10 richest countries in the world by GDP per capita

The top ten richest countries according to the IMF and the World Bank included Brunei, Macau, the United States and Norway. The leader of the list in 2021 was a small European country.

Let's talk about the main sources of income of rich countries and what opportunities they offer to foreigners.

Rating of the richest countries in the world

Every year, the IMF and the World Bank calculate the gross domestic product, or GDP, of all countries in the world. Based on this indicator, a rating of the richest countries are formed. The gross product per capita reflects the well-being of the country's citizens.

In 2021, the top ten richest countries included places that foreigners know little about, such as Macau.


Brunei: $64,410 of GDP per capita

The richest country in Southeast Asia is Brunei Darussalam. The sources of the country's prosperity are oil and gas. The IMF estimates that hydrocarbon exports provide more than 70% of income. For comparison: the share of agriculture is less than 1% of GDP.

Brunei is ruled by the Sultan, who also serves as prime minister, minister of defense, finance, and even a religious leader. More than 200 thousand people live in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan which is half of the country's inhabitants.

Brunei citizens do not pay income tax, receive interest-free bank loans, and use free medical services. Education for citizens of the sultanate is also free, and not only in Brunei: if a citizen of the country enters a foreign university, the cost of education is covered by the state.

One of the priorities of Brunei is the development of tourism. In 2003, the Sultan provided $2.7 billion and a 180-hectare patch of rainforest for the construction of The Empire Brunei Hotel. Despite investments, the share of tourism income in the country's GDP is less than 0.5%. Strict laws, including a ban on alcohol deters foreigners.

The only way to move to Brunei is to get a job offer and get a work visa. 

Expats who work for Brunei companies and foreigners who have married local women can apply for Brunei citizenship. 

Foreigners receive a Brunei passport on the condition that they have invested in the economy of the Sultanate or deposited $300,000 in a local bank. 

To obtain citizenship, applicants must pass an exam in knowledge of the language and culture.

Brunei is the tenth richest country in the world
The Palace of the Sultan of Brunei with an arearnof 200,000 m² is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world

Macau: $67,470 of GDP per capita

The ninth place in the ranking of the richest countries occupies the autonomous territory of China — Macau.

Macau is called the second Las Vegas as 33 casinos exist and every fifth inhabitant of the region is employed in the gambling business.

Tourism and gambling have made the people of Macau wealthier than Brunei. The share of tourism in GDP is 72%. According to the Next Vacay ticket search service, 3.3 million tourists visited Macau every month in 2019. Even at the height of the pandemic in 2020, the tourist flow amounted to 491 thousand people a month.

Macau is the ninth richest country in the world
In 2007, The Venetian Hotel & Resort was opened in Macau with the largest casino in the world. Hotel costs $2.4 billion

US: $69,380 of GDP per capita

The US is the largest economy in the world, accounting for about 20% of global GDP. The structure of the US GDP per capita is dominated by services of more than 75% pharmaceuticals, oil and gas industry. Auto and aircraft manufacturing account for 20%.

According to the website 24/7 Wall St., the United States is the second largest country in the world with the largest reserves of natural resources. The compilers of the rating collected data on explored reserves and calculated their market price. The total value of US natural resources exceeds $45 trillion.

Top 5 richest countries in natural resources

StateValue of resources
Russia$75.7 trillion
USA$45 trillion
Saudi Arabia$34.4 trillion
Canada$33.2 trillion
Iran$27.3 trillion

The United States tops the list of countries with the largest number of billionaires. Forbes estimates that 724 of the world's 2,755 billionaires are American citizens. 

The minimum wage in the US is $7.25 an hour. Doctors, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, surgeons and psychiatrists earnhe most in the country: according to various sources, from $217,000 to $350,000 a year.

To move to the US, you can get an EB-5 visa for foreign investors. The minimum investment amount is $900,000 .

First, the investor receives a green card that allows them to live and work in the country. To maintain status, you must live in the United States for at least 183 days a year. After five years, you can apply for citizenship by naturalization. 

US is the eighth richest country in the world
An investor can get a green card and move to the US with a spouse and children under 21

Norway: $69,170 of GDP per capita 

About 30% of Norway's GDP comes from the oil and gas industry. Norway exports iron, magnesium, titanium and aluminum. The country has a developed fishing and woodworking industry.

According to US News & World Report, Norway is the world leader in terms of living standards and one of the countries with the highest life expectancy: 80 years for men and 84 years for women.

The highest salaries are received by specialists employed in the field of mining. According to the Norwegian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average salary in the country is NOK 48,750 per month, equivalent to €4,880. At the same time, men earn an average of NOK 51,630 per month (about €5,000), and women — NOK 45,190 (€4,438). 

In 2021, Norway was ranked second in the list of countries with the lowest level of corruption

One of the priorities of the Norwegian government is gender equality. According to Norwegian law, the share of women in the boards and boards of directors of public and private companies is at least 40%.

