Top 10 Poorest Cities In The World (2023)

There are many cities in the world which are tremendously rich. Major rich cities in the world are Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles and Seoul. What about the impoverished cities? Do they exist? Are there cities with an extremely low standard of living? The answer to these questions is yes, as we have an ample number of poor cities all around the world.

The poorest cities in the world are usually overcrowded places with poor sanitation, high unemployment, poor infrastructure, and high crime rates. The poorest cities in the world will definitely have a few wealthy people, with the overwhelming majority of the population being poor. Some of these cities are acutely indigent as a result of incessant wars, natural disasters, diseases, high levels of illiteracy, massive corruption acts, and so on.

Interestingly, the poorest cities in the world are also located in the poorest countries in the world; this data is only taken from the sub-national level to show with greater accuracy the realities on the ground. Interestingly, none of these cities are empty; they have just not been able to take advantage of the potential that they have in order to improve their economies.

Top 10 Poorest Cities In The World

1. Monrovia, Liberia

Monrovia is the capital of Liberia, on the Western Coast of Africa. Monrovia has well over 1 million residents- the city has about 21% of the country’s total population. Monrovia may lag behind in all the indexes of human development, as well as in infrastructure and security, but when you compare against the incredible devastation in a decade-long war in which land mines and child soldiers were used, there is reason to cheer.

Monrovia’s economy is boosted by the seaport; the Free-port of Monrovia, and also by the many government offices located in the city. Important economic activities include petroleum refining, cement, and chemicals.  However, the vast majority of the people are left out of the scheme of things, and so they rely on the informal economy where they make their living selling consumer items in small shops and stalls, doing informal cleaning jobs, or in transportation. A good number of people in Monrovia are not educated, and they live in slums without portable water and electricity.

2. Conakry, Guinea

Conakry, in Guinea, is one of the poorest cities in the world. The city is located on the West Coast of Africa and has a population of about 1.7 million people. Guinea is a culturally rich country, which is why the cultural diversity in Conakry comes as no surprise at all. Conakry is not just the capital of Guinea; it is also the most important city in the country, with more than one-sixth of the population. This is also the administrative and cultural centre of the country.

Conakry’s economy is supported by the presence of a port that is adequately equipped to handle the storage and handling of perishable agricultural exports including bananas, pineapples, citrus, and other food items. Other important exports include cement, metals, and fuel products. As with many African countries, it is difficult to obtain data, but the UN has revealed that the infrastructure is so poor in Guinea Conakry that 60-70% of all journeys in the country are done on foot. The lack of efficient transportation has been cited as a major factor that has contributed to the lack of economic development in the country.

3. Gitega, Burundi

Gitega is the capital city of Burundi. The city has a population of 135,467 and is the administrative capital of the country. Gitega was only recently made the capital of Burundi, and so it is yet to overtake Bujumbura as the commercial capital and most popular city in the country. Nevertheless, the city has much potential as It lies on a broad plateau, not far from the confluence of the Ruvyironza and Rurubu Rivers. Gitega is not far from Ruvubu National Park, which is the country’s biggest National Park.

The economy of Gigeta is supported by the presence of government institutions. Tourism is an important economic activity; the Ruvubu National Park receives several thousand visitors yearly. The informal economy, including street trading, transport services, and cleaning contributes a lot to the overall economy of Gitega and the country at large. The economy is quite poor; it is unable to sustain the airport which has now shut down. Gitega has a lot of potentials; food processing is one area of particular interest because the majority of the people are subsistence farmers. Goat herding has been promoted for the potential to bring a large number of people out of poverty. In a few years, a good amount of meat eaten on the continent can come from Burundi, thus improving the economy of Gitega.

4. Mogadishu, Somalia

The people of Mogadishu commonly refer to their city as Xamar. The city is the capital of Somalia, located on the horn of Africa.  Mogadishu has a population of about 2.4 million people. This is an ancient city that was founded in the 1st century and was very significant during the days of the ancient Roman Empire. Unfortunately, Mogadishu has not really evolved much; it has been set back by conflict, radicalization, and a lack of purposeful leadership.

The economy of Mogadishu has historically been associated with its location as a coastal city; it has historically been an important port city that facilitated much trade in the whole region. Now, however, the UN classifies Somalia as a least developed country, and the majority of the population depends on subsistence agriculture. The country was ravaged by a civil war that grounded its economy and reduced the country in stature.

Somalia has a lot of potential in agriculture; modern ways of producing animals are gradually being adopted, and this will boost the economy of Mogadishu, and the whole of the country considerably.

5. Bangui, CAR  

Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic. It is located on the banks of the Ubangi River for which it is named, and the city was established in 1889 as a French outpost. Today, Bangui has a population of 889,231 people.

Bangui is one of the poorest cities in the world; the presence of the central government is not enough to turn its economy around. The majority of the population of CAR lives on subsistence agriculture, with no input from the central government. There is not enough organized large-scale farming, and the necessary infrastructure to transport, process, and store the farm produce is sometimes not available.

6. Kinshasa, Congo

Kinshasa is the Capital of Congo DR. With a population of about 17 million people, this is the largest city in Congo DR, and also in Africa. The city was established in 1881 and named Leopoldville in honor of the King of Belgium. In the 1960’s Kinshasa was a thriving city that attracted people from all parts of the region; some came to find economic opportunities, others came to seek refuge from ethnic strife. Sadly, Kinshasa went through several years of stagnation and decline, and today it is one of the poorest cities in the world.

The average person in Kinshasa lives on about $1 per day, which is very poor, but there are signs of growth in the local economy. Manufacturing, banking, food processing, and the service industry all combine to sustain the local economy of Kinshasa and provide employment for its population.

7. Juba, South Sudan

Juba, in South Sudan, is one of the cities with a high population of low earning people. The GDP per capita of the country is $825, which makes this one of the poorest places on earth, but there is plenty of potential for this young country, and for this bustling city. The economy relies heavily on oil but has to share the revenues with Sudan because most of the pipelines through which it sells the product pass through that country.

8. Niamey, Niger Republic

Niamey, in the Niger Republic, is a rather arid place, perhaps that is why it has not been able to attract much investment and development. The city has a population of 1,026,848, making it the largest in the Niger Republic. Economic activities include agriculture and the manufacture of ceramics, cement, and small-scale weaving. There is plenty of potential for growth in these industries but it will take some time to develop.

9. Bamako, Mali

Bamako is one of the most popular cities in West Africa. It is located on the banks of the River Niger which links the country with other West African cities like Lokoja, Niamey, as well as cities in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Even though Bamako accounts for about 70 percent of the economic activity of Mali, much of it is made up of an informal economy consisting of craft makers, subsistence farmers, fishing, and small-scale commerce.

10. Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Even though Dar Es Salaam is one of the poorest cities in the world, there is a lot of potentials, especially with the infrastructure being built. With a population of about 6 million people, this is the largest city in East Africa, and one of the largest on the continent. The people are beautiful and friendly. Unfortunately, 70 percent of this city is made up of informal settlements, and slum dwellings.



Even though these cities are listed as the top 10 poorest cities in the world, it will be interesting to see how these cities are able to harness their potential in order to turn their fortunes around.

For example, Bamako has embraced its informal economy, and the government is moving to empower artisans in order to encourage them to thrive. If governments can create policies around the people and their activities, then the people can earn more, and so live better lives.