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Asia’s 2018 Richest And Poorest Countries

Asia is the world’s largest continent, and also, it’s most populous. While Asia has come to have some of the biggest economies in the world such as India and China, it also hosts some weaker economies such as Nepal and Bangladesh. In this article, we analyze the economies of thirteen countries based on their economic indicators such as GDP, GDP per capita and also their economic sectors and populations. Economic indicators such as GDP and GDP per capita offer insights into living standards while the economic sectors offer insights into future developments of that economy. The article uses available consensus data from several sources that include investment banks, economic forecasting firms, and think tanks.

Many of the rich countries and many of the poor countries can attribute their fortunes to economic policies that made investment more favorable. Rich countries can attribute their success to good governance, the adoption of liberal market economics, and political stability. On the other hand, poor countries can attribute their failure to mismanagement, socialist policies that stifle investment, political turmoil, inadequate infrastructure, civil war, and weak financial institutions. Despite some countries having grim statistics, most of the poorer countries’ economies are looking up and are set to become some of the fastest growing in the coming decades. Read on for a breakdown of select richest and poorest countries.

Malaysia

The Malaysian Department of Statistics reported the country’s population at 28,334, 135 people in 2010. The figure positions Malaysia as the 42nd most populous in the world. The government estimates that the population is growing at an average of 1.54% annually. At a population density of about 96 persons per km squared, it ranks 116th in the world.

Malaysia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and in South East Asia with a GDP of $746.821 billion in 2014. It is also one of the fastest growing economies in the ASEAN region growing by an average of 6% over the past five decades. According to HSBC, Malaysia will hit a GDP per capita of $29,247 by 2050, which will make it the 21st largest economy in the world.


credit: Wikipedia
The Malaysian economy is driven by its industry and service sectors that combined contribute up to half of its GDP. The most important economic sectors are electrical and electronics, automotive, construction, and defense. The services sectors most significant contributors are finance and banking, and tourism.



Population ranking (world): 44th
Total GDP ranking (world): 38th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 62nd

China

According to a 2010 national census, China is the most populous country in the world at approximately 1, 379, 536, 875 people. Given the institution of a one-child policy in the 1970s, the Chinese population has been growing at less than one percent for decades. The policy has recently been revised in 2013 and 2016, to allow families to have two children.

CIA 2018 estimates place China as the world second largest economy with a GDP of about $13.5 trillion. The nominal GDP which has been growing at more than 10% since 1978 when China implemented economic reforms and is expected to hit $37.06 trillion by 2023. However, given its huge population, it has a GDP per capita of $8,643, which makes it a middle-income economy.


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The economic reforms enacted since 1978 have transformed China into one of the most dominant players in the global economy. The major sectors of the Chinese economy include manufacturing, tourism, retail, e-commerce, mining, real estate, steel, telecommunications, textiles, electronics, automobiles, banking, green energy, and energy generation.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia had a population of approximately 26.9 million people in 2013 with about 21% of the number being foreign non-nationalized immigrants. With an average birthrate of 3%, which is one of the highest in the world, the country’s population has grown rapidly from a low of 3 million in 1950 to the current high.

Saudi Arabia is the Middle East’s largest economy and the 18th largest in the world. Its 2017 GDP was estimated at $683.82 billion with the PPP GDP estimated at $1.77 trillion. The economy is vulnerable to shocks particularly in the prices of oil as it is primarily an oil-based economy. The country has approximately 18% of proven petroleum reserves in the world.


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It is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum and the gas and oil sector account for 70% of their export earnings and half of its GDP. The country is also rich in other resources such as copper, gold, iron ore and natural gas, though these are not as developed as the oil industry.

Population ranking (world): 40th
Total GDP ranking (world): 18th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 35th

Qatar

Going by 2017 estimates, Qatar has a population of 2.6 million people with over 80% of the populace migrant labor mostly from South East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka. Qatari citizens number about 313, 000 with the rest being expatriates and immigrants.

2016 figures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) place Qatar fourth in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The Institute of International Finance estimates that Qatar’s GDP per capita in 2012 was $106,000 making it the wealthiest nation in the world. The same study estimated its GDP in the same year at $182 billion.


credit: Wikipedia
Qatar had experienced exponential economic growth since 1940 when it started extracting and exporting natural gas. The country is currently one of the leading exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world. It was expected to invest more than $120 billion in the sector in the decade between 2012 and 2022.