Norway is in the top 10 countries where it is fastest to obtain citizenship by naturalization. To apply for citizenship, foreigners first obtain a residence permit and then live in the country for seven years. An exception applies to citizens of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, who can be issued a Norwegian passport after two years. 

In 2020, Norway allowed its citizens to have dual citizenship, so foreigners do not have to give up their first passport. 

Norway is the seventh richest country in the world
To save the environment, the Norwegian government committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030

UAE: $74,240 of GDP per capita

The United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries in the world. The World Bank estimates that the country’s GDP is $421.1 billion.

In the 63 years since the discovery of oil fields, the UAE has turned from a poor region into a country with a high standard of living. Oil and gas exports provide up to 30% of the country's GDP. The main hydrocarbon reserves are concentrated in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while oil accounts for less than 1% of Dubai's GDP.

In 2020, the UAE attracted $19 billion in direct investment. According to the Financial Times, Dubai ranks third in the world in terms of the number of investment projects with foreign capital.

One of the secrets of the prosperity of the UAE is free economic zones, where it is allowed to register companies that are wholly owned by foreigners. In other cases, foreigners can open a company in the Emirates only together with a citizen of the UAE and issue 51% of the shares to him. The main limitation for companies from FEZs is that they can only do business in the territory of the free zone or abroad. 

The Emirates are actively developing agriculture, the financial sector, and tourism. According to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, the UAE is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russian tourists along with Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt. Tourism revenues account for 11% of the country's GDP.

From 2021, the UAE grants citizenship for contribution to the economy. The passport can be obtained by outstanding artists, doctors, inventors, scientists, investors and members of their families. 

Dubai, the UAE is the sixth richest country in the world
In 50 years, the GDP of the UAE has grown more than 190 times: from 6.5 billion dirhams to 1.41 trillion dirhams

Switzerland: $78,110 of GDP per capita

More than 70% of Switzerland's GDP comes from the service sector. The share of industry is 25%, of agriculture is less than 1%. 

The financial sector employs less than 6% of the working population. About 75% of the Swiss work in tourism, restaurant and hotel business. 

The main advantages of living in Switzerland are high salaries, political stability, safety and good ecology.

Average salary in Switzerland is ₣6,538 per month, which is equivalent to €6,000. A kindergarten teacher earns ₣4,900 a month and a store clerk earns ₣4,400.

Switzerland is a country of immigrants: the share of foreigners living here is 25% of the 8.5 million people. According to HSBC bank estimates, the average income of foreigners who work in Swiss companies is $203,000 per year.

To obtain a residence permit in Switzerland, foreigners enter into an agreement on the payment of a flat tax with the authorities of the canton in which they plan to live. Each canton determines the amount of the payment independently. The minimum is ₣450,000, or $477,000.

Switzerland is the fifth richest country in the world
The average salary in Switzerland is ₽500,000 per month

Qatar: $100,040 of GDP per capita 

The basis of Qatar's welfare is the export of liquefied natural gas and oil, the state has no other natural resources. Most of the territory is occupied by the desert, where there is practically no precipitation and no fresh water. Hydrocarbon revenues account for half of the country's GDP. 

In the IMD Economic Competitiveness Index, Qatar ranks fifth. The Sheik of Qatar is actively developing non-primary sectors of the economy.

One of the areas of public investment is logistics. Qatari deep water ports provide a quarter of the cargo flow to the Middle East. Doha Airport has become an international air hub, used by 50 million people a year. In 1997, Qatar Airways had only four aircraft, and since 2011 it has topped the Skytrax ranking of the best airlines in the world.

The government relies on high-tech industries: telecom and IT. Qatari telecom operator Ooredoo was one of the first in the world to launch a 5G network.

Qatar's development strategy provides for financial assistance not only to large holdings like Qatar Airways, but also to small and medium-sized businesses. Small businesses can attract loans at a rate of 2.55 to 7% per annum. The main condition for obtaining financing is that 51% of the company's shares must be owned by a Qatari citizen. 

Foreigners make up 1.5 of the 2.7 million people in the population. Basically, temporary workers come to Qatar from India and Pakistan.

There are two ways to obtain Qatari citizenship: marry a Qatari or invest at least $3 million in the local economy.

To marry a foreign woman, a Qatari citizen must obtain permission from the authorities. If a Qatari woman marries a foreigner, her husband and children will not be able to claim citizenship of the country.

Foreigners who have obtained a Qatari passport through naturalization can not qualify for government benefits and subsidies.

Qatar is the fourth richest country in the world
Qatar is the safest country in the world according to Numbeo Crime Index

Singapore: $107,680 of GDP per capita

Singapore is one of the four “Asian tigers” along with Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. It closes the top three wealthiest countries in the world. 

A significant source of Singapore's income is the export of electronics, pharmaceutical products, but almost 70% of Singapore's GDP is provided by the service sector. Financial services account for 30% of revenue. The Singapore exchange SGX is one of the top 10 Asian stock exchanges. 

According to the Singapore Department of Statistics, the average salary is SGD 6,159, which is about $4,600 per month. The most demanded professions are doctors, IT-specialists, teachers, engineers and architects.

