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UNESCO and Least Developed Countries


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The current (2001) list* of Least Developed Countries by Region:
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What are the Least Developed Countries?

Forty-nine countries are currently (2001) designated by the United Nations as "least developed countries" (LDCs). The list is reviewed every three years by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The criteria underlying the current list of LDCs are:

Different thresholds are used for inclusion in, and graduation from, the list. A country qualifies to be added to the list of LDCs if it meets inclusion thresholds on all three criteria. A country qualifies for graduation from the list if it meets graduation thresholds on two of the three criteria. For the low-income criterion, the threshold on which inclusion in the current list is based has been a GDP per capita of $800, and the threshold for graduation has been a GDP per capita of $900. In its July 2000 review, in the light of recommendations by the Committee for Development Policy, ECOSOC declared the eligibility of Senegal for designation as an LDC (subject to the Government so desiring) and decided to postpone until 2001 its consideration of Maldives' graduation.

The criteria for determining the list of LDCs are under review. The Committee for Development Policy has recommended that the Economic Diversification Index be replaced by an Economic Vulnerability Index reflecting the main external shocks to which many low-income countries are subject, and incorporating the main structural elements of the countries' exposure to the shocks, including their smallness and lack of diversification.


Angola, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Prίncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia

Arab States

Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen

Asia and the Pacific

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu

Latin America and the Caribbean



* List as established by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)