Over the past few years, an increasing number of Latin American countries have emerged as global players. Chile, Uraguay, Argentina - all wealthy, developed nations that are embracing global interactions and economic development for all their worth.
As the region experiences an economic boost, the eyes of the world are watching to see who will emerge as the next big power. To find out which countries currently have the healthiest economies, we've ranked the ten richest countries in Latin America by GDP (PPP) per capita. Without further ado, here they are.
10. Venezuela - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $9,066
First up is Venezuela. With a PPP per capita of $9,066, it ranks as the tenth richest country in Latin America. Despite having vast wealth tied up in natural resources, the country's prosperity has taken a beating over the past decade as a result of political upheaval.
9. Ecuador - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $14,131
Next, we come to Ecuador. With a PPP per capita of $14,131, its ranks as the third richest country in Latin America. Its economy, which is highly dependent on commodities, has shown year-on-year growth for the past several decades, resulting in reduced poverty and a higher level of economic equality.
8. Paraguay - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $14,131
Next is Paraguay. With a PPP per capita of $14,131, it ranks as the 8th richest country in Latin America. As richestjet.com writes, the country's export trade contributes greatly to its wealth.
In addition to serving as the sixth-largest soybean producer in the world, it's also the sixth-largest exporter of corn, the tenth-largest exporter of wheat, the second-largest exporter of stevia, and the second-largest producer of Tung oil. It's energy and manufacturing industries also contribute to its GDP.
7. Peru - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $14,999
Next up is Peru, a country that ranks as the 7th richest country in Latin America with a PPP per capita of $14,999. Despite suffering enormous political and social turmoil throughout the 20th century, it's since emerged as one of the most prosperous and socially progressive nations in the region, with an economic growth rate of 5.9 percent.
Coups, social unrest, territorial disputes, and armed conflict have now faded into history, replaced by stable administrations, excellent human development, a large middle class, and a positive attitude toward global integration. It may still have some way to go before it catches up with the likes of Chile and Uruguay, but it's well on the way.
6. Colombia - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $15,720
With a GDP (PPP) per capita of $15,720, Colombia ranks as the 6th richest country in Latin America. Over the past decade, Colombia's economy has grown significantly. Income inequality is still a problem, but overall, it seems the country is on the right track, with poverty levels falling a significant 35 percent between 1990 and 2014.
In addition to having one of the largest shipbuilding industries in the world, Colombia also has a rapidly expanding information technology industry, with the largest fiber-optic network in the region.
5. Brazil - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $16,727
Next we come to Brazil. With a PPP of $16,727, it ranks as the 5th richest country in Latin America. Much of the country's wealth is tied up in natural resources.
According to Investopedia, it has commodities worth $21.8 trillion including gold, iron, oil, and uranium. Its gold and uranium deposits are the largest in the world; it's the second-largest oil producer globally; and its timber accounts for 12.3 percent of the world's supplies.
Outside of natural resources, Brazil's diverse economy is supported by a strong service sector and a particularly healthy tourism trade. Like many countries across the region, income inequality is a significant problem, with an increase in informal work fueling ever greater poverty among certain demographics.
4. Argentina - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $20,482
There's a lot more to Argentina than beef (although in fairness, the export of meat does help prop up its coffers very nicely). According to Wikipedia, the country is one of the world's major agricultural producers, ranking at 3rd for soy production, 1st for yerba mate, 4th for maize, 12th for wheat, 3rd for sunflower seeds, and 4th for beef.
The export of other products such as citrus fruit, grapes, honey, sorghum, and squash is also significant. In total, agriculture contributes around 6 percent of Argentina's GDP, with the service sector, mining, manufacturing, transport, and communications contributing the rest.
Over the past few decades, Argentina has successfully put its troubled past behind it and now ranks highly on the Human Development Index, second only to Chile in Latin America.
3. Mexico - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $21,412
In at number three is Mexico. With a PPP per capita of $21,412, Mexico ranks as the third richest county in Latin America. According to the International Monetary Fund, Mexico's developing economy is the 16th largest in the world in nominal terms and the 10th largest by purchasing power parity.
It wasn't always so strong, but since the government sparked a financial crisis in 1994 by suddenly devaluing the peso against the US dollar, policies have been put in place to ensure its protection.
The economy is largely service-based, with services such as finance and tourism contributing 64.5 percent of the country's GDP. Despite the country's comparative wealth, economic disparities between the rich and the poor remain problematic.
2. Uruguay - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $24,435
Just missing out on the top spot is Uruguay. Uruguay (or the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, as it's officially known) has a strong, high-income economy that in recent years has shifted away from its traditional reliance on agriculture to develop a strong services segment.
As a result, it now ranks first in South America when it comes to prosperity and the size of its middle class. The good news doesn't stop there. It also comes number one for freedom of the press and second for economic freedom, per capita income, and income inequality.
Thanks to its excellent record on human rights, tolerance, and inclusion, it's widely considered one of the most socially progressive countries in Latin America.
1. Chile - GDP (PPP) Per Capita: $27,059
When it comes to the richest countries in Latin America, Chile storms into first place with a PPP per capita of $27,059. The country, which is nestled in between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, has long been considered one of the most developed nations in the region, with high living standards, a stable government, low corruption, economic freedom, and good infrastructure.
While economic inequality is high, it's by no means higher than the average for the region. Chile's market economy is largely service-based, with the service sector contributing 63 percent of the GDP.
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Written by Lily Wordsmith
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