Commodities & Metals

These Are the Countries That Control the World's Gold

The World Gold Council issues a quarterly report on gold trends. In the second quarter, the report shows that a small number of nations control the gold held by central banks. This essentially indicates how much gold national governments keep.

The council reports that the gold held by central banks is at a record level: “Central banks bought 224.4t (tonnes) of gold in Q2 2019. This took H1 (the first half of 2019) buying to 374.1t – the largest net H1 increase in global gold reserves in our 19-year quarterly data series. Buying was again spread across a diverse range of – largely emerging market – countries.”

At the end of the second quarter, the United States was in first place with 8,134 tonnes (known as metric tons in the United States). “In the U.S. the Treasury holds the gold and the Federal Reserve does not own any. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System described by the bank holds gold. The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 required the Federal Reserve System to transfer ownership of all of its gold to the Department of the Treasury. In exchange, the Secretary of the Treasury issued gold certificates to the Federal Reserve for the amount of gold transferred at the then-applicable statutory price for gold held by the Treasury,” said the report.

Germany was second in terms of gold held by its central bank with 3,367 tonnes. Surprisingly, neither of these two countries currently rank among the wealthiest countries on a per capita basis. These are the richest countries in the world.

In third place, the International Monetary Fund holds 2,814 tonnes. In its description of the gold it holds as part of the monetary system, the bankers write, “The IMF holds a relatively large amount of gold among its assets, not only for reasons of financial soundness, but also to meet unforeseen contingencies.”

In fourth place, Italy holds 2,452 tonnes, followed by France at 2,436. Russia was in sixth place with holdings of 2,207 tonnes. China followed with 1,927 tonnes. The final country to own more than 1,000 tonnes was Switzerland, at 1,040.

While the United States, like in many economic and financial measures, leads the pack with the most gold of any nation, at more than 8,100 tons of the precious metal, other countries with the most gold may be less obvious, especially since their economies are not very strong. These are the best (and worst) economies in the world.

These are the 20 nations that control the world’s gold:

Tonnes % of reserves
United States 8,133.5 76%
Germany 3,366.8 72%
International Monetary Fund 2,814.0
Italy 2,451.8 67%
France 2,436.1 62%
Russian Federation 2,207.0 19%
China, P.R.: Mainland 1,926.5 3%
Switzerland 1,040.0 6%
Japan 765.2 3%
India 618.2 7%
Netherlands 612.5 68%
ECB 504.8 29%
Taiwan Province of China 423.6 4%
Portugal 382.5 63%
Kazakhstan 375.3 60%
Uzbekistan 351.5 57%
Saudi Arabia 323.1 3%
Turkey 314.1 16%
United Kingdom 310.3 9%
Lebanon 286.8 26%