What Is The Richest Country In The World?

The number of billionaires in the world is dwindling, which — considering the state of the global economy — is not surprising. But have you ever thought if it meant countries are poorer, too? Which country is the richest anyway? Well, it's one thing if you simply look at GDP, or gross domestic product, but there's also a slightly more complicated way to figure out which country really swims in vats full of gold a la Scrooge McDuck. 

If you go by GDP alone, the richest country in the world is no surprise. The United States tops the list, as the country with the largest economy in terms of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. GDP measures the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a country's borders. In 2018, the United States GDP stood at $20.54 trillion. Investopedia reports the United States made $21.44 trillion in 2019. China follows with $14.14 trillion.

On the other hand, GDP alone does not paint the most complete picture of a country's wealth, writes Quartz, because it doesn't show how much the actual people living there make. Instead, some people measure a country's wealth based on something called the gross national income, or GNI. It takes in the total amount of money earned by a nation's people and businesses, as defined by Investopedia. If you use this measure, then the rankings look completely different.

The US isn't always atop of the richest country list

Based on GNI, the richest country in the world is Qatar, per 24/7 Wall St. The small nation in the Middle East boasts natural resources of oil and natural gas, so most of its economy revolves around the oil industry. It's GNI per capita — meaning its national income per person — in 2019 stood at $113,133. Sure it's GDP is only at $192 billion, but its businesses and people make more money. Qatar has been making international waves for a while now. Doha, the capital city, will host the 2020 World Cup, though that bid turned out to be fraught with scandals for FIFA.

As for the United States: Using GNI, the U.S. ranks 12th among the 25 richest nations in the world.

Figuring out a nation's wealth is complicated, and economic factors influence where they rank. For example, oil-rich countries faced a difficult year when prices of oil fell sharply. Now, if you want to feel really bad about your financial situation, just know that Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates make more money than entire countries.