What are the world's richest economies?

Article Category: Finance  |   

We live in world that sits on top of an ever shifting sea of money: economies rise and fall and with them follow the fortunes of entire nations. Empires and great nations are built with more than just blood and sweat - they need money and a lot of it.

wealth stone - photo

One hundred and fifty years ago Great Britain was the richest country in the world. The armed forces, although small in size, helped maintain an empire that stretched over one third of the globe. An interesting fact: at the end of World War I, the start of the decline of the British Empire, Great Britain had 64 aircraft carriers - that's more that the United States have ever built.

It would be easy to simply look at the figures and pick out the world's largest economy but we don't like doing things the easy way. Instead, I've produced a list of the world's richest countries based on GDP per capita (2014). GDP stands for gross domestic product and represents the monetary value of all finalized goods and services produced within a country in a specific time period (usually 1 year). I've also added a note about the relative power of each of the nations on the rich-list, for comparison. All of the statistics were researched from Trading Economics.

So, without further ado, here are the 10 richest countries in the world, counting down from 10 to 1:

10) UAE

Like many of the Middle Eastern economies, the United Arab Emirates has experienced huge economic growth over the last forty years. The primary reason being the abundance of crude oil buried beneath this desert kingdom. But, in more recent years, the insatiable global demand for natural gas, of which there is huge quantity in the UAE, has created a new gold rush and corresponding upturn in the economic fortunes of this relatively small country.

The current GDP of the UAE is $24,824.80.

9) Singapore

Not surprisingly, here's another one of the so-called Tiger Economies sitting near the top of the rich list. The fortunes of Singapore were built on manufacturing goods, mainly electronics, to meet the almost insatiable demand of the West.

The current GDP of Singapore is $33,988.00.

8) Kuwait

Back in the late 80's Saddam Hussein recognised the growing value of Kuwait. Thanks to the huge oil and gas reserves it was, and still is, one of the most cash rich countries in the world. Thanks in main to the high wages and job prospects it's also a popular destination for foreign workers.

The current GDP rate for Kuwait is $43,230.63.

7) Hong Kong

For a long time, Hong Kong was run by the United Kingdom under a leasing agreement with mainland China. When the British eventually handed the island back to the Chinese many islanders predicted calamity during the transition to Communist rule. They need not have worried: since the island was handed back in 1997, the economy has flourished and is now the 'go to' place for business looking for a launchpad into the Chinese markets.

The current GDP of Hong Kong is $44,770.11.

6) United States of America

You could hardly expect any top ten list of rich and powerful countries not to include the US. Rich in natural resources, the US has leveraged this fact to their advantage to produce a global powerhouse - no matter which way you look at it.

The current GDP of the United States of America is $45,336.00.

Note: The US is the most powerful country in the world, according to its National Power Index (NPI). This is calculated using a number of factors such as population, military power, technology and energy security, amongst others.

5) Brunei

Now if you're first thought was, 'Where?' then you're not alone. This tiny island state is tucked away in South East Asia. The ruling monarch is one of the richest men in the world and, if you've ever been there you'll know that much of the revenue from oil and silicon sand is pumped back into the local economy. This helps to maintain the incredibly low rate of unemployment.

The current GDP of Brunei is $50,526.00.

4) Switzerland

World famous for cuckoo clocks, high end watches and a failed attempt by Steve McQueen to jump over the border on a WWII motorcycle. There's also the fact that Swiss banks are the preferred destination for the savings of many of the world's rich and famous. But can selling a few wooden clocks and Rolex watches really make an entire nation rich? It would seem so.

The current GDP for Switzerland is $55,066.12.

3) Norway

Believe it, or not, Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. The huge revenues generated from North Sea oil and fisheries, alongside a system that rewards hard work and delivers a wide range of opportunities, have helped build a powerhouse in both industry and finance.

The current GDP of Norway is $65,858.00.

2) Luxembourg

This tiny principality is currently the richest in Europe and the second richest in the world. Helped by its status as a tax haven, the country has attracted investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. And it doesn't stop there: Luxembourg is fast tracking a number of huge infrastructure projects that will help the country pull even further ahead of its competitors.

The current GDP of Luxembourg is $80,679.00.

1) Qatar

Qatar flag

Not surprisingly, the country with the highest GDP per capita is in the Middle East. To be precise, it's the sheikhdom of Qatar. Using money from their huge oil and gas revenues, the rulers of this state have branched out and acquired a number of key businesses in the Western world.

That said, the relatively small population of Qatar helps push up its GDP per capita.

The current GDP of Qatar is $102,768.00.

A final note

One final note: even though most of the countries in this top ten list are incredibly rich, only one of them ranks in the top ten most powerful countries in the world.

Written by James Redden

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Last update: 19 March 2014

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