Top 15 Countries with the Shortest Life Expectancy
All these countries are in Africa:
Two of the most powerful determinates of life expectancy are genetics and
health. Health is dictated by access to clean drinking water and diet, and both
of these factors rely heavily on financial position. Poor people have much less
nutritious diets than those who are wealthy because lets face it, food can be
expensive and people purchase only the items they can afford. Feeding ones
family with organic, highly nutritious foods all of the time can be a very
expensive endeavor. In countries like the United States or other developed
nations like the ones that are found in Western Europe, drinking water is less
of a luxury. Only purified,
store-purchased water in these nations would be considered a luxury. Many city
water supplies in these nations could be considered substandard when compared to
distilled or purified water varieties, but worrying about minor impurity issues
is a far cry from the water issues that many African people face.
The average global life expectancy
stands at a healthy 67.8 years - with men living 65.71 years and women living
70.14 years - and these values vary greatly from country to country. In most
countries women outlive men but there are exceptions. In Qatar, Tuvalu and
Kuwait, men typically outlive the women in these nations. One possibly for this
break in trends could have to do with the extreme patriarchal nature of culture
existing in many Arabic nations where extreme Islamic fundamentalism thrives. If
a woman isn't married in many Arabic countries, her chance at a humane and
decent life are next to none. Career opportunities and almost all social
mobility for a women relies heavily on who she may be married to. Many are even
seen as whores and those that are accused of adultery can even be stoned to
The countries whose citizens have the
highest life expectancy
are located in Western Europe, and there are 22 countries with a life expectancy
of more than 80 years old. The countries that rank the highest are San Marino,
Andorra, Switzerland, and Italy. People are losing half their lives in
these less fortunate countries, often due to war, health epidemics, and famine.
This list reflects the harsh reality of those countries with low life
expectancy, and points out some of the causes.
The official name of this country is the Republic of Zimbabwe. This country is
completely surrounded by land and sits on the planes of Central Africa. The most
notable characteristic of Zimbabwe are that its borders are situated between
two rivers, the Limpopo and the Zambezi. Zimbabwe covers approximately 390,000
square miles has a population of about 13 million
Zimbabwe has low life expectancy for several reasons. The lack of hospitals
and health centers make it difficult to take care of the sick and injured. There
are very few doctors and nurses to tend to them, and almost no modern equipment
for treatment and tests exists.
HIV/AIDS is one of the main causes for the high death rates due to disease
and illness, as is the case in many African countries with limited access to
adequate health care or means to prevent the transmission of the disease. Lack
of education also impacts the spread of the virus. Many mothers accidentally
transmit the virus to their children, and many infected adults die due to the
lack of treatment or from complications when the treatment they actually receive
proves to be inadequate.
Adding to Zimbabwe’s hardship, in the year 2008, an outbreak of cholera ran
unchecked in Zimbabwe, killing thousands of young people and dramatically
lowering the country’s average life expectancy. The people and the country have
not yet been able to recover from it.
Cameroon’s official name is the Republic of Cameroon. This country was once
both a French and a British colony, until it became independent from one country
and then the other. Just as it has changed countries in its quest for
independence, Cameroon has changed its name several times. The current country
has settled on the name it is using now. Cameroon is situated in the territory
of West Central Africa, and part of its coast is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
This area forms part of the Guinea Gulf. Cameroon’s territory expands for 183
thousand square miles, and it has about 20 million habitants.
The main cause of death in Cameroon is Malaria. This disease is caused by the
bite of a mosquito that carries a deadly parasite, called a Plasmodium parasite,
inside. It causes a high fever and symptoms that look a lot like the
flu—headache, chills, fatigue, and sweats, but left unattended, it has a high
Another deadly disease that affects this country is yellow fever, which also
causes a high temperature, but which results in kidney failure. The lack of vaccines and means to detect and treat this illness make it
highly fatal. Together, these two already deadly diseases, paired with HIV/AIDS,
create an almost insurmountable foe for the people of Cameroon that can be very
difficult to fight against. This deadly combination results in the death of far
too many people every year.
