According to the most recent data available from The World Bank (2019), Macao SAR has the wealthiest overall population based on per capita gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP). Notably, this special administrative region on the south coast of China has a population of fewer than one million people.

Macao SAR is an autonomous region of China under the "One Country, Two Systems" structure. Located near Hong Kong, the region is an international trade hub. Because of its tourism, gaming, and service industries, the region is known as the "Las Vegas of Asia." These industries make up more than 90% of its GDP. Macao SAR is also famous for being known as a tax haven.

Key Takeaways

  • According to the most recent data available from The World Bank (2019), Macao SAR has the wealthiest overall population based on per capita GDP, adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP).
  • Because of its tourism, gaming, and service industries, Macao SAR is known as the "Las Vegas of Asia."
  • There are two methods in which the wealth of a nation is defined; the approach preferred by economists takes into consideration how wealthy the average resident of a country is, known as GDP per capita.

Top 5 Richest Countries Per Capita

When it comes to determining the richest populations in the world, these are the five countries with the highest GDP per capita adjusted for PPP:

  • Macao SAR: $129,103 GDP per capita
  • Luxembourg: $121,293 GDP per capita
  • Singapore: $101,376 GDP per capita
  • Qatar: $96,491 GDP per capita
  • Ireland: $88,241 GDP per capita

$129,103

Macau's GDP per capita in 2019, which was the highest in the world.

Methods For Determining a Country's Wealth

GDP Per Capita

Conventionally, there are two methods in which the wealth of a nation is defined. The approach most preferred by economists takes into consideration how wealthy the average resident of a country is. This represents the per capita income data point, which is the gross domestic product (GDP) per person.

To standardize the information across nations, the GDP per capita is interpreted using a purchasing power parity basis in current international dollars. PPP takes into account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of the countries.

Total GDP

The other method of representing a nation’s wealth measures the total GDP of a country, representing the size of its economy. Based on these criteria, the United States would come out as the wealthiest country in the world, with a total GDP of over 21 trillion in 2019. However, this total wealth or GDP does not always translate to equitably distributed wealth. In fact, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, as measured by the Gini coefficient, which shows the statistical dispersion of wealth within a nation.

As the international bank of the United Nations, the World Bank offers the most credible data source on international finance and income. However, based on external factors such as social policy, the unique financial system of each individual country, and public social benefits, wealth is difficult to measure.

Notably, development economists have been known to question the World Bank's definition of income, and in contrast, its definition of extreme poverty: living on less than $1.90 per day. In this sense, discussing wealthy nations in this article is measured by GDP, income, and financial definitions. It does not consider other aspects of wealth and well-being including social benefits, safety nets, and other opportunities that contribute to a full and thus "rich" life.