About this map

More than 7 billion people live on our planet. As this map shows, they live in vastly different conditions. About 1.2 billion people — nearly one in six — live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day.

While the developing world is not easy to describe, and the problems it presents are not easy to solve, many developing countries have made remarkable progress in the last several decades.

Overall, poverty is decreasing. Today, 81 per cent of people in the world can read and write — the highest percentage in history. Between 1960 and 2012, life expectancy in developing countries increased by more than 20 years, from 47 to 70. Some developing countries have built up their economies to the point where they are now major competitors in the international marketplace.

Yet, for other countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, poverty remains a daily threat. In that part of the world, about one in 39 women die due to pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. Around the world, nearly 870 million people are chronically undernourished. And more than one million children under the age of five die of pneumonia every year.

What is development?

Development begins with meeting the most basic human needs: food, clean water, good health and shelter. But it also involves the chance to earn a living in a society where human rights are respected and where women, as well as men, can participate fully in the life of their communities. Sustainable development requires infrastructure that provides essential services and underpins economic growth, as well as an economy that encourages innovation and respects the environment.

About the MDGs

Canada is part of a new global community working to accomplish what no nation can do alone. In September 2000, at a special United Nations assembly to mark the turn of the century, the world's leaders agreed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — to reduce poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women by 2015.

This map is designed to provide a glimpse of some of the challenges in developing countries and the progress made toward achieving three of the MDGs. It uses the United Nations Development Programme's human development index (HDI) to show which countries have achieved high levels of development and which countries have further to go in improving the lives of their people.

What is the HDI?

In 1990, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) created a composite index that measures the quality of life in United Nations member countries. This human development index (HDI) is based on three aspects of human development: longevity (measured by life expectancy at birth), knowledge (measured by a combination of adult literacy and school enrolment) and standard of living (measured by GDP per capita in PPP US$).

Every year, the UNDP produces a new report that ranks member countries according to the HDI, details improvement and decline in various areas, and examines one particular topic in great detail. The 2013 report looks at the rise of Southern nations and its impact on human development. For more information about the HDI, or about these reports and statistics, please visit the UNDP website. (http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home.html)

How to use this website

This website gives you a window into our Developing World. It offers a glance at the challenges faced by developing countries and presents some of their successes.

There are many different ways to explore the map. Uncover the major quality of life indicators for more than 150 countries by exploring the map. Compare these indicators with any other country you choose by right clicking on another country (or select from the compare menu if you are on a tablet or phone).

The web pages on this site present information about population, poverty and hunger, health, education and the environment, at the global level and in specific regions and countries. If you have more questions about human development, consult the website glossary and sources.

Disputed boundaries and territories

This map was built on top of Google Maps. As such, the representation of political features on this map does not necessarily reflect the position of the Government of Canada on international issues of recognition, sovereignty or jurisdiction.

Technology used to build this interactive map

The map was built on top of Google Maps. It does not require a plugin.