The 15 richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita are an example of how Asian economies are strengthening as the countries become more developed and provide a better life to their citizens. For those of us who have never been great fans of economics, the Gross Domestic Product or the GDP of a country represents the market value of a country’s goods or products, which are produced in a specific period, generally considered to be a year.
This creates a basis on which the performance of different countries can be measured. Of course, comparing nominal GPD can be inaccurate, as it does not account for differences in the rate of inflation between countries. Hence, it is more accurate to calculate the PPP or the Purchasing Power Parity GDP, which creates a realistic comparison. Another issue in comparing the GDP of two countries is that the country with a larger population and therefore, a larger workforce will definitely create more goods and greater market value. Thus, instead of comparing the GDP of two countries outright, it is a better idea to compare the GDP per person, or the GDP per capita.
Asia is home to a large number of countries, some of which are growing at an incredible rate while others lag behind. The main reason behind this success or failure is the economic policy adopted by the government and the extent to which the policy is supported. For example, the United States was in a crisis before President Reagan took over, with debt increasing, unemployment increasing and the overall quality of life falling drastically. Reagan’s arrival heralded the coming of a new era, as unemployment fell drastically while the economy and the GDP of the country improved manifold. While his economic policies still stoke fierce debate, Reagan undoubtedly changed the entire landscape of America. If you are interested in how he set about to do that, you can learn more about it on Reaganomics facts: Good, Bad, Failed or Successful.
Despite some Asian countries performing brilliantly, Europe is still vastly ahead, and South Asia is the primary culprit responsible. For example, it is interesting to note that the richest country in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, which is the Maldives, does not even feature on our list. Other countries such as Afghanistan, North Korea, and Nepal are some of the poorest countries in Asia, and they are hindering the growth of the continent as well.
In reality, it is the Middle East that dominates this list of richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita, mainly due to the vast oil reserves present in the countries, which has been their main, if not only source of income. We traced these figures by consulting the International Monetary Fund’s database pertaining to countries and their GDP per capita, and filtered the Asian countries from the list. So let’s learn more about the 15 richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita.
GDP per capita: $30,769
According to the World Bank, Cyprus is considered to be a high-income economy, which is evident from its extremely high GDP per capita. While Cyprus suffered because of the European debt crisis, it has recovered since then and posted profits in 2015.
GDP per capita: $32,691
Next in line on our list of richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita is Israel that is considered to be one of the highest developed countries in the Middle East, if not the highest, allowing its citizens to enjoy a high standard of living as compared to their neighbors. Advancements made in technology and access to quality education has allowed Israel’s economy to not just develop, but flourish as well.
13. South Korea
GDP per capita: $35,277
With an economy that is the 4th largest in Asia and a miracle story that has seen an extremely poor nation become one of the most advanced in the world, there is little surprise that South Korea features on the list of 15 richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita.
GDP per capita: $37,390
One of the most technologically developed countries in the world, Japan’s advanced achievements have seen its GDP per capita rise significantly. The nation not only has the largest electronics goods industry, it also boasts the third largest automobile manufacturing industry in the world. The nation has laid great emphasis on innovation and new and unique ideas are part of the Japanese identity, while these ideas are simultaneously revolutionizing the entire world.
GDP per capita: $39,681
Oman’s economy has consistently increased by enormous percentages throughout the last half century, with the primary reason being the rise in the price of oil in the mid-1990s and 2000s.
GDP per capita: $45,854
Taiwan is considered to be an advanced economy by the International Monetary Fund, with the main reason behind the growth in the economy being the privatization of the government-owned industries.
GDP per capita: $51,714
Another oil rich country on our list of richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita, Bahrain has diversified to include other sources of wealth, which include the development of the banking and the tourism sectors. The country even earned the prestige of being named the fastest growing financial center by the City of London’s Global Financial Centres Index a few years ago in 2008. In 2011, it was ranked as having the freest economy in both the North African and Middle Eastern region.
8. Saudi Arabia
GDP per capita: $52,183
The country built itself from the ground up based on the vast oil reserves discovered, which saw the owners of such reserves becoming billionaires overnight. The country has failed to diversify and nearly all of its revenue is from oil, which may prove to be its downfall, though such a future seems unlikely at the moment. Since the Saudis are too rich to work, most of the workers there are foreigners, with particular distaste being exhibited by the locals for foreigners who are not of Arabic descent.
7. Hong Kong
GDP per capita: $54,722
We are continuing our list of richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita with Hong Kong that is one of the highest rated financial centers globally, which has allowed it to introduce low tax rates and market freedom. The economy of the country is highly regulated to ensure that it does not suffer a collapse with prudent measures already undertaken such as pegging the Hong Kong dollar to the US dollar. Due to low debt, high forex reserves and strict implementation of anti-corruption measures, Hong Kong has managed a stabilized economy, making its citizens rich, without even requiring oil reserves.
6. The United Arab Emirates
GDP per capita: $60,142
Yes, another country whose riches have come from oil makes the list of richest Asian countries by GDP per capita. However, the UAE has done, to an extent, what others have failed to achieve, namely diversifying its portfolio. While it is still majorly reliant on petroleum, it has marketed itself very well, and Dubai is now one of the major tourist hubs in the world.
GDP per capita: $71,020
While Kuwait is super rich due to oil (surprise surprise) it also has an excellent financial center, which has boosted its economy as well. In fact, the number five on our list of richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita, once had one of the highest market capitalizations in the entire world, after a share market for Gulf companies emerged in the nation. Kuwait’s government has also stressed the importance of tourism and around 1.5% of the GDP is based on tourism. Foreigners are also invited to work in the country in order to further their economy.
GDP per capita: $73,233
Large reserves of natural gas and crude oil coupled with a small GDP is equal to a huge GDP per capita. That is basic math. Once again, oil comes to the rescue as Brunei’s economy is based almost entirely on the export of oil and natural gas.
GDP per capita: $82,762
It almost feels weird mentioning a country whose economy is not based on oil. Singapore’s economy is based on trade and is considered to be not just one of the least corrupt economies, but is also considered to be the most open economy in the world. Singapore has specialized in electronics and services and is considered to be one of the main ports in the world, thus enabling open trade. What’s impressive is that Singapore has little land and has succeeded despite its limitations.
GDP per capita: $82,762
Macau, one of the richest countries in Asia by GDP per capita, has a population of just over 650,000 people, which is why its GDP per capita is so high. Its economy is mostly based on tourism, while it is one of the members of the World Trade Organization, and enjoys good relations and trade with over a 100 countries. Most of the tourists to Macau arrive from either China or Hong Kong.
GDP per capita: $143,427
A GDP per capita of nearly $150,000 allows Qatar to take the number 1 spot in the list of 15 richest Asian countries by GDP per capita. Due to the oil reserves in the country, it doesn’t need to do much to earn money. In fact, the citizens of the country are completely exempt from tax. Since the population of natural Qataris is very low, immigrants were called from other countries to work in the nation, because of which over 85% of the country’s population consists of foreigners.