To determine the true financial status of a country, analysts generally rely on three crucial economic indicators: PPP, GDP, and GNI. Taking these metrics into account gives us 'GDP per capita (PPP)', a measure that allows for a more accurate comparison between countries. Now, with the latest data from the International Monetary Fund for April 2023, it is clear which countries stand out as the world's richest.
- Known for valuable exports and favorable corporate tax policies, Ireland is the richest country in the world.
- Luxembourg, despite high-income levels and a low unemployment rate, lost the #1 spot.
- The resource-rich land with the world's biggest economy, the United States, ranks 8th on the list.
For a quick view of the top 50 richest countries, click here: Top 50 Richest Countries Table
The 15 Richest Countries in the World in 2023
- Ireland - $145,196
- Luxembourg - $142,490
- Singapore - $133,894
- Qatar - $124,833
- United Arab Emirates - $88,221
- Switzerland - $87,962
- Norway - $82,654
- United States - $80,034
- San Marino - $78,926
- Brunei - $75,583
- Denmark - $73,385
- Netherlands - $73,385
- Iceland - $69,778
- Austria - $69,502
- Andorra - $68,997
Understanding Different Metrics of Prosperity
While Gross Domestic Product (GDP) often emerges as a prominent choice in assessing a country's fortunes – for instance, the United States' GDP topped $21 trillion in 2020 – it is the GDP per Capita Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), international dollars, that offers a more nuanced perspective. The term 'per capita' represents an average per person. To illustrate, if Country A has a GDP of $1 trillion and a population of 10 million, one might believe that each citizen has an average 'share' of $100,000. However, this is an oversimplified view, as GDP doesn't necessarily indicate how prosperity is distributed among the population, nor does it reflect how much of those resources are reinvested in public services. For instance, another hypothetical country with a GDP of $30 trillion might appear to be the richest, but if the population is as impossibly large as 7 billion, each person has a per capita share of barely $4,000. If the wealth is unequally divided, that amount is even lower. Below are definitions of key terminology:
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) serves as a significant economic indicator by quantifying the relative buying power of different countries' currencies. It makes this assessment by comparing the costs of the same basket of goods and services across different nations. For instance, if a burger costs $5 in the United States but €4 in France, PPP enables a realistic comparison of these currencies' relative strength.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) provides a measure of a country's economic activity within a specified period, typically a year. It accounts for the monetary value of all final goods and services produced and sold domestically. For example, the annual income from all car sales, retail purchases, and service fees within a country contributes to its GDP.
Gross National Income (GNI) calculates the country's total income. This calculation includes not just domestic production, but also income earned by its residents from international activities. Hence, if a country's businesses earn significant revenue overseas, GNI per capita would more accurately represent the country's economic health.
International dollars, often used when discussing GDP per capita (PPP), is a hypothetical currency that has the same purchasing power as the U.S. dollar has in the United States. Essentially, it is a way to compare the purchasing power of different countries' citizens as if they were buying goods and services in the U.S., helping us understand how far their money would go in a standardized, international context.
However, these indicators have limitations. GDP, besides unequal distribution and function, can be artificially inflated in tax havens, leading to a misrepresentation of the country's actual finances. GNI might not fully account for income inequality within a country. Consequently, GDP per capita (PPP) becomes a preferred measure as it adjusts GDP for the relative cost of local goods, services, and inflation rates. This adjustment provides a more equitable comparison of living standards between countries, accounting for local price levels and global economic dynamics.
Note: Up-to-date and available information is crucial to maintain these comparisons, and Liechtenstein is a worthy example. This country's GNI per capita in 2009 was $116,600 (US$), and the United Nations estimates their current GDP per capita at $169,260. If Liechtenstein provided accurate and current figures, it would likely be one of the richest countries in the world.
1. Ireland - $145,196
- Population: 5,054,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $145,196
- GNI per capita: $76,110
- Total GDP: $594,095,000,000
Ireland's astonishing rise to the world's richest country status, recently surpassing Luxembourg, hinges on multiple factors. A significant determinant is its low corporate tax rate. Attracting many multinational corporations, such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, Ireland's 12.5% corporate tax rate is among the lowest globally, fostering an environment conducive to business growth and profit maximization. Complemented by a highly educated and skilled English-speaking workforce, this strategic tax positioning further cement Ireland's competitive advantage. Numerous multinational companies have capitalized on this advantage, using Ireland as their European headquarters, thus driving significant economic growth and wealth creation. Moreover, Ireland's resilient economic policies, embracing globalization and liberalizing trade, have successfully attracted foreign direct investment (FDI).
