Singapore is a rich country

theme - wealth

Norway - rich in petroleum

Norway currently leads the "Human Development Index", in which the United Nations assesses not only economic criteria such as gross national product but also factors such as life expectancy or the level of education of the population. The constitutional monarchy also ranks first in the democracy index of the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research department of the British "The Economist Group". In other words: Norway is hard to beat in terms of quality of life. At least as long as you don't live on a low income in the city of Stavanger. Both of these have a lot to do with the fact that Phillips Petroleum, on behalf of Norway's petroleum authority, discovered huge oil deposits off the coast in 1969. Norway has been exploiting these reserves for almost half a century - and later also its natural gas reserves. The country has been investing its profits since 1996 in a sovereign wealth fund that is considered the largest in the world and whose value this year exceeded the one trillion US dollar mark for the first time. The internationally operating public limited company Statoil, two-thirds state-owned, is Norway's largest company and is based in Stavanger, which has become one of the most expensive cities in the world due to the raw materials boom.

Norway wants to use the fund's assets for the general public and thus build reserves for times with less energy income. It is already financing state projects from parts of the lavish profits. Allowing its wealth to benefit the population is made easier for the state by the fact that only 5.2 million people live in Norway - only a little smaller in area than the Federal Republic of Germany. According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, Norway's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was 70,000 US dollars in 2016, only exceeded that of Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Qatar - natural gas from the Persian Gulf

Qatar is small. It is on the list of all countries in the world with an area of ​​over 11,000 square kilometers between the West African Gambia and the Pacific island nation of Vanuata. Economically, however, the emirate is a giant. It owes this primarily to its natural gas reserves in the Persian Gulf. The deposits were discovered in the early 1970s, since then Qatar's gross domestic product per capita has increased from a good 2,700 to over 100,000 US dollars in 2012. It is now falling due to falling natural gas revenues; in 2016 it was 60,800 US dollars. The decline in the value of its largest commodity is not unknown in Qatar: Until 1930 people lived well from trading pearls, until artificial pearls from Japan ruined the business.

Like the GDP, the population of the emirate has increased more than twenty-fold from 1970 to the present day, to currently 2.7 million people. But only around twelve percent of them have Qatari citizenship. As an absolute monarchy without democratic control, Qatar handles its wealth differently than Norway, which almost simultaneously became wealthy through oil. The emirate used its fund to buy, for example, the luxury department store Harrods in London and the Paris Saint-Germain football club. A lot of money is also flowing into prestigious projects such as the soccer World Cup in 2022. Amnesty International, among others, has complained that the foreign workers hired to build the World Cup - and not only they, but also many other migrant workers working in Qatar - are being treated inhumanely.

(Cover picture: A Qatar travels with breeding falcons. The falcons cost over $ 10,000 / Photo: Luke Duggleby / Redux / laif)

Monaco - tax haven for the super-rich

Most of the people registered in Monaco are immigrants, around 75 percent. However, they did not come to the principality because they are doing badly in their countries of origin or because they want to enable their families to have a better life. They do not want to become prosperous on the Côte d’Azur, but are already so rich that it is worthwhile for them to move their first place of residence to the Principality on the Mediterranean coast for tax reasons. Luxury property prices are considered to be the highest in the world.

Monaco made a lot of money as a gambling paradise in the 19th century, whereupon the principality decided not to annoy its residents with income taxes or inheritance taxes. Monaco experienced its great jet set boom from the middle of the 20th century when the head of state Prince Rainier married Grace Kelly, an attractive and elegant Hollywood actress who then became the glamorous Princess Gracia Patricia. The strategic marriage and the financial commitment of the shipowner Aristotle Onassis helped to overcome an economic crisis that Monaco was going through at the time because of falling casino revenues.

Today, the super and super super rich are jostling on the two square kilometers of rocky coast to spend their money among their own kind. The population density is currently 19,000 people per square kilometer, almost twice as many as in New York City.

