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Top 15 Richest Countries In The World

Published June 3, 2012
When ranking the world's richest countries, one usually bases it on their gross domestic product (GDP), which is the value of all final goods and services produced in a country during one year. When dividing a country's GDP with its population you get GDP per capita, which is an average measure of how much of the country's GDP each inhabitant accounts for. As an example, China is the world's second richest country based on GDP but when dividing its GDP among its massive population one can see that their GDP per capita is fairly low. Although GDP basically is a measure of how much money there is in a country, there is also a clear relationship between GDP per capita and the wellbeing and standard of living of its population. A list of the world's wealthiest countries is therefore also a list of nations where it's good to live, although one has to remember that the wealth can be more or less unevenly distributed among its inhabitants.
       Here is a list of the richest countries in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), based on GDP (PPP) per capita in 2011. PPP stands for purchasing power parity and takes the price level in each country into account. PPP is used to give a more fair comparison of different nations' GDP per capita. The unit used is a hypothetical currency called international dollar (Int. $).

15. Ireland

GDP (PPP) per capita: 39,639 Int. $
Ireland's economy grew extensively from the late 80's until the financial crisis in 2008. The growth then ceased, but Ireland still has a very high GDP (PPP) per capita. However, the country's economy is pretty unbalanced and a large portion of Irelands's income belongs to large corporations based outside the country, which makes Ireland's GDP (PPP) per capita misleading. Almost 7 % of the population lives in poverty.

14. Australia

GDP (PPP) per capita: 40,234 Int. $
The world's seventh largest country is also one of the most prosperous. Australia is rich in natural resources and is a large exporter of gold, wheat, cotton, coal, natural gas and other things. But the biggest portion of Australia's GDP consists of tourism and financial services. The photo shows the tourist city Gold Coast, in the state of Queensland.

13. Sweden

GDP (PPP) per capita: 40,394 Int. $
Sweden has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe and made it unscathed through the financial crisis that hit the world between 2008 and 2010. Over half of Sweden's GDP consists of international trade and export. Common goods that Sweden sells to other nations include paper, woodworks, road vehicles, machines and iron. The photo shows the most visited department store in Sweden - Gekås in Ullared.

12. Canada

GDP (PPP) per capita: 40,541 Int. $
Canada is the second largest country in the world and is also one of the most scenic. The country has vast natural resources and an economy largely dependent on trade with the United States. Thanks to many hydroelectric and nuclear power plants as well as large deposits of natural gas, Canada is self-sufficient of energy and can also export a lot to its neighbor in the south. The photo shows the Canadian border city Niagara Falls, just next to the waterfalls with the same name.

11. Kuwait

GDP (PPP) per capita: 41,691 Int. $
The small nation of Kuwait has around 3,6 million inhabitants, of which three fourths live in the capital Kuwait City (photo). Kuwait's well-developed economy depends largely on the country's large resources of oil. It is believed that around 10 % of the world's crude oil reserve is here, and the black gold accounts for 95 % of the export revenues and half of the country's GDP. Thanks to oil, Kuwait has lots of money for importing both food and water, which are scarce commodities in this arid country.

10. Austria

GDP (PPP) per capita: 41,822 Int. $
Austria's economy depends largely on Germany's, who is their main trade partner. But in latter years, Austria has also invested in East European markets such as Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia, which has made the country a trade junction between eastern and western Europe. The most important part of Austria's economy is however its own industry, followed by tourism. The photo shows Hallstatt, one of many beautiful villages in mountainous Austria.

9. Netherlands

GDP (PPP) per capita: 42,183 Int. $
The kingdom of the Netherlands has since the 17th century had a succesful economy, even though the country was industrialized fairly late. The reason that the Netherland's economy is so prosperous today is largely due to incomes from such industries as oil refining, food processing, machine production and chemical industry. The Netherlands also has an effecient agriculture that produces a large surplus, that in part is exported. The photo shows three of the many windmills in the city of Zaandam.

8. Switzerland

GDP (PPP) per capita: 43,370 Int. $
The beautiful country in the Alps, Switzeland, is known for its banks - financial services accounts for a large portion of the countrys GDP. Other important industries are its manufacturing industry, pharmaceutical industry and tourism. The most important exported goods are chemicals, machines, electronics and of course clocks. The photo shows the Gornergrat railway in front of Matterhorn.

7. United Arab Emirates

GDP (PPP) per capita: 48,158 Int. $
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates - territories each ruled by an Islamic leader called emir - of which Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the ones most people have heard about. The United Arab Emirates' incomes are mostly from oil, and surplus income from the oil industry pays for the country's health care, schools and military. Thanks to this, the country's inhabitants don't need to pay any income tax. The photo shows skyscrapers rising from the sand during the latest construction boom in Dubai 2008.

6. United States

GDP (PPP) per capita: 48,387 Int. $
The United States of America is the richest country in the world by GDP, and the sixth richest by GDP (PPP) per capita. USA was badly hit by the latest financial crisis and around 14 % of the country's 314 million inhabitants are considered poor. USA's economy is mainly driven by the nation's big service industry and its vast natural resources. The United States is the world's largest producer of sulphur, phosphates and liquefied natural gas. The photo shows Times Square in New York.

5. Brunei

GDP (PPP) per capita: 49,384 Int. $
Brunei is the country for you if you hate paying taxes. There are neither income taxes nor sales taxes in this small sultanate, but the government still assists with free health care and schools. Brunei's wealth is mainy due to large deposits of oil and natural gas, but investments also bring in the bucks. The photo shows the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan.

4. Norway

GDP (PPP) per capita: 53,471 Int. $
Norway always places high on lists of countries where it's best to live, and it's not hard to understand why. Besides having Europe's lowest unemployment and rich resources of oil, natural gas, forests and water power, Norway can offer its citizens a magnificent and unique scenery. The photo shows one of Norway's many beautiful fjords - Fjærlandsfjord, a branch of the well-visited Sognefjord.

3. Singapore

GDP (PPP) per capita: 59,711 Int. $
The small country of Singapore is the most densely populated country in the world after Monaco, which is not strange considering almost all of the country is made up of the capital Singapore. The largest part of Singapore's GDP is due to the manufacturing industry, and the nation has specialized in importing products, refining them and then exporting them. The photo shows the most famous statue in Singapore - Merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, and the country's mascot.

2. Luxembourg

GDP (PPP) per capita: 80,119 Int. $
Luxembourg is often mentioned together with the other mini-countries in Europe, but Luxembourg is with its area of 2,586 km2 and population of around 510,000 much larger and more populated than Monaco, Andorra and Liechtenstein. Luxembourg has low unemployment and a steadily growing economy, mostly thanks to the country's steel-, chemical-, rubber- and bank industry. Luxembourg's capital, which is also called Luxembourg, is home to many of EU's main buildings (photo).

1. Qatar

GDP (PPP) per capita: 102,943 Int. $
The richest country in the world has, like many other of the richest countries in the world including its neighbors United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, made its fortune on oil. Qatar has the fastest growing economy in the world, much due to the rising oil prices in latter years. Except oil, Qatar also exports natural gas, but the country is trying to develop more technology-based companies to not be completely dependent on fossil fuels (which of course will run out).

The small countries Liechtenstein and Monaco would place high in this list over the richest countries in the world, but since they are not members of the International Monetary Fund, no comparable data about their GNP per capita in 2011 is available. Both Hongkong and Macau also qualifies to this list, but are regarded as administrative regions rather than countries.