The first Olympics were held in Greece and started in the 8th Century BC. What is known as the modern Olympics began much later, in Athens, in 1896. Since then, the game has been hosted all over the world from the U.S. to Japan, to most of the major European countries, to Russia and China. The games are broken into two groups, the Summer and Winter. There were no Winter games until 1924. For obvious reasons, these have been staged in countries, or areas of countries, that have long periods of cold weather.
The winners of each event have been broken into three tiers. Third place winners receive bronze medals, second place winners receive silver, and first place winners receive gold.
24/7 Tempo has picked the country that has won the gold medals won at the Winter Olympics, using data from Olympedia. The results look very different from the Summer Olympics for two reasons – geography and economics.
Medal rankings are dominated by countries that have snow and slopes – countries in which there’s a tradition of winter sports. Lack of snow pretty much rules out countries with tropical climates from even participating, never mind winning medals.
Of course, there is a famous exception: the bobsleigh team from Jamaica that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics, inspiring the film “Cool Runnings.” This Olympics, Jamaica has qualified for a historic three bobsled events, including the four-man bobsled.
Economics is also a factor in countries’ ability to compete in the winter games. Winter sports typically require expensive infrastructure and equipment, putting poorer countries at a disadvantage.
The No. 1 country with the most gold medals ever is Norway, with 132 gold medals and 368 medals in total at the Winter Games. Norway extends into the Arctic Circle, has mountains and snow, and winter sports are a national pastime, so it’s not surprising that it does well. It’s followed by the United States, with 105 golds and 305 medals of any color
It’s worth bearing in mind that Norway has a population of little more than 5 million people, whereas the U.S. has a population of more than 330 million. Norway and the U.S. are followed by Germany with 100 golds and a total of 259 medals.
Click here to read Countries With the Most Gold Medals at Winter Olympics
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