So what makes a country wealthy? There are several factors, including low levels of corruption, the absence of red tape, low corporate taxes, well-educated citizens, highly-skilled workforce and the low unemployment rate, military stability, law and order, excellent infrastructure and communications, and a lot of other things.
A wealth of natural resources may be a factor, but it’s not always the case. For instance, take Singapore, a tiny city-state which obviously has a limited number of natural resources. However, that didn’t hinder it from becoming one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world today.
Here are some of the richest countries in the world, based on their GDP per capita (purchasing power parity or PPP), as of 2016 (in no particular order).
Obviously, Saudi Arabia’s economy mostly depends on oil. The oil sector accounts for most of the government’s revenues as well as export revenues. Plus, with the government exercising dominance over the country’s economy, no wonder this Arabian kingdom enjoys a high GDP. But despite holding 18% of the world’s petroleum reserves, Saudi’s per capita income is comparatively lower than that of its Middle Eastern neighbors.
The tiny city-state of Singapore is otherwise an economic giant. Its robust economy lies in the banking and finance sector, chemical export industry, as well as lax economic policies that leave much more room for growth and modernization.
The banking and finance sector, agribusiness, and tourism are the factors why Switzerland is one of the wealthiest nations. And because of their strict banking secrecy laws, no wonder why many of the richest people in the world have their own Swiss bank accounts. This allows the country more capital to use for their investment.
The United Arab Emirates is another oil-rich, wealthy Middle Eastern state. The discovery of oil several decades back turned this poverty-stricken nation into one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The telecommunications and service sector are also strengthening UAE’s economy.
The world’s biggest economy still maintains a GDP per capita of $54,630 when you consider its large population of over 310 million people. The domestic automotive and technological sectors are just a few of the things that have kept the US economy afloat.
With a sparse population of about 24 million considering its vast land area, it is little wonder that the land Down Under still maintains a GDP per capita of $45,925. Its economy is dominated by the services sector, with a small percentage belonging to the mining and agricultural sector.
The small alpine country with a population of over 8 million enjoys a strong GDP per capita of $47,682. Its well-developed economy and high standard of living have put Austria as one of the richest countries in the world. Germany has been Austria’s trading partner for much of the latter’s economic history, mainly because of the close physical proximity between the two nations. This has served Austria well, as Germany provides accessibility to market its own products such as steel and agricultural goods.
The tiny sovereign state of Brunei derives its economic strength from crude oil and natural gas, where it generates most of its export revenues. Brunei is one of the only two countries which has zero percent public debt of its national GDP.
Like its next-door neighbor Austria, Germany has a well-developed social market economy. Germany’s service sector accounts much of its GDP, and the country is the third biggest exporter of goods in the world.
With over six million people, Ireland is the sixth richest country based on its GDP per capita of $49,393. Textiles, food and mining industries contribute to its vibrant economy.
Kuwait is another oil-rich Persian Gulf state, with petroleum accounting for much of its government and export revenues. Its banking sector is one of the strongest in the Arab world.
Luxembourg is a tiny but wealthy European nation boasting a per capita income of $97,662, about nine times higher than the per capita income for an average individual globally. The landlocked country has an exceptionally stable and progressive economy, with very low levels of inflation, corruption, and unemployment as well as a high degree of innovation.
The Netherlands is not just a country of tulips and canals. Its healthy economy derives from its agricultural, mining and manufacturing industries. In fact, it is the second largest exporter of agricultural products after the USA.
The land of the fjords and the midnight sun enjoys the second-highest GDP per capita among European nations, after Luxembourg. Norway is also an oil-rich country, generating vast revenues from exports of crude oil (it is the 8th largest exporter in the world), natural gas (3rd largest), and refined oil (9th largest). Fishing is the second biggest driver of Norway’s domestic economy.
Qatar, right now, is the richest country on the planet due to its high GDP per capita — $140,649! This oil-rich Arab state seems to have developed its natural resources very well, as 70% of the government revenues and 85% of its export income are generated from its petroleum sector. Qatar also has no income tax.
Despite its economic success, Qatar has also been widely criticized for its use of labor force and abuse towards the migrant workers, especially those coming from other Asian countries as well as many parts of Africa.