Economy

What America Ranks No. 1 In

Medal gold for USA. Winner prize award with ribbon on US flag background. American athlete trophy in sport for first place champion. Number one and laurel wreath,
rawf8 / Shutterstock.com

As the Fourth of July approaches, we prepare to celebrate the country’s independence with fireworks, family barbecues and picnics, community events such as parades, fairs, concerts, and of course, baseball games.

It was actually on July 2nd, 1776, that the Continental Congress voted in favor of Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee’s motion calling for the colonies’ independence. Two days later, on July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the historic Declaration of Independence — penned largely by Thomas Jefferson. And on Sept. 9, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted a new name for the “United Colonies” — United States of America. Thus began The Great Experiment.

And the experiment is not over — the Great American Experiment has been a work in progress since the nation’s founding. The U.S. had to overcome many challenges, including wars, economic depressions, and even a civil war. But the U.S. has prevailed and also recorded many successes, progresses, and advances.

Indeed, the republic has grown in size and influence. It has become a model to many nations and has often led the global community. Its economic and military clout are second to none, as are its contribution to science, health, entertainment, sports, and other areas. Of course, America also struggles in some areas. And so the Great Experiment continues.

To find the areas America ranks No. 1 in, 24/7 Wall St. searched for measures in which the U.S. ranks first. Any measure in which the U.S. ranks high — even second or third — but not first, was not included. We tried to have measures in diverse areas, but of course, the list is far from complete — especially considering all the different nuances possible. (Also see: These 25 Countries Are Exporting the Most Weapons.)

Why are we covering this

Source: ntn / Getty Images

Ahead of Independence Day, we thought it was a good time to take stock of how the U.S. is doing globally, in relation to other nations, in different fields. The U.S. is certainly the best — and the worst — in some areas.

30. Alcohol and drug use burden

Alcohol and drug addiction. Whiskey in glass, bottle, cigarettes and pills on white table, space for text
Source: New Africa / Shutterstock.com
  • Alcohol and drug use disorders as a share of total disease burden, 2021: 6.2%
  • 2nd place country: Mongolia: 4.4%
  • 3rd place country: Canada: 4.0%
  • Source: Our World in Data

29. Drug use: Share of drug use

Source: diego_cervo / iStock via Getty Images
  • Share of population with drug use disorders, 2021: 3.8%
  • 2nd place country: Canada: 2.3%
  • 3rd place country: United Kingdom: 1.9%
  • Source: Our World in Data

28. Opioid use: Opioid death rate

Source: GillTeeShots / iStock via Getty Images
  • Opioid use disorder death rate, 2021: 15.4 per 100,000
  • 2nd place country: Canada: 6.9 per 100,000
  • 3rd place country: United Kingdom: 3.7 per 100,000
  • Source: Our World in Data

27. Drug use: Drug death rate

the concept of drug overdose, syringe and pills on dark background, close up
Source: Towfiqu ahamed barbhuiya / Shutterstock.com
  • Drug use disorder death rate, 2021: 19.5 per 100,000
  • 2nd place country: Canada: 8.9 per 100,000
  • 3rd place country: Iceland: 5.3 per 100,000
  • Source: Our World in Data

26. Health expenditure per capita

Piggy bank with stethoscope isolated on light blue background with copy space. Health care financial checkup or saving for medical insurance costs concept.
Source: Nudphon Phuengsuwan / Shutterstock.com
  • Health expenditures, U.S. dollars, 2022 (current prices and PPP adjusted): $12,555 per capita
  • 2nd place country: Switzerland: $8,049 per capita
  • 3rd place country: Germany: $8,011 per capita
  • Source: Our World in Data

25. Bankruptcy filings

  • Bankruptcy filings (past 12 months): 20,316 companies as of March 2024
  • 2nd place country: Switzerland: 15,009 companies and individuals as of Dec 2022
  • 3rd place country: Hong Kong: 7,378 companies as of April 2024
  • Source: Trading Economics

24. Number of guns

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • No. of civilian arms, 2017: 393,347,000
  • 2nd place country: India: 71,101,000
  • 3rd place country: China: 49,735,000
  • Source: Small Arms Survey

23. Guns per capita

  • Civilian guns per capita, 2017: 120.5 per 100 people
  • 2nd place country: Falkland Islands: 62.1 per 100 people
  • 3rd place country: Yemen: 52.8 per 100 people
  • Source: Small Arms Survey

22. Navy might

Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images
  • No. of aircraft carriers: 11
  • 2nd place country: China/Italy/India/UK: 2
  • 3rd place country: France/Russia: 1
  • Source: Global Firepower

21. Air Force might

Source: Aqeela_Image / Shutterstock.com
  • Total combat aircraft: 13,209
  • 2nd place country: Russia: 4,255
  • 3rd place country: China: 3,304
  • Source: Global Firepower

20. Military might

Source: ninjaMonkeyStudio / E+ via Getty Images
  • PowerIndex score (the lower the score the more powerful — conventional weapons): 0.0699
  • 2nd place country: Russia: 0.0702
  • 3rd place country: China: 0.0706
  • Source: Global Firepower

