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The Least Developed Countries are defined as low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable developement. The current list of LDCs includes 48 countries; 34 in Africa, 13 in Asia and the Pacific and 1 in Latin America. They comprise more than 880 million people (about 12 per cent of world population), but account for less than 2 percent of world GDP and about 1 percent of global trade in goods.
The category of LDCs was officially established in 1971 by the UN General Assembly to attract special international support for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the UN family.  Membership of category is reviewed every three years by the Committee for Developemnt Policy (CDP), which advises the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on which low-income countries should be added to the list and those that could be graduated from the list. In this regard, the  CDP has developed a set of formal criteria to identify countries as least developed.
In its most recent effort to support the LDCs, the United Nations adopted the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2011. The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) charts out the international community's vision and strategy for the sustainable development of LDCs for the next decade with a strong focus on developing their productive capacities. The IPoA specifically aims to enable half of the LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020.
LDC-specific international support measures can assist these countries to meet the targets established at Istanbul. However, LDC capacity to use these measures is limited, in part because there is a general lack of understanding of what LDC-specific support is, who their main suppliers are, and what is needed to access these resources. It is the main objective of this portal to address this problem by compiling and cataloging in one single place information about currently available LDC-specific support.

The portal has been designed and maintained by the CDP Secretariat of the Development Policy and Analysis Division of DESA. Part of the information was collected through specially designed surveys (referred throughout the portal as DESA surveys) conducted with official bilateral and multilateral development partners, trading partners and LDCs. In developing the site, the CDP Secretariat relied on valuable assistance and support from EIF Secretariat, ITC, OECD/DAC, OHRLLS, UNCTAD, UNDP, and WTO. The CDP Secretariat gratefully acknowledges the support received from these organizations and of all those who participated in the surveys. The content, findings, interpretations, and conclusions as expressed in this summary reflect the views of its authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations, participating countries and organisations. The views presented on this portal should not be considered as the official position of the survey participants.