Somali pirates grab headlines by hijacking multi-million-dollar ships and holding them and their crews hostage for more millions of dollars. They also live in a country that has one of the lowest per-capita gross domestic products (around $600). But your average successful pirate makes what in the United States would be a comfortable, middle-class living. A report from the consulting firm Geopolicity found a pirate could make between $33,000 to $79,000 per year -- about 150 times the national average wage.
Of course, that relatively high income comes with a pretty short life expectancy: The report suggests a pirate can make $168,000-$394,000 over a career. That comes to about five years. But it's enough to make the trade attractive to a fast-growing population of Somalis. The number of pirates operating in the area is expected to double by 2015. The total cost of piracy in the Indian Ocean during 2010 was somewhere from $7 billion to $12 billion, and is expected to hit or top $15 billion by 2015. "This bill includes ransoms, insurance payments, the cost of naval operations, prosecutions and of rerouting ships," points out Christine Mungai in Business Daily Africa.