Least Developed Countries

Least Developed Countries

Least developed country (LDC) is the name given to a country which, according to the United Nations, exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world. The concept of LDCs originated in the late 1960s and the first group of LDCs was listed by the UN in its resolution 2768 (XXVI) of 18 November 1971. A country is classified as a Least Developed Country if it meets three criteria:

  • Poverty (three-year average GNI per capita of less than US $905, which must exceed $1,086 to leave the list)
  • human resource weakness (based on indicators of nutrition, health, education and adult literacy) and
  • economic vulnerability (based on instability of agricultural production, instability of exports of goods and services, economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration, handicap of economic smallness, and the percentage of population displaced by natural disasters)

LDC criteria are reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Countries may "graduate" out of the LDC classification when indicators exceed these criteria. The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN OHRLLS) coordinates UN support and provides advocacy services for Least Developed Countries. The classification (as of 1 January 2011 (2011 -01-01)) applies to 48 countries.

Since the LDC category was initiated, only three countries have graduated to developing country status. The first country to graduate from LDC status was Botswana in 1994. The second country was Cape Verde, in 2007. Maldives became the third country to graduate to developing country status on 1 January 2011. In 2011 the UN suggested that Equatorial Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are among the candidates for promotion from LDC status. At the UN's fourth conference on LDCs held in May 2011, delegates endorsed a goal targeting the promotion of at least half the current LDC countries within the next ten years.

Read more about Least Developed Countries:  Usage and Abbreviations, UN Conferences On The Least Developed Countries, Fourth UN Conference On LDCs (UN LDC-IV), Role of Civil Society, Trade and LDCs, Current LDCs, Former LDCs

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