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What Is the Richest Country? Hint – It’s Not the US

Richest countries

The United States is often touted as being one of the richest countries in the world, but compared to many other nations, it seems we have some serious catching up to do. In fact, in a new Forbes list of the wealthiest lands on the globe, the US didn’t even place in the top five.

To rank the world’s richest countries, Forbes used International Monetary Fund data from 2010 to determine gross domestic product (GDP) per capita adjusted for purchasing power for 182 nations. That just means they ranked countries in terms of the relative cost of living and inflation rates, rather than just exchange rates (which could distort differences in worth).

So who came out on top?

Thanks to a rebound in oil prices, massive natural gas reserves and a robust infrastructure, the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar took the honors with a GDP per capita of more than $88,000.

Luxembourg, with a per capita GDP of just over $81,000, came in second. The European country has just half a million people, but because of its strict banking laws and reputation as a tax haven, it earned its spot by becoming a financial hotspot in the latter half of the 20th century.

Rounding out the top three is the technology, manufacturing and finance hub known as Singapore, which has a GDP per capita of nearly $56,700.

And the United States? It came in seventh with a per capita GDP of $46,860.

Gian Luca Clementi, an associate professor of economics at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, said while the methodology behind the numbers is sound, they should be taken with a grain of salt, adding, “In some countries, the wealth is equally distributed, while in others it’s very unequally distributed. In Qatar, for example… much of the population is actually very poor. The GDP is high because of oil revenues.”


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