50 countries with the fastest-growing GDP per capita
The gross domestic product for the United States has grown 3.1% in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While this number does not reflect how the economy has grown for the individual American—personal income, for example, only increased 0.5%—a nation's GDP is a strong indication of how a nation is doing.
The gross domestic product is the total assessment of all commercial and industrial actions that happen in a nation. This includes all the products and services bought and sold there, as well as all the labor that went into those products and services. This is a different assessment from purchasing power parity, which looks at a nation's ability to buy a common basket of goods. While purchasing power parity assesses the strength of a nation's currency, GDP is about its output.
It should be noted that a high GDP does not necessarily mean that a nation's economy is healthy. A nation at war, for example, would have a higher GDP than a nation at peace, due to the high cost of weaponry, ammunition, and combatant pay and transportation. Similarly, a nation in recovery from a disaster will have a higher GDP than one that is in healthier condition. It's also worth noting that a nation that is relatively poor would have a bigger reported GDP shift than a wealthier nation for the same size of economic change.
To better understand this, Stacker has looked at data from the International Monetary Fund to determine the 50 nations with the highest GDP per capita. As a nation with a large population would naturally have a large GDP, we based our analysis on the per capita rate to make nation-to-nation comparison easier.
For this analysis, we considered the projected percent change from 2014 to 2024. Nations that did not have historical data to support this projection, such as Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria were not considered for this list. National subdivisions, such as Hong Kong, which engage in international trade, however, were considered. The data on this list is accurate as of April 2019.
Keep reading to learn how the world's countries compare in GDP and which nation—once a target for American military intervention—is #1.
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- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 53.99%
- 2014 GDP: $63.27 billion ($1,230.53 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $65.67 billion ($1,238.52 per capita, 0.65% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $103.56 billion ($1,894.87 per capita, 52.99% growth from 2019)
The country formerly known as Burma is trying to rebuild itself. In 2013, a Myanmar government study found that 37% of the nation's population was unemployed, and 26% was impoverished. In Chin State, located in western Myanmar, the poverty rate was a staggering 73%.
However, McKinsey Global Institute analysts have found that an investment in high-tech industries in the country—along with a change in policy with the nation's drug enforcement and treatment of certain ethnic groups—could lead to a quadrupling of the nation's economy by 2030. The refinancing and dismissal of approximately $6 billion of the nation's debts in 2013 has helped the nation's economic health.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 54.64%
- 2014 GDP: $16.51 billion ($4,441.77 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $17.21 billion ($4,661.38 per capita, 4.94% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $26.09 billion ($6,868.89 per capita, 47.36% growth from 2019)
Since the Revolution of the Roses in 2003, the former Soviet Union nation of Georgia has seen significant economic growth. Moving from a communist to a free market economy seems to agree with the country, with the World Bank naming the country the #1 nation for economic reform and a top nation for ease of doing business. Georgia's joining of the EU's Free Trade Area led to an increase in bilateral trade, despite the fact that trade with the Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States has fallen off.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 54.7%
- 2014 GDP: $4.60 billion ($7,389.89 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $5.44 billion ($8,711.37 per capita, 17.88% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $7.17 billion ($11,431.98 per capita, 31.23% growth from 2019)
The Balkan state of Montenegro is still amid recovery from the Yugoslav Wars, U.N. economic sanctions, and the breakup of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The growth of the nation's banking sector has grown significantly, attracting several foreign depositors. The high concentration of foreign direct investment, especially in real estate, means that the nation's economy is growing faster than any other European nation.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 55.99%
- 2014 GDP: $12.80 billion ($10,151.73 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $14.81 billion ($11,693.55 per capita, 15.19% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $20.05 billion ($15,835.20 per capita, 35.42% growth from 2019)
The African island nation of Mauritius has been burdened economically, with the added curse of being an island nation. However, a well-defined legal and commercial framework and a tradition of entrepreneurship has helped the nation transition from an agricultural economy to one that is service-based. Its transparent investment laws make it easy for foreign investors to pump money into the economy; in turn, the nation has emerged as a regional leader in tourism, banking, insurance, and shipbuilding.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 56.29%
- 2014 GDP: $17.76 billion ($54,527.56 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $24.54 billion ($68,793.69 per capita, 26.16% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $33.16 billion ($85,221.86 per capita, 23.88% growth from 2019)
The Arctic-adjacent nation of Iceland would seem to be inhospitable to growth. With the landscape defined by volcanoes and glaciers, the fact that the island nation's economy is largely service-based makes sense. The 1990s free market reforms, however, have promoted significant economic growth, with the nation being rated as having one of the world's highest levels of economic freedom.
