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Charted: Income Distributions in 16 Different Countries

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different income distributions worldwide

Charting Income Distributions in 16 Different Countries

Throughout the 19th century, roughly 80% of the global population lived in what we’d now consider extreme poverty.

And as earnings and living conditions have improved dramatically since then, they haven’t done so evenly across the world. There are still vast income gaps, both between different countries and within them.

To highlight these global income discrepancies, this chart by Ruben Berge Mathisen shows income distributions around the world, using 2021 income data from the World Inequality Database (WID) on a per adult basis.

Global Income Distributions

This graphic shows the adult income distributions of 16 different countries in U.S. dollars, along with the world average.

On a global scale, adults making an annual income greater than $124,720 make it into the 99th percentile, meaning they make more than 99% of the worldwide population.

However, things change when you zoom in on specific countries. Here’s a look at all the countries on the list, and how much annual income is needed (at minimum) to be in the top 1%:

RegionCountryAdult income (2021, 99th percentile)
North America🇺🇸 United States$336,953.19
North America🇨🇦 Canada$193,035.55
North America🇲🇽 Mexico$130,388.19
South America🇧🇷 Brazil$115,257.86
South America🇨🇴 Colombia$97,500.37
South America🇦🇷 Argentina$94,794.89
Asia🇨🇳 China$99,095.34
Asia🇮🇳 India$65,370.51
Asia🇮🇩 Indonesia$85,176.35
Europe🇷🇺 Russia$124,805.86
Europe🇩🇪 Germany$212,106.53
Europe🇬🇧 United Kingdom$162,547.56
Africa🇳🇬 Nigeria$53,144.36
Africa🇪🇹 Ethiopia$24,295.66
Africa🇪🇬 Egypt$115,546.44
Oceania🇦🇺 Australia$164,773.40
🌎 World$124,719.60

People in America’s top 1% make at least $336,953 in annual pre-tax income. That’s more than $100,000 above the 1% of next closest countries, Germany ($212,107) and Canada ($193,036).

On the flip side, adults in Ethiopia only need to make $24,297 to fall into the country’s 99th percentile. Ethiopia is one of the poorest nations in the world—according to estimates by the World Bank, about 27% of Ethiopia’s population is thought to be currently living under the poverty line.

Income Gaps Within Countries

It is also noticeable how much income varies within each country.

One example is Colombia, which has one of the largest wealth gaps of any country on the list. The 99th percentile in Colombia is making an annual income that’s 192x higher than its 10th percentile. In contrast, an income in the 99th percentile in the United States is 83x higher than the 10th percentile.

Colombia’s high level of income inequality stems from early childhood disadvantages, such as lack of access to education, which can limit opportunities later on in life.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Globalization

Ranked: The World’s Most and Least Powerful Passports in 2023

How strong is your passport? This ranking showcases the most and least powerful passports based on their ease of access to countries globally.

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Ranked: The World’s Most and Least Powerful Passports

Depending on your passport, travel can be as simple as just booking flights, finding a hotel, and, then simply going.

But for many across the world, it’s not that easy—a number of passport holders need to obtain a travel/tourist visa prior to arrival. These visas typically require approval from the destination country’s government that can take weeks or months.

Japanese passport holders, for example, are able to visit 193 countries without pre-approval (nearly every country on Earth). Afghans, on the other hand, can only visit 27 countries with the same level of ease.

This ranking uses data from Henley & Partners, which determines the number of countries to which a passport holder has visa-free access.

The World’s Passports

First let’s look at every country’s position in the ranking in the table below:

