The 15 Richest Countries In The World

Luxembourg is among the world's richest countries.
  • Although Macau is the wealthiest territory in the world where citizens receive annual cheques from the government, its poverty rate is often reported as high as 10%.
  • In Switzerland, German-, French- and Italian-speaking citizens have co-existed peacefully and thrived together for over 800 years.
  • Norway's high rank on the human development index as well as the abundance of natural resources produce the highest standard of living conditions in the world.

GDP, or the Gross Domestic Product, is a measure of wealth in the country coming from sources including export revenues, incomes, consumption, and the value of goods and services the country produces in a span of a year. Setting the benchmark according to these metrics and establishing the same parameters across the board is what makes GDP so popular in demonstrating and comparing wealth. The GDP per capita is the wealth divided by the number of inhabitants in the country, which is a helpful measurement that can provide insight into the quality of life in a country. If the GDP per capita is high, this can often indicate the wealth and prosperity of the inhabitants in the country.

Here is the ranking of the 13 richest countries (and two territories) in the world, using their GDP per capita in international dollar values, a unit of measurement that allows for a comparable understanding of the wealth value in countries with different currencies.

1. Macau

Macau. Image credit: Sean Hsu/Shutterstock
  • Population: 652,429
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 129,103

Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China, and so is not an independent country in itself. It has the second-highest life expectancy in the world, at 84.30 years, and the richest economy in the world today by GDP per capita. Faring poorly in 1990s, the government decided to prioritize gambling, which began the propulsion to its infamous wealth. Macau's economy relies on its gaming industry so much, that the non-gaming economic activities bring mere 12% of the total profits. For perspective, Las Vegas' non-gambling profits accumulate to 65%. The proximity to other Asian countries with cheaper tourism to spend the winnings on, as well as the "exotic" aspect of the experience, gives Macau the upper hand. 

As a densely populated state, where most citizens reside in high-rise building apartments, shop in the same stores, and are consistently intermingling, it is peculiar that the poverty reports range from 2% to 10%, according to different sources. Although poverty may be largely overlooked by the majority, the government pays its citizens on the annual basis out of Macau's massive surplus in GDP. The country also has no public debt.

2. Luxembourg

Luxembourg. Image credit: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock
  • Population: 629,191
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 121,293

Known for high-income levels and a low unemployment rate, Luxemburg is the richest country in the world. With its inflation rate at only 1.1%, its wealth is also extremely stable. According to the World Economic Forum, the major factor for Luxembourg's high GDP is the large number of people working in this tiny, landlocked nation, while residing in the neighbouring western European countries. The advanced infrastructure and high values for the labor market attract investment and duplicates of the big outside firms.

Having depended on the steel and iron industry for a long time until it stopped bringing profit in the 1970s, the nation adapted superbly. Today, as one of the most educated labor forces in the world, Luxembourg prospers from a mix of industries, predominantly and an import-export economy based on financial services. Small to medium-sized companies expanded, while a highly-skilled labor force with an ability to speak multiple languages is highly demanded by multinational corporations. There is also a small but prosperous agricultural sector in the country. 

3. Singapore

Singapore. Image credit: MOLPIX/Shutterstock
  • Population: 5,866,407
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 101,376

Having no natural resources to build its economy on has not stopped the hard-working and inventive Singaporeans from turning their country into the second-richest in the world. Being a major world hub for global financial services firms drives the economy. The jobs in manufacturing, services, transport engineering, and logistics pay its citizens well, while electronics, biotechnology and chemicals are the main exports of the country.

By erecting high-end infrastructure and significantly expanding its tourism sector, Singapore attracts millions of tourists on a yearly basis. On top of that, the government procured a very investor-friendly economic environment of free trade, open market, and attractively-low tax rates, sought after by international firms and business travellers.

4. Qatar 

Doha, Qatar. Image credit: Sven Hansche/Shutterstock
  • Population: 2,899,617
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 96,491

With only a small fishing industry and almost no schools just fifty years ago, the once-sleeping peninsula off Saudi Arabia's eastern coast has turned into a major oil-exporting world center in the last two decades. Qatar first began massive exports of natural in 1997 to Japan and Spain, expanding to other countries in the early 2000s. Fifteen years and 14 natural gas plants later, its GDP has grown exponentially from $30 billion to well over $200 billion USD. Today, Qatar has the largest natural gas reserves in the world following Russia and Iran, at nearly 900 trillion cubic feet, earning 60% of its collective GDP.

