Print Version


Facts and Figures

  • 48 countries:
    • 16 landlocked
    • 10 small islands
  • Total population 2011: 844 million
  • Projected population 2020: 1.04 billion


  • Over the next 40 years, population will grow by less than 30% worldwide, but will nearly double in LDCs.
  • The population of working age of LDCs is expected to increase by over 200 million people from 2010 to 2025.

Economic Growth

  • GDP growth is estimated to have decelerated to 3.3% in 2012 compared with the annual average growth rate of 7.3% achieved from 2001 to 2010.


  • Still 47% of the population lives on less than $1.25 (PPP) per day
  • The proportion of undernourished people in LDCs declined from an average of 37.9% in 1990-1992 to an average of 30.6% for the period 2010-2012.

Productive Capacities

  • The share of manufacturing has remained virtually unchanged since 2001, accounting on average for 10-11%
    of GDP.
  • The share of agriculture was 22% of GDP in 2010/2011, while the share of population living in rural areas was 71%.
  • Almost 42% of the population of LDCs had access to mobile cellular subscriptions in 2011, up from 33% in 2010.
  • Access to the Internet remained low in the majority of LDCs, with only 6 out of 100 people being Internet users in 2011.
  • 79% of people in LDCs lacked access to electricity while 91% of the population of these countries had no access to modern fuels.


  • LDCs exports remained heavily dependent on natural resources and low-skilled manufactured goods.
  • The share of LDCs’ exports in world total exports increased slightly to 1.19% in 2011, up from 1.12% in 2010.


  • Literacy rates among young people aged 15 to 25 in LDCs grew to 76.45 % in 2009/2010, up from 69.45% in


  • The average child mortality rate across LDCs in 2011 was at two-thirds of its 2001 level, but was still alarmingly high
    by international standards. 89 in 1,000 children in LDCs died before turning five.
  • On average, HIV prevalence rates have plateaued over recent years in LDCs. The percentage of population aged 15-49 living with HIV in the 3 most affected LDCs ranged from 11% to 24% in 2011.

Water and Sanitation

  • The proportion of population using improved drinking water sources in LDCs hovered around 64%, while the proportion
    with access to improved sanitation facilities was merely 34%.

Gender equality and empowerment

  • The literacy rate of young women increased faster (from 58% in 2000 to 68% in 2010) than for young men.
  • The percentage of parliamentary seats held by women,increased from 10% in 2001 to 18% in 2012


  • The proportion of land area covered by forest declined from 31% in 2000 to 29.6% in 2011.
  • The proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected increased from 9.5% in 2000 to 9.8% in 2010.
  • The percentage of people living on severely and very severely degraded land was 25% in 2010 in LDCs.
  • LDCs CO2 emissions per capita remained constant at 0.2%.

Disaster reduction

  • All six countries with the highest rankings in the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR)’s risk reduction index for 2010/11 were LDCs.


  • Net total ODA disbursements to LDCs increased significantly over the past decade to $44.6 billion in 2011.
  • Net bilateral ODA flows to LDCs are estimated to have recently dropped by 12.8% in real terms to $26 billion in 2012, whereas overall ODA declined only by 4%.
  • 9 donor countries reached 0.15% of GNI in ODA to LDCs in 2011, the same as in 2010.

Debt Relief

  • Of the 9 LDCs that were at a high risk of debt distress as of February 2013, six had already received debt relief through the Enhanced HIPC Initiative and the MDRI.

Foreign Direct Investment

  • After reaching $17 billion in 2008 – up from $6.6 billion in 2001- net FDI inflows to LDCs declined to $15 billion in 2011.


  • Remittance flows to LDCs reached 30 billion in 2011, representing an 11% increase over the 2010 level; this increase was geographically broad-based.

Domestic resource mobilization

  • Although government revenues trended upwards–from an average of 11.7% in 2001-2009 to 14.9% in 2010–a small number of taxes accounted for a growing share of government revenue, which together with a small formal sector contributed to further narrowing the tax source in most LDCs.


  • As of April 2013, 40 LDCs had accepted, signed, or ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.




  • UN Secretary-General Report 2013 on the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020
  • UNDP: Human Development Report 2013
  • UN World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
  • World Bank: World Development Indicators 2013