10 Richest Countries in the World
According to the 2011 Credit Suisse Global Wealth report published in October 2011, Australia has a median wealth of US$222,000 (AU$217,559). That’s the highest in the world and nearly four times the amount of each US adult. You can read the full report here.
Apparently the wealth of your average Australian is 55 times greater than the average wealth around the world.
Yet I guess a lot of us wealthy people don’t feel that lucky. There’s still a huge gap between the super wealthy and the poor here in Australia as in North America. Plus, we live in a material world where we’ve all been trained to want more and more, no matter how much we already have.
It got me thinking about how lucky we are compared to the poorest countries in the world, who funnily enough the Swiss bank report doesn’t mention. So I thought I’d write two posts for comparison: the 10 Richest Countries in the World versus the 10 Poorest Countries in the World.
This list of the 10 richest countries in the world is taken from the Credit Suisse chart of top 10 countries with the highest average wealth per adult in 2011.
They haven’t made public the whole top 10 richest countries for the other list where Australia comes out top (only the one where Switzerland does!) but it’s amazing to see the USA and Canada don’t feature on this list.
Surprises aside, this list is a strong indication of how wealthy the people who live in a country are, as compared to a list based on Gross Domestic Product which is the value each person creates. The currency is US dollars.
1. Switzerland $540,010
Famed for its Swiss Alps, neutral polices and secure banking, Switzerland’s wealth grew after World War 2 when people from other European countries deposited their money in the banks of Switzerland which were considered to be the safest option. Apart from the financial and banking industry, Switzerland’s economy is also bolstered by Swiss companies like Nestle, Logitech, Rolex and Credit Suisse. And who wouldn’t like to find a Toblerone in their stocking this Christmas?
2. Australia $396,745
Australia is rich in natural resources which are being mined and sold for a healthy profit often at the expense of our natural environment. It all started with the gold rush in the 1820s and has been snowballing since then. The Australian dollar is high and tourism remains another mainstay of our economy. As an indicator of our resources, both underground and our pristine natural environment, Australian companies range from mining giants Rio Tinto to surf brands Billabong and Rip Curl.
3. Norway $355,925
The Kingdom of Norway is one a few highly developed countries in Europe that are not part of the European Union. Naturally rich in oil and natural gas, Norway is well known for its high cost of living. But the standard of living is high too with public health care free (above a certain level) and 46 weeks paid parental leave for new parents. Norway is also the second least densely populated country in Europe.
4. France $293,685
France has been a power house with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe, and around the world, for the last 500 years. Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of France’s economy; the French insurance company AXA is the world’s largest insurance company. France is also famed for it’s fine wine, food, fashion and design. Top French companies include Michelin, Louis Vuitton and L’Oreal. Mais oui.
5. Singapore $284,692
The tiny island nation of Singapore has the busiest port in the world and is the fourth largest foreign exchange trading center in the world. Singapore is a world leader in several economic areas including finance, casinos, oil refining and foreign trading. Singapore attracts business because its economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most business friendly and least corrupt in the world.
6. Sweden $284,146
Sweden is an export-oriented mixed economy with a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force. Resources include timber and hydropower while the economy is heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Famous Swedish exports include Björn Borg, Abba and Ikea where I bought a lot of my furniture after moving to Australia. I’d love to visit the Swedish capital of Stockholm and Swedish Lapland which is seen as Europe’s last wilderness and a place where you can glimpse the northern lights and the midnight sun.
7. Belgium $275,524
The Kingdom of Belgium has more going for it than just chocolate. Belgium has a strongly globalized economy and a transportation infrastructure integrated with the rest of Europe. Being smack in the middle of a highly industrialized region has helped make Belgium one of the world’s largest trading nations although it is often viewed as one of the least interesting. The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force and high exports. Belgium most famous import is raw diamonds and it’s most famous export (apart from chocolate) is finished diamonds. Well known Belgian companies include Guylian, Godiva and Stella Artois.
8. Italy $259,826
Italy didn’t get rich from exporting pizza. Italy’s wealth comes from its influential and innovative business economic sector, an industrious and competitive agricultural sector which is the world’s largest wine producer, and its creative and high-quality automobile, industrial, appliance and fashion design. Famous Italian companies include Fiat, Pirelli, Versace, Benneton and the coffee companies Illy and Lavazza.
9. United Kingdom $257,881
Like many countries in this list the UK’s wealth was kick started by colonizing other countries and plundering their natural and often human resources. I’m British so I’m allowed to say that kind of thing. With our colonial hey day long over, the economy in the UK remained strong because we kick-started the scientific and industrial revolutions. Today the economy in the UK is based around the automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries. Even in the midst of a recession and with the British Pound plummeting in value, the UK still makes the 10 top richest counties list and you can’t beat UK companies like Rolls Royce, Virgin and Cadburys for global recognition.
10. Japan $248,770
Despite the terrible, tragic tsunami earlier this year Japan is still a rich country. Japan’s labor force consists of about 65.9 million workers and the country has a huge industrial capacity. Japan has some of the biggest producers of motor vehicles, electronics and processed foods. Agriculture and fishing are important industries too. People all over the world love Japanese brands like Nintendo, Toyota, Sony and, my personal favorite, Hello Kitty.
Interesting stuff but we all know wealth isn’t really about how much money you have in the bank or how much you earn. It’s about how rich your life is, how strong your family bonds and friendships and how much you enjoy your life on a daily basis.
But grinding poverty makes the quest for happiness hard so our responsibilities must lie in narrowing that great divide between rich and poor at home and around the world.
For the 10 poorest countries in the world, coming soon at Get In the Hot Spot. Choose updates by email or by RSS feed.
How rich are you and your country folk?
According to Wikipedia, 2006 median in USA is $32,000.
