The fourth world: Least Developed Countries
The 47 least developed countries are often referred to as the Fourth World. These are the countries at the lowest end of the poverty scale with the lowest level of development. The official abbreviation LDC is often confused with the "low developed countries". Therefore LLDC is also used.
The current 47 countries, with a total of 1.00 billion people, account for 13.32% of the world's population. The vast majority comes from Africa. This is followed by a few countries in Southeast Asia, as well as Oceania. Europe and America are unrepresented, with one exception (Haiti).
Definition and criteria
Until 1990, countries were classified mainly on the basis of their average per capita income, but also industrial development and literacy rates. There were changes in this assessment in 1991 and again in 2009. As things stand at present, a least developed country meets the following conditions:
- The average income in a 3-year average is less than 992 US dollars.
- A least developed country should have less than 75 million inhabitants, although exceptions are made here, e.g. Ethiopia and Bangladesh.
- The food situation in the country must be particularly drastic on the basis of the Human Assets Index (HAI). This includes data on nutrition, infant mortality and education.
- The Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) is a UN-created measure of economic vulnerability. It identifies particularly weak states.
Which countries are included in the list of the least developed countries is decided every three years by a United Nations
Consequences of classification as a least developed country
Since the indicators are all collected and applied by the United Nations (UN), i.e. a community comprising all states, the classification as a least developed country is also internationally accepted. The UN has various support programmes that are explicitly aimed at these poorest countries. In addition, first and second world countries and also groups of countries such as the European Union
have special subsidy programmes with which third world countries are subsidised. The states that are regarded as politically unstable are also well networked with each other, for example through the g7+ community
Former Fourth World countries