19. Military budget

Source: gopixa / iStock via Getty Images
  • Military spending in USD, 2023: $916 billion
  • 2nd place country: China: $296 billion (estimated)
  • 3rd place country: Russia: $109 billion (estimated)
  • Source: SIPRI

18. Defense companies

  • Defense industry, 2022: The top five companies worldwide — with combined $188.9 billion in arms revenue — are US based
  • 2nd place country: China: Three of the top 10 companies with combined $62.2 billion in arms revenue
  • 3rd place country: U.K.: One company in top 10 with $26.9 billion in arms revenue
  • Source: SIPRI

17. Aerospace exports

Source: izusek / iStock via Getty Images
  • Aerospace exports, 2022: $102.8 billion
  • 2nd place country: France: $32.8 billion
  • 3rd place country: Germany: $29.2 billion
  • Source: World’s Top Exports

16. Valuable companies

Source: ipopba / Getty Images
  • Most valuable companies: The top five most valuable companies — Microsoft, Apple, Nvidia, Alphabet (Google), Amazon — are US based
  • 2nd place country: Saudi Arabia: Saudi Aramco ranks 6th most valuable
  • 3rd place country: Taiwan: TSMC ranks 8th most valuable
  • Source: Companies Market Cap

15. Country’s market capitalization

  • Countries by market cap: $55.831 trillion (3,707 companies)
  • 2nd place country: China: $6.383 trillion (317 companies)
  • 3rd place country: Japan: $4.689 trillion (347 companies)
  • Source: Companies Market Cap

14. Gold reserves

Source: Diy13 / iStock via Getty Images
  • Gold reserves, Mar 2024: 8,133 metric tons
  • 2nd place country: Germany: 3,353 metric tons
  • 3rd place country: Italy: 2,452 metric tons
  • Source: World Gold Council

13. Gross domestic products

Source: Andrii Yalanskyi / iStock via Getty Images
  • GDP in current USD, 2022: $25.40 trillion
  • 2nd place country: China: $17.96 trillion
  • 3rd place country: Japan: $4.26 trillion
  • Source: World Bank

12. Number of millionaires

Source: asbe / iStock via Getty Images
  • No. of millionaires, 2022: 22,710
  • 2nd place country: China (mainland): 6,231
  • 3rd place country: France: 2,821
  • Source: UBS Global Wealth Report

11. Number of billionaires

Source: MCCAIG / iStock via Getty Images
  • No. of billionaires, 2024: 813 Total net worth: $5.7 trillion
  • 2nd place country: China: 406 Total net worth: $1.3 trillion
  • 3rd place country: India: 200 Total net worth: $954 billion
  • Source: Forbes

10. Movie production

Source: 2023 Getty Images / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • No. of movies: 24,866 (avg. production budget: $38,222,954)
  • 2nd place country: U.K.: 4,607 (avg. production budget: $30,528,636)
  • 3rd place country: France: 4,514 (avg. production budget: $22,323,053)
  • Source: The Numbers

9. Box office

Source: icholakov / iStock via Getty Images
  • Total worldwide box office: $638,456,389,487
  • 2nd place country: U.K.: $56,761,131,107
  • 3rd place country: China: $50,793,078,470
  • Source: The Numbers

8. Clinical trials

  • No. of clinical trials (1999-2022): 168,520
  • 2nd place country: China: 94,193
  • 3rd place country: Japan: 63,499
  • Source: WHO

7. Life science research

  • Life science research, 2018 (measure of a country’s contribution to articles in the 82 journals tracked by the index): 9,030.22
  • 2nd place country: U.K.: 1,551.37
  • 3rd place country: China: 1,447.47
  • Source: Nature

6. Top universities

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • No. of universities in the top 100 worldwide: 49 (there are many lists, and the number of U.S. universities changes, but it is always highest)
  • 2nd place country: U.K.: 9
  • 3rd place country: China: 6
  • Source: Center for World University Rankings

5. Nobel prize

  • Nobel laureats: 411 (413 prizes)
  • 2nd place country: U.K.: 137 (138 prizes)
  • 3rd place country: Germany: 115
  • Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_by_country

4. Space launches

  • Total manned launches, Nov. 2023: 162 total, 163 attempts
  • 2nd place country: Russia (including USSR): 158 total, 159 attempts
  • 3rd place country: China: 13 total, 13 attempts
  • Source: World Space Flight

3. Astronauts

  • Number of astronauts: 381 (910 flights, 25,820 days)
  • 2nd place country: Russia (including USSR): 129 (283 flights, 29,920 days)
  • 3rd place country: China: 22 (35 flights, 3,030 days)
  • Source: World Space Flight

2. Olympic medals

Source: S. Levin / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
  • Olympic medals (any game type, any medal): 3,105
  • 2nd place country: Germany: 1,211
  • 3rd place country: Soviet Union: 1,204
  • Source: Olympedia

1. Gold medals

Source: Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
  • Olympic gold medals: 1,229
  • 2nd place country: Soviet Union: 473
  • 3rd place country: Germany/China: 384
  • Source: Olympedia

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.