The value of currency is dependent on a country’s economy, which means it can appreciate or depreciate according to prevailing economic conditions. This is why currency cannot be termed as the real wealth of a country, especially in the long term. Several factors define a country’s real wealth such as education system, healthcare system, industrial & scientific prowess, economic & military might, availability of natural resources, etc.
Another factor that determines a country’s wealth is the total gold reserves it has. While gold prices also fluctuate, they are usually stable over the long term. Gold is a limited commodity and it has a wide variety of uses. This is why gold can never be out of demand. This is also the reason why countries maintain gold reserves to deal with any contingencies that may arise in the future such as recession, inflation, war, famine, etc. To get an idea about the world’s gold reserves, here’s a list of the top five countries with largest gold reserves.
Russia – World’s largest country by landmass, Russia has 2,298.7 metric tons of gold reserves. This comprises 23.9% of the country’s overall forex reserves. A significant percentage of the gold reserves in Russia is held at Central Bank in Moscow. Over the years, Russia has been buying an increasing amount of gold to reduce the dependence on US dollar.
France – Total gold reserves held by France are 2,436.1 metric tons, which comprises 66.7% of the country’s overall forex reserves. Most of the gold is kept at Banque de France (French central bank) headquarters in Paris. The vault is located in a basement facility that was constructed in 1927.
Italy – At 2,451.8 metric tons, Italy’s gold reserves are quite close to that of France. Italy’s gold reserves comprise 71.1% of the country’s overall forex reserves. The country’s gold reserves are managed by Banca d’Italia. The gold in Italy is actually owned by the bank, which is unlike other countries where gold reserves are owned by the state. Around half of Italy’s gold is stored at the bank’s Rome headquarters. Most of the remaining gold is stored at other locations such as Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), Bank of England in London and Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Berne, Switzerland.
Germany – With 3,362.4 metric tons of gold reserves, Germany comes second in the list. It accounts for 76.6% of the country’s overall forex reserves. The gold reserves in Germany are managed by Bundesbank since 1951. They are stored at three locations, Deutsche Bundesbank in Frankfurt, Bank of England in London and Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
United States – The most powerful country on planet earth, United States has total gold reserves of 8,133.5 metric tons. The total value of gold reserves held by United States is close to USD 500 billion. The country’s gold reserve comprises 79.4% of its overall forex reserves, which is quite good from an economic perspective. Most the country’s gold is kept at Fort Knox, a high security, fortified facility. The facility is protected by the United States Mint Police.