Richest Countries in the World 2023

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Many of the world’s richest countries are also the world’s smallest: the pandemic and the global economic slowdown barely made a dent in their huge wealth.

Many of the world’s richest countries are also the world’s smallest: the pandemic and the global economic slowdown barely made a dent in their huge wealth.

What do people think when they think about the world’s richest countries? And what comes to mind when they think about the world’s smallest countries? Many people would probably be surprised to find that many of the planet’s wealthiest nations are also among the tiniest.

Some very small and very rich countries—like San Marino, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore—benefit from having sophisticated financial sectors and tax regimes that attract foreign investment, professional talent and large bank deposits. Others like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have large reserves of hydrocarbons or other lucrative natural resources. Shimmering casinos and hordes of tourists are good for business too: Asia’s gambling haven Macao remains one of the most affluent states in the world despite almost three years of intermittent lockdowns and pandemic-related travel restrictions.

But what do we mean when we say a country is “rich,” especially in an era of growing income inequality between the super-rich and everyone else? While gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of all goods and services produced in a nation, dividing this output by the number of full-time residents is a better way of determining how rich or poor one country’s population is relative to another’s. The reason why “rich” often equals “small” then becomes clear: these countries’ economies are disproportionately large compared to their small number of inhabitants.

However, only when taking into account inflation rates and the cost of local goods and services can we get a more accurate picture of a nation’s average standard of living: the resulting figure is what is called purchasing power parity (PPP), often expressed international dollars to allow comparisons between different countries.

Should we then automatically assume that in nations where PPP is particularly high that the overall population is visibly better off than in most other places in the world? Not quite. We are dealing with averages and within each country structural inequalities can easily swing the balance in favor of those who are already advantaged.

The COVID-19 pandemic lifted the veil on these disparities in ways few could have predicted. While there is no doubt that the wealthiest nations—often more vulnerable to the coronavirus due to their older population and other risk factors—had the resources to take better care of those in need, those resources were not equally accessible to all. Furthermore, the economic fallout of lockdowns hit low-paid workers harder than those with high-paying occupations and that, in turn, fueled new kind of inequality between those who could comfortably work from home and those who had to risk their health and safety by travelling to job sites. Those who lost their jobs because their industries shut down entirely found themselves without much of a safety net—large holes in the most celebrated welfare systems in the world were exposed.

Then as the pandemic subsided, inflation surged globally and Russia invaded Ukraine, exacerbating the food and oil price crisis. Once again, lower-income families were hit hardest as they were forced to spend greater proportions of their incomes on basic necessities—housing, food, energy and transportation—whose prices are more volatile and tend to increase the most.

In the 10 poorest countries in the world, the average per-capita purchasing power is $1,380 while in the 10 richest it is over $105,000 according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since last October, per-capita purchasing power grew by just $30 in poor countries and by more than $5,000 in high-income countries.

A word of caution about these statistics: the IMF has warned repeatedly that certain numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, many nations in our ranking are tax havens, which means their wealth was originally generated elsewhere which artificially inflates their GDP. While a global deal to ensure that big companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15% was signed in 2021 by more than 130 governments (a deal that has yet to be implemented due to the opposition of legislators and politicians in many of them), critics have argued that this rate is barely higher than that tax havens like Ireland, Qatar and Macao. It is estimated that over 15% of global jurisdictions are tax havens and the IMF has estimated further that by the end of the 2020s, about 40% of global foreign direct investment flows could be attributed to shrewd tax-evading tactics, up from 30% in the 2010s. In other words: these investments pass through empty corporate shells and bring little or no economic gain to the population where the money ends up.

THE 10 RICHEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD:

10. San Marino🇸🇲

Current International Dollars: 78,926

Tiny San Marino is the oldest republic in Europe and the fifth smallest country on the map. It may have only 34,000 citizens, but it is among the wealthiest citizenry in the world. It helps that income tax rates are very low, at about one-third of the EU average. Nonetheless, San Marino is working towards harmonizing its fiscal laws and regulations with those of the European Union (EU) and international standards.

