#Russia is number 11

The Top 25 Economies in the World

Ranking the richest countries in the world

Gross domestic product (GDP) is an estimate of the total value of finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders during a specified period, usually a year. GDP is popularly used to estimate the size of a country’s economy. GDP is most commonly measured by using the expenditure method, which calculates GDP by adding up spending on new consumer goods, new investment spending, government spending, and the value of net exports (exports minus imports).

Throughout most of the world, countries’ GDPs fluctuate with the phases of different economic cycles, against a backdrop of longer-term economic growth over time; however, it’s interesting to see that despite these ups and downs, the top economies as measured by GDP don’t budge easily from the positions that they hold.

Compared to the top 25 economies in 2000, our research has found that only two countries in the top 25—Thailand and Indonesia—weren’t there before. That said, there have been some big movers within the list.1

China and India moved up into second place and sixth place, respectively, having been in sixth place and 13th place in 2000. Further down the list, Indonesia, one of the two aforementioned newcomers to the list, vaulted forward from the 27th largest economy in 2000 to 16th in 2020, while Thailand leaped from 32nd place all the way to 24th.1

While 2020 is the most recent annual data available for these countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on economies around the world. Because it has slashed energy prices, cratered tourism, lowered trade volumes, and shuttered stores due to quarantines, countries have experienced record-breaking declines in GDP. Although many economies had begun to recover in the third quarter of 2020, the vast majority of the top 25 countries experienced negative GDP growth for the year.2

Key Takeaways

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total value of finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders during a specified period.
  • There are different ways to measure GDP, such as nominal GDP, real GDP, GDP per capita, and purchasing power parity.
  • The U.S. has the largest GDP in the world and China has the second largest.

Measuring GDP 

This article mentions several popular ways to measure GDP, all of which are drawn from the World Bank database:

  • Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: This is the most basic and common way of measuring and comparing GDP among countries, using local prices and currencies converted into U.S. dollars by using currency market exchange rates. This is the number that was used to determine the countries’ rankings in the top 25 list.
  • Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: This is an alternative way of comparing nominal GDP among countries, adjusting currencies based on what basket of goods they could buy in those countries rather than currency exchange rates. This is a way to adjust for the difference in the cost of living among countries.3
  • GDP Growth: This is the annual percentage growth rate of nominal GDP in local prices and currencies, which estimates how fast a country’s economy is growing.2
  • GDP Per Capita, in Current U.S. Dollars: This is nominal GDP divided by the number of people in a country. GDP per capita measures how much a country’s economy produces per person, rather than in total. This can also act as a very rough measure of income or standard of living for individuals living in a country.4

Throughout this list and article, the term GDP refers to nominal GDP in current U.S. dollars unless otherwise specified.Top 10 Countries by Nominal GDP at Current U.S. Dollar Exchange RatesCountryNominal GDP (in trillions)PPP Adjusted GDP (in trillions)Annual Growth (%)GDP Per CapitaUnited States$20.95$20.95-3.4%$63,206China$14.72$24.282.3%$10,434Japan$5.06$5.33-4.6%$40,193Germany$3.85$4.56-4.6%$46,252United Kingdom$2.76$3.12-9.4%$41,059India$2.66$8.98-7.3%$1,927France$2.63$3.17-7.9%$39,037Italy$1.89$2.49-8.9%$31,770Canada$1.65$1.77-5.2%$43,258South Korea$1.64$2.34-0.9%$31,597


1. United States 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $20.95 trillion6
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $20.95 trillion7
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -3.4%8
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $63,2069

The United States’ economy is the largest in the world as measured by nominal GDP. The biggest contributor to that GDP is the economy’s service sector, which includes finance, real estate, insurance, professional and business services, and healthcare.10

The United States has a relatively open economy, facilitating flexible business investment and foreign direct investment in the country. It is the world’s dominant geopolitical power and is able to maintain a large external national debt as the producer of the world’s primary reserve currency.

The U.S. economy is at the forefront of technology in many industries, but it faces rising threats in the form of economic inequality, rising healthcare and social safety net costs, and deteriorating infrastructure.11

2. China 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $14.72 trillion12
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $24.28 trillion13
  • 2020 GDP Growth: 2.3%14
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $10,43415

China has the world’s second-largest nominal GDP in current dollars and the largest in terms of PPP. With annual growth that consistently outpaces that of the United States, China may be on track to become the largest economy in the world by nominal GDP in the years to come.1

As China has progressively opened its economyover the past four decades, economic development and living standards have greatly improved. As the government has gradually phased out collectivized agriculture and industry, allowed greater flexibility for market prices, and increased the autonomy of businesses, foreign and domestic trade and investment have taken off.16

Coupled with an industrial policy that encourages domestic manufacturing, this has made China the world’s number one exporter. Despite these advantages, China faces some significant challenges, such as a rapidly aging population and severe environmental degradation.16

3. Japan 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $5.06 trillion17
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $5.33 trillion18
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -4.6%19
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $40,19320

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world. Its GDP crossed the $5 trillion mark in 2019. Strong cooperation between government and industry and advanced technological know-how have built Japan’s manufacturing and export-oriented economy. Many major Japanese businesses are organized as networks of interlinked companies known as keiretsu.1 