Another of the many republics of Africa, the Republic of Burundi sits in the
area of the Great Lakes of Africa, where the famous Lake Victoria is situated.
Burundi is not a very big country, with a small territory of just around 11
thousand square miles. Since it is such a small country in comparison with the
other African states, the population is also quite a bit smaller. There are just
around 9 million people living here.
This doesn’t mean that the death rates aren’t relatively high, though.
Burundi suffered a long gruesome civil war that lasted for ten years, and that
left the country in a state of chaos and disarray. The war itself resulted in
many deaths all by itself, but even after it, the consequences are still causing
a high mortality rate.
Poverty is a serious problem that the people of Burundi
face every day, along with starvation and malnutrition. This lack of resources,
combined with poor access to hygiene, and proper healthcare are bad enough as it
is, but when you add HIV/AIDS to a country already struggling to survive, the
end results are catastrophic on the population’s life expectancy.
Officially known as the Republic of Mozambique, this republic borders
southern Africa, and its shores are also bordered by the Indian Ocean. With a
total surface of 309 thousand square miles, it has 24 million habitants.
Mount Murresse and Tea Plantations, Northern Mozambique
The main cause of death in Mozambique is HIV/AIDS and a general lack of
adequate health care. Since there are not many doctors or even adequate forms of
medicine, mothers struggle through childbirth. Many women die in labor, while
many babies are stillborn or die at birth. Even if they survive, a high number
of newborns never make it past the first 28 days of life. The next landmark that
children in Mozambique struggle to pass is the five years of age mark, as the
infant mortality rates of children younger than this is still higher than in
adults. Once they manage to survive that long, their main enemies are HIV/AIDS
and other viral diseases.
European Tourists on the Beach in Inhambane, Mozambique
11) Nigeria (53 years)
The Federal Republic of Nigeria's borders are mainly surrounded by land.
Situated in West Africa, despite being mainly interior, Nigeria has some
territory that touches the coasts of the Guinea Gulf. With a surface area of 356
thousand square miles, it has a population of 170 million habitants, which makes
it a very densely populated territory in comparison to other African countries
of a similar size.
Nigeria has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. More than
20 percent of children in the country die before reaching the age of five,
meaning that one out of every five children die before that age. Considering
that the average childbirth rate of Nigerian women is five, it means that every
mother in the country loses at least one child before they can reach their
Bida Durbar Festival
The main causes of death in Nigeria are the high levels of pollution and
contamination in rivers, and the epidemic of yellow fever that only grows
stronger when the insects that host the virus can multiply in stagnant or
polluted waters. HIV/AIDS is also an important cause of death, adding Nigeria to
the list of African countries that struggle against the disease.
10) Chad (51 years)
Also known as the Republic of Chad, this country is situated south of Libya,
with Sudan to its east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and
Nigeria to the Southwest, and Niger to the West. Chad is a fairly big territory,
which explains how it can share borders with so many other states. The total
area of Chad is 481 thousand square miles, and it has a population of 10 million
habitants, which is a low density population for such a big country.
Sadly, the vastness of its territory doesn’t mean it has enough resources to
properly take care of its growing population. The main cause of death in Chad is
an inadequate healthcare system. The lack of hospitals and medical professionals
to take care of the sick makes it all too easy for people to die due to lack of
vaccines, infections, accidents, and complications caused by minor health issues
that didn’t receive the necessary attention and medication when it was needed.
HIV/AIDS and other diseases transmitted during sexual intercourse also cause a
serious toll on the population’s numbers.
The Republic of Angola is a country situated in the southern coast of Africa,
and it borders on the Atlantic Ocean. The country is 481 thousand square miles,
and its population is 18 million. Again, it’s not a land with a high density
population, but the health hazards are not few nor can can they be taken
Angola has a high infant mortality rate, and, unfortunately, there is little
wonder as to why, with the myriad of diseases that are rampant in the area.
Aside from AIDS and Malaria, which are recurrent on the African continent, many
maladies are carried by insects, like Dengue and Leishmaniasis.
