It’s raining money all over the world! While many people might assume that the United States is the richest country in the world thanks to its size and the fact that it is home to the largest number of billionaires on the planet, that assumption is far from true. Instead, America’s wealth is shared among the top one percent of the nation which means that the average per capita income isn’t as high as some other countries around the world.
When determining a country’s wealth, the nation’s per capita income is taken into account to show what the average yearly earnings are of a country’s residents. In other words, it reveals what someone living in the country would typically bring home in one year. This figure is also dependent on the country’s economy and how it earns money such as through manufacturing, exports, banking, etc. Makes sense, right?
So, if America isn’t the richest country in the world, then which country is? We found 10 of the highest per capita incomes around the globe with nine countries bringing in at least $50,000 and only one country bringing in an astonishing six figures! Where does the United States rank and what countries topped the list? Get ready as we travel around the globe to take a look at 10 of the richest countries in the world!
#10 – San Marino (Per Capita Income: $49,139)
Nestled on the Italian Peninsula and protected by the stunning Apennine Mountains is the small Italian territory of San Marino that takes the tenth spot on our list. Officially known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, the 24 square-mile territory boasts a population estimated at 33,000 people. And, while the gross domestic product of San Marino is only $1.5 billion placing them at 163rd in the world, the territory’s per capita income is incredibly high at an astonishing $49,139 per person.
San Marino residents make the majority of their money in the banking industry, electronics and ceramics in addition to agricultural products like wine and cheese. Oddly enough, one of the larger industries in the area is also the sale of commemorative stamps, which are sold in each of the 10 post offices in the country. Additionally, tourism adds to San Marino’s wealth as over 2 million tourists visit the country each year to take in beautiful medieval attractions like the Three Towers of San Marino, the cathedral and the Palazzo Pubblico.
#9 – Iceland (Per Capita Income: $51,068)
Next on our list is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with just under 330,000 residents, the Nordic country of Iceland. Located between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, Iceland is ranked as the 13th most developed country in the world with its residents paying low taxes and reaping the benefits of a social welfare system. Iceland’s gross domestic product is an impressive $17.2 billion with its average residents bringing in an estimated $51,068 per year.
Once dominated by the fishing and agricultural industries, Iceland has transformed from one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the wealthiest nations in the world since World War II. Staying ahead of the curve in terms of renewable energy, Iceland is the largest producer in the world of electric power per capita. The country also continues to build its wealth from fishing in addition to manufacturing and service industries that have diversified the economy.
#8 – Denmark (Per Capita Income: Over $51,000)
Traveling southeast from Ireland we arrive at the largest European country so far on our list and one of the happiest countries in the world – Denmark. Spanning nearly 17,000 square miles and home to over 5.7 million people, Denmark’s gross domestic product reaches well into the world’s top 40 at over $257 billion. With Danes bringing in an average of over $51,000 each year, it’s no surprise why Denmark has one of the highest resident morale ratings in the world in addition to an outstanding standard of living, income equality and social mobility.
Despite topping the charts as one of the highest performers in education and healthcare, Denmark’s residents pay some of the highest income taxes in the world. Once a predominately agricultural-based economy, the majority of Danes earn college degrees and enter the bustling industrial workforce that has established the country as one of the largest exporters in the world. Even those who work in fast food chains earn top dollar thanks to Denmark having the highest minimum wage that allows workers to make the equivalent of $20 per hour in the United States.
#7 – Australia (Per Capita Income: $51,642)
Come on mate, let’s go to the Land Down Under! The sixth largest country in the world in terms of land area, Australia is also one of the wealthiest and most populated with over 24 million residents and a gross domestic product ranking of 12th in the world at $1.2 trillion. A far cry from kangaroos, wallabies and other wild animals, Australia is a highly developed country whose residents make an average of $51,642 per year while enjoying a high quality of life and incredible economic freedoms.
Thanks to an extremely low poverty rate and a diversified economy, Australia lives up to its nickname as “The Lucky Country” after ranking second in the world only behind Switzerland in terms of average wealth. The majority of residents earn their living in a variety of industries such as mining-related exports, manufacturing, banking, telecommunications, tourism and even wine since Australia is the fourth largest exporter. Add in the fact that Australia is home to one of the largest security exchanges around the globe and it’s no surprise that its major cities continue to grow exponentially!
#6 – Singapore (Per Capita Income: $53,224)
Surprisingly, Singapore is the only East Asian country to appear on our list as China, Japan and Taiwan didn’t make the cut. Nicknamed “Lion City” and “The Garden City,” Singapore has an estimated population of just over 5.5 million people residing in its 278 square mile area. As for its wealth, Singapore takes the 36th spot in terms of GDP with $308.1 billion leaving its per capita income to take the sixth spot in the world with an average of $53,224.
