Governments exist by borrowing to fund the various activities that are necessary including public education, roads, hospitals and other projects. Debt is a common function of all working economies. There has been an increase in the debt to GDP rations throughout the world in past decades. This is because governments took advantage of the low interest rates offered, piling up debt that will cost them less in the long run, when the rates begin to rise, which is inevitable. Borrowing is a positive thing for working economies unless it goes unchecked and gets out of hand. It is particularly damaging for a country to borrow when the economy is in an economic downturn. The cheap debt that is amassed can quickly become unaffordable if it becomes too high and there is not enough money being generated within the country. Ideally, countries will have the ability to pay back debt without incurring further debt to meet obligations.
Here are the 20 nations in the world with the most debt to GDP ratios.
20. Norway – Total debt: $623,223,000,000
Norway is the country that has the twentieth largest debt in the world. This nation features a market economy combined with a Nordic welfare model that includes universal health care as well as a social security system that is considered to be comprehensive. The extensive reserves of seafood, lumber, minerals, natural gas, fresh water, hydropower and petroleum are the products which are exported, with petroleum accounting for roughly 25% of the country’s gross domestic product. Norway is the largest producer of natural gas and oil in the world with the exception of middle eastern countries.
19. Austria – Total debt: $629,050,000,000
Austria has maintained its neutral status since the 1918 collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It remains a sovereign state after a failed attempt to form a union with Germany because of the restrictions made by the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye. The country is composed of nine federal states and the capitol is Vienna with a population of more than 1.8 million citizens. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world per capita as ranked by GDP terms. A high standard of living has been established in the country which has been a member country of the United Nations since 1955, and of the European Union since 1995. Austria is the founder of the OECD and formally adopted the euro currency in 1999 after signing the Schengen Agreement in 1995
18. Sweden – Total debt: $938,692,000,000
Sweden joined the European Union in January of 1995, but has not sought membership with Eurozone or NATO membership. They are, however, members of the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Nordic Council and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which they founded. Sweden, like Norway has adopted a Nordic social welfare system that offers universal health care to all citizens of the country as well as tertiary education. This country is widely recognized throughout the world for high performance in protection of civil liberties, prosperity and human development, equality, economic competitiveness, health, education, quality of life and it ranks number eight in the world for highest income per capita.
17. Belgium – Total debt: $1,194,235,000,000
Belgium ranks seventeenth in the accumulation of the most debt. The country was an active participant in the Industrial revolution and established several colonies in Africa throughout the 20th century. Issues between French speaking citizens and Dutch speaking citizens arose because of cultural differences and a language barrier, further fueled by inequalities in the economic development of Wallonia and Flanders. This preceded the revolutionary reforms which moved the country from a unitary government to a federal system from 1970 through 1993. The tensions are still present even with the reforms n place and separatism exists within the country. Inequality is seen as the unemployment rate in Wallonia more than twice exceeds the numbers found in Flanders. Belgium is one of the six countries responsible for the founding of the European Union. the country also hosts the official seats of the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the European Commission, and a set of the European Parliament located in the capital city of Brussels. Belgium has been a key player in the founding of several more European alliances including NATO, the World Trade Organization, OECD, the Eurozone and the trilateral Benelux Union. The city of Brussels serves as host for many of the EUs official seats in addition to providing headquarters for multiple international organizations. The country is ranked as having a very high standing in the Human Development Index and maintains an “advanced high-income economy.”
16. Singapore – Total debt: $1,300,310,000,000
Singapore was founded in 1819 by Stamford Raffles as an east India Company trading post. when the company went into decline, the British Raj was established, as the islands became a part of the British Straits Settlements in 1826, and were ceded to Britain. Singapore was previously occupied by Japan during World War II. In 1963, the country gained its independence from Britain and federated with the territories which once were under the control of Britain to form what is now known as Malaysia. The federation separated a few scant years later because of differences in ideology and in 1965, Singapore became a sovereign nation. The country quickly developed under the umbrella of an Asian Tiger economy that was based upon its external trade and its workforce. It is a global commerce, transport and finance hub and has earned the distinctions of being the city with the best investment potential, the most technology ready nation and the top city to hold international meetings in the world. They rank third in being the largest foreign exchange market, the largest trading and oil refining center and largest financial center. In addition, Singapore ranks second for most competitive country and it is known to be a tax haven.
