The Richest Countries In The World Might Not Be What You Expected

Despite a large and robust economy, the United States is not the richest country in the world, at least not in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. That value is used to determine all of a country’s wealth divided by its population. GDP per capita has long been used to determine the actual stand of living by country. In 2019, a disproportionate amount of wealth is held by 1% of the population but GDP per capita is still a standard measurement of wealth by country. Let’s see which countries lead the way and you might be surprised to see where the USA lands on this list.

The United Kingdom — GDP per capita: $45,491

GettyImages-1141633387 A view Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) and Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) in London, United Kingdom
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The United Kingdom just squeaks into our top 20 with a per capita GDP of $45,491. The UK has been experiencing a wealth boom for the past few decades due in part to rising housing prices and pension entitlements, combined with rising homeownership, which started to increase in the ’80s and ’90s.

The South East is the wealthiest region of the UK, while the North East is the poorest region. Citizens in their 60s hold much of the country’s wealth.

France — GDP per capita: $45,586

GettyImages-1152505846 People bathe in the Trocadero Fountain near the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a heatwave on June 28, 2019
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France is at number 19 on our list with a per capita GDP of $45,586. In 2018, it was determined that France had the 6th largest economy by nominal figures. The biggest industries in France are energy, manufacturing and technology, transportation, agriculture, and tourism.

In January 2019, France increased its minimum wage to €10.03 per hour or €1,521.22 per month. That’s $11.24 U.S. dollars per hour or $1705.07 American dollars per month. The minimum wage in America is currently $7.25 per hour.

Canada — GDP per capita: $48,604

GettyImages-117859938 Canadians gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario July 1, 2011 for Canada Day celebrations.
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Canada, America’s neighbor to the North, sits at number 18 on this list. This country has a per capita GDP of $48,604. A large portion of Canada’s wealth comes from its service industry. Close to 70% of the GDP comes from the service industry. Canada is also a leader in energy production and exports. Secondary industries include manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and fishing.

The minimum wage in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, is $14.00 Canadian dollars per hour (which is close to $11 American).

Read on to find out which Asian region made the top 20.

Belgium — GDP per capita: $49,095

GettyImages-1074324792 The snow covered town of Spa in Belgium
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Belgium comes in at number 17 on this list with a per capita GDP of $49,095. The land between Antwerp and Brussels has become a major zone for manufacturing. The dominant industries in the area are metallurgy, steel, textiles, chemicals, glass, paper, and food processing.

Belgium’s economy is largely reliant on international trade. The country exports a lot of products. 3M, Coca Cola, and ExxonMobil all manufacture products in Belgium, and then those products are exported all over the world.

Hong Kong — GDP per capita: $50,216

GettyImages-1081354058 China, Hong Kong, City Skyline and Star Ferry
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Hong Kong is an autonomous territory in China. Its GDP per capita is $50,216. There have been four key industries in Hong Kong that have contributed to its economic growth. Those industries are financial services, tourism, trading, and logistics.

The growth of those industries allowed other sectors to grow, which in turn boosted employment rates and improved the economy at large. Hong Kong hasn’t caught up to America yet, but at this rate, they just might.

Germany — GDP per capita: $51,642

GettyImages-1065894016 Outer facade of the St. Canisius Church. In the background the skyline of Berlin
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Germany is currently sitting at number 15 on the top 20 richest countries list with a per capita GDP of $51,642. The machinery, automotive, and aviation industry is by far the largest industry in the country. In 2016 alone, Germany’s aviation industry brought in around $43 billion. Close behind is the chemical and medical industry, the consumer and service industries, and the energy and environmental technology industry.

As of January 2019, the minimum wage in Germany is 1,557.00 EUR per month (or 1744.56 U.S. dollars), which is just above France’s 1,521.22 EUR per month.