The tiny nation showed remarkable resilience during the pandemic and after amid tight monetary conditions and the energy crisis, with its tourism industry and manufacturing sector turning especially strong performances.

9. United States🇺🇸

Current International Dollars: 80,035 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

Did we say that the wealthiest countries are also the smallest? That is not the case, of course, with the United States which first entered the top 10 list in 2020 after hovering just beyond tenth place for the better part of the past two decades.

America’s entry and continuing presence in the top 10 are due to falling energy prices and pandemic-driven state spending. Falling energy prices pushed petroleum-based economies like Qatar, Norway and the United Arab Emirates down several rankings while Brunei fell out of the top 10 entirely.

Meanwhile, the emergency surge in government spending on stimulus checks, increased food stamp benefits and expanded Medicaid enrollment boosted aggregate demand significantly. As a result, the US had its shortest recession on record in early 2020, lasting only two months.

Fortunately, the American job market has recovered since the start of the pandemic although the highest inflation rate in 40 years has eaten into workers’ wages.

8. Norway🇳🇴

Current International Dollars: 77,808 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

Since the discovery of large offshore reserves in the late 1960s, Norway’s economic engine has been fueled by oil. As Western Europe’s top petroleum producer, the country has benefitted for decades from rising prices.

Until it didn’t: prices crashed at the beginning of 2020, then the global pandemic ensued—and the krone was sent into freefall. In the second quarter of that year, Norwegian GDP fell by 6.3 %, the biggest decline in half a century and possibly since World War Two.

Does that mean Norwegians became significantly less wealthy than they were before the pandemic? Certainly not. After the initial shock, the economy gradually pared the losses and closed the year at -1.2% GDP growth. Then in 2021 the economy rebounded, growing overall by almost 3.9% and around 3.3% in 2022.

When it comes to any unforseen economic problem, Norwegians can always count on their $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest. But unlike many other rich nations, Norway’s high per capita GDP figures are are a reasonably accurate reflection of the average person’s economic well-being the country has amongst the smalleset income inequality gaps in the world.

7. Switzerland🇨🇭

Current International Dollars: 87,963 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

White chocolate, the bobsleigh, the Swiss Army knife, the computer mouse, the immersion blender, velcro, and LSD are just some of the noteworthy inventions brought to the world by Switzerland. This country of about 8.7 million people owes much of its wealth to banking and insurance services, to tourism, and to the export of pharmaceuticals products, gems, precious metals, precision instruments (think watches) and machinery (medical apparatuses and computers).

According to the 2022 Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse, Switzerland once again came out on top when it comes the mean average wealth per adult at a whopping $700,000. Furthermore, roughly one adult in six owns assets worth more than one million U.S. dollars. Is it really a surprise that Switzerland has the highest density of millionaires in the world?

Unfortunately, all of this largesse could not shield the Swiss economy from the effects of COVID-19: in 2020, production declined by 2.5%. Yet things could have been worse. Growth suffered less than in neighboring countries due to a swift policy response (emergency spending and containment measures) and due to the make-up of the economy itself, with its low dependency on contact-intensive sectors, competitive export industries, and solid public and household finances.

Does that means the Swiss don’t have any economic worries at all? Not exactly. In March, Credit Suisse nearly imploded before a government-engineered rescue by its long-time rival, UBS Group. Not only has the demise of Credit Suisse shaken the country, it has damaged Switzerland’s reputation as a secure and reliable global banking center with even more jobs at risk than the 9,000 already axed in a restructuring plan last year.

6. United Arab Emirates🇦🇪

Current International Dollars: 88,221 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

Agriculture, fishing and trading pearls: these used to be the economic mainstays of this Persian Gulf nation. Then oil was discovered in the 1950s and everything changed. Today, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) highly cosmopolitan population enjoys considerable wealth. Traditional Islamic architecture mixes with glitzy shopping centers and workers come from all over the world lured by tax-free salaries and year-round sunshine; only about 20% of the people living in the country are actually locally-born.