The secret of Singapore's success is beneficial conditions for business and investors. The city leads in two rankings: in terms of economic freedom, competitiveness and income level of the population. 

The easiest way to get permanent residence in Singapore is to invest in a startup from SGD 2.5 million, which is equivalent to USD 1.8 million. Foreigners can also invest in existing businesses. The main condition is that the average annual turnover of the company over the past three years can not be less than SGD 50 million (USD 36.5 million).

Singapore closes the top three in terms of world GDP ranking per capita
Singapore is in the top 20 smallest countries: its arearnis 728 km²

Ireland: $111,360 of GDP per capita

Ireland ranks second in the top ten richest nations in the world according to the IMF. Agriculture, food, textile industries, IT and mechanical engineering helped the Irish economy to overtake Singapore, Qatar and even the USA. The country has developed the production of medicines and medical equipment.

The United Kingdom is Ireland's main trading partner, with the US accounting for 17% of trade and Germany for 11%.

According to Credit Suisse, Ireland is among the top ten countries with the highest wealth per adult, between $286,000 and $337,000.There are 16 billionaires registered in the country.

International Living has included Ireland in the top 15 countries most comfortable for retirees to live in. The average pension in the country is €1,600 per month. When compiling the rating, Natixis took into account not only pension payments, but also the general financial and economic situation, the standard of living and medical care, and benefits.

There are several ways to obtain an Irish passport:

  • by marriage: spouses must live together for at least three years;
  • by naturalization: one must legally live in Ireland for five of the nine years preceding the request. 
Ireland is not rich in natural resources, raw materials for industrial production are imported
Agriculture accounts for up to 80% of Ireland's GDP

Luxembourg: $126,570 of GDP per capita

Luxembourg is the world's richest country and the world's largest banking center. More than 200 banks and 1,000 investment funds operate in the capital.

The high performance of Luxembourg is partly due to the fact that citizens of neighboring countries work in the duchy: France, Germany and Belgium. Foreign workers contribute to GDP growth but are not included in the per capita calculation.

According to the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Research of Luxembourg, the minimum wage in the country is €2,257 per month. Adult unskilled workers can count on such an amount. The average monthly salary is €5,000. The highest paid specialists work in insurance companies, banks, IT and power industries.

Luxembourg is in the top ten of the International Tax Competitiveness Index (ITCI). According to the newspaper Le Monde and Süddeutsche Zeitung, 90% of companies registered in the country are owned by foreigners. 

Luxembourg attracts foreign businessmen with preferential taxation. Non-resident companies pay taxes only on those incomes that are received in the territory of the duchy. 

You can get a residence permit in Luxembourg by investment. Foreigners have one of four options available: 

  1. Invest €500,000 in a company registered in the country. The investment can be returned after 5 years.
  2. Invest €500,000 in a startup. In the first three years of operation, the company must hire at least 5 citizens of the country.
  3. Invest 3 million euros in Luxembourg investment funds.
  4. Open a deposit for five years in a local bank and put 20 million euros in it.

After five years, the investor has the right to apply for citizenship.

If an investor plans to live in Luxembourg, but does not intend to invest in the economy of the duchy, it is possible to obtain a residence permit in neighboring Belgium. 

Financially independent foreigners can obtain a residence permit if they prove that they receive legal income outside of Belgium. To maintain the status, it is enough to live in the country for 183 days a year.

Luxembourg ranks #1 in US News & World Report
Luxembourg has the best conditions for business according to estimates US News & World Report

Top 20 richest countries in the world according to the IMF

 StateGDP per capita, thousand dollars
San Marino65,45
Hong Kong65,4

Frequently asked questions

Which country leads in terms of total GDP?

According to the World Bank, the USA has the highest GDP. The top three also include China and Japan.

Top 10 countries by GDP

Place in the ranking State GDP
1 USA 20,94 trillion dollars
2 China 14,72 trillion dollars
3 Japan 5,064 trillion dollars
4 Germany 3,806 trillion dollars
5 UK 2,708 trillion dollars
6 India 2,623 trillion dollars
7 France 2,63 trillion dollars
8 Italy 1,89 trillion dollars
9 Canada 1,64 trillion dollars
10 South Korea 1,63 trillion dollars
Which country has the highest GDP per capita?

The richest country in the world is Luxembourg. According to the IMF, the duchy’s GDP per capita is $126,570. The total gross domestic product, according to the World Bank, exceeded $73 billion.

What country is the richest in the EU on the list?

The ranking of the richest European countries is led by Luxembourg. The duchy has the highest per capita GDP at $126,570. The second place is occupied by Ireland with $111,360. The top 10 also includes Switzerland and Norway.

Which countries are considered the poorest?

The IMF annually assesses the welfare of 189 countries of the world. The report does not include Afghanistan, Cuba, Lebanon, Syria, Monaco and several other countries for which data could not be collected.

The lowest GDP per capita in the Republic of Palau, Myanmar and Samoa.

10 richest countries in the world by GDP per capita

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