Finland — GDP per capita: $52,320

GettyImages-849886118 The Cathedral of Helsinki Finland. Helsingin tuomiokirkko or Helsinki Cathedral was built by Carl Engel Lugvig under Russian administration in 1850.
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Finland is coming in strong at number 14 on this list. It has a per capita GDP of $52,320. Finland’s largest industry is the electronics industry which makes up around 21 percent of the country’s economy. Machinery, vehicles and other engineered metal products also make up around 21 percent, and the firest industry makes up around 13 percent.

Finland doesn’t need to rely on other countries for natural resources like timber, minerals, and fresh water.

Keep reading to find out which other Nordic countries made the list.

Austria — GDP per capita: $54,606

GettyImages-629288730 The skyline of Vienna
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Austria rings in at number 13 on the list of the top 20 richest countries with a per capita GDP of $54,606. While Austria exports a lot of goods and products, mostly machinery, metallurgical products, and textiles, its main industry is tourism.

Austria is well known for its castles, historical buildings, and palaces. People come from all over the world to see this country’s architecture and landscapes. This country has a well-developed economy and a high standard of living.

The Netherlands — GDP per capita: $56,415

GettyImages-1147419894 A woman rides a bicycle in a street in Amsterdam, Netherlands
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The Netherlands sits at number 12 on this list with a per capita GDP of $56,415. This country is one of the top ten exporters in the world. Mostly, The Netherlands exports food. Its foodstuffs industry is the biggest industry in the country.

Other major industries include energy, chemical, trade, machinery, metallurgy, electrical goods and services, and tourism. Minimum wage is dependant on age in The Netherlands, but for those over 22 years old the minimum wage is €1,615.80 per moth.

Sweden — GDP per capita: $57,945

GettyImages-1141204327 Lovely Stockholm skyline seen from the Royal Canal Tour of Stockholm on a ferry
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Sweden comes in at number 11 on this list with a per capita GDP of $57,945. Sweden is a major world exporter of timber and other forest products. This country also has a large iron and steel industry. Its economy is heavily reliant upon foreign trade.

Because Sweden remained neutral during World War II, its infrastructure wasn’t damaged by the war and it didn’t have to spend resources rebuilding its cities and bank systems. That’s a major reason why Sweden is better off economically than most other European countries.

Read on to learn how the USA stacks up against these other countries.

Australia — GDP per capita: $58,820

GettyImages-1026915806 a  view of the Sydney CBD at dusk from Circular Quay
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Australia just squeaks into the list of the top 10 richest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of $58,820. The largest industry in Australia is the service industry wich comprised over 70 percent of the GDP. Tourism is also a large part of Australia’s economy.

Less substantial but still significant industries in the region include healthcare, media and entertainment, finance, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. The minimum hourly wage in Australia is $18.93, which is just over 13 American dollars.

Singapore — GDP per capita: $62,690

GettyImages-656227516 A General View of Marina Bay Sand at night on September 20, 2016 in Singapore, Singapore.
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Singapore comes in at number 9 on this list with a per capita GDP of $62,690. Singapore’s biggest industry is its manufacturing sector which accounts for 20-25 percent of the country’s GDP. The manufacturing sector is involved in manufacturing electronics, health care equipment, chemicals, and transport engineering.

Singapore doesn’t have access to a lot of natural resources, so a lot of the revenue from the manufacturing sector goes towards importing natural resources for raw goods.

Denmark — GDP per capita: $63,434

GettyImages-1061161238 View of the Danish Parliament, Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. Denmark
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Denmark comes in at number 8 on the list of the top 20 richest countries with a per capita GDP of $63,434. Agriculture is a huge industry in Denmark. Over 60 percent of the total area of the country is used for agricultural purposes. Tourism is also an important industry in Denmark; it brings in around 125 billion dollars of revenue per year.

Secondary industries include energy and transportation. There is no official minimum wage in Denmark, although the typical lower-end wage tends to hover around 16.60 U.S. dollars per hour.

