East Timor poorest country in Asia, UN development agency reports

21 May 2002

The world's newest nation - East Timor - is also Asia's poorest, according to a new report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The world's newest nation - East Timor - is also Asia's poorest, according to a new report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The East Timor Human Development Report says the island nation has an annual gross domestic product per capita of just $478 and a life expectancy of only 57 years, ranking it below any other country in Asia among the 20 countries in the world lowest on the human development index.

With a rating of 0.42 - which is a combined measure of income, education and health - the new nation stands at about the same level of countries such as Angola, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.

According to the report, more than half the population of East Timor is illiterate, and 50 per cent of infants are underweight. Furthermore, most of the country is still suffering from the destruction and trauma that followed the 1999 popular consultation, in which East Timor chose independence from Indonesia.

The report notes that in the early years of independence, most of the population will have to rely heavily on public services, since the private sector is limited and civil society is in the process of adjusting to the new circumstances.

 

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