What are the richest countries in the world? High standard of living, low unemployment rate, welfare and social programs…these are some of the traits of a modern and industrialized country. But which countries provide the most for its population? The following are the 20 richest countries in the world in terms of 2011 per capita income:
This oil-rich country tops the list with a per-capita income of $98,948. They have the third largest natural gas reserves, with the proven amount more than enough to allow them to produce the same number of barrels for the next 50 years. More than half of its GDP comes from oil, including almost 85% of exports and 70% of government income. To further stimulate the economy, Qatar is also embarking on huge infrastructure projects, just in time for its hosting of the 2022 World Cup of football.
Minimal inflation, low unemployment and general stability have led to solid growth for this small European country. They have a robust industrial sector featuring steel, chemicals and rubber. Luxembourg is also known for its financial services sector that accounts for nearly a third of its economy. Their reputation as a tax haven has taken a hit, however, because of pressure from the European Union. Still, with per-capita income of $80,559, the country’s economy is the envy of most of Europe.
The financial and technological hub of Southeast Asia, Singapore has translated its highly advanced economy featuring per-capita income of $59,710 to the third strongest economy in the world. It relies mostly on the exports of electronic and technology products and pharmaceuticals, as well as on a solid financial sector.
Norway is blessed with abundant natural resources, from oil and hydropower to minerals and forests. Aside from providing its people with per-capita income of $53,396, an extensive social welfare net is also in place. It is one of the largest exporters of oil and gas in the world, with revenues from the petroleum industry accounting for a fifth of the government’s revenue.
With per-capita income of $49,536, Brunei makes good use of its substantial crude oil and natural gas reserves. Citizens are entitled to free medical services and education up to the tertiary level. Housing is also subsidized. To further boost its income, the government has also taken advantage of investment opportunities abroad.
6. United States
Probably the most powerful economy in the world, the United States has always taken the lead in advances in technology, armaments and aerospace sectors. Per-capita income is at $48,328, though does not come with the same welfare packages as other advanced countries. They take pride instead in its market-oriented economy in which the private sector decides practically everything with minimal intervention from the government.
7. United Arab Emirates
This is another oil-rich Middle Eastern country with per-capita income of $47,729. The discovery of its oil fields has radically transformed the UAE from its poverty-ridden population three decades ago. Its free trade economic zones feature international conglomerates attracted by UAE’s zero-tax policy even for companies that are completely foreign-owned. This has helped boost private sector employment, an important element in the government’s drive to diversify the economy.
Rich, peaceful and perpetually neutral, Switzerland has a modern economy with a learned labor force with per-capita income of $44,452. Its banks are acclaimed the world over. Along with low taxes, efficient markets, predictable rules and modern infrastructure, these characteristics have allowed Switzerland’s economy to continuously progress.
9. San Marino
San Marino’s tourism and banking sectors have accounted for its economy’s success with per-capita income of $43,090. It faces a challenge, however, because of pressure from the international community for the country to improve the transparency of its banking industry. Foreign companies are keen on setting up shop here because of its low tax rates.
Known for its stable industrial relations, the Netherlands has a per-capita income of $42,023. Income is generally derived from food processing and petroleum refining. The country also has an automated agriculture sector that consistently produces huge export numbers, allowing it to post significant trade surpluses.
Oil! This is the one word that best epitomizes Kuwait. With petroleum making up 95% of its exports and government income, it’s no surprise that the country has a high per-capita income of $41,701.
Austria’s economy is consistently boosted by its service and industrialized sectors. It also has a smaller, albeit highly-advanced, agricultural sector. Per-capita income is at $41,556.
This is a country rich with natural resources, like coal, iron ore, gold, uranium and natural gas. Australia is a leading exporter of food and energy products. Its per-capita income is $40,847.
A modern country dependent on trade, Irish per-capita income is $40,838. Agriculture used to be a mainstay in its economy, though it has now been overtaken by the export sector, specifically in industry and services.
Sweden is also dependent on foreign trade, with iron ore, timber and hydropower constituting most of its resources. With per-capita income of 40,705 and a broad welfare system, its economy is further complemented by modern technology and highly skilled labor.
Canada is a rich country that benefits largely from its proximity to the US, which buys majority of Canada’s exports. Per-capita income is $40,519, while its main exports include petroleum and uranium.
Exports of vehicles, household equipment and chemicals have allowed Germany to provide per-capita income of $38,077. It faces several challenges, however, like low birth rates and increasingly unsustainable welfare system.
Fishing is still Iceland’s biggest industry, accounting for 12% of its GDP. With per-capita income of $38,060, this high-welfare country has been diversifying into biotechnology and software products.
With per-capita income of $37,781, Belgium relies on exports to boost its economy by importing raw materials that they turn around to manufactured goods. The drawback of this, however, is its vulnerability to fluctuations in prices.
A small country with huge per-capita income of $37,716, Taiwan relies on the export of machineries, electronics and petrochemicals. Most of its industries have been privatized as the country assumes a highly capitalist market orientation.