RankPassportNumber of Countries Allowing Visa-Free Access
#1🇯🇵 Japan193
#1🇸🇬 Singapore193
#3🇰🇷 South Korea192
#4🇩🇪 Germany191
#4🇪🇸 Spain191
#6🇫🇮 Finland190
#6🇮🇹 Italy190
#6🇱🇺 Luxembourg190
#9🇦🇹 Austria189
#9🇩🇰 Denmark189
#9🇳🇱 Netherlands189
#9🇸🇪 Sweden189
#13🇫🇷 France188
#13🇮🇪 Ireland188
#13🇵🇹 Portugal188
#13🇬🇧 United Kingdom188
#17🇧🇪 Belgium187
#17🇨🇿 Czechia187
#17🇳🇿 New Zealand187
#17🇳🇴 Norway187
#17🇨🇭 Switzerland187
#17🇺🇸 United States187
#23🇦🇺 Australia186
#23🇨🇦 Canada186
#23🇬🇷 Greece186
#23🇲🇹 Malta186
#27🇭🇺 Hungary185
#27🇵🇱 Poland185
#29🇱🇹 Lithuania184
#29🇸🇰 Slovakia184
#31🇱🇻 Latvia183
#31🇸🇮 Slovenia183
#33🇪🇪 Estonia182
#34🇮🇸 Iceland181
#35🇲🇾 Malaysia180
#36🇱🇮 Liechtenstein179
#37🇨🇾 Cyprus178
#37🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates178
#39🇷🇴 Romania176
#40🇧🇬 Bulgaria175
#40🇨🇱 Chile175
#40🇭🇷 Croatia175
#40🇲🇨 Monaco175
#44🇭🇰 Hong Kong (SAR China)172
#45🇦🇷 Argentina171
#46🇧🇷 Brazil170
#46🇸🇲 San Marino170
#48🇦🇩 Andorra169
#49🇧🇳 Brunei167
#50🇧🇧 Barbados162
#51🇮🇱 Israel160
#51🇲🇽 Mexico160
#53🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis156
#54🇧🇸 Bahamas155
#55🇻🇦 Vatican City154
#56🇸🇨 Seychelles153
#56🇺🇾 Uruguay153
#58🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines151
#59🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda150
#59🇨🇷 Costa Rica150
#59🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago150
#62🇲🇺 Mauritius146
#63🇱🇨 St. Lucia146
#63🇹🇼 Taiwan 146
#65🇬🇩 Grenada145
#66🇩🇲 Dominica144
#66🇲🇴 Macao (SAR China)144
#66🇺🇦 Ukraine144
#69🇵🇦 Panama143
#70🇵🇾 Paraguay141
#71🇷🇸 Serbia137
#72🇵🇪 Peru136
#73🇨🇴 Colombia133
#73🇬🇹 Guatemala133
#73🇭🇳 Honduras133
#76🇸🇻 El Salvador132
#77🇼🇸 Samoa131
#77🇸🇧 Solomon Islands131
#79🇹🇴 Tonga129
#80🇻🇪 Venezuela128
#81🇳🇮 Nicaragua127
#81🇹🇻 Tuvalu127
#83🇲🇰 North Macedonia125
#84🇲🇪 Montenegro124
#85🇰🇮 Kiribati123
#86🇲🇭 Marshall Islands122
#87🇲🇩 Moldova120
#88🇵🇼 Palau Islands119
#89🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina118
#89🇫🇲 Micronesia118
#89🇷🇺 Russia118
#92🇦🇱 Albania115
#92🇬🇪 Georgia115
#94🇹🇷 Türkiye111
#95🇿🇦 South Africa106
#96🇧🇿 Belize102
#97🇶🇦 Qatar100
#98🇰🇼 Kuwait97
#98🇻🇺 Vanuatu97
#100🇹🇱 Timor-Leste94
#101🇪🇨 Ecuador92
#102🇲🇻 Maldives89
#102🇳🇷 Nauru89
#104🇧🇭 Bahrain87
#104🇫🇯 Fiji87
#104🇬🇾 Guyana87
#107🇧🇼 Botswana86
#107🇯🇲 Jamaica86
#109🇴🇲 Oman82
#109🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea82
#109🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia82
#112🇨🇳 China81
#113🇧🇾 Belarus79
#113🇧🇴 Bolivia79
#113🇹🇭 Thailand79
#116🇳🇦 Namibia78
#117🇱🇸 Lesotho77
#117🇸🇷 Suriname77
#119🇰🇿 Kazakhstan75
#120🇸🇿 Eswatini74
#121🇲🇼 Malawi73
#122🇮🇩 Indonesia72
#122🇰🇪 Kenya72
#124🇹🇿 Tanzania71
#124🇹🇳 Tunisia71
#126🇩🇴 Dominican Republic70
#126🇿🇲 Zambia70
#128🇦🇿 Azerbaijan69
#129🇬🇲 The Gambia68
#130🇵🇭 Philippines67
#131🇺🇬 Uganda66
#132🇦🇲 Armenia65
#132🇨🇻 Cape Verde Islands65
#132🇲🇦 Morocco65
#132🇿🇼 Zimbabwe65
#136🇨🇺 Cuba64
#136🇬🇭 Ghana64
#136🇸🇱 Sierra Leone64
#139🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan63
#140🇲🇳 Mongolia61
#140🇲🇿 Mozambique61
#142🇧🇯 Benin60
#142🇮🇳 India60
#142🇷🇼 Rwanda60
#145🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe59
#145🇹🇯 Tajikistan59
#145🇺🇿 Uzbekistan59
#148🇲🇷 Mauritania58
#149🇧🇫 Burkina Faso57
#150🇨🇮 Cote d'Ivoire56
#150🇬🇦 Gabon56
#150🇸🇳 Senegal56
#153🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea55
#153🇬🇳 Guinea55
#153🇻🇳 Vietnam55
#156🇰🇭 Cambodia54
#156🇲🇬 Madagascar54
#156🇹🇬 Togo54
#159🇪🇬 Egypt53
#159🇯🇴 Jordan53
#159🇲🇱 Mali53
#159🇳🇪 Niger53
#163🇩🇿 Algeria52
#163🇧🇹 Bhutan52
#163🇨🇫 Central African Republic52
#163🇹🇩 Chad52
#163🇰🇲 Comoros52
#163🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau52
#163🇹🇲 Turkmenistan52
#170🇨🇲 Cameroon51
#171🇦🇴 Angola50
#171🇱🇦 Laos50
#173🇧🇮 Burundi49
#173🇨🇬 Congo (Rep.)49
#173🇱🇷 Liberia49
#176🇩🇯 Djibouti48
#176🇭🇹 Haiti48
#178🇲🇲 Myanmar47
#179🇪🇹 Ethiopia46
#179🇳🇬 Nigeria46
#181🇪🇷 Eritrea44
#181🇮🇷 Iran44
#181🇸🇸 South Sudan44
#184🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo 42
#184🇸🇩 Sudan42
#186🇽🇰 Kosovo41
#186🇱🇧 Lebanon41
#186🇱🇰 Sri Lanka41
#189🇧🇩 Bangladesh40
#189🇱🇾 Libya40
#189🇰🇵 North Korea40
#192🇵🇸 Palestine38
#193🇳🇵 Nepal37
#194🇸🇴 Somalia35
#195🇾🇪 Yemen34
#196🇵🇰 Pakistan32
#197🇸🇾 Syria30
#198🇮🇶 Iraq29
#199Afghanistan27

