To tell exactly what countries are the richest in the world, relevant performance indicators are needed. It would be counterproductive to use just the gross domestic product (GDP) since the total value of all goods and services produced in a country per year does not demonstrate the per-capita income. For example, in a country with high GDP and a population over one billion, its per-capita GDP will be lower compared to a less populated country.
Every year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) compiles its rating of the richest countries. It ranks the countries by GDP per capita at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), the rate at which a national currency is converted into US dollars to buy the same amounts of goods and services.
The IMF rating is averaged and does not reflect some important factors such as the unusually fast development of offshore jurisdictions. However, it can still provide a general overview of the countries’ wealth.
The Kingdom of Sweden with its strong and socially oriented economy has all the rights to rank first among the 20 richest countries in the world.
$636 billion – Sweden‘s GDP in 2021.
10.42 million people – Sweden’s population in 2021.
$2,908 per month – average salary in Sweden.
The services sector is the main contributor to the country’s budget. High living standards are ensured by high taxation. In 2022, income tax was 52.3%.
The Federal Republic of Germany remains one of the top EU countries with a strong economy, high-tech industries, and reliable financial institutions.
$4,260 billion – Germany’s GDP in 2021.
84.27 million people – Germany’s population in 2022.
$3,772 per month – average gross salary in Germany at the beginning of 2023. Net salary is usually 59-70% of the gross rate.
Like in any post-industrial country, two-thirds of Germany’s revenue comes from the services sector and 23-28% from manufacturing.
The Principality of Andorra is a landlocked microstate in the centre of Europe. Though its area is only 468 square kilometres, it ranks among the 20 richest countries in the world. The Principality is famous for its ski resorts and duty-free zone.
$3.3 billion – Andorra’s GDP in 2021.
78,233 people – Andorra’s population in 2023.
$2,560 per month – average salary in Andorra. It is not that high compared to other European countries. However, Andorra’s income tax on is one of the lowest in the EU. It goes to a 10% maximum.
The Republic of Austria is an EU country with a strong post-industrial economy. One-third of Austria’s revenue comes from manufacturing and chemical production, 1.7-2 % – from agriculture, and the rest – from the services sector.
$480 billion – Austria’s GDP in 2021.
9,086,202 people – population in Austria in 2022. In recent years, there has been demographic growth, mainly due to the inflow of refugees and foreign workers.
$3,750 per month – average salary in Austria. Net salary starts at $2,580 per month.
Iceland is a Nordic island country with one of the lowest population densities. At the same time, the country is classified as post-industrial. Most of its working population (69-70%) is employed in the services sector, others – in manufacturing, agriculture, and fishing. Until the beginning of the 21st century, fishing constituted one-third of the national revenue.
$25.6 billion – Iceland’s GDP in 2021.
347,975 people – Iceland’s population in 2022.
$5,622 per month – average salary in Iceland in 2021. According to a different source, in 2023, the average net salary in Iceland is $3,179 per month.
The Kingdom of Denmark was among the top 10 richest countries for many years. However, as of 2023, it ranks fifteenth. One of the unique advantages of the Danish economy is that 40% of its revenue comes from the export of manufactured goods. The agriculture and food industry is the second largest sector of the Danish economy.
Denmark has low unemployment rates and even lower inflation. Among the disadvantages are an overly strong national currency and a high tax burden on businesses.
$398 billion – Denmark‘s GDP in 2021.
5.86 million people – Denmark’s population in 2023.
$6,495 per month – average net salary in Denmark. However, in 2022, income tax was also high and amounted to 56%.
The Netherlands are a post-industrial EU country with a well-developed services sector and strong industries. The country also offers a good transport infrastructure, human resources, and favourable working conditions for the foreign entrepreneurs who set up their businesses there.
$1,013 billion – Netherlands’ GDP in 2021.
17.8 million people – Netherlands’ population in 2023.
$6,158 per month – average gross salary in the Netherlands in 2023. The average net salary is $4,098 per month.
