Which Countries Have the Most Gold Reserves?

Gold Reserves
The latest estimate of global gold reserves owned by countries and central banks is around 31,695 tons. Credit: Stevebidmead / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Gold is an important component of central bank reserves because of its safety, liquidity and return characteristics – the three key investment objectives for central banks.

As such, they are significant holders of gold, accounting for around a fifth of all the gold that has been mined throughout history.

There isn’t a single, universally accepted figure for the total amount of gold stored globally because not all gold is held by governments. A significant amount is in private hands, including jewelry, bullion holdings by individuals and institutions, and even gold used in electronics.

In 2021, the World Population Review estimated global gold reserves around 31,695 tons. This figure only considers official reserves held by governments and central banks.

US gold reserves at Fort Knox

The United States has more than twice as much gold as is owned by the second-place country, Germany.

The size of the country’s current reserves, just shy of 9,000 metric tons, reflects the fact that up through the early 20th century, gold was the standard currency of international trade and exchange—and that during both world wars, European nations bought supplies, weapons, and equipment from the US, paying for it with gold.

The US-owned gold is stored in various secure locations around the country, including at Fort Knox, Kentucky, perhaps the most famous gold-storage facility in the world.

The depository is a secure facility. Between its fenced perimeter and granite-lined concrete structure lie rings of razor wire. The grounds are monitored by high-resolution night-vision video cameras and microphones. The subterranean vault is made of steel plates, I-beams and cylinders encased in concrete. Its torch-and-drill-resistant door is 21 inches (53 cm) thick and weighs 20 short tons (18 metric tons).

The vault door is set on a 100-hour time lock, and can only be opened by members of the depository staff who must dial separate combinations. Visitors are not allowed inside. It is so secure that the phrase “as safe as Fort Knox” has become a cliché for safety and security.

Germany, another longtime international trading power, has the second-highest amount of gold. In third place is the International Monetary Fund, which is not a nation, but rather a financial arm of the United Nations that works both to stabilize the global economy and to facilitate international trade. Nations that join the fund must pay into its coffers—and often do so with gold.

Gold reserves
Credit: Trading Economics

Greece with 114 tons is in the 36th place worldwide of gold reserves held by the Bank of Greece.

Gold reserves worldwide in value

Although it’s difficult to provide an exact value for these countries’ gold reserves because the price of gold fluctuates based on gold prices as of July 2024 the value of the reserves for each of the top countries is as follows:

United States: Around $480.84 billion
Germany: Around $198.35 billion
Italy: Around $144.97 billion
France: Around $144.08 billion
Russia: Around $135.92 billion

Many countries, including those with large reserves, store their gold in vaults managed by their central banks. These vaults are often located underground for extra security.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York holds the largest known gold depository in the world. It stores gold for a variety of institutions, including central banks and other governments.

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