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Top five richest countries in the world

February 12, 2014

Here is the list of the top richest countries in the world and how it has benefited their citizens.


By: Caitlyn Ng

“There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men”. So goes a saying by Billy Graham, stating what many people are already aware of: that money, when in the wrong hands, is able to create much mischief. However, we aren’t here to have a heated discussion over the benefits and downfalls of money; we’re here to show you the richest countries in the world and how it has benefited their citizens! But then I hear you ask, how do you determine which country is deserving of the top spot?

There is a method that is the most commonly accepted one of determining each country’s wealth and comparing the generalized differences that exist between living standards on a whole between countries. That method is the GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis in current international dollars ($). Current international dollars ($) is also known as the Geary-Khamis dollar and is “a hypothetical unit of currency that has the same purchasing power parity that the US dollar had in the United States at a given point in time”.

SaveMoney.my now takes a look at the list, with one or two little surprises popping up on it!

5) Brunei Darussalam (~ $54,000 / ~ RM180,171)

Please welcome the surprise entry number one! Our neighbour over in the east that has the official name of “Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace” makes this list with the benefit of having extensive petroleum and natural gas fields. Having gained independence in 1984, those two natural resources have led to them having a small but well-to-do economy and one of the highest per capita GDPs in Asia, approximately $54,000. With a total population number of approximately more than 400,000, the citizens have added-on to the wealth from natural resources with foreign and domestic entrepreneurship as well as overseas investment, among others.

The people enjoy one of the finest health care systems in Asia and even though the medical and health care is not provided free of charge, there is only a payment of B$1.00 (approximately RM3) at all government-run hospitals, health centres and health clinics throughout the country. The best part is, children below the age of twelve will receive free medical care. In addition, the citizens are given free formal education who attend government schools and institutions as well as free hostel accommodation at certain schools and institutions.

4) Norway (~ $55,000 / ~ RM183,508)

Officially known as the Kingdom of Norway, this country discovered valuable oil and gas in the late 1960s in adjacent waters that helped to boost its economic fortunes to take the fourth spot on the list with a GDP of approximately $55,000. With a prosperous mixed economy that adds-on to the natural resources via a combination of “free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors”, Norway is expected to continue as one of the richest countries in the foreseeable future. Not only does this country have a strong economy, it is also blessed with wondrous natural beauty such as fjords, mountains, northern lights and the midnight sun.

The government maintains a welfare model with free public health care (above a certain level), free schooling for the government-run schools, subsidised higher education, and a comprehensive social security system. In addition to all those, the parents have 46 weeks paid parental leave as birth and child benefits.

3) Singapore (~ $61,000 / ~ RM203,527)

And here we have the second surprise entry on the list! Our neighbour to the south that is about 475 times smaller than us makes the top three with a GDP of approximately $61,000! With a market-based economy (defined as “decisions regarding investment, production and distribution based on supply and demand, and prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system), Singapore has a strong economy that is both globalized and diversified that depends heavily on trade, especially in manufacturing.

For government-run schools, at the primary level, schooling is free whereas for the secondary and pre-university education is subsidised by the State, charging only SGD60 (about RM157) and SGD72 (about RM188) respectively. The nation boasts one of the most efficient universal healthcare system that is non-modified where the government ensures affordability of healthcare within the public health system. With one of the highest life expectancy of 80 years for males and 85 years for females, according to WHO (World Health Organisation), it’s no wonder since almost the entire population has access to improved water and sanitation facilities.

2) Luxembourg (~ $77,000 / ~ RM256,911)

Having personally visited this country some years back, I can attest to the many beautiful attractions that Luxembourg is blessed with; from nature reserves to lakes and rivers, from old architecture to modern wonders, you’d be hard-pressed to find something to visit if you’re bitten by the wanderlust bug. With a GDP of approximately $77,000, this country has a market-based economy like Singapore’s with various sectors such as banking, steel, financial, chemicals, and other products supporting the economy and the country of more than 500,00 people.

According to the official website, the citizens enjoy a variety of advantages such as unemployment benefits (up to 80% of the insured’s average earnings), old age and widowers’ pensions (all economically active people are entitled to a retirement pension) as well as sickness, maternity and parental leave benefits. In addition, the healthcare system is one of the best in Europe, offering free basic medical coverage to all the citizens.

1) Qatar (~ $102,000 / ~ RM340,323)

Qatar is officially known as the “State of Qatar” and is blessed with the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves, placing it firmly on the top spot of this list with a GDP of approximately $102,000. With an absolute monarchy that has the Al-Thani family as the rulers since the mid-1800s, the country is dependant mostly on its petroleum exports, which accounts for more than 70% of total government revenue. Since the reserves of natural resources is predicted to run out by 2023, the government is thus looking to expand industrial development as it is an integral part of its plan to diversify the economy.

Being a Qatari citizen comes with a whole host of amazing benefits which others can only dream of! They enjoy free education from school to university and free books as well as not having to pay for electricity, water or health care. They are also given easy access to residential plots of land and low-cost housing loans. Finally, they are also eligible for public assistance if they do not have a job and if they do, they have post-retirement benefits such as, generous pensions.

The list of top 5 richest countries

Country GDP Per Capita On a Purchasing Power Parity Basis
Qatar ~ $102,000 / ~ RM340,323
Luxembourg ~ $77,000 / ~ RM256,911
Singapore ~ $61,000 / ~ RM203,527
Norway ~ $55,000 / ~ RM183,508
Brunei Darussalam ~ $54,000 / ~ RM180,171

Caitlyn Ng is an Investigative Journalist of SaveMoney.my, an online consumer advice portal which aims to help Malaysians save money through smart (and most of the time painless) savings in their daily banking, technology, and lifestyle spending habits.


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