15. China (Hong Kong Specifically) – Total debt: $1,416,010,000,000
Hong Kong is known as one of the most significant financial centers in the world. It ranks number one for highest Financial Development Index scores and it is considered to be the most competitive economic entity as well as the freest. It remains a hot spot for international travelers, bringing in huge sums in tourist and business traveler business. The Hong Kong dollar is the legal tender of the country and is the thirteenth highest traded currency in the world today. The tertiary sector dominates the economy which features a competitive form of simple taxation. Hong Kong suffers from a severe case of income inequality, but it also has one of the highest incomes per capita rankings in the world. It’s port is the fifth busiest in the world and its Human Development Index features one of the longest life expectancy rates on the planet.
14. China – Total debt: $1,437,800,000,000
China underwent a series of economic reforms in 1978, and has since become among the fastest growing, ranking as second in largest economy in the world in 2016 as rated by GDP. It possesses the largest by the purchasing power parity, and maintains the position of being the largest exporter in the world.
13. Australia – Total debt: $1,563,330,000,000
Australia is number thirteen in countries that have the most debt, and also ranks the same place as having the 13th largest economy. The income per capita rating is ninth in the world and the country comes in as number two for having the highest human development index, globally. They are in the top position for quality in life, economic freedom, education, health, political rights and civil liberties. Australia is a member of several international organizations and alliances including: The World Trade Organization; the United Nations; Commonwealth of Nations; G20; Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; the Pacific Islands Forum, OECD and ANZUS. The nation is ranked as having the ninth largest population of immigrants with 26% of the total population being made up of immigrants from other nations.
12. Switzerland – Total debt: $1,699,690,000,000
Switzerland is near the top in ranking as a global performer in government transparency, economic competitiveness, quality of life, human development and civil liberties. It is among the most highly developed countries on the globe, with the eighth-highest gross domestic product per capita and the highest nominal wealth per adult. Two of the principal cities which are Geneva and Zurich are ranked as top cities for quality of life. Living in Switzerland is good for its natural citizens.
11. Canada – Total debt: $1,791,870,000,000
Canada ranks number eleven for having the most debt of all countries in the world, and the fifteenth for the highest nominal per capita income. It ranks number ten for its Human Development Index and is one of the top counties for certain international measurements. These include: economic freedom, civil liberties, education, quality of life and governmental transparency. Canada sponsors a national health care system for its citizens. It is a member of multiple international organizations which are: The North American Free Trade Agreement; the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum; G7, The Group of Ten; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G20; the United nations and is a nation that lies within the Commonwealth of nations as well as a member of the Francophonie.
10. Spain – Total debt: $2,036,560,000,000
Spain is a constitutional monarchy as well as a parliamentary democracy. Felipe VI is the current King of Spain who inherited the throne in 2013 when his father abdicated. The nation is a major developed country and a middle power that is ranked as being number fourteen for the largest economy by nominal GDP, and sixteenth in purchasing power parity. Spain is a member of the European Union; the United Nations; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; the Schengen Area, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Trade Organization; the Council of Europe; the Eurozone; the Organization of Ibero-American States, and several other international organizations. Although not currently a member, Spain is permanently invited to attend the annual G20 summits.
9. Ireland -Total debt: $2,236,430,000,000
Ireland is ranked as among the twenty-five richest countries in the world as ranked by GDP per capita and number ten in most prosperous nation in the world in accordance with the Legatum Prosperity Index. Ireland passed several liberal economic policies after joining the EEc, and they experienced very fast economic growth as a result. The highest period of prosperity was between 1995 through 2007, which is recognized as the “Celtic Tiger” period. financial crises began in 2008 when the global economy experienced a crash, but the Irish economy was the fastest growing again in 2015 and it is once again gaining in financial prosperity internationally. Ireland is the sixth most highly developed nation in the world, tied with Germany for this position, with regards to the United Nations Human Development Index. It performs at high levels for: economic freedom; freedom of the press and in civil liberties. It is a member of OECD, the European Union and is one of the founding members of the Council of Europe. The Irish government has since World War II entered into an agreement to maintain a military neutrality policy, and it is not member of the Partnership for Peace, but is not currently a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
8. Italy- Total debt: $ 2,285,740,000,000
The country of Italy currently has the ranking of third largest for GDP within the Eurozone as well as being number eight within the world. The Italian economy is advanced with a rating of the sixth largest with regards to national wealth. The extremely high level of human development is also rated as sixth in the world for life expectancy. It is a regional power as well as earning the distinction of being a great power. Italy is a member nation of the United Nations, the North American Treaty Organization, the OSCE, the OECD, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, G20, the G7, the Council of Europe, the Union for the Mediterranean, Uniting for Consensus, the European Union and several more international organizations. Italy is also number five for the most visited countries in the world.
