About Us

Least Developed Countries

The UN Capital Development Fund makes finance work for the LDCs

The vision of UNCDF is that LDCs are able to access and leverage the development impact of capital to enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

What We Do Where We Work

Since 1971, the United Nations has recognized the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as the “poorest and weakest segment” of the international community

the Least Developed Countries

1 Billion

Population in the LDCs

1.3% of GDP

% of Global GDP

1.4% FDI

% Foreign Direct Investment

1% Exports

% of Global Exports

About UNCDF and the LDCs

A unique mandate and focus on the LDCs

The UN General Assembly decides on the feasibility of using the United Nations Capital Development Fund first and foremost for the least developed among the developing countries.

GA 3122 — 13/12/1973

The LDCs are home to around 40% of the world's low-income population. Many are experiencing or emerging from conflict. LDCs account for 13% of the world's population but less than 1% of global trade and foreign direct investment. Even though internet access is increasing, less than 20% of the population in LDCs has access to the internet.

The low level of socioeconomic development in LDCs is marked by historically limited development ability, low and unequally distributed income, and a lack of domestic financial resources. LDCs often rely on agrarian economies, which can result in a vicious cycle of low productivity and poor investment, particularly when wealthier nations develop and implement more productive farming methods.

In general, LDCs are vulnerable to external terms-of-trade shocks due to their reliance on a small number of primary commodities as significant exports and fiscal revenues. Some LDCs have been able to diversify into the manufacturing sector, however they are frequently limited to textiles and garments.

In LDCs, these development constraints are responsible for poor domestic resource mobilisation, low economic management capacity, inadequacies in programme design and implementation, chronic external deficits, high debt loads, and significant reliance on external financing.

List of LDCs

The United Nations defines LDCs as countries that have low levels of income and face severe structural impediments to sustainable development

46 Least Developed Countries

The Least Developed Countries account for 13% of the world population. The following country profiles include essential economic data and a wide range of internationally relevant statistics to evaluate and compare countries.

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“UNCTADstat - Country Profile.” UNCTADstat, 20 Oct. 2022, unctadstat.unctad.org/CountryProfile/en-GB/index.html

A unique mandate and focus on the LDCs

Impact Capital for Development

to invest in infrastructure and human development to build institutions, establish market systems, support entrepreneurship, harness the potential of youth and achieve basic standards of living for all.

What We Do Where We Work

the LDC Category

The LDC category was established by the UN General Assembly in 1971 as an acknowledgment by the international community that special support measures were needed to assist the least developed among the developing countries.

The United Nations defines LDCs as countries that have low levels of income and face severe structural impediments to sustainable development using three criteria.

LDC Criteria

The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) is mandated by the General Assembly (GA) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to review the list of LDCs every three years and to make recommendations on the inclusion and graduation of eligible countries using the following the below criteria.

For more information on these measurements, visit the website of the Secretariat of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP).


Countries must have an average per capita income of below USD$1,018 for inclusion, and above USD$1,222 for graduation.

Learn More

Human Assets

Countries must also have a low score on the Human Assets Index, a tool that measures health and education outcomes, including under-five mortality rate, maternal mortality, adult literacy rate and gender parity for secondary school enrollment.

Learn More

Economic and Environmental Vulnerability

Countries must score high on the Economic and Environmental Vulnerability Index, which measures factors like remoteness, dependence on agriculture and vulnerability to natural disasters.

Learn More


To be classified as an LDC, a country must satisfy all three criteria and agree to the classification. Today, 46 countries are classified as LDCs.


To be eligible for graduation, a country must reach thresholds in two of the three criteria in two consecutive triennial reviews by the Committee for Development Policy. Alternatively, a country may graduate based on the income-only criterion.

To read more about the graduation process, see here.

Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5)

During the five-day LDC5 Conference in Doha, world leaders will meet with the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians, and young people to promote new ideas, raise new pledges of support, and accelerate delivery on agreed commitments under the Doha Programme of Action. The Conference will announce LDC-specific activities and deliverables.

The Conference will include plenary sessions, simultaneous high-level subject roundtables, and DPoA thematic priority side activities. The day before the Conference, Malawi's president will host an LDC Group summit. After the opening session on 5 March 2023, the Group of LDCs will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Private Sector, CSOs, Youth, Parliamentarians, and South-South tracks will also have events outside the Conference.

Stay Connected