The 22 countries in the East and Southern Africa region are an economically and socially heterogeneous mix. The International Monetary Fund has projected that Ethiopia, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia will be among the 10 fastest growing economies in the world between now and 2015. On the other hand, the region includes some of sub-Saharan Africa's poorest and most fragile states, including Eritrea and South Sudan.
East and Southern Africa also has the nations with the highest population density on the continent (Burundi and Rwanda) and the lowest (Botswana and Namibia).
Regional progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been irregular across the various countries and MDG targets. Progress towards MDG1 on reducing poverty and hunger, for example, is not on track. And while the proportion of poor people is decreasing in East and Southern Africa as a whole, the total number is increasing in Southern Africa.
The population of the region is about 399 million, of whom 70 per cent live in rural areas. In countries for which data are available, about 43 per cent live on less than US$1.25 a day.