7. Japan (Overall) – Total debt: $3,408,980,000,000
Japan receives many benefits from a workforce that is highly skilled and its citizens are among the most highly educated in the world with the highest rates of citizens with educational degrees. It ranks as number three for having the largest economy by nominal GDP, and number four for its purchasing power parity. Japan is a member of the OECD, the G7, the G8, the G20 and the United Nations. It has developed a very high standard of living as well as Human Development Index. Japan has the third lowest mortality rate for infants, the highest life expectancy and is known for its major contributions to the fields of modern day technology and science.
6. Luxembourg – Total debt: $3,900,665,000,000
Luxembourg has benefited from the exploitation of the Red ands’ iron ore grounds for its powerful steel industry which was established at the start of the 20th century. This was the driver for the country to grow rapidly through industrialization. It is headquarters for ArcelorMittal, which is the largest steel producer in the world. The governments of Luxemboug place their focus on the development of their knowledge base which fuels the economy with the University of Luxembourg and their national space program. There is work underway to become involved in a robotic lunar expedition as early as 2020. Luxembourg is a member of Benelux, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Nations, OECD and is a founding member of the European Union. The city is home to the seat of multiple international agencies and institutions off the EU. The city served on the United Nations Security council for two years.
5. Netherlands – Total debt: $4,124,640,000,000
The Netherlands’ economy is a market based mixed platform that ranks number seventeen out of the 177 countries of the world in accordance with the Index of Economic Freedom. It possesses the rank of thirteenth highest per capita income in the world, and is ranked as the “sixth happiest country in the world” This is a reflection of the high quality of life that is provided for its citizens. The welfare state provides citizens with universal health care, multiple social benefits and excellent public educational opportunities. The Netherlands is the third highest in ranking for inequality adjusted Human Development Index, ranking equally with the country of Australia.
4. Germany – Total debt: $5,084,360,000,000
Germany has the fourth largest economy as rated by GDP, and the fifth by its purchasing power parity. The nation has once again risen to the status of being a great power in the world, with a strong economy. It is a global leader in multiple technological and industrial sectors, being the third largest importer and exporter of goods in the world. The country has developed a very high standard of living. This is maintained by a society of skilled and productive workers. Germany provides a universal health care system, social security, tuition free university education opportunities and environmental protection programs. Germany is a Federal Republic that served as a founding member of the European Economic Community in the year 1957, then assisted with the formation of the European Union in 1993. It is a member of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7, the G20, the Schengen, the Eurozone, the OECD and other international organizations. Germany has the ninth highest expenditures for military and it is well known throughout the world for its cultural history, musicians, inventors, scientists, engineers, philosophers, artists, entrepreneurs, and sportspeople.
3. France – Total debt: $5,250,608,000,000
France has long been recognized for its contributions to the world of philosophy, science and art. It is Europe’s number three largest of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites. France welcomes more than 83 million travelers and tourists per year, which gives it the highest numbers of visitors of any country in the world. It is a developed country that is ranked as the sixth largest economy as rated by GDP, and the ninth by purchasing power parity. It is the fourth in the world for aggregate household wealth. In international rankings for life expectancy, health care, education and human development, it also performs well. France is a member of the European Union, the Eurozone, the Group of 7, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, La Francophonie and it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is one of five which are permanent members imbued with the power to veto.
2. United Kingdom – Total debt: $7,499,400,000,000
The United Kingdom is ranked as having the fifth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP. It is the ninth largest by purchasing power parity. It is a developed country that has a high-income economy with a very high ranking in the Human Development Index. For this category, it comes in as number sixteen. The United Kingdom is unique in tht it is the first country in the world to become industrialized. It was the leading power of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. It is still a great power today and its military, economic, cultural, political and scientific influence are shown throughout the world. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is one of the leading members of the EU and the European economic Community until recently, when the national referendum regarding the UK’s membership in the EU was passed with the agreement to leave the Union. The UK is currently negotiating heir exit from the EU. The country is also a member of the North American Treaty Organization, the Group of 20, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G7 finance ministers, the Council of Europe, the G7 forum, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the G20 and the World Trade Organization.
1. United States – Total debt: $18,286,510,000,000
The United States of America is a highly developed country. It has the largest economy in the world as rated by nominal GDP, and the second biggest by purchasing power parity, which accounts for roughly twenty five percent of global GDP. The economy of the United States developed postindustrial and the dominating components are activities that are knowledge based and services. The manufacturing base is the second largest in the world. The figure of 33. 2 percent describes the total amount of world wealth that is held by Americans, while the total population of the country only makes up 4.3 percent of the world’s population. The United States ranks very high in per capita GDP, human development, productivity per person and average wage. It is a military leader in the world, accounting for one third of all military spending in the world. It is also a worldwide leader in the fields of technology and science.