Particularly striking success in information technology, pharmaceuticals, and financial services is noteworthy. The country's commitment to innovation and technology has further driven this surge in financial dominance. Pioneering a burgeoning tech hub, Dublin's 'Silicon Docks,' Ireland's tech ecosystem has been instrumental in boosting GDP, contributing significantly to its current richest country status. Finally, Ireland's geographic advantage, serving as a bridge between North America and Europe, has allowed it to thrive as a strategic logistical hub, bolstering its wealth-generation capacities.
2. Luxembourg - $142,490
- Population: 647,800
- GDP per capita (PPP): $142,490
- GNI per capita: $88,190
- Total GDP: $86,971,000,000
Luxembourg's financial acumen, central European location, and diversified economy fuel its status as the world's second-richest country. Home to 100+ banks, Luxembourg is an international banking powerhouse, generating significant capital. Moreover, it's the globe's second-largest domicile for investment funds, managing over €4.6 trillion in assets. The country smartly expanded beyond banking, notably into investment fund management, technology, and data-driven industries, attracting high investments.
The shift from a declining iron and steel industry in the 1970s to these innovative sectors showcases its agile, market-oriented approach. Furthermore, Luxembourg's cross-border workers, nearly half its workforce, lift overall wages which contributes to prosperity. Stable governance, high living standards, and strategic infrastructure investments underpin this fortune, creating an attractive business climate while supporting top-tier human capital and low unemployment rates.
3. Singapore - $133,894
- Population: 5,230,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $133,894
- GNI per capita: $64,010
- Total GDP: $515,548,000,000
Despite its limited natural resources, Singapore is a rich country, thanks to its strategic positioning as a global financial services hub with vital industries in manufacturing, transport, engineering, logistics, electronics, biotechnology, and chemical production. This financial success is further bolstered by the country's high-end infrastructure that encourages domestic and foreign investments. Morever, Singapore's dedication to fueling its education and tourism sectors have kept the local populace high-achieving, and the flow of visitors never-ending. In addition, the forward-thinking government further solidifies the country's appeal with an array of investor-friendly policies that attract individuals and corporations worldwide, thus contributing to its riches.
4. Qatar - $124,833
- Population: 3,059,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $124,833
- GNI per capita: $62,310
- Total GDP: $219,570,000,000
Qatar, a country famous throughout the Middle East for hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022, has come a long way since gaining independence from Britain in 1971. From its humble roots of just a small fishing industry, the country has cultivated abundant fortune through its vitally important natural gas exports. However, since 1997 exports have increased tremendously, flowing directly into the country's GDP, making Qatar one of the world's richest countries. Qatar has this plentiful supply of oil reserves almost exclusively fueling its GDP growth. They have also made substantial investments in tech startups and financial institutions. In addition, they are astute investors on the international scene utilizing hedge funds and foreign real estate to diversify their portfolios. One cannot help but be impressed by such fiscal management over such a short period.
5. United Arab Emirates - $88,221
- Population: 9,272,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $88,221
- GNI per capita: $41,770
- Total GDP: $498,978,000,000
The United Arab Emirates is a vibrant country with a rapidly growing economy. Known for the luxurious lifestyles of the people living there, its capital Abu Dhabi has become a significant hub for business and tourism worldwide. Despite these sources of income, much of the UAE's fortune comes from oil production. However, the government has made strides to diversify its sources of income, particularly in technology and renewable energy sectors, as well as making significant investments in infrastructure development. This focus on continuous progress and innovation will no doubt help cement its status as a prosperous country in the years to come.
6. Switzerland - $87,962
- Population: 8,771,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $87,962
- GNI per capita: $90,600
- Total GDP: $869,901,000,000
Switzerland is an affluent country whose people's happiness has earned it a place among the highest-ranking countries in quality of life. Its higher cost of living may seem prohibitive to many, but generous tax rates have helped attract foreign investment from other parts of the world. This influx of global funds is apparent in Switzerland's GDP, with exports contributing significantly to its economic health. In addition, the industrious Swiss are renowned for their fine crafts and commodities, such as cheese, chocolate, jewelry, furniture, and much more, made with care and expertise using domestically-sourced resources.
The Swiss economy is currently one of the most attractive investments in Europe, and this is because of its lack of tax on capital gains, its low-value product tax at 7.7%, and lower than average income taxes. This triple benefit encourages citizens and foreigners to invest in Switzerland's economy, and residents show a preference for buying local products and other goods produced within the country. With such a strong commitment from investors, Switzerland has seen a steady increase in growth year after year, an investment climate that the rest of the world has noticed.