The UAE’s economy is also becoming increasingly diversified. Outside of the traditionally dominant hydrocarbon sector, tourism, construction, trade and finance are major industries. This is not to say that the UAE was not impacted by the pandemic and the concomitant fall of oil prices: quite the contrary. Incredible as it may seem, the UAE briefly slipped out of the IMF’s ranking of the richest countries globally for the first time in decades. Yet fossil fuels have not gone out of fashion: as soon as energy prices recovered, the UAE quickly regained its historic position among the top 10 richest countries in the world.

5. Macao SAR🇲🇴

Current International Dollars: 89,558

Just a few years ago, many were betting that the Las Vegas of Asia was on its way to becoming the richest nation in the world. Formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, the gaming industry was liberalized in 2001 this special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China has seen its wealth growing at an astounding pace. With a population of about 700,000, and more than 40 casinos spread over a territory of about 30 square kilometers, this narrow peninsula just south of Hong Kong became a money-making machine.

That, at least, was until the machine started losing money rather than making it. When Covid struck, global traveling came to a halt, and for a while Macao even slipped out of the 10 richest nations ranking. Today, after more than three years since the start of the pandemic, Macao is slowly returning to business as usual. Yet, it also is the only country on the list whose per-capita purchasing power is lower than before the global health emergency—it was about $125,000 in 2019, down by more than $35,000 today.

4. Qatar🇶🇦

Current International Dollars: 124,834 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

Despite the recent surge, oil prices have declined since the mid-2010s. In 2014, the per-capita GDP of a Qatari citizen was over $143,222; one year later, it plunged significantly and remained below the $100,000 mark for the next five years. However, that figure has gradually grown, increasing by about $10,000 each year.

Still, Qatar’s oil, gas and petrochemical reserves are so large and its population so small—just 3 million—that this marvel of ultramodern architecture, luxury shopping malls and fine cuisine has managed to stay atop the list of the world’s richest nations for 20 years.

With only about 12% of the country’s residents being Qatari nationals, the initial months of the pandemic saw COVID-19 spreading rapidly among low-income migrant workers living in crowded quarters. Quarantines, curfews and lockdowns have been imposed more than once and yet Qatar suffered one of the highest rates of positive cases in the region.

Even so, the economy has proven to be resilient. It contracted by a relatively modest 3.5% in 2020, has grown roughly by 1.5% in 2021, and grew 4.2% in 2022 thanks to greater gas and oil revenues and tourists coming to see the World Cup.

3. Singapore🇸🇬

Current International Dollars: 133,895 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

The richest person living in Singapore is the founder of the medical equipment firm Mindray, Li Xiting, whose net worth is estimated at $15.6 billion. Brothers and property developers Robert and Philip Ng are second, and Goh Cheng Liang of Wuthelam Holdings, which manufactures paints and coatings, comes in third. In fourth place with assets of about $9.6 billion (although for many years he occupied the top spot of the ranking) is Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook, who in 2011 left the U.S. with 53 million shares of the company and became a permanent resident of the island nation. Saverin did not choose it just for its urban attractions or natural gateways: Singapore is an affluent fiscal haven where capital gains and dividends are tax-free.

But how did Singapore attract so many high net worth individuals? When the city-state became independent in 1965, one-half of its population was illiterate. With virtually no natural resources, Singapore pulled itself up by its bootstraps through hard work and smart policy, becoming one of the most business-friendly places in the world. Today, Singapore is a thriving trade, manufacturing and financial hub and 98% of the adult population is now literate. Unfortunately that did not make it immune from the pandemic-driven global economic dowturn: in 2020, the economy shrank by 3.9%, knocking the nation into recession for the first time in more than a decade. In 2021, Singapore’s economy bounced back with 8.8% growth, but then the slowdown in China, a top trading partner, derailed the recovery. China’s economic problems hit Singapore’s manufacturing sector—which makes 21.6% of Singapore’s total GDP—particularly hard, contracting by 6% in the first quarter of 2023. This in turn is dampening Singapore’s fortunes with its economy projected to expand by just 1.5% in 2023.

