Special Report

The Richest and Poorest Countries

10. Luxembourg
> GNI per capita:
> 2014 GDP: $60.1 billion
> Population: 556,074
> Life expectancy: 81.8 years

With a GNI of $57,830 per capita, Luxembourg’s population of 556,074 is the 10th wealthiest in the world. Landlocked between Belgium, Germany, and France, the Western European country is heavily trade dependent. It trades more than any other nation besides Hong Kong, exporting $122.7 billion — roughly twice its GDP — and importing $99.9 billion. Wealth often coincides with a high standard of living, and Luxembourg is no exception. The average Luxembourger lives for 81.8 years, about five years longer than the regional average, and one of the longest life expectancies in the world.

9. Switzerland
> GNI per capita:
> 2014 GDP: $685.4 billion
> Population: 8,190,229
> Life expectancy: 82.7 years

Switzerland’s 8.2 million citizens are the ninth wealthiest in the world. The country is the world’s leading exporter of gold, which accounts for a bulk of its trade revenue. Despite its relatively small size — it is just the 96th most populous country — Switzerland’s $685.4 billion economy is one of the largest worldwide.

The Swiss people enjoy a very high standard of living. Residents have a life expectancy of 82.7 years, which is the fifth longest, and the country’s 3.4% unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world.

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8. Norway
> GNI per capita:
> 2014 GDP: $500.1 billion
> Population: 5,136,475
> Life expectancy: 81.5 years

Largely due to the country’s abundant natural resources, Norway is the wealthiest of the five Nordic countries and the eighth wealthiest worldwide. Norway exports far more than it imports. Extracted from the North Sea, most of Norway’s crude petroleum and petroleum gas is sold to the United Kingdom and Germany. Norway is also the world’s leading supplier of fresh fish.

Like many Nordic countries, Norway’s high taxes redistribute wealth amongst its population and many are able to enjoy a high standard of living. For every 100 Norwegians, roughly 96 have access to the Internet, the third highest proportion of any nation. According to the Gini coefficient, Norway’s income is the fourth most evenly distributed worldwide.

7. United Arab Emirates
> GNI per capita:
> 2014 GDP: $401.6 billion
> Population: 9,086,139
> Life expectancy: 77.1 years

With a GNI of $66,270 per capita, the United Arab Emirates’ 9.1 million people are the seventh wealthiest in the world. Like a majority of the world’s 10 wealthiest countries, the United Arab Emirates is oil-rich. The UAE has the sixth largest proven crude oil reserves. Oil exports, which the country sells mostly to Japan, Thailand, South Korea, India, and Singapore — account for the bulk of its GDP.

The UAE government spends just 3.9% of its GDP on public goods and services, the lowest share of any of the wealthiest countries. Nevertheless, many of the Emirati people enjoy a higher standard of living than those across the Middle East and North African region. The literacy rate in the UAE is 90.0%, 9.7 percentage points higher than the 80.3% of people considered literate in the the region. Likewise, the average Emirati lives for 77.1 years, 4.8 years longer than the region’s 72.3 year life expectancy.

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6. Bermuda
> GNI per capita:
> 2014 GDP: $5.6 billion
> Population: 65,181
> Life expectancy: 80.6 years

Bermuda is a tiny British island in the western Atlantic Ocean. Despite its lack of natural resources and major industry, Bermuda is the sixth wealthiest country in the world. It is also one of the smallest with just 65,181 citizens. Bermuda achieved its $66,560 GNI per capita by attracting international businesses with minimal corporate taxes, and American tourists with luxurious resorts. More than three-fourths of the country’s imports are passenger, cargo, and special purpose ships. Bermuda’s reliance on international business made it particularly vulnerable to the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis. While the rest of the world has nearly recovered from the recession, Bermuda’s GDP has declined in recent years. In 2013, Bermuda’s economy shrank by 2.5% while the world’s economy expanded by the same percentage.

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