7. Norway - $82,654
- Population: 5,443,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $82,654
- GNI per capita: $83,880
- Total GDP: $554,105,000,000
Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, with an estimated GDP per capita (PPP) of $82,496. This high standard of living is driven by Norway's numerous natural resources, raw oil and gas exports, its distinct social security system, and universal health care. It has been extracting its wealth of petroleum reserves since the 1970s, supplementing them with seafood, hydro-power, lumber, minerals, natural gas, and freshwater. On top of their abundant resources, Norwegians benefit from a highly productive society; primary occupations are in the telecommunications and technologies sectors that help guarantee low unemployment rates, which are at 5%, and even lower poverty rates at 0.3%. Wages, too, remain high despite the cost of living. All these factors contribute to making Norway's quality of life one of the highest in the world today.
8. United States - $80,034
- Population: 336,958,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $80,034
- GNI per capita: $70,930
- Total GDP: $26,854,600,000,000
The United States of America is globally recognized as a rich country. It has a large, diverse economy that produces goods and services favored by people from around the world. This economic engine is driven by natural resources such as oil and gas and highly developed industries like biotechnology, engineering, and computer technology. The United States also benefits from infrastructure such as roads, bridges, ports, airports, railroads, telecommunications networks, utilities, and farming machines, allowing its citizens to live comfortably and efficiently. Finally, the US enjoys a relative level of political stability compared to other parts of the world, which enables it to maintain domestic order while supporting international investment with sustainable policies. Altogether, these elements make the United States one of the most impressive economies in the world.
9. San Marino - $78,926
- Population: 33,700
- GDP per capita (PPP): $78,926
- GNI per capita: $41,450
- Total GDP: $1,807,000,000
San Marino is well-known for its impressive financial strength and it deserves its place amongst the world's richest countries. This acclaim is partly due to its export of high-quality goods, enabling San Marino to achieve one of the lowest poverty rates on the planet. Moreover, more than half of San Marino's Gross Domestic Product comes from tourism due to its picturesque landscapes and warm Mediterranean climate. Thus it stands not only as a testament to fine Italian craftsmanship and cultured hospitality but also as an example of how financial prosperity is achieved through balance and concord.
10. Brunei - $75,583
- Population: 434,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $75,583
- GNI per capita: $30,320
- Total GDP: $15,506,000,000
Brunei is a small, oil-rich country with a high GDP per capita compared to other countries worldwide. Surprisingly, this financial boon has not translated into lower poverty rates. Brunei's poverty rate is higher than average for Southeast Asian countries, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to be significant. The government of Brunei has focused on developing programs to pull more citizens out of poverty, such as zero-interest microloans and special food assistance for low-income households. Despite these efforts, progress toward reducing poverty still needs to be improved. It remains a significant challenge that requires further attention if Brunei seeks to become a genuinely rich country.
11. Denmark - $73,385
- Population: 5,893,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $73,385
- GNI per capita: $68,300
- Total GDP: $405,626,000,000
Denmark is a small but rich country located in Northern Europe. It has a strong economy driven by its high-tech manufacturing sector and service industry, which comprise the bulk of the GDP. The country also benefits from its well-developed infrastructure, with transportation networks that are highly efficient, affordable, and reliable. Denmark's high standard of living has been made possible by sensible fiscal policies that have enabled the country to maintain low unemployment rates and high levels of growth. Moreover, Denmark's generous welfare system provides all citizens free education, healthcare, and other services, such as childcare, which help families thrive. With easy access to credit and financial assistance for entrepreneurs, it also encourages investment in businesses and innovation. Overall, Denmark is known as one of the most prosperous countries in the world thanks to its economic strength combined with progressive social policies that are highly beneficial for all its citizens.
12. Netherlands - $72,973
- Population: 17,650,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $72,973
- GNI per capita: $55,200
- Total GDP: $1,080,880,000,000
The Netherlands is known for being a rich country, and its citizens enjoy having one of the highest standards of living in the world. The country's fortune has been primarily attributed to its innovative economy, heavily driven by trading, particularly in services and technology. It also has an efficient infrastructure and tax policies that have incentivized both foreign and domestic investment. Additionally, the Dutch government makes conscious efforts to manage the budget responsibly, particularly when spending on public services like healthcare and education. This commitment to fiscal responsibility has paid off over the years, helping the Netherlands remain atop the list of rich European countries.
13. Iceland - $69,778
- Population: 380,500
- GDP per capita (PPP): $69,778
- GNI per capita: $63,460
- Total GDP: $28,625,000,000
Iceland's fortune relies on the fact that it has been able to transition from a resource-dependent economy to one driven by innovation and technology. This transition was primarily spurred by access to capital, investment in education, and the emergence of high-tech industries such as biotechnology, healthcare, renewable energy, and software development. The country also benefits from having abundant natural resources like geothermal energy, marine resources, and hydropower. Additionally, Iceland has built solid economic connections with other European countries, a reputation for transparent government institutions, and an educated labor force. These factors have made Iceland one of the most prosperous countries on Earth.
14. Austria - $69,502
- Population: 9,003,000
- GDP per capita (PPP): $69,502
- GNI per capita: $52,760
- Total GDP: $515,199,000,000
Austria is a rich country due to its strong economy, supported by numerous industries such as tourism, banking, insurance, and medical technology. The country's high-tech businesses benefit from favorable corporate tax rates and access to the EU's single market. In addition, Austria boasts a robust social safety net that has helped support economic growth and keep unemployment low. Furthermore, the country's proximity to other major European economic powers has allowed it to capitalize on expanded export markets. This level of interaction has enabled businesses to create jobs and contribute significantly to Austria's riches. Furthermore, Austria is home to several prominent universities and research centers that have become hubs for knowledge-intensive business activity. All of these factors have contributed heavily to Austria's success in becoming one of the richest countries in Europe.
15. Andorra - $68,997
- Population: 80,300
- GDP per capita (PPP): $68,997
- GNI per capita: $46,530
- Total GDP: $3,669,000,000
Andorra is one of the world's richest countries, and its economy continues to thrive. The country is nestled between France and Spain in Europe, and its small size masks the large number of invaluable benefits that it offers. Andorra has no income tax alongside a customs union with the European Union, allowing border-free trade. It also offers low corporate taxes and financial incentives for businesses investing there. In addition, the country offers attractive real estate investments due to its picturesque landscape, mild climate, and excellent skiing opportunities in winter. Andorra is a shopping mecca, with price savings of up to 17% due to the lack of VAT or sales tax. This consumer-friendly environment ensures that goods are affordable for citizens and tourists alike. Lastly, Andorra has a stable government that provides solid infrastructure and public services for those living there or visiting from abroad.
Extreme Prosperity in Partially Recognized Territories and Countries
- Macao - SAR GDP per capita (PPP): $89,558
- Hong Kong - GDP per capita (PPP): $74,598
- Taiwan - GDP per capita (PPP): $73,344
Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao are three highly prosperous territories that have become symbols of success in the eastern hemisphere. While many refer to these regions as 'countries,' they either do not have sovereignty under international law, remain part of China, or are in a unique political situation. Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule. Taiwan is a de facto independent nation controlled by neither China nor any other sovereign entity. Macao, meanwhile, is an autonomous administrative region of China led by a governor appointed by Beijing. Despite their quasi-independence from the parent country, all three territories enjoy considerable economic prosperity and serve as models for developing nations across the globe.
After reviewing the world's richest countries and their economic prosperity, it's clear that financial success has many different looks. Luxembourg currently leads the way across most metrics. Others on the list also possess strong economies due to a focus on innovation and investment in technology, finance, tourism, and natural resources. It is no surprise, then, that Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Switzerland, and Norway are leading countries in attaining riches. However, it is incredible how there is still room to grow and expand within such thriving economic spaces. While San Marino and Brunei might boast lower GDPs per capita or employ fewer people than other nations on this list, specific industries have put them on track to become highly successful economies. This potential proves that any country can strive towards significant financial gain through dedication to their citizens and self-investment as long as they stay steady towards consistent improvement.
Richest Countries by Continent
- The Richest Countries in Asia
- The Richest Countries in Europe
- The Richest Countries in North America
- The Richest Countries in South America
- The Richest Countries in Africa
The 50 Richest Countries on Earth
|Rank||Country||GDP/Capita in PPP||GDP, current prices (USD), in Billions|
|5||United Arab Emirates||88,221.18||498.978|
|**||Hong Kong SAR||74,598.03||382.85|
|**||Taiwan Province of China||73344.248||790.728|
**: Macao and Hong Kong are special adminstrative regions of the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan is a province in the PRC.
Data taken from World Economic Outlook (April 2022) - GDP per capita, current prices (imf.org) in May, 2023.
Top 10 Richest Countries Ranked By GDP
|Rank||Country||GDP in 2023 (US Dollars, billions)|
Top 10 Richest Countries Ranked by GNI
|Rank||Country||GNI Per Capita (US$)|