2. Luxembourg🇱🇺

Current International Dollars: 131,580 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

You can visit Luxembourg for its castles and beautiful countryside, its cultural festivals or gastronomic specialties. Or you could just set up an offshore account through one of its banks and never set foot in the country again. Doing so would be a pity: situated at the very heart of Europe, this nation of close to 650,000 has plenty to offer, both to tourists and citizens. Luxembourg uses a large share of its wealth to deliver better housing, healthcare and education to its people, who by far enjoy the highest standard of living in the Eurozone.

While the global financial crisis and pressure from the EU and OECD to reduce banking secrecy may have had little impact on Luxembourg’s economy, the coronavirus outbreak forced many businesses to close and cost workers their jobs. But the country has weathered the pandemic better than most of its European neighbors. Its economy rebounded from -0.8% growth in 2020 to 5.1% growth in 2021. Unfortunately that rebound did not last long: the economy grew by just 1.5% in 2022 and will likely reach only 1.1% this year thanks to lower business and consumer confidence and higher prices for energy and food.

Weak economic growth may not be worth complaining about though given that Luxembourg topped the $100,000 mark in per capita GDP in 2014 and has never looked back ever since.

1. Ireland🇮🇪

Current International Dollars: 140,694 | Click To View GDP & Economic Data

A nation of just 5 million inhabitants, the Republic of Ireland was one of the hardest hit by the 2008 financial crisis. Following politically difficult reform measures like deep cuts to public-sector wages and restructuring its banking industry, the island nation regained its fiscal health, boosted its employment rates and saw its per capita GDP grow exponentially.

However, context is important. Ireland is one of the world’s largest corporate tax havens, which benefits multinationals far more than it benefits the average Irish person. Halfway through the 2010s, many large US firms—Apple, Google, Microsoft, Meta and Pfizer to name a few—moved their fiscal residence to Ireland to benefit from its low corporate tax rate of 12.5%, one of the most attractive in the developed world. In 2022, these multinationals accounted for about 56% of the total value added to the Irish economy, up from 53% in 2021, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office. Nevertheless, Ireland plans to align its minimum corporate tax rate to the global standard of 15% in 2024.

Although Irish families are undoubtedly better off than they used to be, the national household per-capita disposable income is slightly lower than the overall EU average according to data from the OECD. With a considerable gap between the richest and poorest (the top 20% of the population earns almost five times as much as the bottom 20%), most Irish citizens would likely balk at the idea that they are not just rich but the richest in the world.

