We’ve all probably asked ourselves the question “Which country is the richest in the world?” at some point. It is easy to think that the United States, for example, or perhaps China, would be the answer. It is not. On the other hand, they have the world’s largest economies, but that does not automatically make them the world’s richest countries.
Here, we’ll look at the difference between being the world’s richest country and having the world’s largest economy.
We will mention which countries are the richest in Europe and in the world and also how to calculate it. Enjoy your reading!
How do you measure who the richest countries in the world are?
Before we continue, let’s explain how to measure which country is the richest. The most common set is to go by the country’s GDP, which stands for Gross Domestic Product. GDP is the total value of all services and goods produced by a country in a year.
GDP per capita is calculated by dividing the country’s total GDP by the number of inhabitants. This gives an average measure of the contribution of each individual.
In terms of GDP alone, the United States is the richest country in the world, making it one of the world’s largest economies. However, when you look at GDP per capita, the US is further down the list. This is partly because they have huge populations and large social divisions.
Which is the richest country in the world?
The country that has topped the lists of the world’s richest countries is Qatar. A small country in the Middle East, about the size of Skåne, with just under three million inhabitants. What makes Qatar the richest country in the world is their vast supply of oil and also natural gas which they export worldwide. In addition, residents do not pay income tax.
World’s richest countries 2021
When you look at different lists of the richest country in the world in 2021 and the richest country in the world in 2020, there is not much difference in which countries are included. The richest country in the world in 2021 was, as mentioned above, Qatar. The other countries on the top list are:
- United Arab Emirates
- San Marino
- Hong Kong
- Saudi Arabia
When you look at the list, almost all the countries included are either in Europe, Asia or the Middle East and even the Arabian Peninsula. Excluding the USA, no country from North, Central or South America is included. There is also no country from Africa involved. Moreover, the majority of the world’s rich countries are located in the northern hemisphere.
- Rich countries almost always have a coast. It is then easy to conclude that the world’s poorest countries often have no coastline, which makes their trade more difficult.
- Living in a rich country does not always mean that everyone is well off. A country can have a very high GDP if the gap between rich and poor is large. The United States is an example of this.
- Moreover, of the richest countries in the world with the highest GDP, most are quite small in size.
Europe’s richest countries
If we look at Europe alone, Luxembourg tops the list of the richest countries in Europe. Luxembourg began to build its prosperity with the iron and steel industry. Now they have mostly moved into information technology and factories producing mainly steel, rubber and chemicals. The countries that follow are mostly located, like Luxembourg, in northern or central Europe, with the exception of San Marino.
- San Marino
If you look at the average wealth of a country’s inhabitants, Sweden ranks ninth among the world’s richest nations. The explanation is quite simple, Sweden is a rich country with many natural resources and few inhabitants compared to the size of the country. We are also the seventh largest economy in the EU.
In countries list of characteristics
When people talk about rich countries and GDP, they usually also refer to developing and developed countries. Developed countries stand for industrialised countries while developing countries stand for developing countries. To know whether a country should be classified as an i or u country, the following factors are usually considered:
- The country’s GDP
- How many are born and die per year
- Life expectancy
- How fast the population is growing in numbers
- Infant mortality
- The position of women in society
- Nutritional level of the diet
- How many people work in agriculture
- If there is a large urbanisation
The world’s most powerful country
Being the most powerful country in the world does not mean that it is also the richest. For example, a country can have a very large defence force and a lot of international influence, without being in the top list of the world’s richest countries. Then it can be the case, like the example of the US we mentioned earlier, that a country can have a huge economy, huge defence and international influence and yet have a fairly low GDP per capita. China is also a good example.