Going by 2017 estimates, Qatar has a population of 2.6 million people with over 80% of the populace migrant labor mostly from South East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka. Qatari citizens number about 313, 000 with the rest being expatriates and immigrants.


2016 figures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) place Qatar fourth in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The Institute of International Finance estimates that Qatar’s GDP per capita in 2012 was $106,000 making it the wealthiest nation in the world. The same study estimated its GDP in the same year at $182 billion.


credit: Wikipedia
Qatar had experienced exponential economic growth since 1940 when it started extracting and exporting natural gas. The country is currently one of the leading exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world. It was expected to invest more than $120 billion in the sector in the decade between 2012 and 2022.

Population ranking (world): 140th
Total GDP ranking (world): 56th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 6th

Thailand

Thailand is one of the most populous countries in Asia at a population of 68,863,514 as of 2016. Most of the populace lives in the rural rice growing areas in the north-central and northeastern areas of the country. The government-sponsored a family planning program in 1960 which resulted in a massive drop in the population growth rate from 3.1% to about 0.4% at present.

Thailand is a newly industrialized country that is deemed an emerging economy. In 2017 the state had a PPP GDP of $1.236 trillion making it the second largest economy in South East Asia. Economic growth has hovered between 4-5% in the 2000s, which more than doubled the GDP per capita between 2001 and 2011 peaking at $1475.


credit: Wikipedia
Thailand’s economy is mainly export driven with up to two-thirds of the GDP coming from exports. The major exports include electrical appliances, jewelry, automobiles, rubber, rice, fishery products, and footwear that bring in more than $105 billion in annual revenues.

zPopulation ranking (world): 20th
Total GDP ranking (world): 24th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 83rd

Nepal

Nepal has a population of about 26.5 million people according to a 2011 census. There are more than 1.9 million absentee citizens most of whom are employed as laborers in the Middle East and South Asia. The country has an annualized population growth rate of 1.35%.

In 2012 Nepal’s gross domestic product was approximately $17.921 billion. The Nepalese economy has three main industry sectors that include Agriculture that contributes 36.1%, Industry that contributes 15.4%, and services that contributes 48.5% of the GDP. In recent years, the service sector has been growing, even as industry and agriculture go into decline. Remittances which contribute between 25-30 percent of the GDP are also among the most important pillars of the economy of Nepal.


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Up to 76% of the Nepalese work in Agriculture producing water buffalo meat, milk, root crops, sugarcane, tea, wheat, corn, and rice. 18% are in industry, where they process agricultural produce such as grain, jute, tobacco and sugar cane.

Population ranking (world): 48th
Total GDP ranking (world): 99th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 162nd

Bangladesh

It is hard to estimate the population of Bangladesh with the official census putting the number at 142.3 million and the union giving a figure of 162,951,560 million. Nonetheless, regardless of the number you decide to go with, the country is still the world’s eight most populous country and 11th most densely populated.

It has a mixed market economy that is deemed a developing country. As of 2018, Nepal has a GDP per capita income of $4,561 and a Gross Domestic Product of $285 billion according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With such numbers, Bangladesh ranks as South Asia’s third-largest economy after Pakistan and India.


credit: Wikipedia
There has been a huge expansion of the private sector since the liberalization of the economy in 1991. Major industries include agriculture where most Bangladeshis work, manufacturing and industry that include the production and export of electronics, ceramics, food processing, leather goods and textiles, which is the largest manufacturing industry in the country.

credit: Wikipedia
There has been a huge expansion of the private sector since the liberalization of the economy in 1991. Major industries include agriculture where most Bangladeshis work, manufacturing and industry that include the production and export of electronics, ceramics, food processing, leather goods and textiles, which is the largest manufacturing industry in the country.

Population ranking (world): 8th
Total GDP ranking (world): 41st
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 143th

Vietnam

Vietnam is a populous South East Asian country with a population of 94.6 million people as of 2016. As of 2009, more than 70% of the population lived in rural areas through rapid urbanization means that the urban population has been rising fast in recent years.