The United States Of America —GDP per capita: $64,906

GettyImages-1153792100 A screen projects a video feed of President Donald Trump as he delivers remarks during the
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Here we are, my fellow Americans, sitting comfortably at number 7 on this list. Our per capita GDP is $64,906. The largest industry in America is the health industry. That’s why you’re constantly being bombarded with ads for new drugs (with long lists of side effects).

America also has strong financial services, consumer products, logistics, transportation, business, real estate, and construction industries. America is doing pretty well economically, but we’re not quite at the top of the list.

Keep reading to find out which countries are even better than us at capitalism.

Qatar — GDP per capita: $65,062

GettyImages-136394858 Ze Roberto poses during a portrait session on December 29, 2011 in Doha, Qatar
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Qatar sits at number 6 on this list with a per capita GDP of $65,062. The largest industry in Qatar is natural gas. The country sits on a lot of crude oil and natural gas, which is a huge contributor to the nation’s economic success.

Qatar also relies on its steel industry, its financial industry, it’s fertilizer industry, and commercial ship repair. The 2022 World Cup is set to happen in Qatar, which will boost the country’s economy even more.

Iceland — GDP per capita: $78,181

GettyImages-452271022 Iceland, Reykjavik, City Park
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Iceland is the 5th wealthiest country in the world with a per capita GDP of $78,181. Major industries in Iceland include tourism, fish processing, aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power, and hydropower.

The average salary in Iceland is slightly higher than the minimum wage in the country. The average monthly wage is around 410,000 ISK net or 3238.06 U.S. dollars. The minimum monthly wage is equivalent to 2400 U.S. dollars. Iceland is starting to sound like a pretty great place to live.

Read on to find out which country nabbed the number one spot.

Ireland — GDP per capita: $81,477

GettyImages-1145829072 Main street in Rathmines area of Dublin 'decorated' with election posters
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Ireland comes in at number 4 on this list with a per capita GDP of $81,477. We all know about the way leprechauns get their gold, but Ireland gets its wealth from the land. Ireland’s thriving economy is largely due to the country’s rich natural resources as well as its agriculture, mining, forest, and fishing industries.

This country also has a strong pharmaceutical industry, as well as strong software, financial, and trade industries. Chalk it all up to the luck of the Irish.

Switzerland — GDP per capita: $83,832

GettyImages-1135872558 Mountain views on the 5th April 2019 in Laax ski resort in Switzerland.
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Alright, now we’re getting into the top 3. Switzerland has a per capita GDP of $83,832. Switzerland has a varied economy, which is probably why this country is so economically prosperous. It’s strongest industries and exports include machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance.

Switzerland has no official minimum wage. Wages are determined by private corporations, but minimum monthly wages for unskilled laborers are around 2,200 to 4,200 francs. Swiss francs are very similar in value to U.S. dollars.

Norway — GDP per capita: $86,362

GettyImages-1079296232 The Norwegian Gem cruise ship sails in the Hudson River in front of the Empire State Building and Hudson Yards at sunset
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Norway is the second richest country in the world with a per capita GDP of $86,362. Norway’s petroleum industry is essential for the country’s economy. Oil and gas literally and figuratively fuel this place. Hydropower is also a huge industry in Norway.

Norway is also known for aquaculture, shipping, and tourism. Nordic countries such as Norway and Sweden don’t typically have an official minimum wage, but the average minimum salary in Norway is around 170 NOK per hour, or 21 U.S. dollars per hour.

Luxembourg — GDP per capita: $119,719

GettyImages-1125786777 Adolphe Bridge or officially Pont Adolphe bridge in Luxembourg City, a double decker bridge with the upper for cars, buses, tram and pedestrians and the lower hanging passageway for pedestrians.
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We’ve made it to the very end of the list. Luxembourg is the richest country in the world with a per capita GDP of $119,719. Luxembourg has a huge financial sector which makes up around 36 percent of the GDP. Steel, telecommunications, and tourism industries combined make up around 13 percent and agriculture accounts for less than one percent.

The minimum wage in Luxembourg is 2,071.10 EUR per month as of January 2019. That’s 2321.21 U.S. dollars.