In the scope of the world, “wealth” can be a pretty relative term. With most media outlets being focused on Western nations, you’d be surprised to know which countries are considered the richest in the world.
To accurately measure wealth, the most common way is to take a country’s the gross domestic product (GDP) based on its purchasing power parity (PPP). GDP takes into account all private and public consumption, investments, and trade.
PPP is a concept used to essentially even out exchange rates, taking two currencies and comparing the price of a “basket of goods” between them. If the good in question is priced the same in both countries, the currencies are at equilibrium. When using this method of GDP and PPP, we use the hypothetical currency known as the international dollar.
Based on these factors, here are the 10 richest countries in 2019.
You’d think the USA would be higher on the list given its presence in general global culture and its allure as “the land of the free” to those wanting to immigrate. But this is why we take PPP into account, to get an accurate measure of the country’s overall wealth vs. the population.
While the USA has the highest GDP in the world at around $21.5 trillion, the country suffers from severe income gaps. As an example, three men in America (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett) own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the country. The USA has a population of around 328,285,992 people. Think about that for a second and try not to walk straight into the ocean.
As a mostly mountainous country, Switzerland relies on its services to spur its economy than its goods. The largest service Switzerland offers is its financial services. That isn’t to say the country doesn’t have exports. Coffee is actually a major one, along with watches, gold, and pharmaceuticals. Tourism is also a massive industry.
Switzerland has one of the most advanced and competitive free markets in the world and a low rate of unemployment. But compared to other countries, it has a tiny population. And the country relies on its neighbors and has been pressured by countries in the EU (as well as the US) to reform banking secrecy laws.
Kuwait’s economy heavily relies on its oil reserves and as a result, has little diversity in its economy. It accounts for almost half of Kuwait’s entire GDP. That’s not to say it doesn’t have other exports, they just can’t compete with the nearly $50 billion revenue the oil and gas industry brings to the country. Other exports include vehicles, machinery, and plastics.
Most of the country’s residents live in the country’s capital, Kuwait City. Due to living in an arid Middle Eastern country, the population relies on importing food and water. Fun fact: there is no corporate or personal income tax in Kuwait.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is another economy reliant on the oil industry. Like Kuwait, there is no income tax. Comprised of a federation of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi holds the title of the most well-known and the wealthiest of the emirates. Abu Dhabi holds the country’s oil reserves, whereas the emirate of Dubai acts as the financial and commercial capital.
Thanks to Dubai, the UAE has better economic diversification. Since around the late 1990s, the service sectors have steadily gained traction in the country’s economy. With a push for development in tourism and business, the UAE’s government promoted major infrastructure projects, primarily for accommodation and transportation.
Listed in the top 15 for Forbes’ Best Countries For Business, Norway packs a small yet mixed economy. Surprisingly, Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafoods, only being second to China. Though like many countries, Norway’s main resource is oil and natural gas. Oil depletion still poses a threat to Norway’s economy, but the right steps are being taken to minimize the fallout. The government imposes rules and regulations on how they use the federal budget and how they use the current petroleum revenue.
The country has low unemployment and is frequently listed as one of the best places to live.
Did you know Ireland officially became a country in 1937? That’s wild for how long its folklore and culture dates back to. Ireland is an island off the western coast of Great Britain and has been a member of the EU since 1973. Just in case it’s not clear, Ireland, as an independent country, will not be leaving the EU. However, they will be and are heavily impacted by the event.
Ireland’s major economic sectors include agriculture, fishing, and tourism.
Brunei is located in Southeast Asia surrounded by Sarawak, a state of Malaysia. It’s a more recent country, gaining its independence from the UK in 1984. Now, it’s a top contender in GDP per capita, though that may be in part to a small estimated population of 439,336.
Their economy heavily depends on the petroleum sector, being a massive exporter of crude oil and natural gas. Though no other export comes remotely close in revenue, Brunei also distributes machinery, electronic equipment, and iron/steel products.
Another Southeast Asia country makes the list in the top 3. Singapore is an island located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is both a city and a country, declaring its independence in 1965. Under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore became known for its swift transition from a developing to a developed country.
Singapore’s economy is highly successful and considered one of the most open and least corrupt markets. It enjoys a low unemployment rate, though has its own income inequality issues. Its main business sectors include biotechnology, oil, and banking.
Gaining independence from the French way back in 1815, Luxembourg is the 7th smallest country in Europe and one of the richest countries in the world. It’s completely landlocked by Belgium, Germany, and France and is a member of the EU. Out of all the European countries, it probably has the best balance between natural beauty and developed cities.
Luxembourg’s economy is primarily reliant on the banking industry. After some controversy over banking secrecy laws in 2009, Luxembourg made adjustments to its tax legislation laws. Other crucial industries include steel, chemicals, and rubber.
Qatar is a small country on the Arabian Peninsula. It declared its independence in 1971, months before the British officially withdrew from the area. Now, Qatar is the richest country in the world. Why is that? Oil.
The country has huge deposits of natural gas and petroleum both on and off shore. To curb the country’s reliance on oil, Qatar’s government attempted to ease its dependency on oil by developing its market for natural gas. Qatar also aims to diversify its economy outside of fossil fuels by expanding its manufacturing, machinery, and agriculture.