Miradouro da Lua, or "Watchpoint of the Moon" - Luanda,
Dengue is an
illness that is carried by mosquitoes, but sadly there is no vaccine for it yet;
the only measure to fight it is to avoid being bitten, though that is hardly
helpful in tropical areas like Angola. On the other hand, Leishmaniasis is
caused by the bite of the sand fly that carries a parasite, and it can affect
internal organs like the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Aside from all of these
already dreadful illnesses, Angola also suffers from frequent epidemics of cholera.
The Republic of Mali is a West African country completely surrounded by land,
sharing borders with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivore, Niger, Guinea, Senegal
and Mauritania. Its territory spans a grand total of 479 thousand square miles
and it has a population of 14 million habitants.
The main causes of death in Mali are many, and all of them are terrible.
Hunger is one of the primary causes of death, along with bad hygiene and the
fact that there is no access to safe drinking water. Only the later one is
enough to kill thousands of people from stomach infections and diarrhea. Malaria
also runs rampant in this country, along with many other infectious diseases
that only grow stronger and spread further due to the lack of access to the
means to stay clean.
Many other diseases that can be treated by simple vaccines,
like measles, cause many deaths in Mali. Adding to the list are cholera and
tuberculosis, because it is so difficult to maintain standard health practices
that will keep the population healthy.
Guinea-Bissau is situated in West Africa and touches borders with Senegal to
the north, Guinea to the south and east, and with the Atlantic Ocean at its
western border. It’s a small country which has covers a distance of only 14
thousand square miles and has a population reaching 1.6 million habitants.
People on the Streets of Guinea-Bissau
Despite its petite size, Guinea-Bissau still suffers from two of the biggest
pandemics in Africa, both HIV/AIDS and Malaria. But Malaria is especially
dangerous for children, due in large part to the deadly high fevers that come
According to 2010 estimates, as many as 86 percent of the 660,000
Malaria deaths in the country were small children.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is situated between South Africa and Mozambique, and
it’s a relatively small country of just 6,704 square miles and over one million
residents. Its small size only makes it all the more devastating for you to
learn that it has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world, with 25
percent of adults having the deadly disease. This, of course, makes it the
number one health issue the population has to deal with, but the country lacks
the resources necessary to prevent and fight AIDS. Due to this, up to 64 percent
of deaths in Swaziland are caused by the deadly disease.
The second cause of death is tuberculosis. This illness is not caused by a
virus, but by bacteria, and it usually attacks the lungs, causing painful and
bloody coughing fits. It doesn’t only attack the lungs, though, as it will often
attack other internal organs like the liver, the spine, or even the brain.
Tuberculosis can be treated, but when it’s not, then it can be deadly.
Princess Dlamini at Reed Dance Festival in Swaziland 2006
The Republic of Somalia is situated in the Horn of Africa, and it’s
surrounded by Ethiopia and Djibouti, with its coasts bordered by the waters of
the Indian Ocean that dip into the Gulf of Aden. Somalia is a country of medium
size in relation to other African states, with a surface area of 246 thousand
square miles; its population is about 10 million.
The main causes of death in Somalia are an extremely poor healthcare system
and a lack of preventative care. Because of the Somalia Civil War that lasted
for most of the 1990s, the healthcare, which was controlled by the government,
collapsed. This means that the population suddenly lacked working hospitals and
health professionals, as well as access to medicines. Famine and draught ravish
the country nearly ever year, and more and more Somalians are packed into relief
Port of Mogadishu
The lack of correct
sanitation and the precarious conditions the civilians live in after the war
became a breeding ground for all kinds of diseases to spread. And, because
people no longer had access to vaccination and treatment, many viral diseases
that could have been treated suddenly turned deadly.
The Kingdom of Lesotho is a small little enclave situated inside the
territory of South Africa. The country covers 11,583 square miles and has a
population of 2 million. Perhaps due to its small size, more than half of the
habitants of Lesotho live below the poverty levels, which is already enough of a
reason for its early mortality levels.
you add to this the fact that it also has a really high infant mortality rate,
and one of the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS patients, it’s no wonder how this
little country would have such a hard time helping the citizens live past the
half century mark.