Having discovered oil in 1939 and natural gas 30 years later, it began producing 46,500 barrels per day in 1951. Although some of the revenue was used to start modernizing the country, much of it was being accumulated by the Royal Family, with shares also going to Great Britain, its ruling country. After gaining independence in 1971, Khalifa bin Hamad deposed his father and increased spending on social programs, housing, health, education and pensions, cutting the Royal Family's allowances. The country also receives major returns on investments in foreign brands, banks, and even the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team and real estate in London. 

5. Ireland - Int$ 88,241

Dublin, Ireland. Image credit: Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock
  • Population: 4,953,494
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 88,241

Low corporate taxes continuously attract numerous multi-billion dollar companies to relocate and grow their business in Ireland, contributing to the GDP, and the high standard of living for the people. Although citizens receive high wages, the income per capita has been growing at a much slower rate than the collective GDP. Nevertheless, the country's stability and ongoing wealth gain from tourism, agriculture and manufacturing, is coveted by others.

The country’s main exports comprise metals and food products, including brewing, computers, their parts and software, and textiles. Ireland is also largely dependent on its tertiary industry, including call centers, legal services, accounting, customer service, stockbroking, and catering.

6. The Cayman Islands 

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Image credit: Yevgen Belich/Shutterstock
  • Population: 65,722
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 72,481

The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, does not have an income tax, with citizens' full earnings contributing directly to the GDP. This economic stance is based on the government's belief that the people would not work, save or invest if they were to be heavily taxed or "otherwise abused" by the government. Earning high income, 100% of which they retain, gives the Islanders an incentive to give back to their country and see it prosper.  

Nevertheless, the Cayman Islands' economy was not void of problems, facing an overcompensated government bureaucracy and having to find other ways to provide public services. To stave off imposing the income tax in 2017, they found the solution in taxing everything from tourism to import duties. Furthermore, known as the "offshore financial center," the Cayman Islands also charge heftily for their financial services. All other taxes mounted on top of products and services also contribute to the country's high GDP.

7. Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland. Image credit: emperorcosar/Shutterstock
  • Population: 8,675,923
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 70,989

Considered one of the happiest and healthiest nations on Earth, Switzerland is home to German-, French- and Italian-speaking citizens, living peacefully and thriving together for over 800 years. Even with its high cost of living, expensive products and services, as well as the Swiss Frank’s extremely high value with a high conversion rate to other currencies, people stream to engage with this country though business or tourism. A stable economy with a fixed currency value, Switzerland is regarded highly by investors in search of a safe haven for highly profitable feats. Attractive tax rates bring in investment, while international companies seek to expand their business to Switzerland.

The Swiss are an innovative bunch, craftily turning natural resources into quality goods such as their highly-demanded chocolate, cheese, jewellery, home decor and furniture. Exports contribute the most to the GDP, with gems and precious metals bringing nearly $100 billion a year, followed by pharmaceuticals and machinery. The mountains, the charm of its cities and the luxurious lifestyle call out to millions of tourists every year, while the highly developed tourism sector does not frighten off with its high prices. With no capital gains tax, a low value-added tax on its products at 7.7%, and lower than average income taxes, the Swiss also enjoy investing in their own economy, preferring to buy local, paying for garbage disposal and their inexcusably expensive bottles of water.

8. United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image credit: Ashraf Jandali/Shutterstock
  • Population: 9,926,221
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 69,901

Back when it was known as the Trucial States, the pearl industry prevailed in this country from the 1770s until the late 1930s, when pearl-diving was a hobby turned into a major source of income for the people living in the small villages. Now, having been able to establish some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, Dubai along with the rest of the country has moved on to tourism, which keeps investing in itself through ongoing growth and popularity.

The discovery of oil in the late 1950s caused a clash between the citizens of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with the latter getting the upper hand over the oil boundaries and becoming richer, while the former struggled. While Abu Dhabi thrived, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, did not lose hope in his state's potential, loaning tens of billions of dollars to invest in the state's infrastructure in 1958, completing its first airport by 1960.

