Switzerland is a country with an estimated population of 8,069,376 residents. Numerous rankings have it listed as the wealthiest country in the world based on per capita income. In 2007, the gross median household income was estimated to be $137,094 in U.S. dollars. The economy of Switzerland is the world's nineteenth largest in terms of nominal gross domestic product, and it stands as the 20th largest exporter. Despite this, the country is comparatively small in terms of it's physical size, logging only 15,940 square miles (41,285 square kilometers). Conversely, the 25th largest state in the U.S. has 57,918 square miles all by itself.
The country is landlocked. Liechtenstein is situated to the east along with Austria. Germany is to the north, France to the west, and Italy to the south. Geographically, the Jura Mountains are found in the North and the Swiss Plateau in the center. The Swiss Alps begin to take shape in the Plateau and dominate the southern part of the country. The Alps boast some of the highest mountains in Europe with many peaks exceeding 13,000 feet above sea level. The resulting snow and lakes have nurtured a significant recreation industry. The country is known for its ski resorts and is a favorite backdrop for scenes in popular spy movies.
The country has an exceptional emissions record. It is powered almost exclusively by nuclear and hydroelectric power, which results in extremely low Co2 off-gassing. Emissions from transportation have been limited as well by Switzerland's public rail system. It has the densest rail system in Europe. It is estimated that each citizen travels over 1400 miles by rail each year and the system carries over 350 million passengers who speak diverse languages.
The three main languages spoken in Switzerland are German, French, and Italian. In 2012, 23.3% of the population was composed of foreign residents. The demography of languages spoken by foreign residents and those with Swiss citizenship are 65.3% speaking German, 22.4% French, and 8.4% Italian.
Qatar is located in Western Asia. It is an Arab country whose wealth is largely the result of significant and productive oil reserves. It borders Saudi Arabia to the south. The rest of the country is surrounded by the waters of the Persian Gulf. It gained independence from Britain in the early 1970's. Most Qataris belong to the Wahhabi Islamic sect.
In terms of wealth, it posts some very strong numbers. Qatar's per capita GDP was $106,000 in 2012. This ranked as number one in the world. Luxembourg came in at number 2 with $80,000. Over 14% of the population are millionaires in U.S. dollars. It should be noted that 94% of its workforce is composed of migrant labor. This skews the gender ratio. The influx of male laborers has tipped the balance so that only 25% of the population of 1.9 million people are females.
Interestingly, despite being an Arab nation, Qatar's population is comprised primarily of non-Arabs. Indians constitute 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, and another 14% is a combination of Nepali, Filipino, and Sri Lankan ethnicity. The foreign migrant work force expansion is the natural result of the explosion in growth the country has experienced in recent years. In 1970, the population was barely more than 100,000 people. In 2000, the population was a little more than 550,000. This means that in roughly the last decade and a half, the population more than tripled.
Qatar has invested heavily in its infrastructure and continues along that path. It has instituted a $65 billion USD investment plan in preparation for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It also held the Asian Games in 2006. It plans an additional 85,000 hotel rooms. Its major airline, Qatar Airways, travels to 123 destinations.
Luxembourg is another small, but wealthy country. It contains less than 1000 square miles within its landlocked borders. It is surrounded by Belgium, Germany, and France. It has an interesting political design. It is called a parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch. The Grand Duke has the power to actually dissolve the legislature and establish a new one.
Nevertheless, the country has remained quite stable. Some lists have it ranked as the second wealthiest country in the world using per capita Gross Domestic Product measured by purchasing-power parity, which is listed as $80,110. Unemployment is historically low, but rose to just over 6% in mid 2012, thought to be a result of the world financial crisis of 2008, which has had some effect on the nation.
Despite the recent shakeup, the banking and finance sector is the country's most significant revenue source. Although it has recently adopted OECD standards on exchange of information, it has a reputation for willingness to safeguard the secrecy of its depositors and ranks as one of the worlds top tax safe-havens along with Switzerland and The Cayman Islands. While it has been reported that certain foreign sovereigns have invested significant deposits in Luxembourg banks, sizeable deposits of reinsurance companies should not overlooked. Insurance companies typically safeguard their customer policies through reinsurance funds that hold massive amounts of cash or equivalents.
With a population of over 80 million people, Germany is no small country. It covers 357,021 square kilometers (137,847 square miles) and borders 9 countries. It carries with it a history of major involvement in 2 world wars and it's recent reunification with Eastern Germany. Yet, it has emerged from these events with a thriving workforce. It is ranked as having the most powerful economy in Europe and the fourth largest by nominal gross domestic product in the world.
It has a reputation for innovation, automobiles, and the Autobahn, which is known for its significant capacity and absence of a general speed limit. It has added a network of high-speed trains to complement a wide array of locally established car manufacturers. Germany hosts the popular Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz vehicle lines among many others.
The country has also focused its pre-occupation with innovation on energy consumption. In 2008, it was the sixth-largest energy consumer in the world. While it was exporting cars, it was importing sixty percent of its energy, and Germany's Co2 emissions were the European Union's highest as of 2010. Yet, it is reported that emissions are recently declining and the country is a leading researcher in the field of fusion power. Germany has a stated goal of seeking to end its use of nuclear power and eliminate coal and other non-renewable sources of energy from their supply.
German culture has traditionally emphasized the value of intellectual development. As a result, this is deeply reflected in the establishment of over 25,000 libraries, well over 200 theaters, hundreds of orchestras, and countless museums. Many of these are subsidized. This culture records a significant change in the country's collective consciousness and it's view toward diversity. It seems to have paid off in terms of its foreign perception. In quite a turnabout from the aftermath of the days of prior war leaders and prevailing sentiments, a 2011 British Broadcasting Corporation poll voted Germany valued as the most popular country in terms of its influence on the world.
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