world.

It has a score of 0.632 in the Human Development Index (HDI), ranking 133rd in the world.

Bangladesh is in Southern Asia, with a population of 164,098,818. Approximately 24.3% of the population is below the poverty line, 4.4% are unemployed, and 40% are underemployed.

The real GDP growth rate of the economy is 7.4% and depends on 56.5% services, 29.3% industry, and 14.2% agriculture.

However, its economy remains unstable with the ongoing corruption, political disputes, and inadequate infrastructure.

12. Syria – Int$ 6,373

Syria

Located in the Middle East and near the Mediterranean Sea, Syria has a GDP of Int$ 6,373 and a real GDP growth rate of -36.5%.

It has a growing public debt of 94.8% of GDP, ranking 23rd in the world.

Out of 20,384,316 residents, approximately half of the population are unemployed and 82.5% are below the poverty line.

The GDP composition is 60.8% services, 20% agriculture, and 19.5% industry.

Some agricultural products produced are milk, fruits, wheat, and barley. The economy is faced with ongoing challenges that hinder its growth including the endless violent civil war, continuous infrastructural damage, and foreign trade difficulties, to name a few.

13. India – Int$ 7,333

India

India is the 13th poorest country in Asia with a GDP per capita of Int$ 7,333 and public debt of 71.2% of GDP.

It is the 129th poorest country in the world where 8.5% of the population are unemployed.

Of the total population of 1,339,330,514, approximately 21.9% are below the poverty line.

India has a diverse economy that relies 61.4% on services, 23% on industry, and 15.4% on agriculture.

Despite this, its GDP remains one of the lowest in Asia due to low foreign investors, inadequate infrastructure, and limited job opportunities.

14. Uzbekistan – Int$ 7,830

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is situated in Central Asia with a population of 30,842,796, making it the 47th largest country in the world by population.

With a GDP per capita of Int$ 7,830, the country is the 14th poorest country in Asia and 128th in the world.

As per HDI rankings, it is 106th in the world with a score of 0.720. Its real GDP growth rate is 5.3% with a public debt of 24.3% of GDP.

Moreover, approximately 5% of the population are unemployed and 14% are below the poverty line.

Although the country is the fifth-largest cotton industry, its economy weakened due to slow trades in Russia and China.

15. Laos – Int$ 8,519

Laos

Laos is a one-party communist and landlocked country in Southeast Asia that is bordered by Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It has a population of 7,574,356, of which 0.7% are unemployed and 18.3% are below the poverty line.

The country has a growing public debt of 63.6% and a real GDP growth rate of 6.9% that is influenced by a weak business climate and corruption.

Nevertheless, the country’s economy continues to improve with its current economic industries including natural resource exports, mining, and agriculture.

Its GDP composition is 45.9% services, 33.2% industry, and 20.9% agriculture. Some of the agricultural products it produces are vegetables, rice, coffee, and fruits.

16. The Philippines – Int$ 9,061

Philippines

Located in Southeastern Asia, the Philippines is the 16th poorest country in Asia with a GDP per capita of Int$ 9,061.

It has a public debt of 39.9% of GDP, ranking 128th in the world.

The country has an unemployment rate of 5.11% with a labor force of 41.533 million, of which 56.3% are in services, 25.4% in agriculture, and 18.3% in industry.

Its economy is dependent on agricultural products such as coconuts, bananas, and vegetables, as well as industries including manufacturing, petroleum, garment, and electricity.

Approximately 16% of the population is below the poverty line. However, the government is making efforts to improve tax reforms and infrastructure.

17. Iraq – Int$ 10,038

Iraq

Iraq has a GDP per capita of Int$ 10,038, but a slow real GDP growth rate of -2.1%. Its GDP composition is 51% industry, 45.8% services, and 3.3% agriculture.

Out of the total population of 39,650,145, 16% are unemployed and 23% are below the poverty line.

Currently, the government is dealing with a public debt of 59.7%.

One of the main reasons why the country is dealing with economic decline is the ongoing civil war and slow oil industry.

