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What Makes These 20 Countries the Richest in the World?

ZoltanGabor / iStock.com
ZoltanGabor / iStock.com

The top economies in the world can be ranked by many different metrics. On an absolute dollar basis, the United States and China have been battling for some time for the top spot in the global economy, as China inches ever closer. However, since China has such a large population, its gross domestic product per capita dwindles in comparison to the United States and other countries.

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To find what makes these top countries the richest in the world, GOBankingRates gathered a list of the most wealthy countries over a number of factors, including gross domestic product (GDP), GDP per capita and export information.

GOBankingRates ranked the 20 top economies in the world on the basis of GDP. You might be surprised at some of the results.

montipora / iStock.com
montipora / iStock.com

Switzerland

  • Total GDP: $807 billion

  • GDP per capita: $92,101

  • Main export: Gold

When you think of Switzerland, you might think of banks and watches. This is more than a stereotype, as both of these industries help propel the Swiss economy into the top twenty globally. Switzerland also produces grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy products — not to mention chocolate.

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Explora_2005 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Explora_2005 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Türkiye

  • Total GDP: $905 billion

  • GDP per capita: $10,616

  • Main export: Cars

Home to the 19th largest economy in the world, Türkiye has a national GDP of roughly $906 billion. The country provides fiscal support, including raising civil servants’ salaries and pensions, as well as providing energy subsidies, tax allowances for personal income and doing away with a retirement age requirement to allow professionals to work as long as they would like.

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tunart / iStock.com
tunart / iStock.com

Netherlands

  • Total GDP: $991 billion

  • GDP per capita: $55,985

  • Main export: Refined petroleum

The Netherlands relies on agro-industries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics and fishing to power its economy. Vegetables, ornamentals, dairy, poultry and livestock products are the main agricultural contributors to the country’s economy.

orhandurgut / Getty Images/iStockphoto
orhandurgut / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Saudi Arabia

  • Total GDP: $1.11 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $30,436

  • Main export: Crude petroleum

Saudi Arabia has a reputation for being a country of immense wealth. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that it ranks as the 17th wealthiest nation in spite of its relatively small size. The country built on historic empires and kingdoms relies on petroleum and petrochemicals, in addition to fishing, cement, commercial ship repair and textiles to run its economy. Dates are an important agricultural product.

Boogich / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Boogich / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Indonesia

  • Total GDP: $1.32 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $4,788

  • Main export: Coal briquettes

Indonesia boasts the 10th largest economy in terms of purchasing power. That’s because they have the fourth most populous nation in the world, which has only been seeing an improved quality of life and economic strength since the turn of the century. This includes rising to the ranks of the G20 Presidency, as well as knocking the poverty rate to under 10% in 2019. Having added to the quality of life of the population, Indonesia now is set to be a powerhouse in the global market.

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Xantana / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Xantana / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Spain

  • Total GDP: $1.40 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $29,350

  • Main export: Cars

Spain has a social market economy that is the sixth biggest in Europe. Besides tourism, Spain has a robust manufacturing network of automotive, medical and textile production. Chemical manufacturing and ship building round out the country’s ability to generate a healthy market pulse.

Mexico

  • Total GDP: $1.41 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $11,091

  • Main export: Cars

Mexico has 130 million people living within its borders and a lot of natural resources, which gives the country the title of the 14th largest economy in the world, not to mention Latin America’s second-largest economy, which grew by 3.1% in 2022. With its foundational macroeconomic institutions in place, Mexico has made it well known that it is open to using its robust manufacturing base to accelerate global trade.

GoranQ / Getty Images
GoranQ / Getty Images

Republic of Korea

  • Total GDP: $1.67 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $32,255

  • Main export: Integrated circuits

According to the World Bank, the gross national income (GNI) per capita in the Republic of Korea sharply went up from $67 USD at the start of the 1950s to $32,661 USD in 2022. With combined efforts of reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth, the Republic of Korea has seen an average growth of 4.9% for the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) since 1988. This sharp rise can be attributed in large part to the average 8.9% reflected in export growth.

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JonghyunKim / Getty Images
JonghyunKim / Getty Images

Australia

  • Total GDP: $1.68 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $64,491

  • Main export: Iron ore

As of 2023, Australia holds the rankings of the 20th-largest goods exporter and 24th-largest goods importer, yet what really makes the economy run is the service industry. While mining made up 8.4% of the nation’s GDP a decade ago, the industry has slowed down — but the economy has remained stable. It was so strong that Australia did not report an economic recession between 1991 and 2020.

Nuture / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Nuture / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Brazil

  • Total GDP: $1.92 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $8,918

  • Main export: Iron ore

Mining, agriculture and manufacturing are all giant industries within Brazil. From steel to coffee, the largest country in South America boosts up its GDP on these tentpoles, but has lately also added the service industry to the equation. Cities such as São Paulo are considered one of the major homes where global industry can do business.

