People arriving at the Port of Honiara, Solomon Islands

Photo: People arriving at the Port of Honiara, Solomon Islands. Asian Development Bank, Flickr

About Least Developed Countries

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

The LDCs host about 40% of world's poor. Most are suffering conflict or emerging from one. LDCs account for 13% of world population but only about 1.3% of global GDP and less than 1% of global trade and FDI. Even if on the rise, still barely a fifth of the population in LDCs has access to the internet.

The low level of socio-economic development in LDCs is characterized by historically weak development capacity, low and unequally distributed income and scarcity of domestic financial resources. LDCs typically rely on agrarian economies which subsequently can be affected by a vicious cycle of low productivity and low investment, especially as wealthier countries develop and utilize more productive farming technologies. Generally, LDCs rely on few primary commodities as major sources of exports and fiscal earnings, causing them to be vulnerable to external terms-of-trade shocks. Some LDCs have been able to diversify into the manufacturing sector though often remain limited to products in labour-intensive industries, such as textiles and apparel. 
These development constraints are responsible for insufficient domestic resource mobilization, low economic management capacity, weaknesses in programme design and implementation, chronic external deficits, high debt burdens and heavy dependence on external financing in LDCs.


Least Developed Countries

Official Documents

The Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries

The Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 identified 8 priority areas for LDCs and development partners to focus on in order to advance development in LDCs. 

As the IPoA drew to a close in 2020, UN-OHRLLS was mandated by the General Assembly to be the focal point for the preparations of the Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs (LDC5) which will be held in two parts: the first in New York on March 17, 2022 and the second in Doha, Qatar on March 5-9, 2023.

LDC Group and Bureau

The Group of LDCs, currently chaired by the Permanent Representative of Malawi, actively promotes and protects LDCs interests in implementing the Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This advocacy takes place through relevant conferences, meetings and other intergovernmental and non-governmental processes.  

LDC National Focal Points

A network of National Focal Points (NFPs) of LDCs was established by OHRLLS after the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs in 2001.  

Did You Know?


At primary level, the gender parity index of the gross enrolment ratio  from 0.79 in 1990 to 0.95 in 2017


On average, LDCs as a group experienced a growth of 5% in 2018 with a forecasted growth of 5.7% in 2020.