9. Norway

Bergen, Norway. Image credit: Marius Dobilas/Shutterstock
  • Population: 5,435,878
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 66,832

Although the seventh-richest country on this list if we omit territories, Norway is known to have the highest standard of living on Earth, as well as rank top on the human development index with its advanced education systems, distinct social security system, and universal health care. Its raw oil and gas resources exports lead the economy, while abundant reserves guarantee future prosperity, including seafood, hydro-power, lumber, minerals, natural gas, and freshwater. Petroleum is another export that has been bringing Norway riches since the 1970s. 

The government invests in free education for its citizens, while parents make sure that kids learn the importance of productivity from an early age in school. Keeping busy with work is a cultural staple in Norway, without which citizens do not find joy in life. The main occupancies include telecommunications and technologies. Featuring low unemployment and poverty rates at 3 and 0.5%, respectively, it is no wonder that Norway's standard of living is strived for by other nations. Although things cost a lot in Norway, Norwegians don't mind investing back into their economy, while having high purchasing power through high wages enables them to spend extravagantly abroad.  

10. United States

New York, United States. Image credit: IM_photo/Shutterstock
  • Population: 331,643,466
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 65,281

With resource-rich land and the biggest economy in the world, the United States has a strong purchasing power. It supplies its own energy and is able to export its own oil and gas for profit, and the size of its economy and the high rate of real GDP growth go unmatched by any other country. As a relatively deregulated market economy with a decentralized political system, there are virtually no state-owned enterprises, while the legal system protects liability of investors. Although such stats attract talented people from around the world to take a shot at earning a fortune, it remains one of the top countries where wealth is not shared equally. 

America has an entrepreneurial mindset that is encouraged from an early age and supported by university programs as well as research institutions. There is also a developed financial system in place, of equity finance and decentralized banking system that supports entrepreneurial activities. Nevertheless, public debt is currently $27,000 billion, which is also $3,000 billion higher than pre-COVID-19.

11. Brunei 

Brunei. Image credit: Yusnizam Yusof/Shutterstock
  • Population: 438,788
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 64,673

Having gained independence from Britain in 1984, the small country of Brunei situated in South Asia, quickly grew to become one of the richest countries in the world. Its Sultan regulates everything from the military to the economy, imposing unique punishing rules but also providing free education and medical care for its citizens. Brunei has an over 97% literacy rate. 

Brunei is known as the second happiest nation on the continent behind Singapore, which may be surprising, seeing as the wealth of the country is not equally distributed, with much of the population living in poverty. Nevertheless, while the US's public debt in 2018 was 106% of its GDP, it was only 2.4% in Brunei. 

What has made Brunei so rich is its offshore oil drilling industry, bringing the economy riches from export. It is well known that there are people in Brunei who enjoy luxurious things in life, with more car ownership than in most countries in the world. Despite the strict rules on certain things like homosexuality and alcohol consumption, prostitution often goes "unnoticed,” and even the Sultan has had numerous scandal features written about him for being a "sex-obsessed monarch."

12. Hong Kong

Hong Kong. Image credit: YIUCHEUNG/Shutterstock
  • Population: 7,515,902
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 62,375

As the financial center of Asia and the international business center for networking, trading and for accessing the huge mainland China market, the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is a major world hub. International travelers also choose to invest their money in Hong Kong's highly developed tourism industry, before moving on to other cheaper places on their travels to Asia. 

Similar to the US, many travel to Hong Kong to start a business, with it being relatively affordable to take risks, and no residency requirement. Known as the world's freest economy for the last two decades, Hong Kong also ranks among the least corrupt places in the world, where one can retain 100% of their rightfully owned business.

13. San Marino

San Marino. Image credit: Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock
  • Population: 33,931
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 60,750

The stable and prosperous economy of San Marino is partly owed to its resourceful citizens who were able to successfully adapt and utilize their available resources. Traditionally, San Marino was a country of farmers and stone-quarrellers, producing cheeses and agricultural products, along with unique trinkets made out of stone. Today its hard-working citizens contribute to the economy by producing ceramics, tiles, building materials, furniture, clothing, fabrics, paints, quality spirits and wines, for export. The export of fruit has also been a factor in the nation's recent economic growth. 

