The category of least developed countries is a social/economic classification status applied to 51 countries around the world by political scientists and economists through the United Nations. Often abbreviated as LDCs, it is sometimes written as LLDCs to avoid confusion with Less Developed Countries, but this too may cause confusion with the "Landlocked developing countries ," which the UN had abbreviated as LLDCs.
However, the term is sometimes used synonymously with "lesser developed countries" or other synonyms of "lesser developed countries" such as "third world" nations, though the United Nations and the CIA World Factbook draw a distinction between "least developed countries" and "less developed countries"; the former is even less developed than the latter. Many contemporary scholars make careful note of the distinction, arguing that terms like "third world" are outdated or irrelevant. The term "third world" in particular dates from the era when those nations were unable to throw strong support behind either the "first world" of the United States and NATO or the "second world" — the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
As the name suggests, LDCs are generally poor, underdeveloped countries, often marred by widespread conflict and political instability. Such countries are usually run by incompetent yet brutal dictatorships, and have very little democracy or freedom. They are commonly marred by ethnic clashes and lasting legacies of colonialism. Almost half of LDCs are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Current LDCs include:
Asia (10 Countries)
Africa (35 Countries)
Oceania (5 Countries)
Caribbean (1 Country)
Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, United Nations
Last updated: 08-25-2005 14:31:25