The oil industry accounts for 85% of revenue but would need further improvements in processing and infrastructure.

18. Jordan – Int$ 10,590

Jordan

Located in the Middle East, between Israel and Iraq, Jordan is ranked 18th Asian country with the lowest GDP per capita of Int$ 10,590.

It has a massive public debt of 95.9% of GDP, ranking 22nd in the world.

Of the total population of 10,909,567, 19.1% are unemployed and 15.7% are below the poverty line.

Its GDP growth rate is 2% and its GDP composition is 66.6% in services, 28.8% in industry, and 4.5% in agriculture.

Due to the country’s lack of natural resources, the economy heavily depends on foreign aid and imported energy.

The country is facing numerous economic challenges including unemployment and underemployment, public debt, and refugee crisis as a result of Syria’s ongoing civil violence.

19. Lebanon – Int$ 11,564

Lebanon

Lebanon is located in western Asia in the Middle East and at the crossroads of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe.

It has a GDP per capita of Int$ 11,564, ranking 19th poorest in Asia and 111th in the world.

Moreover, the country ranks 92nd in the HDI rankings with a score of 0.744. Its real GDP growth rate is 1.5% with a GDP composition of 83% services, 13.1% industry, and 3.9% agriculture.

Out of 5,261,372 residents, 9.7% are unemployed and 27.4% are below the poverty line.

The economy is affected by numerous economic issues including high taxes, corruption, and red tape, to name a few.

20. Vietnam – Int$ 11,677

Vietnam

Vietnam is situated in Southeastern Asia and has a total population of 102,789,598, one of the biggest populations in the world.

Of the total population, 54.659 million are in the labor force wherein 40.3% are in agriculture.

The unemployment rate is 2.11% and the rate below the poverty line is 6.7% of the population.

The economy has a public debt of 58.5% of GDP while fulfilling its target GDP growth rate of 6.8%.

Vietnam continues to make efforts to diversify its economic industries and create significant reforms.

The economy has seen significant growth in various industries including agriculture, exports, and foreign trade.

21. Bhutan – Int$ 11,928

Bhutan

Bhutan has one of the smallest economies in the world with a GDP per capita of Int$ 11,928.

Its GDP comes from 42% services, 41.8% industry, and 16.2% agriculture.

The country has a GDP growth rate of 7.4% and a public debt of 106.3%, the 12th highest in the world.

Of the population of 857,423, 3.2% are unemployed and 8.2% are below the poverty line.

About 58% of the labor force relies on agricultural work, 22% on services, and 20% on the industry.

Aside from agriculture, hydropower export is another source of revenue for the country.

22. Indonesia – Int$ 12,431

Indonesia

Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeastern Asia with a GDP per capita of Int$ 12,431 and a real GDP growth rate of 5.03%.

It is the fourth-largest country by population with a total of 275,122,131 residents, of which 5.31% are unemployed and 9.4% are below the poverty line.

Its GDP composition is 45.4% services, 41% industry, and 13.7% agriculture. It has a diverse economy that relies on petroleum and fuel, mining, agricultural production, tourism, and jewelry, among others.

Some of the country’s export partners are China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and the United States.

As of today, the country still faces some issues such as lack of infrastructure and corruption.

23. Iran – Int$ 12,882

Iran

Located in the Middle East, Iran is the 24th country with the lowest GDP per capita amounting to Int$ 12,882. Moreover, its GDP ranks 98th in the world.

It has a real GDP growth rate of 3.7%, mainly driven by oil and gas exports. The GDP composition is 55% services, 35.3% industry, and 9.6% agriculture.

Out of 85,888,910 residents, 11.8% are unemployed and 18.7% are below the poverty line.

It relies on several industries including agricultural products such as milk, tomato, orange, apple, as well as industries in petroleum, food processing, and metal fabrication.

24. Armenia – Int$ 13,513

Armenia

Armenia is located in southwestern Asia with a total population of 3,011,609 covering a total area of 29,743 sq km.

