Creation of the LDC category and timeline of changes to LDC membership and criteria

Membership Changes

Timeline of LDC membership changes

2024 Angola *, São Tomé and Príncipe *, Solomon Islands *
2023 Bhutan *
2020 Vanuatu
2017 Equatorial Guinea
2014 Samoa
2012 South Sudan
2011 Maldives
2007 Cabo Verde
2003 Timor-Leste
2000 Senegal
1994 Botswana
Angola, Eritrea
1991 Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, Zambia
1990 Liberia
1988 Mozambique
1987 Myanmar
1986 Kiribati, Mauritania, Tuvalu
1985 Vanuatu
1982 Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Togo
1981 Guinea-Bissau
1977 Cabo Verde, Comoros
1975 Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Gambia
1971 Afghanistan, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen

Note: Blue arrow indicates inclusion, green arrow indicates graduation, * indicates scheduled for graduation

Criteria Changes

Timeline of LDC criteria changes

New components are shown in bold
2020 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from the most severe structural impediments to sustainable development
GNI per capita Human assets index (HAI) Economic and environmental vulnerability index (EVI)
  • Under-five mortality rate
  • Prevalence of stunting
  • Maternal mortality ratio
  • Gross secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Gender parity index of gross secondary school enrolment
  • Remoteness and landlockedness
  • Merchandise export concentration
  • Share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in GDP
  • Instability of exports of goods and services
  • Share of population in low elevated coastal zones
  • Share of population living in drylands
  • Victims of disasters
  • Instability of agricultural production
2017 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from the most severe structural impediments to sustainable development
GNI per capita Human assets index (HAI) Economic vulnerability index (EVI)
  • Under-five mortality rate
  • Percentage of population undernourished
  • Maternal mortality ratio
  • Gross secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Population
  • Remoteness
  • Merchandise export concentration
  • Share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in GDP
  • Share of population in low elevated coastal zones
  • Instability of exports of goods and services
  • Victims of natural disasters
  • Instability of agricultural production
2011 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from the most severe structural impediments to sustainable development
GNI per capita Human assets index (HAI) Economic vulnerability index (EVI)
  • Under-five mortality rate
  • Percentage of population undernourished
  • Gross secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Population
  • Remoteness
  • Merchandise export concentration
  • Share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in GDP
  • Share of population in low elevated coastal zones
  • Instability of exports of goods and services
  • Victims of natural disasters
  • Instability of agricultural production
2005 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from low level of human resources and a high degree of economic vulnerability
GNI per capita Human assets index (HAI) Economic vulnerability index (EVI)
  • Under-five mortality rate
  • Percentage of population undernourished
  • Gross secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Population
  • Remoteness
  • Merchandise export concentration
  • Share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in GDP
  • Instability of exports of goods and services
  • Homelessness due to natural disasters
  • Instability of agricultural production
2002 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from low level of human resources and a high degree of economic vulnerability
GNI per capita Human assets index (HAI) Economic vulnerability index (EVI)
  • Under-five mortality rate
  • Average calorie intake per capita as a percentage of the requirement
  • Gross secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Population size
  • Export concentration
  • Share of manufacturing and modern services in GDP
  • Instability of exports of goods and services
  • Instability of agricultural production
1999 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from low level of human resources and a high degree of economic vulnerability
GDP per capita Augmented physical quality of life (APQL) Economic vulnerability index (EVI)
  • Under-five mortality rate
  • Average calorie intake per capita as a percentage of the requirement
  • Combined primary and secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Population size
  • Export concentration
  • Share of manufacturing and modern services in GDP
  • Instability of exports of goods and services
  • Instability of agricultural production
1991 LDCs are low-income countries suffering from long-term handicaps to growth, in particular, low levels of human resource development and/or severe structural weaknesses
GDP per capita Augmented physical quality of life (APQL) Economic diversification index (EDI)
  • Life expectancy at birth
  • Per capita calorie supply
  • Combined primary and secondary school enrolment ratio
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Export concentration ratio
  • Share of manufacturing in GDP
  • Share of employment in industry
  • Per capita electricity consumption
1971 LDCs are countries with very low levels of per capita gross domestic product facing the most severe obstacles to development
GDP per capita
  • Adult literacy rate
  • Share of manufacturing in GDP

Creation of the category

Creation of the LDC category

November 1971 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Formally endorsed the list of the 25 LDCs
March 1971 7th session of the Committee for Developing Planning (CDP)
Determined the initial criteria for identification of LDCs to be low per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and the presence of structural impediments to growth
Identified a tentative list of 25 countries as LDCs based on these criteria
December 1970 25th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Reiterated the urgency of formal identification of LDCs
March 1970 6th session of the Committee for Developing Planning (CDP)
Formed a working group to define the methodology for identifying LDCs
December 1969 24th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Acknowledged the need to alleviate the problems of underdevelopment in the less developed countries
Requested the Secretary-General to carry out a comprehensive examination of the special problems of the LDCs and to recommend special measures for dealing with them
January-March 1968 Second session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Acknowledged the need to alleviate the problems of underdevelopment in the less developed countries
Requested the Secretary-General to carry out a comprehensive examination of the special problems of the LDCs and to recommend special measures for dealing with them
March-June 1964 First session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNCTAD member States agreed that special attention was to be “paid to the less developed among the developing countries, as an effective means of ensuring sustained growth with equitable opportunity for each developing country”

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