RomanBabakin / Getty Images/iStockphoto
RomanBabakin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Italy

  • Total GDP: $2.01 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $34,158

  • Main export: Packaged medicaments

After World War II, Italy was seen as having one of the weakest European economies. In the years since the war, the country has built itself back up and then some with metallurgical and engineering industries dominating the field, bolstered by chemical and textile manufacturing. To top it all off, the tourism sector in Italy is one of the strongest and most enduring in the world.

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espiegle / Getty Images/iStockphoto
espiegle / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Canada

  • Total GDP: $2.14 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $54,966

  • Main export: Crude petroleum

The Maple Leaf country has secured its position as a global economic competitor with real estate, rental and leasing driving the backbone of the nation’s GDP. Together with manufacturing, mining and quarrying, Canada is one of the leaders in gas and oil extraction. The U.S., China and the U.K. are the country’s biggest trading partners, making Canada’s economy the 9th largest world-wide.

yulenochekk / Getty Images/iStockphoto
yulenochekk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Russian Federation

  • Total GDP: $2.24 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $15,345

  • Main export: Crude petroleum

When it comes to natural resources, Russia has the largest share compared to any other country. Oil and natural gas take the top slots for extraction and exporting, making Russia the global leader for fuel exportation. While the war in Ukraine and other political-social strife has rocked the nation throughout its history, many billionaires still call Russia home.

Alan_Tow / Getty Images
Alan_Tow / Getty Images

France

  • Total GDP: $2.78 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $40,964

  • Main export: Planes, helicopters and spacecraft

Rainfall is not something France generally has to worry about. In fact, the country’s water supply is good enough that it can support industries like forestry and fishing. Add the nearly 74 million acres of usable agricultural area, and it’s easy to understand why France dominates these sectors. Plus, don’t forget the nearly 90 million paying international visitors the country receives annually.

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OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images
OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

United Kingdom

  • Total GDP: $3.07 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $45,850

  • Main export: Cars

In the U.K., the service industry is king. Entertainment, retail and even some parts of finance contribute close to 80% of the economic activity in the country. Another nearly 16% is mostly rounded out by manufacturing and construction. Like other European destinations, the U.K. generates a lot of money from tourism, with the total for 2022 amounting to £26.5 billion, which is $34.3 billion in USD.

GEMINI PRO STUDIO / Getty Images/iStockphoto
GEMINI PRO STUDIO / Getty Images/iStockphoto

India

  • Total GDP: $3.39 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $2,389

  • Main export: Refined petroleum

In 2019, India’s economy went up at a rate of 5% due to high global demand for the goods and services from the country. The strong industrial activity within India boosted the ranking of the country’s economy to the 5th largest in the world. Since 2000, India is known to have one the fastest growing economies in the world.

benedek / Getty Images
benedek / Getty Images

Germany

  • Total GDP: $4.07 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $48,432

  • Main export: Cars

The German economy is known for producing some of the best automobiles in the world, but Germany also is among the world’s largest and most technologically advanced producers of iron, steel, coal, cement, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages, ships and textiles.

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JaCZhou / Getty Images
JaCZhou / Getty Images

Japan

  • Total GDP: $4.23 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $33,815

  • Main export: Cars

The “East Asian model” for an economy was developed by Japan. This is where certain sectors of industry receive investments from the government in an attempt to stimulate economic growth for specific private sector industries. This model seems to be working, since Japan is now the number one country for manufacturing highly sophisticated technology and in industrial products. The Japan Stock Exchange Group’s Tokyo Stock Exchange and Tokyo Commodity Exchange are all centered in the financial home of Tokyo.

ispyfriend / iStock.com
ispyfriend / iStock.com

China

  • Total GDP: $18.0 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $12,720

  • Main export: Broadcasting equipment

China’s economy is starting to bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic, with leaders looking to manufacture products that will be sold not just around the world, but within the country itself — “made in China for China.” This breaks the pattern that has built China’s economy up today on the back of private investments and exports. An NPR report predicts the population will grow by 300 million in the next 10 years. That means a whole new market of consumers will exist locally to purchase what China produces, not to mention an increase to the 778 million workers in the country’s labor force, which is the biggest in the world.

OlegAlbinsky / iStock.com
OlegAlbinsky / iStock.com

United States

  • Total GDP: $25.5 trillion

  • GDP per capita: $76,399

  • Main export: Refined petroleum

The United States has a highly diversified economy with the second-largest industrial output in the world. The main industries in the U.S. encompass everything from petroleum, motor vehicles and steel to aerospace and telecommunications. Numerous agricultural products, including wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables, dairy and forest products, also serve to boost the country’s GDP.

John Csiszar and Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: To find what makes these top countries the richest in the world, GOBankingRates gathered a list of the most wealthy countries over a number of factors: [1] GDP in current US dollars, [2] GDP per capita in current US dollars, sourced from the WorldBank GDP Indicators, [3] total export income, [4] top export product, [5] top export product destination and [6] top export product income sourced from the Observatory of Economic Complexity Export Data. The data was sorted to show the highest GDP for this article. All data was collected and is up-to-date as-of Aug. 17th, 2023.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: What Makes These 20 Countries the Richest in the World?

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