Approximately 18.9% of the population are unemployed and 26.4% are below the poverty line.

Its economy has a GDP per capita of Int$ 13,513, of which about 14% of GDP accounts for remittances from expatriates.

Overall, its GDP comes from 54.8% services, 28.2% industry, and 16.7% agriculture.

The current real GDP growth rate is 7.5%, a significant increase from its previous 0.3% rate.

Its economy revolves around agricultural products including milk, fruits, and vegetables, as well as other major industries like mining, food processing, diamond production, and many more.

25. Sri Lanka – Int$ 13,638

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka supports its economy with 61.7% services, 30.5%$ industry, and 7.8% agriculture.

It has a current GDP growth rate of 2.29% and a public debt of 79.1%, one of the highest debt percentages ranking 35th in the world.

Out of 23,044,123 residents, 4.83% are unemployed and 4.1% are below the poverty line.

The current inflation rate for consumer prices is 4.3%.

Most of the labor force is in services, but tourism showed recent growth following dispute resolution with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Some of the major industries of the economy are rubber production, shipping, and agricultural production such as rice, milk, poultry, coconuts, and sugar cane.

26. Azerbaijan – Int$ 13,909

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a country located in southwestern Asia and eastern Europe with a total population of 10,282,283.

The labor force in the country averages 4.939 million, of which 48.9% are in services, 37% in agriculture, and 14.3% in industry.

About 4.9% of the population is below the poverty line and 5% are unemployed. Its growing public debt has reached 54.1% of GDP, making it the 85th country in the world with the highest debt.

Despite this, its current economic growth was influenced by increasing oil exports.

However, some economic hindrances such as corruption, high inflation, and lack of foreign trade weigh down the economy.

27. Georgia – Int$ 14,856

Georgia

Georgia is situated within southwestern Asia and Europe. Its current population is 4,933,674, of which 59.9% are an urban population.

About 12% of the population are unemployed and 19.5% are below the poverty line.

The growth rate of its GDP grew to 5%, almost half of its previous rate of 2.8%. Furthermore, economic conflicts with Russia dampened the potential growth rate.

A few of the main economic activities are from agricultural products including milk, grapes, apples, mandarins, and many more.

Furthermore, it also relies on several industries such as steel, mining, wine, and chemical production.

28. Mongolia – Int$ 15,709

Mongolia

Due to its location between China and Russia, Mongolia’s economy thrives from approximately 90% exports to China and receives about 90% of Russia’s energy source.

Its real GDP growth averages 5.1% and its GDP per capita stands at Int$ 15,709.

Its total population is 3,198,91, of which 8% are unemployed and 28.4% are below the poverty line.

About half of the working population are in services, 31.1% in agriculture, and 18.5% in industry.

The country is working on increasing foreign investors to boost the economy. It currently has various industries including agricultural production, mining, and manufacturing.

29. Turkmenistan – Int$ 17,415

Turkmenistan

Located in Central Asia, Turkmenistan is the 29th poorest country in Asia and 81st in the world.

It has a high HDI score of 0.715, ranking it 111th in the world.

The population has a 2.305 million labor force, of which 48.2% are working in agriculture, 37.8% in services, and 14% in industry.

Out of 5,579,889 residents, 11% are unemployed and 0.2% are below the poverty line.

Its main agricultural products are cotton and wheat, which are included in the agricultural GDP composition of 7.5%.

Although the country has natural gas and oil, its low energy prices undermine the country’s growth.

30. China – Int$ 18,931

China

China ranks 30th in Asia with the lowest GDP per capita of Int$ 18,931.

In world data, its GDP ranks 76th in the world.

China has the largest population in the world with 1,397,897,720 residents. Out of the total population, 3.64% are unemployed and 0.6% are below the poverty line.

It has a public debt of 47% of GDP and a 6.14% real GDP growth rate, which is 26th in the world.

The economy thrives in several industries including mining, metal, petroleum, consumer products, agriculture, transportation, and telecommunication.