Also known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, this central African country
is ranked 11th on the list of largest countries in the world, which just by
itself is a considerable feat. With a surface area of 905 thousand square miles,
75 million people call Congo home.
An USAID-Supported Animal Husbandry Training Program in
The main cause of early death is a large series of maladies that could be
prevented and controlled with vaccination but are not. HIV and AIDS are serious
problems here, as is Malaria. In addition, Congo suffers from Polio, Typhoid,
Yellow Fever and Ebola. The Ebola virus originated in Congo and is usually
carried by animals of the area, infecting both primates and humans. It’s highly
fatal, as it causes high fevers and internal hemorrhages, muscle pains, and
stomach afflictions. Ebola has no treatment, and since its origins are unknown,
there is also no way of preventing infection, which is why it’s such a problem
The main cause of early deaths in Central African Republic is the lack of
preventive treatment. The country is plagued with many endemic diseases, but it
does not have the vaccines and treatment needed to be able to avoid massive
infection in the population. Malaria and Yellow Fever are commonplace in this
country, as are Leprosy and Tuberculosis. While Leprosy (the official name is
Hansen’s disease) doesn’t necessarily kill, it can lead to complications that
can assist other diseases in killing the afflicted. As leprosy affects the skin
and nerves, and can cause blindness, it can often also leave a person numb so
that they lose the ability to feel pain from other health problems and
infections. This can result in their leaving the new illness unattended until
it’s too late.
Leprosy paired with HIV/AIDS, of which the Central African Republic has a
high percentage, can easily become a deadly combination that puts this country
at number two of this list.
1) Sierra Leone
The last country is the Republic of Sierra Leone. This country is situated in
West Africa, with the Atlantic shores to the Southwest of its territory. It
consists of 28 thousand square miles of land, and has approximately 6 million
inhabitants. The reasons for Sierra Leone’s short life expectancy are many—each
as terrible as the next.
School in Koindu Destroyed During the Civil War
Unfortuntely, the civil war led to many child kidnappings in which children
were forced to become soldiers against their will, causing the deaths of
thousands of young boys before they could reach adulthood. This, paired with a
high mortality rate in newborns and infants, as well as in mothers during
childbirth, makes growing past childhood almost an impossibility. Adding to
this, there is also a lack of working water distribution systems. Often times,
even in the main cities, water is cut off, if there is a direct supply at all.
This forces many people to drink contaminated water, when they can have access
to any, which causes an onset of endemic diseases to spread, as well as other
problems derived from drinking contaminated water, like diarrhea, which today is
one of the greater causes of death in the world.
Sierra Leone Rice Farmer
Of the endemic diseases that affect Sierra Leone, like AIDS, Cholera and
Yellow Fever, which are already common ground the country shares with other
African countries, they also suffer Lassa Fever and Meningitis. The latter is an
inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spine, and it can be
caused by viruses, bacteria, drug use or physical injuries.
African nations are at a disadvantage as they were recently colonies of major
European nations who pulled out of Africa just as recent as the middle of the
20th century. When European rule ceased, power vacuums occurred causing horrible
atrocities like civil war, genocide, and systematic rape. Looking towards the
future, Africa must secure stable governance and provide stable, clean, and
effective infrastructure components like drinking water, food supply, vaccines,
and appropriate health care. Addressing the HIV/AIDS issue will be essential to
the long-term prosperity of many African nations.
Since 2005, the life expectancy in the African continent has risen by six
years. Positive trends like this can be accelerated through better education,
health care, and preventative measures. The efforts of global humanitarian
organizations as well as local governments can make a huge difference here.
There is still hope that these people can have longer and healthier lives.
Wikipedia: (Official names of the countries, geographical
situation, area and population, main causes of death in each country)
WHO (World Health Organization): World Health Organization Statistic
Report 2013: (ranking of countries with shortest life expectancy and
media of live expectancy of each country)www.who.int/
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Descriptions and
symptoms of diseases, causes and treatment.