Though Taiwan is a partially recognised state, it has trading agreements with many countries, including mainland China. In the past, a lot of Western countries transferred their production facilities to Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. Thanks to this historic development, Taiwan is now the leader in microelectronics production. Apart from high-tech industries, it is known for its financial sector and wealthy investors. All these allow Taiwan to remain among the top 20 richest countries in the world.
$775 billion – Taiwan’s GDP in 2021.
23.96 million people – Taiwan’s population in 2023.
$3,534 per month – average gross salary in Taiwan in 2023. The average net salary is $2,990 per month.
The Republic of San Marino is one of the smallest and at the same time the oldest independent countries in Europe. It is enclaved by Italy. Though San Marino is not a part of the EU, it has a free border policy with the EU countries, uses the euro as its currency, and can even mint coins with EU symbols.
$613.9 billion – San Marino’s GDP in 2023.
35,063 people – San Marino’s population in 2023.
$8,029 per month – average gross salary in San Marino. The average net salary is $5,654 per month.
Since the end of the 20th century, Hong Kong has been a part of the People’s Republic of China. During the transition period, it is classified as a special administrative district with a certain level of independence.
Thanks to its status, Hong Kong remains one of the largest financial and industrial centres in the world and an attractive investment destination. All this helps the country go up the list of the world’s richest countries.
$368 billion – Hong Kong’s GDP (PPP). Unfortunately, in 2022, there was stagnation and a slight decrease in GDP by 4.2%.
7.68 million people – Hong Kong’s population in 2023.
$6,247 per month – average gross salary in Hong Kong. The average net salary is $5,339 per month.
The United States of America (USA) need no introduction. The American GDP is the second highest after China. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country has been the world’s leader in politics, economy, culture, and science.
However, due to its large population, its GDP per capita allows them to rank only tenth among the world’s richest countries.
$23,315 billion – USA’s GDP in 2021.
338.2 million people – USA’s population in 2023.
$4,547 per month – average gross salary, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
Brunei is a fabulously wealthy country in Southeast Asia that generates most of its revenue from oil and gas. The government of Brunei is keen to diversify its resource-based economy and creates favourable conditions for foreign entrepreneurs akin to traditional offshores.
$14.01 billion – Brunei‘s GDP in 2021.
456,450 people – Brunei’s population.
$3,550 per month – average gross salary in Brunei. The country does not have income and a few other taxes.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a unique country in the Middle East that has made a huge leap in its development in less than two decades. The UAE has played its cards wisely and avoided solely relying on the export of natural resources that are in abundance there. The country has also invested in the construction, entrepreneurial, tourism, and trade sectors. Thanks to such diversification, the UAE has a firm position among the richest countries in the world.
A lot of entrepreneurs go to the UAE to set up a company and optimise corporate taxation.
$415 billion – UAE’s GDP.
9.9 million people – UAE’s population in 2023. Foreign specialists and workers account for about 87-88% of the total population.
$7,000 per month – average salary in UAE. It does not, however, reflect a huge salary gap between high-skilled and low-skilled workers as well as a range of rates in different emirates.
Norway’s wealth comes from oil and gas. The country promotes trade and fishing, has a developed manufacturing sector, and exports a wide range of goods, from cutting-edge oilfield equipment to high-quality paper and cardboard. The inflation and unemployment rates are low.
$482 billion – Norway’s GDP.
5.4 million people – Norway’s population including 14% of immigrants.
$4,823 per month – average net salary in Norway in 2022.
Switzerland, with its policy of neutrality and safe banking system, ranks sixth among the world’s richest countries in 2023. The country is not only great for living but also for business activities. Foreign entrepreneurs register their companies in Switzerland to reduce the tax burden and ensure successful trade with the neighbouring European countries.
$801 billion – Switzerland‘s GDP in 2021.
8.9 million people – Switzerland’s population in 2023.
$7,249 per month – average gross salary in Switzerland.