Completely enclosed by Italy, San Marino still retains a close relationship with the country it was formerly a part of, including payments made by the Italian government for monopolies on tobacco and other commodities on this South European microstate. San Marino's bank system is also closely integrated in the EU's through the Italian economy: its monetary and customs systems. While the cost of living in San Marino is comparable to Italy, the even distribution of wealth in this socialist society has led to one of the lowest poverty rates in the world. Lastly, with its low local population count and close to 3.5 million travellers a year, more than half of the country's GDP owes to tourism.

14. Iceland

Stykkisholmur, Iceland. Image credit: Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock
  • Population: 341,957
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 60,061

In this capitalist country with free trade and an open market, 5% of the richest people own half of all the wealth in the country, earning 22.2% of the total income. Nevertheless, Iceland is rated as the 11th least corruptive country in the world. Poverty is virtually non-existent through extensive welfare programs, and Icelanders are considered to be one of the happiest people in the world. The country has also earned much recognition for its green start-ups, which are in high demand and bring investment from international firms. 

The pillars of Iceland's economy include manufacturing and service industries, especially tourism, software production, and biotechnology. Having quickly noticed the interest from international travellers prior to the economic collapse of 2009, when the country's GDP fell by 6.8% and unemployment rose to 9.4%, Iceland decided to take a chance investment into its tourism industry.

Its former economic drivers, fishing and aluminum smelting, were put on the backburner. Iceland also began expending in the international business sector to accumulate investment from business travellers. Considered the most expensive country in the world, this does not stop a steady flow of travellers year-round. Furthermore, tourism increased by 400% from 2010 to 2017, with 4.5 times as many tourists as citizens at any given point. Its focus and drive to continuously expand tourism are evident in its being the first country to open its border after COVID-19 world-wide shutdown.

15. Denmark 

Copenhagen, Denmark. Image credit: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock
  • Population: 5,799,104
  • GDP per capita: Int$ 59,830

Denmark is a country with developed social services that raises industrious people who love life and working hard for their country's continuous prosperity. The pillars of the economy in Denmark are tourism and other services, manufacturing, trade, and small domestic enterprises.

Efficiency and quality are highly valued in Denmark, where everything runs like a well-oiled machine. A combination of an open market with free trade takes care of the economic well-being of the country, while the developed social programs for citizens ensure that their standard of living and the level of happiness is as high as their incomes. Danes also love to invest back into their economy, while the growing tourism industry has been bringing lump income for the country’s GDP, for decades. Danes tend to enjoy the simple things in life, such as nature walks and domestic tourism, as much as they enjoy spending money spontaneously on a night out and travelling.

The Inference

It is clear that these countries succeeded by being resourceful and adaptable, with strong leadership and determined people. Uniting these nations further is their reported levels of happiness, health and standard of living, all being among the highest in the world. If ranked by GDP or GNI (Gross National Income), the rankings would be different, and will not match the projected GDP expectations for 2020 due to COVID-19.