World’s Richest Countries 2023

Rank Country/Territory GDP-PPP per capita ($)
1 🇮🇪Ireland 145,196
2 🇱🇺Luxembourg 142,490
3 🇸🇬Singapore 133,895
4 🇶🇦Qatar 124,848
5 🇲🇴Macao SAR 89,558
6 🇦🇪United Arab Emirates 88,221
7 🇨🇭Switzerland 87,963
8 🇳🇴Norway 82,655
9 🇺🇸United States 80,035
10 🇸🇲San Marino 78,926
11 🇧🇳Brunei Darussalam 75,583
12 🇭🇰Hong Kong SAR 74,598
13 🇩🇰Denmark 73,386
14 🇹🇼Taiwan 73,344
15 🇳🇱Netherlands 72,973
16 🇮🇸Iceland 69,779
17 🇦🇹Austria 69,502
18 🇦🇩Andorra 68,998
19 🇩🇪Germany 66,132
20 🇸🇪Sweden 65,842
21 🇧🇪Belgium 65,501
22 🇦🇺Australia 65,366
23 🇸🇦Saudi Arabia 64,836
24 🇲🇹Malta 61,939
25 🇫🇮Finland 60,897
26 🇬🇾Guyana 60,648
27 🇧🇭Bahrain 60,596
28 🇨🇦Canada 60,177
29 🇫🇷France 58,828
30 🇰🇷South Korea 56,706
31 🇬🇧United Kingdom 56,471
32 🇮🇱Israel 54,997
33 🇨🇾Cyprus 54,611
34 🇮🇹Italy 54,216
35 🇳🇿New Zealand 54,046
36 🇰🇼Kuwait 53,037
37 🇸🇮Slovenia 52,641
38 🇯🇵Japan 51,809
39 🇨🇿Czech Republic 50,961
40 🇦🇼Aruba 49,627
41 🇪🇸Spain 49,448
42 🇱🇹Lithuania 49,266
43 🇪🇪Estonia 46,385
44 🇵🇱Poland 45,343
45 🇵🇹Portugal 44,708
46 🇧🇸The Bahamas 43,913
47 🇭🇺Hungary 43,907
48 🇵🇷Puerto Rico 43,845
49 🇵🇷Croatia 42,531
50 🇴🇲Oman 42,188
51 🇷🇴Romania 41,634
52 🇸🇰Slovak Republic 41,515
53 🇹🇷Turkey 41,412
54 🇱🇻Latvia 40,256
55 🇵🇦Panama 40,177
56 🇸🇨Seychelles 39,662
57 🇬🇷Greece 39,478
58 🇲🇾Malaysia 36,847
59 🇲🇻Maldives 36,358
60 🇷🇺Russia 34,837
61 🇰🇿Kazakhstan 32,688
62 🇹🇹Trinidad and Tobago 32,054
63 🇧🇬Bulgaria 32,006
64 🇰🇳St. Kitts and Nevis 29,662
65 🇨🇱Chile 27,608
66 🇲🇺Mauritius 29,164
67 🇺🇾Uruguay 28,470
68 🇲🇪Montenegro 27,761
69 🇦🇷Argentina 27,261
70 🇨🇷Costa Rica 26,422
71 🇩🇴Dominican Republic 25,896
72 🇷🇸Serbia 25,432
73 🇱🇾Libya 24,559
74 🇦🇬Antigua and Barbuda 24,012
75 🇲🇽Mexico 23,820
76 🇧🇾Belarus 23,447
77 🇨🇳China 23,382
78 🇹🇭Thailand 22,675
79 🇬🇪Georgia 21,923
80 🇲🇰North Macedonia 21,111
81 🇬🇩Grenada 20,075
82 🇹🇲Turkmenistan 19,974
83 🇧🇦Bosnia and Herzegovina 19,604
84 🇮🇷Iran 19,548
85 🇦🇲Armenia 19,489
86 🇨🇴Colombia 19,460
87 🇧🇼Botswana 19,398
88 🇬🇦Gabon 19,197
89 🇦🇱Albania 19,029
90 🇧🇧Barbados 18,858
91 🇧🇷Brazil 18,686
92 🇦🇿Azerbaijan 18,669
93 🇬🇶Equatorial Guinea 18,510
94 🇱🇨St. Lucia 18,435
95 🇸🇷Suriname 18,427
96 🇻🇨St. Vincent and the Grenadines 17,793
97 🇪🇬Egypt 16,979
98 🇲🇩Moldova 16,840
99 🇵🇼Palau 16,394
100 🇵🇪Peru 16,132
101 🇿🇦South Africa 16,091
102 🇮🇩Indonesia 15,855
