5 Low Income Countries That Used To Be Rich

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A country's fate can change over centuries or even decades. Many countries that are now considered poor or low income have had a glorious history of wealth and prosperity.

Looking back at the last 500 years, here are 5 countries that lost their crown of wealth.

Note that the modern day comparisons are based on per capita income and not the size of the economy. Per capita income of a country gives a picture of the average income per person in that country in a year.

India

As of 2017, India's per capita income was $7,200 (Rs 4.7 lakh) and this is very low compared to the per capita income of developed countries like the USA which is $59,500 (Rs 39.4 lakh).

India is better off now due to its rapid growth in the economy making it one of the 10 largest economies in the world. But, much of our population still lives in extreme poverty earning just enough to survive.

A few centuries ago it was not as poverty-stricken. During the Mughal Empire rule, families in India were wealthy. It was also a time when many of India's significantly expensive historic monuments were built. It was a leading manufacturing country where wages and standard of living was higher than England (a country with the best standard of living at the time).

Mughal India had surpassed China to become one of the world's prominent economies, accounting for almost 25 percent of the global GDP in the 18th century, which could be $21 trillion dollars today.

Then late in the 18th century, amid conflicts within empires, India was taken over by the British. As a British colony, the nation lost most of its power and wealth.

Mali

Listed as one of the underdeveloped countries in the world, this drought-prone African country has a per capita income of just $2,200 (Rs 1.4 lakhs).

Hundreds of years ago, Mali was the one of the largest and richest empires in Africa. It had as much as half of the world's supply of gold which it traded with merchants from Egypt, Persia, Venice and Genoa. After the destruction of its empire in the 16th century, its power and riches diminished and it hasn't recovered since.

Today, much of its population relies on subsistence farming for a humble standard of living.

 

Cuba

The government of the Caribbean nation of Cuba struggles to give essentials like adequate transportation and housing facilities to its citizens. During the Cuban revolution, it had one of the highest GDPs in the Americas.

Decades of communist rule in addition to crippling US sanctions caused a decline in its wealth. It reached a low point in the 1990s and hasn't significantly recovered since. It has a per capita income of $11,900 (Rs 7.8 lakh).

Thailand

With a per capita income of $17,800, it may not be amoung the poorest countries in the world, but its northeast and deep southern parts of the country experience severe poverty.

Back in the 16th and 17th century, its Ayutthaya kingdom was the centre of international trade and richer than most European countries. The area under its rule constitutes much of present day modern Thailand. The kingdom's capital was a rival for Paris.

Its economy was hit hard when trade declined in the early 18th century due to rivalry between the various potential heirs, weakening the monarchy, which was later invaded by the Burmese army in 1765. Ayutthaya soon capitulated and was replaced by the less powerful Thonburi Kingdom.

 

Iraq

Iraq was one of the fastest growing economies in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, cashing from its abundant oil reserves that benefited from the rise in petroleum prices. In was on its way to becoming a highly developed country with a skyrocketing GDP.In these prominent years, it advanced its infrastructure, healthcare, and social services.

When Saddam Hussein assumed power in 1979, the brutal dictator dragged the nation into an eight-year devastating war with Iran, ravaging Iraq's economy.

The Iraq war that happened between 2003 to 2011 blew the country's economy further. The country has recovered with a per capita income of $17,000 (Rs 11.2 lakhs) but hasn't reached its former heights.

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