The 15 Richest Countries In The World

RankCountry/Territory2019 GDP per Capita in Int $
1 Macau129,103
2 Luxembourg121,293
3 Singapore101,376
4 Qatar96,491
5 Ireland88,241
6 Cayman Islands (2018)72,481
7 Switzerland70,989
8 United Arab Emirates69,901
9 Norway66,832
10 United States65,281
11 Brunei64,673
12 Hong Kong62,375
13 San Marino (2018)60,750
14 Iceland60,061
15 Denmark59,830
16 Netherlands59,687
17 Bermuda (2013)59,483
18 Austria59,111
19 Germany56,052
20 Sweden55,815
21 Taiwan55,078
22 Belgium54,545
23 Australia53,320
24 Kuwait51,912
25 Canada51,342
26 Finland51,324
27 France49,435
28 Saudi Arabia48,909
29 United Kingdom48,710
30 Bahrain46,892
31 European Union46,468
32 Malta45,652
33 Italy44,197
34 New Zealand43,953
35 Japan43,236
36 South Korea43,029
37 Czech Republic42,576
38 Spain42,214
39 Israel42,194
40 Cyprus41,254
41 Slovenia40,657
42 Estonia38,811
43 Aruba (2017)38,442
44 Lithuania38,214
45 The Bahamas37,266
46 Portugal36,471
47 Puerto Rico35,948
48 Poland34,218
49 Slovakia34,178
50 Hungary33,979
51 Panama32,763
52 Romania32,297
53 Sint Maarten (2017)32,256
54 Latvia32,205
55 Greece31,399
56 Seychelles30,260
57 Croatia29,973
58 Malaysia29,526
59 Russia29,181
60 Oman29,053
61 Turkey27,875
62 Saint Kitts and Nevis27,449
63 Kazakhstan27,444
64 Trinidad and Tobago27,261
65 Turks and Caicos Islands27,055
66 Curaçao25,572
67 Chile25,155
68 Bulgaria24,561
69 Mauritius23,942
70 Montenegro22,989
71 Argentina22,947
72 Antigua and Barbuda22,817
73 Uruguay22,455
74 Costa Rica20,434
75 Mexico20,411
76 Belarus19,943
77 Maldives19,698
78 Equatorial Guinea19,327
79 Thailand19,228
80 Dominican Republic19,182
81 Serbia18,989
82 Botswana18,503
83 Palau18,496
84 Grenada17,956
85 North Macedonia17,815
86World17,680
87 Venezuela (2011)17,527
88 Suriname17,005
89 China16,785
90 Barbados16,287
91 Saint Lucia16,089
92 Libya15,803
93 Bosnia and Herzegovina15,792
94 Colombia15,644
95 Georgia15,637
96 Gabon15,486
97 Lebanon15,327
98 Brazil15,259
99 Turkmenistan15,196
100 Azerbaijan15,001
101 Iran (2017)14,536
102 Albania14,495
103 Fiji14,428
104 Armenia14,220
105 Sri Lanka13,620
106 Moldova13,620
107 Peru13,380
108 Ukraine13,341
109 Paraguay13,210
110 South Africa12,999
111 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines12,983
112 Mongolia12,820
113 Dominica12,659
114 Indonesia12,302
115 Egypt12,251
116 Nauru12,080
117 Ecuador11,847
118 Kosovo11,839
119 Algeria11,820
120 Bhutan11,613
121 Iraq11,332
122 Tunisia11,201
123 Jordan10,316
124 Jamaica10,166
125 Guyana10,105
126 Namibia10,037
127 Philippines9,277
128 El Salvador9,139
129 Bolivia9,086
130 Eswatini9,048
131 Guatemala8,995
132 Vietnam8,374
133 Laos8,150
134 Morocco7,826
135 Cape Verde7,469
136 Belize7,295
137 Uzbekistan7,288
138 India7,034
139 Angola6,929
140 Samoa6,787
141 Tonga6,414
142 Honduras5,965
143 West Bank and Gaza (2018)5,795
144 Djibouti5,748
145 Ghana5,637
146 Nicaragua5,631
147 Kyrgyzstan5,470
148 Côte d'Ivoire5,455
149 Mauritania5,412
150 Myanmar5,355
151 Nigeria5,348
152 Bangladesh4,950
153 Pakistan4,884
154 Cambodia4,570
155 Papua New Guinea4,569
156 Kenya4,509
157 Tuvalu4,465
158 São Tomé and Príncipe4,128
159 Sudan4,122
160 Marshall Islands3,986
161 Cameroon3,804
162 Yemen (2013)3,688
163 Zambia3,623
164 Nepal3,558
165 Federated States of Micronesia3,550
166 Senegal3,535
167 Tajikistan3,519
168 Republic of the Congo3,434
169 Benin3,423
170 Vanuatu3,273
171 Timor-Leste3,252
172 Comoros3,209
173 Zimbabwe2,953
174 Lesotho2,882
175 Tanzania2,770
176 Guinea2,670
177 Solomon Islands2,465
178 Mali2,423
179 Kiribati2,369
180 Rwanda2,318
181 Ethiopia2,311
182 The Gambia2,298
183 Afghanistan2,293
184 Burkina Faso2,280
185 Uganda2,271
186 Guinea-Bissau2,071
187 Haiti1,800
188 Sierra Leone1,789
189 Madagascar1,714
190 Togo1,662
191 Chad1,645
192 Eritrea (2011)1,625
193 Liberia1,533
194 South Sudan (2014)1,495
195 Mozambique1,333
196 Niger1,269
197 Democratic Republic of the Congo1,143
198 Malawi1,143
199 Central African Republic984
200 Burundi782
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