Top 5 Poorest Continents In The World (2023)

The poorest continents in the world are usually those with the least development compared to their populations. This development is usually brought about where there is stability over a long period of time, such that advancements can be made in human society in all aspects of life such as economics, education, and so on. Sadly, however, the pace of development has never been equal across the world; while some regions have pressed forward aggressively, others have lagged behind.

The proper way of establishing who the poorest countries in the world are is to look at the GDP Per Capita figures which explain the living conditions of the people of the countries making up the continents in question. That way it is possible to assess the concentration of poverty among the people; rather than depend on inflated figures of government spending which often have little or no impact on the people and their livelihoods.

Top 5 Poorest Continents In The World

1. Antarctica

GDP Per Capita: N/A

Antarctica is the southernmost landmass on the planet. It is located south of the Antarctic Circle and contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. This is a huge mass of land; it measures about 14,200,000 square kilometers, which makes it about two times the size of Australia.

Antarctica has no real population; between 1000 and 4000 people stay there from winter to summer, and these are mostly scientists working at the many research stations, or explorers working on commercial missions.

Because there is no real population; there is no economy. The only semblance of commercial activity there is off the coast; several fishing boats can be seen working almost around the year. Antarctica has verified deposits of coal, bitumen, iron ore, platinum, copper, nickel, and gold; but the quantity discovered has not been enough to attract full-scale exploitation.

2. Africa

GDP Per Capita: US$ 2,182

Africa is the world’s second-largest, second-most-populous continent. Africa is also officially the poorest continent in the world. This is because despite being the world’s oldest human-inhabited continent on earth, there has not been much development within the continent for the last few centuries. Presently, most of the poorest countries in the world are located in Africa.

For reasons of proper assessment, the continent is broken down into regions; the continent’s poorest regions are Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, South Africa, and North Africa.

Africa’s economy is led by Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt, while countries like Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco are also making progress economically. The overwhelming majority of the people on the continent are poor; especially in countries like Botswana, Congo DRC, Uganda, and Mali.

There is a strong reference to the effects of the Rush for Africa; and the exploitation of the people and the resources. With Africa’s society being disrupted, the people carted away, and the resources plundered; Africa was not able to develop like other continents.

3. South America

GDP Per Capita: USD $8,342

South America is a continent in the southern side of the American supercontinent. It is in the Western Hemisphere but has a relatively small portion of its land in the Northern Hemisphere. South America contains 20 countries and dependencies and is home to about 422.5 million people. Statistically, this is the fourth poorest continent on the planet.

South America’s economy is spearheaded by Brazil and Argentina. Together they produce much of the continent’s agricultural exports, including grains and livestock. They also produce automotive spare parts, as well as vehicles, and heavy machinery.

Sadly, however, the continent is plagued by poverty caused by the uneven distribution of wealth. Many people in South America only survive by engaging in subsistence agriculture.

4.  Asia

GDP Per Capita: USD $ 8,895

Asia is Earth’s largest and most populous continent. Asia also meets Europe by land; creating Eurasia; a massive land area. However, despite its size, Asia is still one of the poorest continents in the world; it has a relatively low human development index, and overall, there is a high rate of poverty.

Asia has been inhabited since ancient times; China was one of the powers of the Ancient Times and flourished at about the same time as Ancient Rome. Some of the countries in Asia are China, India, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. These have largely led the charge for the resuscitation of the Asian economy; they have attracted investors from all over the world, and have been the bedrock of the whole continent.

Unfortunately, most of Asia has not been able to keep pace with the development; many people still practice subsistence agriculture, and most of Asia still has the undeveloped infrastructure, and vices such as child labor, sex trafficking, and even organ harvesting.

5.  Europe

GDP Per Capita: USD $34,231

Europe is a continent located in the Northern Hemisphere. The landmass is big and expansive, and surrounded almost entirely by water, except for the part that joins Asia to form Eurasia. Europe has some of the oldest civilizations known to man; and some of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Europe is historically and culturally rich and is by far the most developed continent on the planet.

Europe also has some of the most economically sound countries in the world; countries that are very well diversified, and have their economies built around industry, financial services, mining, education, technology, and so on. The economy of Europe is led by Britain, Germany, and France, and they make up the bulk of Europe’s financial reports.

On the other hand, there is poverty in Europe, even if not talked about. Ukraine, Moldova, Kosovo, and Albania are almost as poor as Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these people still practice subsistence agriculture, and production is low because of the unavailability of machinery.

6.  North America

GDP Per Capita: USD $57,408

North America is a continent located in the Northern Hemisphere. To the Southeast of this continent lies South America, which is a completely different continent as far as economists are concerned. Mostly, North America is occupied by the USA, Canada, and Mexico. The rest of the continent is mostly islands surrounding the main continent.

The economy of North America is led by the USA and Canada. Some of their products include; livestock, processed beef, timber, energy, technology, and weaponry. North America has some of the biggest companies in the world, and so controls much of the world’s wealth.

Unfortunately, the distribution of wealth is not very even in North America; countries like Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Trinidad, and Tobago all report varying levels of poverty. Many of these countries are characterized by poor infrastructure, high unemployment rates, and lack of education. Some of these countries have been largely overrun by drug cartels.

7.  Oceania

GDP Per Capita: USD $64,539

Oceania is a geographic region that includes four main groups: Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. This is a region somewhat in the Pacific Ocean and comprises of several countries with a combined population of more than 41 million people.

The economy of this region is spearheaded by Australia and New Zealand; these two countries jointly have some of the world’s populations that are farthest away from poverty. Some of their products include gold, beef, timber, iron, and copper. Both countries are also hubs for education, tourism, technology, and real estate development.



The poorest continents in the world reflect quite accurately the current state of affairs in the world today. While Africa is the poorest continuously inhabited continent in the world, it has plenty of untapped potentials.

Like Africa, Asia has also suffered the consequences of colonialism; the continent was also carved up by foreign powers and then plundered. However, while there is still a lot of poverty in Asia, the continent has made a lot of progress over the last few decades.