Gold has long been a popular store of wealth for nations. It’s less volatile than other assets and doesn’t carry the counterparty risk that comes with currency or bonds.
France holds the fourth largest reserves of gold and is the world’s fifth biggest gold producer. Russia’s aggressive increase in gold reserves moved it up a spot to fifth place this year, leapfrogging China.
It’s no secret that some nations have accumulated mighty hoards of gold, but what may be surprising to some is just how much these countries hold. These nations may store gold for a variety of reasons, including as a hedge against inflation or currency exchange rates, or as a way to diversify their wealth reserves.
Global central bank gold reserves currently top 35,500 metric tons, or about a fifth of all the gold ever mined. The majority of these were acquired in the last decade, as many turned from net sellers to net buyers of the metal.
India has the ninth-largest gold reserves in the world, with a total of 8,133 tonnes. However, India’s household gold stocks — which aren’t reflected in the official reserves — are believed to be even higher. Given that gold attracts a basic import duty of 10%, this isn’t surprising. That said, the country’s recent gold monetisation schemes and sovereign coin sales haven’t generated much interest so far.
As a precious metal that has traditionally been valued for its intrinsic value and as a means to insulate against inflation and recession, many countries hold significant amounts of gold. While the world is no longer on a gold standard, governments and central banks continue to stockpile this commodity as a hedge against economic uncertainty.
Russia has been a major buyer of gold over the last few years, shoring up its holdings and overtaking China to become one of the top five countries with the most gold reserves. This is largely due to the country’s desire to diversify its currency away from US dollars in light of a weak rouble and international sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.
Switzerland is another country with significant gold reserves. In fact, it accounts for about 2.4% of the country’s foreign reserves. Like many of the other nations on this list, Switzerland has benefited from recent quantitative easing measures by the European Central Bank, which have lowered interest rates to zero.
Switzerland is a global gold refining hub, a major bullion storage center and possesses the world’s eighth largest official hoard. The country was late to come off the gold standard, with its constitution requiring the franc be 40% backed by gold until 1999.
Switzerland also exports a lot of its own gold, with the nation’s banks buying the precious metal from Swiss citizens and other investors. The Swiss people own 920 tonnes of private gold next to the country’s 1,040 tons of central bank reserves.
Historically, Switzerland used its gold holdings to balance exchange rates and maintain its national currency’s value. Now the country is selling more of its gold, although only a small percentage of its overall foreign reserves. The move to sell has been protested by the Swiss people through an initiative launched by three People’s Party politicians. The popular vote would require the country’s central bank to keep 20% of its reserves in gold, bring back any bullion stored abroad and halt any sales of its gold.
New Zealand is a country with an active gold mining industry. In addition to its natural beauty, the country has a rich and varied culture that is influenced by the cultures of the early settlers (primarily English), as well as Polynesian (including Samoan, Tongan, and Niuean) and southern Asian cultures.
The country has two main islands, the North and South Islands (Te-Ika-a-Maui and Te Wai Pounamu in Maori), as well as many smaller ones. The capital city, Wellington, is home to a number of art galleries and museums.
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy, with executive power held by the Governor-General and Parliament. The Prime Minister, who is also a member of Parliament, is the highest political leader of the nation. The New Zealand economy is highly diversified and has strong manufacturing, agricultural, and service industries. It is also a leading international investment destination. In the 1930s, commercial mining operations began working gold deposits. These were later joined by large-scale industrial gold production.