Special Report

Richest Countries in the World

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5. Kuwait
> GNI per capita: $72,872
> 2017 GDP: $271.1 billion (57th out of 196 countries)
> Population: 4.1 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 74.8 years

Kuwait is one of just five nations with a GNI per capita above $70,000. Unlike most other countries that rank among the wealthiest in the world, Kuwait does not have a diverse economy. Petroleum accounts for more than 84% of its exports. Kuwait ranks as one of the most corrupt nations on this list, likely resulting in an uneven dispersal of the wealth created from petroleum.

Along with fellow oil-rich nation Saudi Arabia, Kuwait is one of the only countries that rank among the richest in the world that saw a decline in their GDP in 2017. Kuwait actually had one of the sharpest decreases in GDP of any country, with an economic contraction of 2.9%.

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4. Brunei
> GNI per capita: $76,427
> 2017 GDP: $30.8 billion (125th out of 196 countries)
> Population: 428,697
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.4 years

Petroleum accounted for more than 90% of Brunei’s exports in 2017. As a result of its wealth of valuable resources, the relatively small Southeast Asian nation has become one of the world’s wealthiest, with a GNI per capita in excess of $76,000. Citizens of the country do not have to pay taxes and still enjoy generous services provided by the public sector.

The country is not without its economic and social problems however. Operating under sharia law, citizens can be stoned for adultery and have a limb amputated for crimes like theft. Brunei also has the highest unemployment rate among the 25 richest countries at 9.2%. Worldwide, the unemployment rate is less than 5%.

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3. Singapore
> GNI per capita: $82,503
> 2017 GDP: $480.0 billion (39th out of 196 countries)
> Population: 5.6 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.9 years

Sitting on the southern edge of Malaysia, Singapore is an important shipping point, connecting much of mainland Asia to the rest of the world. Singapore’s economy, which has a GNI per capita of $82,503, is one of the most business-friendly in the world due in part to a lack of cumbersome regulations.

Singapore is the single largest seller of integrated circuits, or microchips, in the world. These circuits makes up 36% of Singapore’s exports. As it relies heavily on the export of technology, Singapore invests a large amount, worth 2.2% of the nation’s GDP, in research and development.

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2. Macao SAR, China
> GNI per capita: $95,304
> 2017 GDP: $65.3 billion (98th out of 196 countries)
> Population: 0.6 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 84.0 years

Macao is another special administrative region of China, meaning it is not fully autonomous, as China handles foreign affairs and defense. Since allowing the foreign competition in its local casino industry starting in 2001, Macao has become one of the world’s top gaming destinations, and the sector has pumped billions of dollars into the economy of this relatively small region. Only one nation has a higher GNI per capita than Macao’s $95,000.

Macao’s economy is growing faster than that of any country that ranks among the 25 richest in the world. The special administrative region’s economy grew 9.1% in 2017, nearly triple the rate of the worldwide GDP growth.

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1. Qatar
> GNI per capita: $116,799
> 2017 GDP: $308.6 billion (51st out of 196 countries)
> Population: 2.6 million
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.3 years

Qatar is, by far, the richest country in the world, with a GNI per capita of $116,799 — more than $20,000 higher than any other nation. The country has more in oil reserves than all but two other countries worldwide — equal to 13% of the global supply. This natural resource brings in tens of billions of dollars to the country of less than 3 million residents each year. Oil revenue helps subsidize government services in the country. Petroleum accounts for nearly all of Qatar’s exports — 87%.

Thanks to its strong economy, Qatar’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world, at 0.2%.

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