Macau is a former Portuguese colony and a special administrative district in the People’s Republic of China. It has a seaport but is most famous for its gaming industry. Casinos, slot machines, nightclubs, and racetracks account for up to 70% of the total revenue. Legalised gaming is a key to Macau’s prosperity.
$29.91 billion – Macau’s GDP in 2021.
685,342 people – Macau’s population in 2023.
$1,930 per month – average gross salary in 2022.
Qatar is one of the world’s richest countries located in the Middle East. It is the third largest exporter of natural gas and a large exporter of oil and oil products. Apart from the export of natural resources, the country actively develops non-primary sectors of the economy, including the metal industry, chemical industry, and services sector.
$180 billion – Qatar’s GDP in 2021.
3.28 million people – Qatar’s population in 2023.
$3,600 per month – average gross salary in Qatar. There is no income tax.
Twenty years ago, Ireland was called the “Celtic Tiger”, just as Southeast Asian countries are called “Asian Tigers” now. Irish GPD grew even faster than in Singapore or Taiwan. Investments flooded knowledge-intensive industries, digital technologies, education, medicine, and pharmaceutical sectors. Ireland’s accession to the EU and adoption of the euro boosted the economic growth even more.
Despite a slightly halting effect of the 2008 financial crisis, Ireland still ranks third in the top 20 world’s richest countries in 2023, according to the IMF.
$504 billion – Ireland’s GDP in 2021.
4.96 million people – Ireland’s population in 2023.
$3,913 per month – average gross salary in Ireland. Income tax is progressive and ranges from 20% to 40%.
Singapore is a flourishing island country and a city-state that is located near Malaysia and Indonesia. It is one of the four “Asian tigers” and Hong Kong’s perennial competitor. The country has developed into a trading power and home for subsidiaries of many transnational companies. Thanks to mild taxation, a lot of foreign investors and entrepreneurs have set up their businesses there.
$397 billion – Singapore’s GDP in 2021.
6.2 million people – Singapore’s population in 2023.
$4,975 per month – average gross salary in Singapore. Income tax ranges from 0% to 20%.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the world’s richest country. It is a small EU state that occupies only 2,586 square kilometres of land despite its grand name.
Luxembourg is dominated by business service providers, including financial institutions, holdings, funds, and trusts.
Low corporation taxes and free access to the vast EU market attract entrepreneurs from all parts of the world. This explains how the tiny country was able to surpass all the mighty powers by GPD per capita.
$85.51 billion – Luxembourg‘s GPD in 2021.
645,397 people – Luxembourg’s population at the beginning of 2023.
$6,382 per month – average gross salary in Luxembourg in 2023. Income tax is progressive and goes up to 42%.
The IMF calculates the GDP per capita of all the countries in the world. This indicator helps build the rating of the richest countries.
The GDP per capita does not give the full picture since it does not reflect the gap between the rich and the poor as well as state identity. That’s why, our experts included some additional indicators for analysis:
These additional data will help you decide which country will suit your needs more if you plan to relocate or grow an international business.
If the rating of the richest countries was based on GDP at PPP only, it would look different.
Here are the top five countries by GDP at PPP:
If assessed from the human development point of view, the Human Development Index (HDI) can be applied.
Human Development Index (HDI) is a UN summary measure of a country’s achievements in several aspects of human development, including opportunities for development, quality of life, and standards of living.
According to the UN report published in 2022, Switzerland has the highest HDI. In the IMF rating, the country ranks sixth.
It may be appealing to set up a business, say, in Hong Kong since the country has always welcomed foreign entrepreneurs. All the business-related procedures, such as tax optimisation, entering the mainland market, and opening bank accounts, have been perfected.
Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s corporate law and taxation regime will only function till the end of the transition period. It is quite likely that from 2047, Hong Kong’s companies will have to follow completely different rules and pay taxes at different rates. If you want to set up a company long-term, you need to keep in mind that Hong Kong may only be a temporary solution.
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