This wouldn’t be so bad, except the cost of living for everything which matters has been going up a lot. Turns out the government uses an inflation measure of “equivalent basket of goods and services” none of which include food, fuel or rent. So the official inflation rate is very low, despite the cost of living going up.
Life in the fast lane!
Hi Dave, interesting. And the opposite is true here. Food prices are dropping! But you have the cheap petrol (gas I mean – the stuff you put in cars:)
As always, an interesting post Annabel. I was surprised to see Italy as #8 with all its financial woes. (Though it remains one of my favourite places!). Canada is a great place to live — despite our high taxes!
Hi Joyce, that’s an interesting one. I hope to visit Canada one day. Taxes are high here in Australia too….
Thanks for choosing to tackle the subject of the wealthiest and poorest nations. By doing so–and having noted that at least one of the nations on this first list amassed much of its original wealth through its colonial exploitations in previous centuries–it opens the door to start thinking about global inequalities and the ways in which we indirectly contribute to those ongoing inequalities as consumers in developed nations.
I don’t know if you’ve come across this research, but two British researchers, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, have found that economic inequalities within countries lead to as many or more problems– including higher rates of violence and incarceration and much lower rates of trust or social cohesion–as inequalities between nations. Richard Wilkinson did a TED talk that is worth having listen to and reflecting upon.
Thanks for sharing all this and I will check out that TED talk:) Sounds fascinating.
The U.S. not being on the list doesn’t surprise me all that much. I may have to rethink moving to Australia!
Very interesting post Annabel.
Hi Barbara, where do you fancy moving to now then?!
I knew we moved to Australia for a reason! But, like you said, real wealth is really so much more than how much we have got, and how we (as nations) become rich.
I’m British, too, so I can agree about England’s colonial past and some of the not so nice things that happened as a result – but, for those who would be holier than thou, quite a few other countries indulged in this practice with equally dire results – and many are still trying it on for size even as we speak (write?) – and, and, and I think colonisation and empire building started about three seconds after the first bits of land had a stake put in them with a ‘this is ours’ sign quite a few millenia ago. Doesn’t make it right… sadly, it’s human nature.
I’d love to visit Sweden, too… a long held goal of mine to see the Northern Lights.
Absolutely, the UK is not alone. One of the reasons I’ve never visited Sweden or any Scandinavian country is they’re too expensive to travel in cheaply!
Very interesting post and some of those countries I would never have guessed were in the top 10. I have to say that coming from South Africa where we have our feet firmly planted amidst wealthy first world friends and impoverished third world friends… I can honestly say being wealthy isn’t as luck y as folk seem to think it is. Everybody worries about money and stresses about paying bills, our wealthy friends are no exception and they have serious stress problems regarding their finances. Their material wealth literally makes them ill. While our really poor friends really do worry about every single morsel of food, their worries are more about finding any employment on a daily basis. I have a feeling that either extreme is a hard place to be.
Hi Se7en, thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. What an experience living in such a diverse country. It’s hard to imagine struggling to feed your children and terrible to think many people do.
Interesting – I always thought Australia would be near the top as being the richest country in the world..but never thought of switerland as being the richest :)
Thanks for your comment Lisa:) But Aussie’s got those Swiss beat. Incredible really.
Nice Info Dear !!
One of my passions is statistics so this post is right up my alley. And it’s full of surprises. Biggest ones: the U.S. not included, Germany, Europe’s mainstay, not included whereas almost bankrupt Italy made it??? The U.S. I can explain with its ever widening division between rich and poor so that a large segment of the population can now be considered Third World level. But why Italy over Germany? Probably need an economist to explain that one to me. I wonder, does anyone dispute these stats?
Thanks for sharing and look forward to your next and the comparison.
It is odd that Germany’s not on here. Looks like no one dares say a peep to the people at Credit Suisse:)
I guess what strikes me is that most of these countries provide universal healthcare for their citizens, and in some cases for visitors as well. You would think the USA might take note.
Wait, how is this calculated? As in the value of all the natural resources of a country divided by the population?? Bizarre! Wouldn’t GDP per capita make much more sense? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita
1 Qatar 88,222
2 Luxembourg 81,466
3 Singapore 56,694
4 Norway 51,959
5 Brunei 48,333
6 United Arab Emirates 47,439
7 United States 46,860
— Hong Kong 45,944
8 Switzerland 41,950
9 Netherlands 40,973
10 Australia 39,764
I’m thinking I’m living in the wrong place. It’s been hell trying to find a job that will pay me $40,000/year, and I’m experienced and have a degree.
Alas, since I’m trying to write for a living, I should get used to living off of beans. ;)
I am surprised to see France in the list of the richest country in the world
France is the 5th economy in the world, and the money that the big french companies like Areva, EDF, Michelin, AXA, BNP, Carrefour, Total, Renault…is more evenly distributed than in other countries.
And France is the most visited country in the world, so a lot of money go to small”entrepreneurs”.
French people have also a lot of money in their banks, and they have real estate worth expensive
Wow! The USA wasn’t even in the top 10, and yet our Government gives away billions in foreign aid, and Americans donate millions in humanitarian and refugee aid. And most of the world sees us as arrogant, rich bastards.
The thing is America also goes to War and makes billions on their War Machine, why do you think the CIA killed JFK – Because he wanted a peace loving America. So much money is made from death that it has become an economy . All those guns and bullets – somebody makes cash from that and that cash goes back to senators to keep the money coming by making War easier to do. Nasty Circle. When America enters aother country for war they bring with it contractors and they help redesign a sub-strcuture. All those companies they put ni are American – more “money” made by more “War”…
That money is sent just to clean their bloody hands and make everyone feel better. Americanisation by War. Thanks Uncle Sam.! I know, You love me to Death.
Greetings from the new world order.
Major Out !