10 Richest Countries in the World
In general, being small is good for the world’s wealthiest countries
It’s hard to compute the world’s richest countries. Should we use a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) or its per capital GDP? Lists such as this one use one method or the other. Combining them would be too subjective, it seems. This author uses the latter computation, because a nation’s population should be part of the equation. Riches alone are not enough to define the wealth of a country.
For instance, some countries have great wealth, as well as hundreds of millions of people living in poverty - China and India come to mind.
Still others have great natural resources, certainly a kind of wealth, but little else. For instance, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the world’s greatest natural resources – estimated at 24 trillion dollars worth – though most of these resources haven’t been exploited. For this reason, as well as a very low per capita GDP, the DRC is often considered one of the world’s poorest countries!
It seems countries with great natural resources, which have been exploited, particularly oil and natural gas, and also have relatively low populations, are the ones that possess the greatest wealth. However, major problems such as high unemployment and national debt could cloud the issue. But, alas, obtaining such numbers, particularly debt, is not an easy task!
Well, the author will do what he can to produce an accurate list.
So let’s check out the list of the 10 Richest Countries in the World. Please keep in mind the amount in parenthesis is the country’s per capita GDP in U.S. dollars, as computed using purchasing power parity, an adjustment for the relative value of a country’s currency.
10. Kuwait ($43,846)
Kuwait possesses so much oil and natural gas that dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the country in August 1990, hoping to take all of it for himself and his cronies in Iraq. Fortunately, the United States and other coalition forces kicked him out of Kuwait early the following year. Anyway, Kuwait possesses the world’s fifth largest petroleum reserves and is considered a high income nation according to the World Bank. Interestingly, as of May 2012, the Kuwaiti dinar was considered the world’s most valuable currency.
9. Switzerland ($45,285)
This perpetually neutral country, which hasn’t been in a state of war since 1815, has the highest wealth (financial or nonfinancial) per adult for any country in the world. Perhaps staying out of wars is one reason, though the country does have a strong conventional military. Moreover, Switzerland is also considered one of the wealthiest - if not the wealthiest country - in Europe, a region beset with economic woes for much of the early twenty-first century. Switzerland is also a great importer and exporter of goods.
8. United Arab Emirates ($48,992)
In this part of the world, being a small is certainly advantageous. The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven principalities, perhaps the most prominent of which are Dubai, as well as Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE and sometimes labeled as the richest city in the world. Oil is the UAE’s wealth. The UAE also has a small population, about eight million, this equates to lots of money for creating social programs for relatively few people. The rest of the world should be so fortunate.
However, this begs the question: How will oil rich countries such as the UAE produce income when the oil runs dry?
7. United States of America ($49,802)
In terms of GDP (15.6 trillion dollars), the USA ranks as the richest country in the world. Interestingly, it is the only country that makes the top ten list using both GDP and per capita GDP as measuring sticks. Moreover, the US has more millionaires per capita than any other country in the world and ranks in the top 14 for billionaires per capita. But, like many countries in the world, the US has great debt in the current era, estimated at well over 10 trillion dollars.
Interestingly, the US consumes more oil and natural gas than any other country in the world, while it also produces more oil and natural gas than any other country.
6. Brunei ($50,526)
Many people have probably never heard of Brunei, a small country located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo. As one may have guessed, Brunei, considered an Islamic nation, has rich deposits of oil and natural gas, much of it exploited offshore. Therefore, since Brunei’s population is under one million people, the government can afford to pay for social needs and infrastructure. Moreover, the country’s public debt is listed as zero. Brunei also boasts a rich fishing industry.
5. Hong Kong ($50,708)
Is Hong Kong really a country? It is part of the People’s Republic of China, which, incidentally, has a GDP of 8.2 trillion dollars, second in the world to the US. Hong Kong, along with Macau, is considered a special administrative region of China and, as such, appears to have a great deal of autonomy, though this could change in the future, of course. Nevertheless, Hong Kong has many claims to fame, including the title of the world’s most vertical city; it has the highest life expectancy in the world too; and, its citizens, the highest IQ score among 81 countries in the world.
4. Norway ($55,264)
Not surprisingly, Norway also possesses much oil and natural gas, as well as many other natural resources, including minerals, lumber, seafood and hydroelectric power. It also has a low population of about five million and, because of this, is the second least densely populated country in Europe. Moreover, Norway ranks highly as a country that’s simply a nice place in which to live. It topped the Legatum Prosperity Index from 2010 through 2012. It also ranks highly in the Democracy Index, as well as many other important indexes.
3. Singapore ($60,883)
Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia and is considered one of four Asian Tigers, because of its free and heavily developed economy. It also possesses one of the five busiest ports in the world and excels at refining imported goods through manufacturing. Furthermore, Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires. In fact, one out of six households has at least one million US dollars in disposable income. However, the country does not have a minimum wage, leading to great economic inequality, on a par with both Honk Kong and the US in this regard.
2. Luxembourg ($80,679)
Luxembourg is the only grand duchy on this list. Ruled by a grand duke or duchess, Luxembourg, a very small country with an equally small population, about a half million, features a free trade market economy whose major industries are steel, rubber, chemicals, banking and finance. Luxembourg also excels at offering companies a favorable business climate; both Amazon and Skype have their regional headquarters here. In fact, Luxembourg has the reputation as being a great tax haven. Moreover, in 2011, Luxembourg ranked fourth best in the world according to the quality of life index.
1. Qatar ($102,768)
Qatar is another small, Islamic, oil-rich Arab nation located in the Middle East. Ruled by the House of Al Thani since the middle 1800s, Qatar has a population of about 1.9 million. Interestingly, foreign nationals comprise 94 per cent of the country’s workforce. In recent times Forbes magazine considered it the richest country on the planet. Further, Qatar has no income taxes and its unemployment rate is perhaps the lowest in the world - .1 per cent as of June 2013. And, as petroleum prices continue to climb worldwide, Qatar’s position as the world's richest country may continue for many years.
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© 2013 Kelley Marks