Poverty is a condition in which a person or community is deprived of, and or lacks the essentials for a minimum standard of well-being and life. Since poverty is understood in many senses, these essentials may be material resources such as food, safe drinking water, and shelter, or they may be social resources such as access to information, education, health care, social status, political power, or the opportunity to develop meaningful connections with other people in society.
Poverty may also be defined in relative terms. In this view income disparities or wealth disparities are seen as an indicator of poverty and the condition of poverty is linked to questions of scarcity and distribution of resources and power.
Poverty may be defined by a government or organization for legal purposes, see Poverty threshold.
Poverty may be seen as the collective condition of poor people, or of poor groups, and in this sense entire nation-states are sometimes regarded as poor. A more neutral term is developing nations. Although the most severe poverty is in the developing world, there is evidence of poverty in every region. In developed countries examples include homless people and ghettos.
Poverty is also a type of religious vow, a state that may be taken on voluntarily in keeping with practices of piety.