Japan - managed economy and strong work discipline

After the Second World War, Japan was a defeated and largely destroyed country, its cities were in ruins, a third of the people were unemployed. A little later than the Federal Republic, namely in the 1960s, Japan also experienced its economic boom. It was able to tie in with the time after the turn of the century, when Japan was one of the first countries in Asia to adopt the western economic model. The fact that the empire caught up with the world's major economic powers so quickly after the Second World War was due to a combination of state-controlled economy, culturally pronounced work discipline and an educational reform that, among other things, increased compulsory schooling to nine years. And it was because companies brought international know-how into the country or copied and improved the successful products that had already been developed elsewhere. Japan, which is dependent on raw material and energy imports, has become a world market leader in automobiles, machines and electronics over time.

In the 1960s, the economy grew at times by up to ten percent a year. The boom was dampened by the 1973 oil crisis, when energy prices rose dramatically. But overall, the unprecedented economic growth continued for three decades until the speculative bubble burst in an overheated stock and real estate market in the late 1980s. Even though the real economy suffered heavily and for a long time from this crash, Japan is still one of the most productive economies in the world. It is currently in third place behind China, the USA and Germany.

Singapore - hardly any raw materials, but cheap labor and lots of free trade agreements

Singapore is one of the Asian countries that made the leap to an economically prosperous location in just a few decades in the second half of the last century. Which is why the country - together with South Korea, Taiwan and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - is known as the tiger state.

Singapore has no significant reserves of raw materials and, as a city-state, no areas for agricultural use. The former British crown colony owes its upswing on the one hand to the development of an industry that was boosted by cheap labor and which today benefits from numerous free trade agreements. The core businesses include shipbuilding, mechanical engineering and petroleum processing, and increasingly also biotechnology. The second mainstay is the service sector, for example in the area of ​​finance. Like all tiger states, Singapore was affected by the so-called Asian crisis of 1997/98, while real estate prices and share prices were artificially pumped up through credit investments until the bubble burst. But later Singapore benefited from the global financial crisis. The combination of a poorly regulated economy and a stable political system makes Singapore a comparatively safe location for investors, which is why a lot of assets have been transferred to the city-state since 2008.

Argentina - Immigration Policy and Meat Export

Argentina gave its economic boom a decisive boost from the middle of the 19th century by starting to pursue a targeted immigration policy. In the interests of modernizing the country, the advertising campaigns were intended primarily to appeal to northern Europeans. Of the roughly six million Europeans who came to the country between 1870 and 1930, most were Spanish and Italians. They shaped the country, to this day one of the most European in South America, both economically and culturally.

The engine of the economy was the agricultural sector. The state conquered and opened up territories for agricultural use in the late 19th century - at the expense of the indigenous people who had previously lived there - and expanded the railway network at high speed. The development of stable cooling technology on cargo ships then opened the country to the world market for its meat exports. Year after year, agricultural exports grew by a few percent. At the turn of the 20th century, wages in Argentina were well above those in southern Europe. In the first decades after that, Argentina became one of the richest countries in the world thanks to its flourishing exports. However, with the Great Depression in 1929, raw material prices fell and the boom was over. The prosperity sank and the unfavorable economic conditions let Argentina fall back to the level of an emerging country in the following decades. Overall, Argentina's economy has been very changeable in the last few decades and has suffered severe setbacks, particularly in the wake of the 2001 Argentine crisis and the global financial crisis - but in between there have been repeated phases of recovery.

USA - industrialization and abundance of raw materials - but also slavery

There are many factors that made the United States of America rich, such as efficient mass production in the era of industrialization, the wealth of raw materials and successful entry into the world market. Another factor goes back a long way: slavery. Even in colonial times, agriculture in the east and south of what would later become the USA had a considerable need for workers to manage the plantations with tobacco, rice, cotton and sugar cane. This need was met not through recruitment, but through the abduction and enslavement of the indigenous population and later by people from Africa. The plantation owners also use their enormous profits to exert political influence. It was, among other things, income from Virginia's tobacco plantations that financed the war of independence against Great Britain. In 1776 the colonies finally declared their independence and stated in the preamble that “all human beings are created equal” and have a right to “life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness”. At that time there were about half a million slaves in the liberated colonies. Its owners also included some of the earliest presidents such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. While slavery was slowly abolished in the northern states from the late 18th century, more and more slaves were needed in the growing plantation economy of the southern states. It is estimated that there were around four million people when slavery was officially abolished after the defeat of the southern states in the Civil War in 1865.