Recognized as a global hub for commerce, transportation and finance, Singapore is also one of the easiest places to do business not to mention its taxes are incredibly low. As a result, nine out of 10 Singaporeans have bought their home outright instead of renting or making mortgage payments. Additionally, with the expansion of oil, manufacturing, gambling, banking and foreign exchange, the country has earned its place as having the highest percentage of millionaires with one out of every six homes having at least $1 million in disposable wealth!
#5 – United States of America (Per Capita Income: $55,904)
While Singapore may have surprised you, the only country on our list in the entire Western Hemisphere will definitely not. The United States has over 322 million residents and is the third largest country in the world as well as the third largest in terms of area with 3.8 million square miles. Coming in first overall in terms of gross domestic product at $17 trillion, the average American earns $55,904 each year ranking the country as the fifth richest in the world.
Once known as one of the largest economic forces in the world thanks to its innovations in the industrial sector, the United States has an incredibly diverse economy and specializes in just about everything. The “Land of the Free” is filled with abundant natural resources, agricultural and chemical products that have helped establish it as one of the largest exporters in just about every category imaginable from planes and automobiles to manufactured goods and food.
#4 – Norway (Per Capita Income: $76,266)
A big jump from fifth place to fourth takes us back to Europe as we visit Norway, a country of just over 5 million people. With one of the highest quality of life ratings in the world, Norwegians are some of the happiest residents which directly contributes to the country’s $420 billion GDP and an average per capita of $76,266. Heavily reliant on oil, mining, lumber and hydropower, Norway’s economy is large and prosperous despite their small area of just over 148,000 square miles.
With the highest work force productivity ratings in the entire world as well as some of the highest hourly wages, Norway’s economy involves more than just exporting fish. Outside of the Middle East, Norway is the largest producer of petroleum with 33 percent of their exports coming from crude oil and another 24 percent coming from petroleum gases. Their next largest export, however, is a little more mysterious as it bears the name “Unclassified Transactions” and has us definitely wondering what exactly that entails.
#3 – Qatar (Per Capita Income: $78,829)
The only oil-rich country from the Middle East to make our list is the country of Qatar that stretches 4,467 square miles on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. Gaining its independence in 1971, Qatar has a small but growing population of 2.4 million people with a gross domestic product at $214 billion. Though the GDP is modest, Qatar residents are generally very wealthy with an average annual income of $78,829.
Despite its income being backed by the world’s third largest natural gas and oil reserves, Qatar experiences one of the largest gaps between its upper and lower classes. One of the main reasons for this is because the oil industry makes up for over 90 percent of Qatar’s exports leaving everything else to account for a trace amount of the economy. Regardless, Qatar should see another boost in 2022 after winning the bid (albeit controversial) to host the World Cup as they plan on building new stadiums and amenities to host an influx of crazed soccer fans.
#2 – Switzerland (Per Capita Income: $82,000)
While Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup amid rumors of bribery over their bid, the FIFA governing body that selected Qatar just so happens to be headquartered in the next country on our list and the second richest in the world, Switzerland. Home to the beautiful Swiss Alps, the landlocked country stretches across 15,940 square miles with just over 8 million residents who, on average, earn over $82,000 per year and make up the $688.4 billion gross domestic product.
Switzerland’s economy has made great strides in the technology industry and has established the country as having a high-tech, stable and prosperous economy that is also one of the most competitive in the world. Specializing in everything from watches to musical instruments and pharmaceuticals, Switzerland is home to hundreds of large banking and manufacturing companies that have helped make them a leader in exported goods and one of the best purchasing powers in the world.
#1 – Luxembourg (Per Capita Income: $103,187)
Starting our list with the tiny European country of San Marino on the Italian Peninsula, we end our list with yet another – the small landlocked country of Luxembourg. Stretching across 998 square miles, Luxembourg has a population of 560,000 people with its GDP finishing well outside the top 50 in the world at $57.9 billion. Their residents, who are known as Luxembourgers, are some of the wealthiest, however, with an estimated per capita income of $103,187.
Despite being hit fairly hard in 2008 by the global recession, Luxembourg has experienced an incredible resurgence in recent years thanks to its extremely diverse economy. Characterized by outstanding innovation across industries such as manufacturing and banking, Luxembourg’s largest export comes from iron and steel shapes in addition to their auto industry that produces a high volume of parts. Though their high ranking might be met with some controversy after being accused of serving as a tax haven for large international countries, Luxembourg continues to hold the top spot on our list for now.