Vietnam is the 47th largest economy in the world by GDP, which stands at 241.434 billion estimated for 2018. With a reducing population growth rate and high economic growth rates, the GDP per capita has risen to an estimated $2552 in 2018. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Vietnam could be the 20th largest economy in the world by 2050. The economy has been growing at a rate of about 7% since the liberalization.


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The biggest industries in Vietnam are information technology, manufacturing, industry, services, tourism, and agriculture. The oil industry is relatively new though the country is currently South East Asia’s biggest producer as of 2011.

Population ranking (world): 15th
Total GDP ranking (world): 47th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 129th

United Arab Emirates

The population of the UAE is estimated at 9.543 million people in 2018. 88.52 percent of the population is immigrants and expatriates, with native Emiratis making up only 11% of the population. The huge imbalance in the population is because the country has the highest net migration rates in the world at 21.71.

The UAE has the Gulf Cooperation Council’s second-largest economy that is second only to its much larger neighbor Saudi Arabia. The estimated Gross Domestic Product as of 2017 is $407.52 billion while its GDP per capita is estimated at 40,162. While the UAE has one of the most diversified economies of the GCC, it still relies to a great extent on its petroleum industry, which provided up to 85% of revenues in 2009.


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The services and tourism sectors have also grown to be important in the UAE economy. Services and industry made up to 54% of the economy in 2016. Other important sectors of the economy include construction and manufacturing.

Population ranking (world): 93rd
Total GDP ranking (world): 28th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 19th

Kuwait

As of 2018 Kuwait has an estimated population of 4.6 million. Only 30% or 1.4 million of the population is native Kuwaitis with 1.8 million being Asian expatriates, 1.2 million Arabs, and 47,227 Africans.

According to the World Bank, Kuwait has a GDP per capita of $69,700 estimated for 2017, which makes it the seventh richest country in the world. It is also the GCC’s second richest country with only Qatar being wealthier. Its estimated GDP as of 2017 is $120 billion, most of which is derived from petroleum exports. Petroleum accounts for 90% of government revenues and half of the country’s GDP.


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Other important economic sectors in Kuwait include services of which finance is the most important and most developed. Kuwait is one of the leading nations when it comes to financing in the GCC. In recent times there has been a rise in small business and entrepreneurship and also in the informal sector.

Population ranking (world): 128th
Total GDP ranking (world): 55th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 23rd

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a population of 21,670,000 people which makes it the 57 most populous country in the world. It has a relatively low annual population growth rate of 1.14 percent. Most of the populace lives around the capital Colombo and the densest populations are generally found in the western parts of the country.

Sri Lanka’s has a nominal GDP of $92 billion and a nominal GDP per capita of $4310 as of 2018. The country has experienced strong economic growth from 2003-2012 at 6.4 percent on average, which is higher than most of its South Asian counterparts.

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The service sector is Sri Lanka’s most prominent economic sector making up 60% of its GDP followed by industrial and manufacturing at 28% and agriculture at 12%. In addition to these sectors, the country also receives a lot of remittances from its citizens working overseas, particularly in the Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.

Population ranking (world): 57th
Total GDP ranking (world): 66th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 109th

India

India is the world’s second most populous country at 1,210,193,422 people according to the 2011 census results. In the decade between 2001 and 2011, the population growth rate peaked at 17.64%, down from 21.54% that had been experienced in the previous decade. The vast population is believed to be as a result of medical advances and increased agricultural productivity in the past five decades.

Since the 1991 Reforms, India has grown its nominal GDP per capita significantly rising from $329 in 1991 to $1.265 in 2010. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s GDP was worth $2,611 trillion in 2017, which makes it the sixth largest economy in the world. Growing its GDP at an average of 5.8 percent since the year 2000, it is set to become the world’s fifth largest economy by 2019.

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The Indian economy is driven by a few sectors that include the world’s fastest growing telecommunications industry, the second fastest automotive industry, and a vast and robust pharmaceutical industry that should top $48.5 billion by 2020.

Population ranking (world): 2nd
Total GDP ranking (world): 6th
Per capita GDP ranking (world): 133rd
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