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This is a joint post with Charles Kenny

Zambia and Ghana are the 27th and 28th countries the World Bank has reclassified as middle-income since the year 2000

Description: MDG : Getting out of poverty , Lusaka , Zambia : Doctors perform cataract surgery

Doctors perform cataract surgery at the Lusaka Eye Hospital in Zambia. It's inexpensive and it changes people's lives instantly, so it's a good example of how just a little bit more money can make a huge difference to the world's poorest people. Photograph: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

Remember the poverty trap? Countries stuck in destitution because of weak institutions put in place by colonial overlords, or because of climates that foster disease, or geographies that limit access to global markets, or simply by the fact that poverty is overwhelmingly self-perpetuating. Apparently the trap can be escaped.

The World Bank did its annual assessment of poor nations last week. Low-income countries are those with average gross national incomes (GNIs) of less than $1,005 per person per year. And there are only 35 of them remaining out of the countries and economies that the World Bank tracks. That's down from 63 in 2000.

New middle-income countries this year include Ghana and Zambia. Lower middle-income countries are those with per capita GNIs of between $1,006 and $3,975 per year; while upper middle-income countries are those with per capita GNIs between $3,976 and $12,275. The remaining 35 low-income countries have a combined population of about 800 million. Tanzania, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh account for about half of that total, and there are about 350 million people living on under $1.25 a day in the remaining low-income countries. Read the entire post here.

This post originally appeared on the Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog.