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Top 10 richest countries in the world

Emeh Joy
By Emeh Joy

Basic Medical Scientist, Freelance Health Writer, Lifestyle Blogger and Business Enthusiast

What are the top 10 richest countries in the world? GDP is a measure of wealth or how much a country makes but is it the best metric for measuring a country's wealth? This article lists the top 10 richest countries globally based on GDP per capita.

Top 10 richest countries in the world

There have been many search queries on the top 10 richest countries globally; hence Clacified must write on this topic.

It would shock you that the richest country in the world is Qatar, a small country located in Western Asia. Though it is a small nation, Qatar economy benefits from its rich petroleum reserves.

The major metric that has been used over the years for measuring the wealth of a country is the gross domestic product (GDP). Gross domestic product is the monetary value of goods and services produced in a country within a specific period.

Gross domestic product measures how productive a country has been. Indeed, it provides an economic view of a country, the size of a country's economy and how much a country has grown. But is GDP the best metric for determining a country's wealth status?

Let's paint a scenario. Supposing the United States has a population of 2 million people with a GDP of $2 billion and Canada has a population of 500,000 with a GDP of $1 billion. Would it be fair to say that the United States is richer than Canada?

Think about it this way- which of the country's citizens enjoy better? Which of their citizens have a better quality of life? If the country's income were to be shared equally, how much would each citizen or household receive?

For the United States, if we divide their GDP ($2 billion) by the population (2 million), each citizen gets $1,000. And for Canada, if we divide their GDP ($1 billion) by their population (500,000), each citizen receives $2000.

With this illustration, it is clear that even though the United States has more GDP than Canada, Canadians enjoy a better quality of life than Americans.

This is why it makes more sense to compare the wealth of nations using gross domestic product per capita. GDP per capita means the value of goods and services produced in a country divided by the country's population.

GDP per capita helps measure a countries wealth by providing insights into the quality of life in a country. A high GDP per capita usually shows that the inhabitants of a country are prosperous. This is exactly why Qatar is considered the richest country in the world.

List of the top 10 richest countries in the world

Here is a rundown of the top 10 richest countries in the world based on GDP per capita:

  1. Qatar
  2. Macau
  3. Luxemburg
  4. Singapore
  5. Brunei Darussalam
  6. Ireland
  7. Norway
  8. United Arab Emirates
  9. Kuwait
  10. Hong Kong

You will most likely be surprised that world power countries like the United States and China didn't make it to this list of the world's top 10 richest countries.

You might find the US and China in the list of the top biggest economies in the world, which uses just the gross domestic product (GDP) to rank countries.

Experts have now realized that size (population) is relevant, and national revenue alone is no longer a reliable or reasonable way of ranking a countries wealth status. GDP alone might not be the best way to measure a country's progress or wealth.

A better way to check if a country is rich or poor is by looking at its GDP per capita based on its purchasing power parity (PPP).

Over the years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided biannual reports on nations' economic performance based on GDP per capita. It also utilizes PPP as an additional basis for its announcements.

Since the IMF considers factors like inflation rates and relative cost of living in its reports, it makes it easy to pick out the top 10 richest countries in the world.

Therefore, our list of the top 10 richest countries globally focuses on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita.

10th richest country in the world – Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of Asia's top financial hubs and one of the top richest countries in the world by GDP per capita

Hong Kong is the 10th richest country in the world. This former British colony has turned out to become China’s administrative region.

Questions have been asked regarding Hong Kong’s independence as it is still attached to China. Although The People’s Republic of China controls it, Hong Kong exists as a Special Administrative Region and enjoys its own limited autonomy.

In the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index report, Hong Kong ranks 3 out of the 190 world economies it compiles. Hong Kong is among the top 10 richest countries in the world, is one of Asia’s financial hubs.

According to Forbes, Hong Kong's GDP per capita was about $46,200 and was ranked the number 3 in its list of Best Countries for Business in 2018. The country's stock market was ranked the 5th largest in the world as at the end of 2020.

Hong Kong practises a free market economy that thrives on international trade and finance. The country is service-oriented. Its services sector accounted for about 93.4 per cent of its GDP in 2019.

Hong Kong has the busiest international airport for air cargo for about a decade now. Having one of the busiest ports globally, Hong Kong was ranked number 9 worldwide in terms of container throughput.

Hong Kong Economy latest development report shows that Hong Kong's economy has maintained recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with the country's GDP growing by about 7.6% over the past year.

Even as a foreigner without citizenship, you have 100% ownership of your business in Hong Kong. The country places no tariff on imported goods. It is home to the highest number of people with high net worth.

9th richest country in the world – Kuwait

Kuwait controls about 6 per cent of the world's oil reserve

Kuwait is the 9th country in our list of top 10 richest countries. Kuwait is a small Arab country famous for its rich petroleum resources. Petroleum and petroleum products account for up to 90 per cent of its exports.

As of 2018, Kuwait’s GDP per capita was up to $66,980. The country is among the top wealthiest in the Gulf Cooperation Council member states; it is, in fact, second only to Qatar.

According to the 2020 Index of Economic Freedoms data, Kuwait's economic freedom score is 63.2, with a GDP per capita of $67,000, higher than in 2018.

Kuwait controls about 6 per cent of the world's oil reserve; thus, oil and gas account for almost 60 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product and up to 90 per cent of the revenues generated from exports.

Kuwait has about 7 per cent of the world's crude oil reserves and has the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates as its top 3 trade partners. In 2019, the country made a total export of about $64,482,096,620 as opposed to its total import estimated at $33,530,892,789.

After COVID-19, the country is making notable recovery both in its oil and non-oil sectors. Analysts forecast that the country will experience a GDP growth of 2.1 per cent in 2021.

Kuwait seeks to diversify into other revenue sources to not depend only on petroleum reserves.

8th richest country in the world – United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates is the 8th richest country in the world and generates much revenue from its natural resources as well as tourism

The 8th richest country in the world is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). UAE is one of the most developed countries in Western Asia. Its top 3 trade partners as of 2019 are India, China and Saudi Arabia.

Like Kuwait, a Middle Eastern country, the United Arab Emirates relies heavily on revenue generated from its oil sector. However, the country also generates revenue from the services and telecommunications sectors.

Other goods exported from UAE include electrical machinery, precious stones and metals. Top industries in the country include petroleum and petrochemicals, cement, aluminium and fishing.

The United Arab Emirates scores 76.2 for economic freedom, making it the 18th freest economy in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom.

With a population of about 10.4 million people, UAE has a GDP per capita of $69,382. Oil and gas account for about 30 per cent of its GDP. Reuters reported that the UAE economy is speculated to grow 2.1% in 2021 and 4.2% next year.

The United Arab Emirates has been able to diversify its income sources, leveraging industries that have high-profit potentials. The tourist sector has helped the country over the past few years.

United Arab Emirates makes it to our list of top 10 richest countries in the world with a GDP per capita of nearly $70,000.

7th richest country in the world – Norway

Norway has a rich economy with a GDP per capita of $74,356

Norway is a country filled with beauty and charm. It also has a rich economy and is one of the top 10 richest countries in the world. In 2018, Norway's GDP per capita expanded by 3.1 per cent, reaching a massive $74,318.

Norway has a population of about 5.3 million people. As of 2020, Norway's GDP per capita was at $74,356. It also had an economic freedom score of 73.4.

Agriculture accounts for about 1.9% of Norway's GDP and employs about 2% of the population. The industry sector takes up about 29% of its GDP and employs about 19.4% of the population while the services sector accounts for 57.7% of its GDP and employs over three-quarters of the population (78.5)

One of the things that enormously contributed to the economic growth of the country is industrialization. The nation is blessed with natural resources and has parts of its major sources of income fishing, hydropower and petroleum exploration.

Life in Norway is beautiful as the government has created a great standard of living for its citizens. The rate of unemployment here is low. However, an ageing population might pose a challenge for the nation in the future.

The country has an independent monetary policy that has been of advantage to the country, considering that the unemployment rate is low and the country is highly productive.

6th richest country in the world - Ireland

Ireland is one of the top 10 richest countries in the world with a GDP of $77,670.

Ireland, known for its great tourist spots, is one of the world's top 10 richest countries. Due to the country's robust economy, it has a high standard of living.

Ireland thrives on trade and investment. In 2018, its GDP per capita increased by 6.1 per cent, reaching a high of $77,670.

The nation's GDP per capita increased to $78,785, with a freedom score of 80.9. It is ranked second among 45 countries in Europe.

With time, top foreign investors like Google, Microsoft and Apple found their way into the country. In turn, they had the country transformed into a top exporter of electronics, medical supplies and computer equipment.

