A UN report has warned that the planet's poorest countries are falling further behind the rest of the world.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its annual report on the world's poorest nations on Tuesday that the Least Developed Countries (LDC) had failed to catch up without more aid and favorable trade deals.
The agency has warned that these 48 countries were caught in "vicious circles."
It has also voiced concern over the ability of the poorest nations to lift themselves up on their own. "Countries can only break out of such vicious circles with international support in finance, trade and technology."
The UNCTAD report also said nearly half of the poor live in the 48 most impoverished countries. The rate has more than doubled since 1990.
Extreme poverty is currently defined as living on less than $1.90 per day.
Botswana, Cape Verde, the Maldives and Samoa are the only four countries that have graduated from the LDC list since the United Nations created it 45 years ago.
The current list of the LDC countries includes 34 African nations, nine in Asia, four in the Pacific, and Haiti.
Only Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Vanuatu, the report said, are on track to be excluded from the LDC in the coming years. Angola and Equatorial Guinea have seen a rise in the gross national income (GNI), but the benefits of energy revenues have not been spread among the population.
Mukhisa Kituyi, the UNCTAD chief, has said that graduation from the LDC is not, in itself, a mark of progress. "How a country graduates is just as important as when it graduates."