#45. Hong Kong SAR
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 56.41%
- 2014 GDP: $291.44 billion ($40,182.28 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $381.72 billion ($50,541.89 per capita, 25.78% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $490.32 billion ($62,848.13 per capita, 24.35% growth from 2019)
Hong Kong exists in a strange, if temporary, state of existence. A part of communist China, the former British territory is still allowed to maintain its free-market economy. This “one country-two states” solution was meant to allow Hong Kong and Macau enough time to gradually be acclimated to the Chinese economic and political systems.
For now, the state's low tax rates, no public debt, robust banking system with independently-defined bank interest rates, currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, and the world's highest degree of economic freedom—according to The Heritage Foundation's 2019 Index of Economic Freedom—are all encouraging Hong Kong's growth, despite growing interventionism from mainland China.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 57.62%
- 2014 GDP: $8.01 billion ($727.97 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $10.21 billion ($829.97 per capita, 14.01% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $15.81 billion ($1,147.45 per capita, 38.25% growth from 2019)
Another war-struck economy that is recovering, the African nation of Rwanda is working to resolve the effects of the systematic 1994 genocide that had devastated the tiny state. Since the violence ended, tourism has picked up, the poverty rate has dropped, and the life expectancy has increased to 67—a major improvement, considering the life expectancy dipped to a shockingly low 27.6 in 1993, according to the World Bank. Subsistence agriculture remains the country's chief industry.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 57.96%
- 2014 GDP: $140.08 billion ($14,182.70 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $168.78 billion ($17,296.33 per capita, 21.95% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $216.39 billion ($22,403.61 per capita, 29.53% growth from 2019)
An European nation with low income inequality, Hungary is a foreign trade-driven free market economy. The nation has a high trade surplus, with the emphasis being on exports—primarily to fellow EU members. The nation's economic recovery from its 2009 request for monetary assistance from the IMF and the 2008 recession was in part stalled—due to the government's passage of legislation that allowed the central bank to be interfered with for political reasons. The successful overturning of these laws revitalized the nation's recovery.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 59.88%
- 2014 GDP: $26.66 billion ($20,267.04 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $31.03 billion ($23,514.22 per capita, 16.02% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $42.75 billion ($32,402.07 per capita, 37.80% growth from 2019)
Another former Soviet Union republic, Estonia is today considered a high-income economy. With universal health care, free education, the longest-paid maternity leave out of the 36 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and a highly computer-literate populace, the small nation is among the highest-ranked in economic freedom, press freedom, and civil liberties.
It was the first country to hold digital elections, is cryptocurrency-friendly (although, plans to set up a national cryptocurrency have been denounced), and has some of the best biodiversity in Europe. With almost all government functions being online, it is also extremely easy to start a business in Estonia, with the process being thought to take about three hours on average, according to the Estonian Investment Agency.
- Projected GDP per capita growth 2014-2024: 60.05%
- 2014 GDP: $58.72 billion ($3,687.75 per capita)
- 2019 GDP (projected): $82.34 billion ($4,674.59 per capita, 26.76% growth from 2014)
- 2024 GDP (projected): $114.95 billion ($5,902.07 per capita, 26.26% growth from 2019)
The largest Central American nation by population, Guatemala has come a long way since the 1996 Guatemalan Peace Accords that ended the 36-year civil war. The 2006 Central American Free Trade Agreement has increased exports to the United States, while its large expatriate community in the United States created a remittance channel that helped to bring foreign income into the nation. An increase in textiles, clothing, and cut flowers exports—along with traditional exports like coffee, bananas, and sugar—has fueled Guatemala's growth, although it still experiences high levels of income inequality.2018 All rights reserved.