Ireland is a dual economy nation that effectively manages its domestic economy and its foreign investment economy. The country's foreign investment economy is more responsibly for its high GDP.

Ireland has now become one of Europeans biggest hubs for some of the world's largest pharmaceutical and technological companies. The economy of the nation has been projected to grow by 4.2% in 2020.

Sectors like pharmaceuticals and chemical industries, fisheries, timber production, and mineral resources have contributed to Ireland's economic growth.

5th richest country in the world - Brunei Darussalam

Top 10 richest countries in the world - Brunei Darussalam. Brunei Darussalam is the 5th richest country in the world

Brunei Darussalam is a small country located in SouthEast Asia and has a population of about 400,000 people. It is one of the top 10 richest countries in the world.

Despite this country's small size, it has consistently been ranked amongst the richest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of up to $79,530.

Brunei Darussalam depends heavily on the oil and natural gas sector. Oil and gas provide 90 per cent of the government's revenue.

It has also reinforced its economy by generating revenue from its overseas investments as well as local productions. It has diversified into other profitable sectors.

The nation boasts of the government's food and housing subsidy as well as free healthcare.

4th richest country in the world - Singapore

Singapore is the third wealthiest Asian nation

With a population of about 5.6 million people, Singapore is the third wealthiest Asian nation and one of the top 10 richest countries in the world.

Singapore's GDP increased by 4.4 per cent in 2017, reaching $98,255. It would shock you that even though this cosmopolitan Asian city has little or no natural resources and agricultural land, it has still amassed so much wealth.

Today, driven by trade and foreign investments, Singapore's economy has continued to grow. As of 2020, Singapore's GDP per capita was at $100,345. Among the nations largest sectors are ship construction, banking and electronics.

Singapore ranks as one of the most expensive countries globally, which much of its economic growth attributed to the nation's multicultural policy and liberal economic policy.

3rd richest country in the world - Luxembourg

Luxembourg has a robust economy and ranks number 3 on our list of top 10 richest countries in the world based on GDP per capita.

Luxembourg is a small nation located in Europe. It is ranked number three in our list of top 10 richest countries in the world. The nation is known for its tasty cuisines and majestic castles.

Whatever the country might have lost in size, it made up for with its robust economy. With a GDP per capita of about $106 705, its banking sector and industrial banking sector have been booming.

With an economic freedom score of 75.8, Luxembourg has an unemployment rate of 5.5%, according to the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom report.

Luxembourg has attracted banking investments since it has over 150 banks and supports low taxation.

Conservative economic policies have also contributed to the economic growth of Luxembourg. The nation is known to be highly innovative and rarely experiences inflations.

2nd richest country in the world - Macau

Macau which is the second richest country in the world based on GDP per capita became the world's biggest gambling centre in 2006

Over the years, Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has grown to establish itself as one of the world's top richest countries.

With a GDP per capita that has risen to up to $116.808, one can say it is one of the richest countries in the world. The International Monetary Fund once projected that by 2020 Macau would overtake Qatar to become the world's richest country by GDP per capita.

Macau has been tagged the "largest gambling centre in the world" because the economy has benefited much from the gambling business.

Macau's economy is also majorly driven by tourism, with visitor arrivals to the country increasing every year. The nation has also been making plans to diversify into the manufacturing and administrative sectors.

Richest country in the world - Qatar

Qatar is a beautiful small country known for its rich oil reserve. Based on GDP per capita, it is the richest country in the world.

Qatar is ranking number one in our list of top 10 richest countries in the world. Qatar is known for its rich oil reserve, which has boosted the country, outdo other countries.

Qatar has a GDP per capita of $130,475, with an unemployment rate of 0.1%. Petroleum accounts for about 85 per cent of the country's export and 70 per cent of the total revenue it generates.

According to the International Monetary fund, increased natural gas production and a rebound in domestic demand will see a return to Qatar's economic growth in 2021 after it experienced a 2.5% contraction last year.

Qatar has a population of about 2.6 million people who enjoy the great benefits of the nation. Aside from revenue from the oil sector, the nation also generates revenue from tourism and fertilizer and steel exports.

The citizens of Qatar enjoy their earnings in full as the government does not tax them. There is also national health insurance in place for the people.

However, one thing about Qatar's economy is that it largely depends on ex-pat labour to carry out its economic activities.

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