103 🇫🇯Fiji 15,727
104 🇽🇰Kosovo 15,620
105 🇵🇾Paraguay 15,578
106 🇲🇳Mongolia 14,939
107 🇩🇲Vietnam 14,458
108 🇲🇿Sri Lanka 14,223
109 🇮🇩Bhutan 14,170
110 🇩🇲Dominica 14,161
111 🇺🇦Ukraine 13,901
112 🇪🇨Ecuador 13,513
113 🇩🇿Algeria 13,507
114 🇹🇳Tunisia 13,270
115 🇮🇶Iraq 12,927
116 🇯🇴Jordan 12,893
117 🇯🇲Jamaica 12,887
118 🇸🇻El Salvador 11,647
119 🇸🇿Eswatini 11,492
120 🇳🇦Namibia 11,440
121 🇵🇭Philippines 11,420
122 🇳🇷Nauru 11,342
123 🇧🇿Belize 10,939
124 🇬🇹Guatemala 10,546
125 🇲🇦Morocco 10,460
126 🇧🇴Bolivia 10,327
127 🇺🇿Uzbekistan 10,308
128 🇱🇦Lao P.D.R. 9,801
129 🇨🇻Cabo Verde 9,661
130 🇮🇳India 9,073
131 🇻🇪Bangladesh 8,663
132 🇻🇪Venezuela 8,028
133 🇳🇮Nicaragua 7,601
134 🇲🇷Mauritania 7,437
135 🇭🇳Honduras 7,228
136 🇦🇴Angola 7,222
137 🇹🇴Tonga 7,125
138 🇨🇮Côte d’Ivoire 7,011
139 🇬🇭Ghana 6,974
140 🇩🇯Djibouti 6,894
141 🇵🇰Pakistan 6,836
142 🇵🇸West Bank and Gaza 6,688
143 🇰🇪Kenya 6,569
144 🇼🇸Samoa 6,324
145 🇰🇬Kyrgyz Republic 6,250
146 🇳🇬Nigeria 6,178
147 🇰🇭Cambodia 6,092
148 🇹🇻Tuvalu 5,797
149 🇹🇯Tajikistan 5,293
150 🇨🇬Republic of the Congo 5,155
151 🇲🇲Myanmar 5,132
152 🇳🇵Nepal 5,101
153 🇸🇹São Tomé and Príncipe 4,874
154 🇲🇭Marshall Islands 4,669
155 🇨🇲Cameroon 4,665
156 🇵🇬Papua New Guinea 4,516
157 🇸🇳Senegal 4,515
158 🇸🇩Sudan 4,471
159 🇧🇯Benin 4,300
160 🇿🇲Zambia 4,041
161 🇫🇲Micronesia 3,931
162 🇪🇹Ethiopia 3,724
163 🇹🇱Timor-Leste 3,637
164 🇹🇿Tanzania 3,600
165 🇰🇲Comoros 3,463
166 🇱🇸Lesotho 3,251
167 🇭🇹Haiti 3,248
168 🇺🇬Uganda 3,224
169 🇬🇳Guinea 3,218
170 🇷🇼Rwanda 3,090
171 🇬🇼Guinea-Bissau 3,072
172 🇻🇺Vanuatu 3,001
173 🇬🇲The Gambia 2,804
174 🇹🇬Togo 2,754
175 🇻🇺Burkina Faso 2,726
176 🇲🇱Mali 2,656
177 🇬🇲Zimbabwe 2,627
178 🇸🇧Solomon Islands 2,414
179 🇰🇮Kiribati 2,381
180 🇪🇷Eritrea 2,188
181 🇸🇱Sierra Leone 2,082
182 🇾🇪Yemen 2,042
183 🇲🇬Madagascar 1,916
184 🇱🇷Liberia 1,788
185 🇹🇩Chad 1,787
186 🇲🇼Malawi 1,682
187 🇳🇪Niger 1,600
188 🇲🇿Mozambique 1,556
189 🇨🇩Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,474
190 🇸🇴Somalia 1,374
191 🇨🇫Central African Republic 1,127
192 🇧🇮Burundi 891
193 🇸🇸South Sudan 516
🇦🇫Afghanistan
🇱🇧Lebanon
🇸🇾Syria
N.A.

Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook April 2023. Values are expressed in current international dollars, reflecting the corresponding exchange rates and PPP adjustments.




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