Study ranks Tonga as richest country in the Pacific

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Other than residue colonials Australia and New Zealand, the richest country in the Pacific is the Kingdom of Tonga.

Global Finance magazine just released a 2013 study and ranking of the “Richest Countries in the World”, according to data from the World Bank, IMF, figures from OECD, and Eurostat.

(Find the full GF study here).

The study compares not size of the economy, but the overall domestic receipts divided per head of the population with no Pacific country scoring in the first rich 100, but top place is held by Qatar where people earn an average $105,091 a year.

However, just at number 101 is Tonga, where people earn on average, $7,753 a year. (The only exception is US Territory of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, yet, only at number 96).

The next Pacific countries up to Tonga is: the Federated States of Micronesia at rank 106 (average of 7,532), Samoa at 113 (at $6,282), Vanuatu at 123 ($5,093), Fiji at 124 ($4,947), and Solomon Islands and Tuvalu at 135 and 136 respectively.

PNG sits the furthest out at 139, yet no Pacific country dwells at the poorest 30 countries in the world.

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Poorest 23 countries in the world, as of 2013

Australia sits well at number 10, with Australians earning an average of $44,073, and New Zealand at number 30 with New Zealanders’ average of $30,803; both countries’ activity heavily fueled by the raging consumer and technology markets of China and Asia.

Generally, the countries populating the top 100 are European, Caribbean, American, or the behemoths of East and South East Asia.

In fact three of the top five rich countries are from Asia, other than Qatar, including Singapore (no. 3) and Brunnei (no. 5), along with Luxembourg (no. 2) and Norway (no. 4) from Europe.

The US sits at number 7 behind Hong Kong, while the UK occupies 23 behind Japan at 22, and China back at number 90.

Although GDP and GDP per capita are too broad for measuring internal distribution of wealth, Tonga still caps most on other instruments like the UNDP’s Human Development Index and the MDGs.

Challenges are political and limits country’s growth

The common rhetoric of Tonga as the poorest country in the world is intended to undermine the rule of Tonga’s monarchy, under the rubric of “democratisation”.

But the new democracy reforms are ailing due to underdeveloped democratic culture, fragmentation and factionalisation, and unethical institutional management leading to greater corruption.

All it has done, is drain optimism and hope in the economy, and such failure is to be blamed on the monarchy.

While political and foreign sponsored, it ultimately hinders and consequently undermines local Tongans opportunity to realise development goals, even though Tonga has consistently been the best performer in human development indices in the region and abroad. Those successes are the result of previous administrations.

But a failing Tongan economy is not good for the region, nor for neighbours.

Tonga’s actual economic challenges can be boiled down to just a single problem: size, and isolation! At 100,000 people, interspersed over a wide area over several archipelagoes, conventional businesses are typically wary.

However, the new administration is contemplating a jump into a new paradigm energy level to enrich the economy with a new type of industry, that it will add bulk and fuel growth and optimism.

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2 Comments on Study ranks Tonga as richest country in the Pacific

  1. Bill Jaynes // July 30, 2015 at 12:21 am // Reply

    So sorry to do this but the Republic of Marshall Islands is not a territory of the U.S. but a sovereign country in its own right with a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. The Republic of Palau is not even listed in the report but the World Bank from which the GF study took its numbers listed Palau as having a per capita GDP of over $10,000 in 2013. In 2014 it was over $11,000. Palau is also a sovereign nation.

    Per capita GDP does not at all indicate what people earn on average. It is essentially a country’s entire economic output divided by its population.

    I think that maybe the paper might want to re-think it’s analysis of the report it reported on in this article.

    Bill Jaynes
    Managing Editor
    The Kaselehlie Press
    The Federated States of Micronesia

  2. Steve Finau // March 12, 2016 at 10:40 am // Reply

    Who wrote this nonsensical piece about the monarchy killing off initiative and development, a country with ninety-nine percent literacy rate and the most educated in the region.

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