Countries in the World
As more wealth is created in the world, more of it is concentrated among the richest people in the richest countries. The combined gross domestic product of countries adds up to $116.7 trillion. GDP may be the standard method for gauging the size of a particular country or region’s economy, but it does not account for all of the wealth generated by that nation. A more accurate indicator of a country’s economic output is its gross national income, or GNI. This measure captures all economic activity within a nation’s borders in addition to the wealth created by nationally-owned entities operating in other countries. Using data from the World Bank, we reviewed the GNI per capita of nearly 200 nations to identify the 10 richest countries.
Qatar is, by far, the richest country in the world, with a GNI per capita of $116,799 — more than $20,000 higher than any other nation. The country has more in oil reserves than all but two other countries worldwide — equal to 13% of the global supply. This natural resource brings in tens of billions of dollars to the country of less than 3 million residents each year. Petroleum accounts for nearly all of Qatar’s exports – 87%. Thanks to its strong economy, Qatar’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world, at 0.2%.
- Macao SAR, China
Macao is another special administrative region of China, meaning it is not fully autonomous, as China handles foreign affairs and defence. Since allowing the foreign competition in its local casino industry starting in 2001, Macao has become one of the world’s top gaming destinations, and the sector has pumped billions of dollars into the economy of this relatively small region. Macao’s economy is growing faster than that of any country that ranks among the 10 richest in the world. Its economy grew 9.1% in 2017, nearly triple the rate of the worldwide GDP growth.
Sitting on the southern edge of Malaysia, Singapore is an important shipping point, connecting much of mainland Asia to the rest of the world. Singapore’s economy, which has a GNI per capita of $82,503, is one of the most business-friendly in the world due in part to a lack of cumbersome regulations. Singapore is the single largest seller of integrated circuits, or microchips, in the world. These circuits makes up 36% of Singapore’s exports. As it relies heavily on the export of technology, Singapore invests a large amount, worth 2.2% of the nation’s GDP, in research and development.
Petroleum accounted for more than 90% of Brunei’s exports in 2017. As a result of its wealth of valuable resources, the relatively small Southeast Asian nation has become one of the world’s wealthiest, with a GNI per capita in excess of $76,000. Citizens of the country do not have to pay taxes and still enjoy generous services provided by the public sector.
Kuwait is one of just five nations with a GNI per capita above $70,000. Unlike most other countries that rank among the wealthiest in the world, Kuwait does not have a diverse economy. Petroleum accounts for more than 84% of its exports. Kuwait ranks as one of the most corrupt nations on this list, likely resulting in an uneven dispersal of the wealth created from petroleum. Along with fellow oil-rich nation Saudi Arabia, Kuwait is one of the only countries that rank among the richest in the world that saw a decline in their GDP in 2017.
The island nation of Bermuda is by far the least populous country to rank among the richest in the world, with a population of less than 66,000. Bermuda’s exports are worth very little. The nation ranks among the wealthiest largely because of international businesses, like insurance and financial services companies that operate in the country. These businesses account for around 85% of Bermuda’s GDP. Tourism is also an economic boon for the country accounting for a large share of total employment.
- United Arab Emirates
Nearly half of all exports from the United Arab Emirates are forms of petroleum — crude, refined, or gas. The country’s exports also include precious metals and minerals like gold and diamonds. These valuable exports have helped make the UAE one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a GNI per capita of $67,758.
The UAE has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, at 2.6%, just over half of the 5.0% worldwide unemployment rate.
Despite being one of the smaller countries in the world with a population of 5.3 million, Norway has one of the larger economies, with a GDP of $342.8 billion. Since the discovery of offshore oil and gas in the 1960s, Norway has become a petroleum-producing powerhouse. In 2017, petroleum made up more than half of the Scandinavian country’s exports. The country has a life expectancy of 82.5 years, more than a decade higher than the global average.
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world, both in terms of landmass and population, with fewer than 600,000 people. With a GDP of $55.5 billion, Luxembourg’s GNI per capita is one of the highest in the world at $65,101. No country relies more heavily on exports than Luxembourg. The total value of exported goods and services is equal to more than double the country’s GDP — the only place in the world where this is the case.
- Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. But it has its own powerful economy with a GDP of $414.3 billion and a GNI per capita of $58,420 per person. In addition to being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Hong Kong is also one of the healthiest. The average life expectancy at birth in the country of 84.7 years is more than 12 years longer than the global average and about six years longer than in the United States.