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Zimbabwe has emerged as the miserable countries in the world, surpassing countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and even war-torn Syria. This assessment is based on an annual “misery index” that meticulously evaluates various factors such as unemployment rates, inflation rates, and bank lending rates for more than 160 nations. For three consecutive years, Zimbabwe has consistently found itself among the top five most depressing countries on this index.
The country, which is home to around 16 million people, has been grappling with severe economic challenges for many years. Under the rule of the late President Robert Mugabe’s cruel dictatorship, Zimbabwe became an international pariah, plagued by corruption, violence, and economic disaster. The effects of Mugabe’s 37-year reign continue to haunt the mineral-rich nation even after his removal from office in 2017.
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Inflation has been identified as a major contributing factor to Zimbabwe’s dire situation. In March, inflation stood at 10.1%, causing the highest increase in food prices since 1977. This dramatic rise in prices has resulted in an additional financial burden of £800 per year for the average household. While inflation is currently on a downward trend, its impact on the economy and the living conditions of the population remains significant.
Interestingly, the United Kingdom experienced a decline in its ranking on the misery index, dropping from 153rd to 129th place. This deterioration is worse than previous years and can be attributed to factors such as inflation, which has led to the aforementioned increase in food prices. However, it is worth noting that the United States also faced a decline in its ranking, moving from 102nd to 134th place. High unemployment rates were cited as the primary reason for this downward trend.
It is worth highlighting that despite the lowest unemployment levels in decades in April, with only 3.4% of Americans (equivalent to 5.7 million individuals) unemployed, the impact on the overall misery index was significant.
Another country that ranked notably high on the misery index was Ukraine, which currently finds itself defending its territory against the brutal conflict initiated by invading Russian soldiers under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Ukraine ranked ninth on the index, primarily due to the quadrupling of its unemployment rate to 35%, leaving approximately 5.2 million people without jobs. These figures are based on a report from the National Bank of Ukraine.
The misery index employs a complex algorithm that assigns scores to each country based on its GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, and interest rates. It is important to note that the index does not take into account additional indicators such as resident surveys or health metrics, focusing solely on economic factors.
Zimbabwe’s current position as the world’s most desolate nation, as determined by the misery index, is a testament to the long-lasting impact of economic mismanagement, corruption, and political instability. While other countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and Syria also face their own challenges, Zimbabwe’s persistent struggles have propelled it to the top of this unfortunate ranking.