Top 10 Richest Countries in the World 2022


What do people think when they think about the richest countries in the world? And what comes to mind when they think about the smallest nations in the world? Some would be surprised to find out that many of the wealthiest nations are also amongst the tiniest.

Some very small and very rich countries—like Luxembourg, Singapore and Hong Kong—benefit from having sophisticated financial sectors and tax regimes that help attract foreign investments and professional talent. Others like Qatar and Brunei have large reserves of hydrocarbons or other lucrative natural resources. Shimmering casinos and hordes of tourists are good for business too: Macao, Asia's gambling haven, is one of the most affluent states in the world.

 

THE 10 RICHEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

 

10. Brunei Darussalam

Current International Dollars: 65,675

1,788 rooms, including 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 5,000 guests, a mosque for 1,500 people, an air-conditioned stable for 200 polo ponies, 5 pools and 18 elevators: this is where Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, lives and gets his habitual $20,000 haircut. His fortune—derived from the immense reserves of oil and natural gas of the country—is estimated at about $28 billion, more than 50 times that of Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Yet, it is not all roses in the sultanate, and not just because Bolkiah is no longer the wealthiest monarch in the world, a title he held for many years (Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn is about $15 billion richer). Despite the monarch’s opulence, and an on-paper per-capita purchasing power of over $60,000, malnutrition in Brunei is commonplace. Although data is scarce, it has been estimated that 40% of its 450,000-strong population earn less than $1,000 a year.

 

9. Macao SAR

Current International Dollars: 67,475

Just until a couple of years ago, many were betting that the Las Vegas of Asia was on its way to becoming the richest nation in the world. Instead, Covid struck, global traveling came to a halt and Macao briefly slipped out of the IMF’s top 10 ranking. Not only that, Macao is also the only country in the list whose per-capita purchasing power is lower than it was before the start of the pandemic.

Yet, while things are not what they used to be, with tourists from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan now allowed into the island hotel bookings are on the rise.

Formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, since the gaming industry was liberalized in 2001 this special administrative region of the People's Republic of China has seen its wealth growing at an astounding pace. With a population just over 600,000, and more than 40 casinos spread over a territory of about 30 square kilometres.

 

8. United States

Current International Dollars: 69,375

Did we say that the richest countries are also the smallest? That is not the case, of course, of the United States, which during a very difficult 2020 still managed to climb to the top 10 of the list after teetering on its edges for the best part of the last two decades.

But did Americans truly get richer during the pandemic? It depends on whom you ask. Certainly, not those who lost their jobs and businesses, who found themselves with astronomical medical bills and other expenses to pay, lined up at food banks. However, those in top in quintile of the population and earning over $60,000 a year managed in many cases to keep working from home, saw their stock investments grow in value, and received stimulus checks on top of that.

Yet another story is how the super-rich fared during the health crisis. Between March 2020 and April 2021, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, the collective wealth of American’s 719 billionaires leapt by $1.62 trillion, or 55%, from $2.95 trillion to $4.56 trillion. They now hold over four times more wealth than the roughly 165 million Americans in society’s bottom half. In 1990, the think tank says, the situation was reversed—billionaires were worth $240 billion and the bottom 50% had $380 billion in combined wealth.

 

7. Norway

Current International Dollars: 69,859

Since the discovery of large offshore reserves in the late 1960s, Norway’s economic engine has been fueled by oil. As western Europe’s top petroleum producer, the country has benefitted for decades from rising prices.

Until it didn’t: prices crashed at the beginning of 2020, then the global pandemic ensued and the krone was sent in freefall. In the second quarter of that year, the Norwegian fell by 6.3 %, the biggest decline in half a century and possibly since World War Two.

Does it mean that Norwegians have become significantly less wealthy than they were before the pandemic? Certainly not. After the initial shock, the economy gradually pared the losses and closed the year at -0.7%. Then, in 2021, it regained much of the ground lost during the previous months, growing overall by about 3%.

