As of January 2020, the nations of the world had 34,700 tons of gold reserves. Countries maintain gold reserves to stabilize currency against hyperinflation, particularly in the event of a major crisis like the one many economies worldwide currently face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Relatively few countries, however, have large gold reserves. In fact, over 80% of the world’s national gold reserves is held by the central banks and finance ministries of just 25 countries.
To determine the countries that control the world’s gold, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on gold reserves by country in tonnes — or metric tons — as of January 2020 from the World Gold Council. Data on gold as a share of a country’s total foreign exchange reserves also came from the WGC and is current as of January 2020.
The value of a country’s gold reserves in U.S. dollars was calculated using exchange rates current as of March 13, 2020. GDP and GDP per capita figures in 2018 are from the World Bank and are in constant 2011 international dollars. Data on population is also from the World Bank and is for 2018 or for the most recent period available.
Many, but not all of the countries on this list, are among the wealthiest nations on Earth, as these countries are able to buy up substantial gold reserves. These are the 25 richest countries in the world.
While some countries on this list have obtained gold reserves by purchasing from other countries, many of the nations with the biggest gold reserves, such as China, the United States, and Russia, are also the top gold-producing countries. China, the largest producer of gold in the world, alone accounted for 14% of global gold production in 2016.