The Poorest Countries in the Americas

Stretching 8,700 miles from north to south, the Americas contain 57 countries and territories. And these countries are as diverse culturally as they are economically.

To find the poorest countries in the Americas, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed gross national income (GNI) per capita data for 42 countries and territories from the World Bank. GNI is a common measure of national wealth equal to the total amount of money earned by a nation’s people and businesses. It tends to roughly equal gross domestic product (GDP), and includes income received from overseas.

While among the most widely used ways of comparing the amount of money spent within a country, GNI has limitations as a measure of total wealth. For example, many lower-income economies have more informal, subsistence activities not recorded in GNI. In addition, U.S. dollar exchanges are based on official exchange rates that may not take fully into account domestic price levels.

By World Bank’s measures, Haiti ranks as the poorest country in the region. In 2020, the island nation’s GNI per capita was $1,320 with 79% of its 11 million people living on less than $5.50 a day in 2012.

The World Bank classifies low-income economies as those having a GNI per capita of $1,045 or less in 2020. Lower middle-income economies have a GNI per capita of between $1,046 and $4,095; while upper middle-income economies range from $4,096 to $12,695. High-income economies have a per capita GNI of $12,696 or more.

By way of comparison, the U.S.’s GNI per capita as of 2020 was $64,550. Less than 2% of the U.S.’s 329 million people lived on $5.50 a day as of 2018. Here is the country with the highest average net income.

We also included each country’s GDP per capita, average life expectancy at birth, the percentage of the population living on less than $5.50 a day, and total population. (Here are the countries with the worst wealth inequality). 

All data came from the World Bank and is for the most recent year available. Three countries included in the regional grouping had no GNI data and were therefore excluded: British Virgin Islands, St. Martin (French part), Virgin Islands (U.S.).

Click here to see the poorest countries in the Americas
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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