In the guide below, we outline which countries have the most natural resources in the world, and also the least.
We also explain the different ways to measure the amount of resources a country has.
Firstly, What Makes Natural Resources So Important?
We need fresh water specifically to drink, and for other tasks like washing, cleaning, manufacturing, and more.
Other natural resources are used as raw materials/inputs (also called commodities) for the world’s manufacturing, and products and services.
So, natural resources are critical to our everyday lives.
Different Ways To Determine Or Measure Which Country Has The Most Or Least Resources
Firstly, resources can be measured separately by each individual resource, or, or all resources can be included in the same measurement.
Secondly, some of the different ways to express which country has the most or least resources might include:
– By proven reserves of a specific resource, or total supplies
Reserves and supplies are resources found in the country
Minerals and metals for example are usually expressed in terms of proven reserves
Fresh water for example is usually expressed in terms of volume of water supplies i.e. cubic metres of water
– By weight produced or exported
Production is different to reserves or supplies
Reserves and supplies indicate that those resources are found in a specific country, but production refers to actually extracting the resource to use it
The countries that are the top producers can be different to the countries that have the highest proven reserves or supplies geographically located in their country
Production can be expressed in terms of total tons or giga tonnes produced or exported, or some other quantity based measurement
The wikipedia.org guide for example lists production quantities for a range of resources
– By dollar value exported
Takes into account the value of the resource instead of the quantity
*A Note On The Information Above
A country could have the largest amount of proven reserves for one specific resource, but not have many other resources other than that one resource.
There’s various ways to assess or profile a country for the resources they have, or that they produce.
Which Countries Have The Most Natural Resources In The World?
Total – By $ Value
According to statista.com, the countries with the highest natural resource value, measured in trillions of US dollars in 2021, were:
Russia – 75 trillion USD, United States 45 trillion USD, Saudi Arabia 34.4 trillion USD, Canada 33.2 trillion USD, Iran 27.3 trillion USD, China 23 trillion USD, Brazil 21.8 trillion USD, Australia 19.9 trillion USD, Iraq 15.9 trillion USD, Venezuela 14.3 trillion USD, and India came in at 0.11 trillion USD
basicplanet.com lists the same top 10 as statista.com
Total – By Weight
We don’t have any data for the production by weight/tonnage, when including all resources for each country.
Metals & Minerals
Cultivated, Arable & Cropland Land
Phosphorus, & Elements Used For Fertilizer – Morocco has most of the world’s rock phosphate reserves
What Are The Main Resources In The Leading Countries?
According to statista.com, some of the main or most valuable resources in the top 4 countries (by resource dollar value) are:
Russia – coal, natural gas, oil, gold, timber, rare earth metals
United States – coal, timber, natural gas, gold, copper
Saudi Arabia – oil, timber
Canada – oil, uranium, timber, natural gas, phosphate
statista.com lists the rest of the major resources for each leading country in their guide
For China specifically, according to investopedia.com, ‘Ninety percent of China’s resources are coal and rare Earth metals … [with timber being] another major natural resource found in China’
Which Countries Produce The Most Resources?
In general, China is one of the top producers of resources across a range of resource categories.
For example, China is the top producer, or amongst the top producers for coal, some gemstones, and a range of metals (the wikipedia.org guide provides evidence of this).
According to various reports, China, Australia and the US feature amongst some of the top producers of minerals and fossil fuels overall.
wikipedia.org also has a list of the top producers of different fossil fuels, gemstones and metals that reflect this.
[China is the largest producer of coal, with India second]
[The US is the largest producer of natural gas, with Russia second]
[The US is the largest producer of petroleum, with Saudi Arabia second]
[Kazakhstan is the largest producer of uranium, with Canada second]
[India is the largest producer of thorium, with USA second]
[Chile is the largest producer of copper, with Peru second]
[China is the largest producer of gold, with Canada second]
[Mexico is the largest producer of silver, with Peru second]
[Australia is the largest producer of iron ore, with Brazil second]
[Australia is the largest producer of lithium, with Chile second]
Read the wikipedia.org guide for a more complete list of metals
According to various reports, China again is one of the main producers of different agricultural resources overall, with the US, India, Russia and Brazil also featuring amongst the top producers.
Which Countries Have The Least Natural Resources In The World?
afterschoolafrica.com gives a list of countries with the least natural resources in the world, in no order:
Vatican City, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Belgium, Taïwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Singapore, and Italy
afterschoolafrica.com discusses some of these countries in their guide
basicplanet.com lists the same countries as afterschoolafrica.com, with the addition of the volcanic island Van Mayen