Visas are imposed by some countries to make it easier to track visitors, allowing a country to assess whether said passport-holder may be a risk for illegal immigration, crime, acts of terror, or covert surveillance.

For example, both Russia and China require American passport holders to obtain visas prior to travel, and vice versa.

The Most Powerful Passports

When it comes to the most powerful passports, most of the top 20 are issued by countries in Asia or Europe, with the exception of New Zealand and the United States.

Due to multiple ties in the rankings the U.S. technically ranks 17th, having visa-free access to 187 countries, on par with Norway, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

Ranking 66th, Ukraine’s passport has actually seen drastic improvement over the last decade, currently getting visa-free access to 144 countries. It has yet to be seen how this will change in the wake of the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

The Least Powerful Passports

Many of least powerful passports come out of war-torn and politically unstable nations. As visas for travel are typically required to counter illicit activity, these nations are often flagged whether justly or not.

One immediate standout among the least powerful passports is North Korea. The insular nation has visa-free access to 40 countries, ranking it above eight other passports on the list.

Most North Koreans who travel abroad do so only in extremely special circumstances for work, study, or athletic competitions. Leisure travel out of North Korea does not happen, but technically, North Koreans can visit countries like Haiti, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Palestine, and Kyrgyzstan, among others without a visa.

The Biggest Gainers & Losers Over Time

From a big picture standpoint, the world’s travelers have seen their access improve significantly over the last 10 years. If you’re a citizen of the UAE, for example, your prospects for visa-free travel have improved by 100+ countries over the last decade.

most and least powerful passports

Here’s a closer look at 15 countries with the greatest change in visa-free access:

RankCountry2013 Visa-Free Access2023 Visa-Free Access10 Year Change
#1🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates72178+106
#2🇨🇴 Colombia63133+70
#3🇺🇦 Ukraine77144+67
#4🇲🇩 Moldova59120+61
#5🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines92151+59
#6🇩🇲 Dominica87144+57
#6🇬🇩 Grenada88145+57
#8🇵🇪 Peru80136+56
#9🇬🇪 Georgia60115+55
#10🇱🇨 St. Lucia94146+52
#11🇼🇸 Samoa81131+50
#11🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago100150+50
#13🇹🇴 Tonga80129+49
#14🇸🇧 Solomon Islands84131+47
#15🇭🇷 Croatia129175+46

On the other hand, other countries have fared poorly, with some actually losing access to destinations since 2013. Yemen and Syria are tied for first place, having lost visa-free access to nine countries over the last 10 years.

Here’s a look at 15 countries who experienced the biggest negative change:

RankCountry2013 Visa-Free Access2023 Visa-Free Access10 Year Change
#1🇾🇪 Yemen4334-9
#1🇸🇾 Syria3930-9
#3🇳🇬 Nigeria4846-2
#3🇮🇶 Iraq3129-2
#5🇰🇵 North Korea4140-1
#5🇧🇩 Bangladesh4140-1
#5🇦🇫 Afghanistan2827-1
#8🇻🇪 Venezuela1281280
#8🇬🇲 The Gambia68680
#8🇵🇰 Pakistan32320
#8🇳🇪 Niger53530
#8🇳🇵 Nepal37370
#8🇲🇱 Mali53530
#14🇹🇬 Togo5354+1
#14🇸🇱 Sierra Leone6364+1

Looking at the tables above, it’s apparent that the world has generally become more open in recent years.

Overall, the power of a passport is almost directly reflective of the political state of the world. World powers and rich nations typically have free flow of travel, but those facing instability or war are often also face barriers when wanting to go abroad.

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