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graduation. Timor Leste and the Pacific 
Islands enjoy a relatively high income 
level but are beset with deep structural 
issues that make graduation problematic 
while Afghanistan remains in the 
reconstruction and peace-building phase, 
which may take some more time to be 
resolved. The LDCs regroup 47 countries, 
of which about two-thirds are in Africa 
(33). The remaining countries listed in this 
group are located in Asia and the Pacific 
(13) and Latin America (1). Someone may 
be curious that what the other categories of 
countries are. As classified by the UN, list 
of the countries are as follows:

Developed countries (47): Andorra, 
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, 
Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, 
Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, 
France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, 
Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Israel, 
Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, 
Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, 
Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, 
San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, 
Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom 
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 
United States of America, Holy See, 
Faeroe Islands, Gibraltar, Saint Pierre and 
Miquelon.

Other developing countries: All developing 
countries that are not LDCs.

Facts and Figures about LDCs

The LDCs are officially designated by 
the General Assembly of the UN on the 
basis of CDP recommendation. The LDCs 
have a lower position in the global society 
and are listed as the countries trying to 
upgrade their status and come out of a 
group of the poorest countries across the 

world. The UN recognizes the LDCs as 
the ‘poorest and weakest segment’ of the 
international community. They comprise 
more than 880 million people (about 
12% of world population), but account 
for less than 2% of world GDP and 
about 1% of global trade in goods. These 
countries are highly disadvantaged in their 
development process and face more risk 
of failing to come out of poverty. Today 
the fastest growing populations are in the 
LDCs, which are hard pressed to meet 
the needs of growing populations. The 
average population growth rate was 2.2%, 
compared with 1.2% in other developing 
countries. Owing to high fertility, the 
population of the LDCs is expected to 
nearly double by the next four decades. The 
LDCs are the most vulnerable countries in 
the world. Productivity is low, particularly 
with respect to labor. This is due to low 
levels of both physical and human capitals. 

The LDCs are characterized by low level 
of socio-economic development due to 
weak human and institutional capacities, 
low and unequally distributed income and 
scarcity of domestic financial resources. 
The weak productive bases and limited 
export diversification in LDCs give 
rise to a very high import content in 
production and consumption, and chronic 
current account deficits. These factors 
in turn result in aid dependence and the 
accumulation of foreign debt. They also 
suffer from governance crisis, political 
instability, internal and external conflicts. 
Additionally, there are no reliable data for 
most of the countries. Moreover, the LDCs 
are suffering from the severe structural 
impediments to sustainable development 
and also disproportionately affected by 

international shocks beyond their control, 
from increased food and fuel prices and 
fall-out from the global economic crisis to 
the effects of climate change. 

History of LDCs

We know that the decolonialization began 
in the 1940s, foremost with India and 
Pakistan (including the then Bangladesh) 
in 1947, Sri Lanka and Burma in 1948 
and Indonesia in 1949. The process then 
followed by France’s defeat in Indochina 
and the independence of Laos and 
Vietnam in 1954. In Africa independence 
came later and first with Libya in 1949, 
Egypt and Sudan in 1956 and Ghana in 
1957. The year 1960 became the peak of 
decolonialization as all remaining colonies 
in Africa became independent, except the 
Portuguese possessions which had to wait 
until the dictatorship fell in 1974 (Guinea 
Bissau). After the UN was founded at the 
end of World War II, and particularly after 
the demise of colonialization, development 
issues became increasingly important 
topic for the organization. 

The origin of the category of LDC was 
introduced in the first two conferences 
of UNCTAD in 1964 and 1968. The UN 
Committee for Development Policy (UN-
CDP) played an influential role in the 
initial identification of the LDCs. The 
criteria used by CDP were the following:

a) a per capita GDP less than or equal to 

$100

b) a GDP share of manufacturing less 

than or equal to 10%, and

c) a literacy rate for the population above 

25 years old less than or equal to 20%

The UN recognizes the LDCs as the ‘poorest and weakest segment’ of the international community. 

They comprise more than 880 million people (about 12% of world population), but account for less 

than 2% of world GDP and about 1% of global trade in goods.