After the Lost Decade of the 1990s and the impact of the global Great Recession, Japan has seen an uptick in growth in recent years under the policies of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, Japan is poor in natural resources and dependent on energy imports, especially after the general shutdown of its nuclear power industry following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Japan has also struggled with a rapidly aging population.21

4. Germany 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $3.85 trillion22
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $4.56 trillion23
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -4.6%24
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $46,25225

Fourth among world economies is Germany, with a 2020 GDP of $3.85 trillion. Germany is also Europe’s largest economy.1

Germany is a top exporter of vehicles, machinery, chemicals, and other manufactured goods and has a highly skilled workforce. Germany, however, faces some demographic challenges to its economic growth. Its low fertility rate makes replacing its aging workforce more difficult, and its high levels of net immigration strain its social welfare system.26

5. The United Kingdom 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $2.76 trillion27
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $3.12 trillion28
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -9.4%29
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $41,05930

The United Kingdom has the fifth-largest economy in the world. It had a GDP of $2.76 trillion in 2019, down 9.7% from the prior year.1

The U.K. economy is driven by its large service sector, particularly in finance, insurance, and business services. The nation’s extensive trading relationship with continental Europe has been greatly complicated by the resolution of Brexit subsequent to the 2016 vote to leave the European Union (EU). As of Jan. 31, 2020, the U.K. is officially not a member of the EU, but contentious negotiations over trade relations between the two are ongoing.3132

6. India 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $2.66 trillion33
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $8.97 trillion34
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -7.3%35
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $1,92736

India is the sixth-largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $2.66 trillion in 2020, more than 7% lower than in 2019. Because of its large population, India has the lowest per-capita GDP on our list.1

India’s economy is a mixture of traditional village farming and handicrafts alongside booming modern industry and mechanized agriculture. India is a major exporter of technology services and business outsourcing, and the service sector makes up a large share of its economic output.37

Liberalization of India’s economy since the 1990s has boosted economic growth, but inflexible business regulation, widespread corruption, and persistent poverty pose challenges to ongoing expansion.37

7. France 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $2.63 trillion38
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $3.17 trillion39
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -7.9%40
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $39,03741

France had a GDP of $2.63 trillion in 2020, ranking seventh in the world. Tourism is an important industry, and France receives the most visitors of any country each year.1

France is a mixed economy that has many private and semi-private businesses across a diverse range of industries. However, there is still heavy government involvement in certain key sectors, such as defense and electrical power generation.42

The French government’s commitment to economic intervention in favor of social equality also creates some challenges for the economy, such as a rigid labor market with high unemployment and a large public debt relative to other advanced economies.42

8. Italy 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $1.89 trillion43
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $2.49 trillion44
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -8.9%45
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $31,77046

The world’s eighth-largest GDP belongs to Italy at $1.89 trillion in 2020, down 8.9% from 2019. It is also the eurozone’s third-largest economy.1

Italy’s economy and level of development vary notably by region, with a more developed, industrial economy in the north and underdeveloped southern regions. Italy faces persistently sluggish economic growth due to a very high public debt, an inefficient court system, a weak banking sector, an inefficient labor market with chronically high youth unemployment, and a large underground economy.47

9. Canada 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $1.65 trillion48
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $1.77 trillion49
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -5.2%50
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $43,25851

Canada had $1.65 trillion in GDP in 2020, making it the world’s ninth-largest economy. Canada has a well-developed energy extraction sector, with the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves. Canada also has impressive manufacturing and service sectors, based mostly in urban areas near the U.S. border.1

Canada’s free trade relationship with the United States means that three-quarters of Canadian exports head to the U.S. market each year. Canada’s close ties to the United States mean that it has developed largely in parallel to the world’s largest economy.52

10. South Korea 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $1.64 trillion53
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $2.34 trillion54
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -0.9%55
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $31,59756

Rounding out the top 10 economies in the world by GDP, South Korea, with a GDP of $1.64 trillion in 2020, is the 10th largest world economy.1

South Korea’s economy is a 20th-century success story that is today firmly established as an advanced, industrial economy. Known for its strategy of export-led growth and the dominance of its chaebols (large business conglomerates), South Korea in recent decades has built a network of free trade agreements covering 58 countries that account for more than three-quarters of the world’s GDP. It is a major producer and exporter of electronics, telecommunications equipment, and motor vehicles.57

With this progress, however, South Korea also now faces some of the same challenges that many other advanced economies are dealing with, including slower growth and an aging workforce.57

11. Russia 

  • 2020 Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: $1.48 trillion58
  • 2020 PPP Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: $4.37 trillion59
  • 2020 GDP Growth: -3%60
  • 2020 Nominal GDP Per Capita in Current U.S. Dollars: $10,12661

Russia is the world’s 11th largest economy, with a GDP of $1.48 trillion as of 2020, 3% lower than in 2019.1

Russia has moved toward a more market-based economy over the 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but government ownership of and intervention in business is still common. As a leading exporter of oil and gas, as well as other minerals and metals, Russia’s economy is highly sensitive to swings in world commodity prices.62

Published by Raffaele Felaco

I am an enthusiastic leader with strong background in direct and indirect sales with an exten- sive experience in both retail and wholesale business. I have been fortunate to have worked alongside teams in structured environments both in Italy and abroad over the last 20 years, en- abling me to develop strong leadership skills, a natural approach in effective communication, the ability of positively influencing others and master complex business negotiations.

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