Furthermore, when it comes to any economic problem fate might throw at them, Norwegians can always count on their $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest. 

 

6. United Arab Emirates 

Current International Dollars: 74,245

Agriculture, fishing and trading pearls: these used to be the economic mainstays of this Persian Gulf nation. Then oil was discovered in the 1950s and everything changed. Today, its highly cosmopolitan population enjoy considerable wealth, traditional Islamic architecture mixes with glitzy shopping centers, and workers come from all over the world lured by tax-free salaries and year-round sunshine (to the extent that only about 20% of the people living in the country are actually locally-born).

 

5. Switzerland

Current International Dollars: 78,112

White chocolate, the bobsleigh and—of course—the Swiss Army knife. But also the computer mouse, the immersion blender, velcro and LSD. The list just goes and on: these are only some of the inventions that Switzerland has contributed to the world. Today, however, this country of about 8.6 million owes much its wealth to banking and insurance services and to tourism, as well as to exports such as pharmaceuticals products, gems and precious metals, precision instruments and machineries (from watches, to medical apparatuses and computers).

Is it really a surprise that Switzerland has the highest density of millionaires in the world? According to the latest Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse, 14.9% of the adult population owns assets worth more than one million U.S. dollars. 

 

4. Qatar

Current International Dollars: 100,037

It’s not only the oversupply and demand crisis of last year and the exacerbating effect of COVID-19: despite the recent recovery, oil prices have suffered from a steady and sometimes dramatic decline since the mid-2010s. The per-capita GDP of a Qatari citizen was over $143,222 in 2014, it was “just” $97,846 a year later, and to this day it remains barely above that level.

Still, the country’s oil, gas and petrochemical reserves are so large, and its population so small—just 2.8 million—that this marvel of ultramodern architecture, luxury shopping malls and fine cuisine has managed to top the list of the world's richest nations for 20 years.

 

3. Singapore

Current International Dollars: 107,677

With an estimated net-worth of $23 billion, restaurateur Zhang Yong is the richest person living in Singapore; the 93-year-old Goh Cheng Liang, the founder of one the world’s largest paint manufacture, is a close second with his $21.7 billion fortune. 

In third place with assets of about $15 billion (to some people's surprise) is Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook, who in 2011 left the U.S. with 53 million shares of the company and became a permanent resident of the island nation. Saverin did not choose it just for its urban attractions or natural gateways: Singapore is an affluent fiscal haven where capital gains and dividends are tax-free.

 

2. Ireland

Current International Dollars: 111,360

Until recently, Ireland seemed unstoppable. While the rest of Europe was facing all sort of uncertainties (Brexit, trade tensions with the U.S., refugee and migrant crises to name a few), the Irish economy was humming along. In 2019, when the Eurozone grew only 1.5%, Ireland's economy expanded by over 4.9%, the fastest-growing country on the continent. It would only be normal to think the Covid changed that, right? But Ireland defied all expectations once again: its GDP, according to the IMF, grew by 5.8% in 2020, and by more than twice that—meaning an astounding 13%—in 2021.

A nation of just 5 million inhabitants, Ireland was one of the hardest hit by the 2008 financial crisis. Following some politically difficult reform measures like deep cuts to public-sector wages and restructuring its banking industry, the island nation regained its fiscal health, boosted its employment rates and saw its per capita GDP almost double in a short amount of time.

 

1. Luxembourg

Current International Dollars: 126,569

You can visit Luxembourg for its castles and beautiful countryside, its cultural festivals or gastronomic specialties. Or you could just set up an offshore account through one of its banks and never set foot again, as many do. It would a pity though: situated at the very heart of Europe, this nation of about 630,000 has plenty to offer, both to its tourists and its citizens. Luxembourg uses a large share of its wealth to deliver better housing, healthcare and education to its people, who by far enjoy the highest standard of living in the Eurozone.

Yet, while both the global financial crisis and the pressure from the EU and OECD to reduce banking secrecy have had little impact on the economy, the coronavirus outbreak forced many businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs.