How Rich Countries Got Richer (Guide)

Entrepreneurship and innovation are the principal source of jobs and wealth in market economies. While entrepreneurship fosters new business ventures or growing existing ones, innovation is an important prerequisite for gaining a competitive advantage and building a strong and sustainable business. Thus, entrepreneurship with a special emphasis on technology transfer and wealth creation. 

Technology transfer is the process of taking innovations out of laboratories and finding commercial applications for those technologies. Many companies, universities and governmental organizations now have an Office of Technology Transfer (TTO, also known as "Tech Transfer" or "TechXfer") dedicated to identifying research which has potential commercial interest and strategies for how to exploit it.

Countries get rich, by finding a niche where they have a comparative advantage, specialising, and then producing whatever that speciality is for the world market. In return, by opening their own markets to import, the best of the world will come to them, and everybody wins.
The already rich countries of the West became rich by diversifying trades within the cities, which creates synergies. 

The governments then supported growing businesses with monopoly rights, and tariffs to prevent cheaper imports from sinking the market. Out of these hot-spots of business activity come innovations, and then manufacturing and exports. No country has ever developed without a manufacturing industry. For instance, a research result may be of scientific and commercial interest, but patents are normally only issued for practical processes, and so someone—not necessarily the researchers—must come up with a specific practical process.

 Another consideration is commercial value; for example, while there are many ways to accomplish nuclear fusion, the ones of commercial value are those that generate more energy than they require to operate. The first rich countries, Holland, England, and Italy, developed through these rounds of diversification, and industrialisation protected by government intervention. Holland followed the process through ship-building. 

England started with wool, and later cotton, coming to dominate the European markets for cloth. Each realised that selling finished products was more worthwhile than selling raw materials, and used tariffs and sanctioned monopolies to protect their early industries. It was England’s planned shift from selling raw wool to selling finished cloth that set it on the road to development.

Philipp Von Hornigk, writing in Prussia in 1684, observed how these countries had become rich, and counselled his own nation accordingly: “all commodities found in a country, which cannot be used in their natural state, should be worked up within the country; since the payment for manufacturing generally exceeds the value of raw material by two, three, ten, twenty, and even a hundred-fold, and the neglect of this is an abomination to prudent managers.

Let’s say a wood market develops on this street. Traders start coming from other parts of the country to buy good wood, the king wants building materials for his summer house from there. The city becomes the cut wood capital of the region. But, as the market develops, traders from the hill tribes start bringing pine logs to the market and selling them cheap, undercutting the local businessmen. To prevent this, the mayor of the city puts a tax on any wood brought into the city that was cut outside the region, giving local traders a definite advantage.

Wealth is gathered by building Markets and establishing trade routes with Caravans between friendly Cities. Some rare resources also add to wealth production when they have a merchant harvesting the resource. Researching the Taxation technology line at the temple allows a nation to gather wealth based on the size of it's territory and it also increases income from rare resources and fishermen. Some nations have national powers that grant them bonuses to their wealth production.


Wealth is one of six basic resources in rise of Nations. It is a primary resource used in the production of units, buildings, and technology upgrades.

The main use for wealth is in the construction of units and technology upgrades.

Wealth tends to replace food as a staple resource in the late-game, as advanced units and technology require wealth in place of food to create.

Without heat, light and power you cannot build or run the factories and cities that provide goods, jobs and homes, nor enjoy the amenities that make life more comfortable and enjoyable. Energy is the “oxygen” of the economy and the life-blood of growth, particularly in the mass industrialization phase that emerging economic giants are facing today as their per capita GDP moves between approximately US$ 5,000 and US$ 15,000.

We all understand how globalization and market liberalization have underpinned these developments, but we must not lose sight of the crucial enabling role played by the energy sector. The economic progress of past decades has seen hundreds of millions of people enjoy major improvements in their material well-being, and these changes have been particularly noteworthy in the emerging economies.

Manufacturing items with interchangeable parts may seem like common from our perspective, but it was a revolutionary concept in about 1798 when Eli Whitney assembled ten guns from interchangeable parts in front of Congress. Interchangeable parts became the foundation for another simple idea: assembly line production, which Henry Ford perfected for construction of the Model T in 1913, becoming the model for modern industry.

Industrial states level many of the inequalities associated with agricultural states, because men and women can work side-by-side in most factories and offices to earn a living. Technological advances in oil and gas extraction have led to remarkable increases in employment in the United States. 

Likewise, renewable energy innovations in the power sector have contributed to employment gains, although the multipliers in that sector are highly sensitive to the nature of domestic supplier networks. However, balancing energy prices, energy security and the environment requires trade-offs between job creation and overall productivity in the energy sector. The record of managing natural resource wealth to promote economic development is mixed, but some countries such as United States, have done so with great success.

Areas with fewer natural resources are also focusing on the energy sector as a potential driver of economic growth. Steady and reliable energy supplies are crucial to growth in developing and emerging economies. South Korea, China and India are fostering entrepreneurship and technological innovation in non-traditional energy sectors as another avenue to promote the development of their rapidly growing economies. 

Specifically, they are providing incentives for wind and solar production, encouraging joint ventures and technology transfers and providing research and development (R&D) spending to encourage these efforts. Many developed economies are also seeking to expand their renewable energy capacity to be at the forefront of this growing sector and to achieve sustainability goals.

The key factors in maintaining the health of this nexus of resources (energy, food and water) are sustained investment, increased efficiency, new technology, system-level integration (e.g. in urban development) and supportive regulatory and social conditions. Industrialization also facilitates a shift in perception from a second person to a third person perspective. 

To appreciate the depth of this perceptual shift, consider that, prior to trains, human travel was fused with the natural world. People traveled overland by foot, horseback, or buggy, intimately connected with the passing of every house and farm, keenly aware of the fatigue and smells of the livestock and every bump in the road. It was an intensely first person, present-moment-oriented experience. 

Railroads changed human perception, as noted by Wolfgang Schivelbusch in his book The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century. Energy on the other hand, is the lifeblood of the global economy – a crucial input to nearly all of the goods and services of the modern world. Stable, reasonably priced energy supplies are central to maintaining and improving the living standards of billions of people. 

Without heat, light and power you cannot build or run the factories and cities that provide goods, jobs and homes, nor enjoy the amenities that make life more comfortable and enjoyable. If China, India and other emerging markets continue to expand, of course the demand for energy will continue to explode. The energy industry is undoubtedly an engine of growth, as its products serve as inputs into nearly every good and service imaginable. 

But how does the energy industry contribute to economic growth and employment, apart from its vital products? Given the risks and challenges in the overall global economy how can the energy industry play a role in economic recovery and job creation?

The energy industry contributes to economic growth in two ways. First, energy is an important sector of the economy that creates jobs and value by extracting, transforming and distributing energy goods and services throughout the economy. As an example, in 2009 the energy industry accounted for about 4% of GDP in the United States. 

In some countries that are heavily dependent on energy exports the share is even higher: 30% in Nigeria- With a maximum crude oil production capacity of about 2.5 million barrels per day, Nigeria ranks as Africa's largest oil producer, 35% in Venezuela and 57% in Kuwait- Oil reserves in Kuwait make up 8% of the oil reserves in the world. Kuwait is OPEC's third largest oil producer and hold approximately 104 billion. The energy industry extends its reach into economies as an investor, employer and purchaser of goods and services.


Secondly, energy underpins the rest of the economy. Energy is an input for nearly all goods and services. In many countries, the flow of energy is usually taken for granted. But price shocks and supply interruptions can shake whole economies. When it comes to the energy industry, it directly affects the economy by using labour and capital to produce energy. This role is particularly important when economic growth and job creation are such high priorities around the world.

Recent research in the United States demonstrates that the energy industry supports many more jobs than it generates directly, owing to its long supply chains and spending by employees and suppliers. The energy industry is one of the most capital-consuming industries in the world. In its 2011 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that a cumulative global energy investment of US$ 38 trillion (in constant 2010 dollars) will be required by 2035 to meet the world’s growing energy demand.

Investment requirements per worker in the energy industry are also very high. As an example, in the United States, energy industries invested an average of US$ 176,000 a year for each worker over the past ten years, compared to compensation of US$101,000 per worker. Thus energy- related industries spend about 75% more on capital than they do on labour. In times of economic turbulence, the focus quite rightly falls on jobs.

The energy industry is known for being highly capital intensive, but its impact on employment is often forgotten. In the United States, for example, the American Petroleum Institute estimates that the industry supports more than nine million jobs directly and indirectly, which is over 5% of the country’s total employment. 

In 2009 the energy industry supported a total value added to the national economy of more than US$ 1 trillion, representing 7.7% of US GDP. These are crucial to understanding the potential economic impact of the energy industry. Countries with a comparative advantage in energy-related skills and capabilities tend to retain more of these benefits domestically. The impact will be smaller in countries that cannot supply materials and expertise locally.

In addition to the energy sector’s economic contributions in general, relatively lower and stable energy prices help stimulate the economy. Thus, lower energy prices reduce expenses for consumers and businesses, increasing disposable income that can be spent in other ways. Moreover, lower energy prices reduce input costs for nearly all goods and services in the economy, thus making them more affordable.

The converse is also true: relatively higher energy prices place a drag on economic growth everywhere except in economies that are dominated by energy production. Global oil prices entered a long upward swing in 2004, and the trend accelerated sharply in 2007.

Recent innovations in the production of natural gas from shale formations provide a case study of the way lower energy prices can benefit the economy as a whole. In the United States, technological innovations have spurred the development of natural gas production from shale formations. 

Increasing shale gas production has significantly reduced US gas and electricity prices. For example, wholesale natural gas prices decreased from an average of US$ 6.73 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) for 2000 to 2008 to US$ 3.50 per MMBtu in October 2011 (prices in constant 2010 dollars). Going forward, IHS CERA forecasts natural gas prices at roughly half what they would have been without the shale production boom.

IHS Global Insight used its US Macroeconomic Model to investigate the macroeconomic effect of this price decrease. They found that lower natural gas prices provided a short-term boost to disposable income, profits (except for natural gas producers), GDP and employment during a troubling time for the US economy. These positive effects of lower gas prices are occurring as the economy is slowly recovering from the severe recession of 2008-2009.

Additionally, availability of a secure supply of low-cost natural gas will restore in a global competitive advantage for many domestic gas-intensive industries: chemicals, aluminium, steel, glass, cement and other manufacturing industries.

Some nations are rich mainly due to their massive rare natural resources. Natural resources are the commodities which exist without any action from human beings. They are the raw materials which are used to produce and manufacture all of the products we use. The price of these resources varies depending on how rare they are to find, their quality and demand. 

Generally, these commodities whether extracted or not are valuable; therefore they are the backbone of many economies in the world.


Here are some elements and resources which are commonly known to be rare: Precious metals such as gold and platinum are some famous examples. Other rare resources include:

  • Amber
  • Diamonds
  • Dye
  • Fish
  • Gems
  • Peacocks
  • Silk
  • Silver
  • Sulphur

For instance, the vast majority of the world’s diamonds come from sources that use the revenues generated by diamonds to aid their national development. Given good governance and appropriate laws, diamonds are a vital source of revenue for building infrastructure and essential social services such as hospitals and schools.

As a natural resource, rough diamonds represent one of the main sources of revenue for many diamond-producing countries and create livelihoods for millions of people. Countries such as Russia, Botswana, and South Africa offer ongoing proof that diamond revenues can create sizeable benefits to the economy in countries where they are sourced. 

In these countries, diamonds have contributed to funding impressive economic growth and stability. The link between diamonds and economic development is no more evident than across Africa where the diamond trade contributes approximately US $7.6 billion a year to its economy.

Diamonds account for 71% of Botswana’s export revenue, 16% of the government revenue and 16% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Canada, the world’s third largest producer of diamonds produces an estimated USD $1.7 billion worth of diamonds each year.

In Russia, yearly, about $110 million are allocated by the diamond industry to help the national institutions of health, education and culture, to support socio-economic development of regions, charitable and sponsorship projects for local communities. In addition, the diamond industry allocates more than $65 million on social programs for diamond industry employees and their families, including housing, health, culture and sports, non-state pension provision.


The diamond region of Yakutia, Russia receives more than $1 billion in taxes and royalties from diamond mining operations. Furthermore, a rare resource like sliver is heavily produced in Mexico, China and Peru. In the past, silver was used as currency, but more recently it has been used to make coins. 

For instance sterling, silver is an alloy having 92.5% silver, while the rest is some other metals. Silver is also used to make jewellery, silverware, and other decorative items to enhance their aesthetic appeal. Silver has applications in making high capacity batteries, where it is used with zinc or cadmium.

Mexico has remained the world‘s largest producer, and it has maintained that lead for some years now. In 2013, the country produced 5,400 tons of silver. Mexico is traditionally seen as a commodities and manufacturing giant. With the largest proven silver reserves in the world, and the tenth largest oil reserves. PEMEX, the state-owned oil company, is one of the largest oil producers in the world, with revenues of about $130 billion.

In 2017, the United States received 79 percent of Mexico's exports. Trade with the United States and Canada has tripled since NAFTA's signing in 1994. More than 90 percent of Mexico's trade is under 12 free trade agreements. Mexico has agreements with 46 countries, more than any other nation. These trade agreements are a big reason for Mexico's export success.

Mexico manufactures and exports the same amount of goods as the rest of Latin America combined. Foreign trade is a larger percentage of Mexico's economy than any other large country. It also exports fruits, vegetables, coffee, and cotton. China is the second largest producer of silver and it is the leading producer of Gold. In 2002, it was the fourth biggest producer of silver in the world and its production has been increasing over the years. In 2013, its total production was 4,000 tons. 

The Chinese have developed other mining operations in the country, and that is the reason for its steady increase over time. 95% of the silver produced in China is a result of other mining projects, and therefore it is a byproduct. Gold, one of the rarest elements in the world, makes up roughly 0.003 parts per million of the earth’s crust. But how much gold is the world digging up each year and what countries produce the most?

In 2017, global gold mine production was a reported 3,247 tonnes. This figure is down 5 tonnes from the previous year and marks the first annual drop since 2008, according to the GFMS Gold Survey 2018. The driving forces behind the drop in output were environmental concerns, crackdowns on illegal mining operations and rising costs.


Top 10 Countries With The Largest Gold Production In 2017

( Beginning with the top producer and top consumer of bullion.)

China – 426 tonnes: For many years China has been the top producing nation, accounting for 13 percent of global mine production. China is also one of the leading producers of phosphates, vanadium, tungsten, antimony, graphite, coal, tin, molybdenum, lead and zinc. They are the second top producers of manganese, bauxite, cobalt and copper. 

China is one of the top mining countries in the world. 90% of the natural resources in the state include rare earth metals and coal. Other critical natural commodities in China include timber, chromium, and gem diamond. The total natural resources in China are estimated to be worth over $23 trillion.

Australia – 295.1 tonnes: The minerals industry produces over half of Australia’s total exports and generates about 8 percent of GDP. Mining is the primary industry in Australia and the main contributor to its economy which earns them over $19.9 trillion per annum. Australia is also one of the leaders in uranium. Australia has the largest gold reserves in the world, and they supply about 14.3% of the world’s demand. 

The country also contributes over 46% of the world’s uranium. Australia is known for its vast reserve of iron ore, copper, timber, nickel, oil shale, rare earth metals, and coal. Australia is the top producers of opal and aluminium.

Russia – 270.7 tonnes: A massive 83 percent of European gold comes from Russia, which has been increasing its production every year since 2010. Moreover, Russia is one of the leading producers of vanadium, silicon, palladium, nitrogen, magnesium metal and compounds, copper, arsenic, cement, and aluminium. The natural resources in the country are estimated to be worth over $75 trillion. Russia is the second largest exporter of rare earth metals.

United States – 230.0 tonnes: Around 78 percent of American gold comes from Nevada alone. Also, the United States has been known as the leading producers of coal for decades now, and currently, they control over 31% of the global coal reserves and a significant amount of timber. The total natural resources in the country are valued at $45 trillion with over 89% of them being timber and coal. The United States has a sizeable deposit of copper, oil and natural gas.

Canada – 175.8 tonnes: Toronto-based Seabridge Gold stumbled upon a significant goldfield in northern British Colombia after a glacier retreated and is estimated to contain a whopping 780 metrics tonnes. Additionally, Canada has over $33.2 trillion worth of natural resources with some of the commodities including industrial mineral (gypsum, potash, limestone and rock salt), energy minerals (uranium and coal), metals (nickel, zinc, copper, and lead) and precious metals includes (platinum and silver). 

Canada has the third biggest oil deposits in the planet right after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and the second biggest uranium supply. Canada is the leading supplier of phosphate and natural gas. Canada is the third biggest exporter of timber in the world.

Peru – 162.3 tonnes: Mining is a significant portion of Peru’s economy and the nation is also number three in the world for copper production. Other natural resources in Peru include silver, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, natural gas.

Indonesia – 154.3 tonnes: Indonesia is home to one of the largest gold mines in the world, the Grasberg Mine. It did not technically open until the 1980s, but can trace its origins with the Ertsberg mine, which was first discovered in the early 1900s, but didn’t officially open until 1973. The Mine is thought by some to hold the largest gold reserves in the world and contributes the majority of Indonesia’s gold production.

South Africa – 139.9 tonnes: The nation is home to the world’s deepest gold mine, the Mponeng mine, extending 2.5 miles underground. With the Gold Rush, it changed South Africa from a largely agricultural society to one of the largest gold producing nations in the world. Apart from gold and diamonds, which South 

Africa is so popular for, there is a plenty of other minerals like platinum, copper, uranium, vanadium, coal, chromium, iron, zirconium, nickel, and many others. South Africa is surely a wealthy country in mineral resources, which the nation owes its development to.

Mexico – 130.5 tonnes: Mexico remains a competitive gold source. Mexico is an attractive place for mining due to a relatively low cost of regulation. Mexico has an extensive history of mining that goes as far back as 500 years. Aside from these valuable minerals, Mexico is also one of the leading global producers of coal. Generally, Mexico is among the top ten global mineral producers. 

Currently, Mexico produces about 1.7% of the global mineral demand. In 2010 alone, the mining sector managed to generate a revenue of around $730 million. In the Western Hemisphere, only three countries produce more oil than Mexico. These three countries are the US, Venezuela, and Canada.

Ghana – 101.7 tonnes: Ghana is Africa’s second largest producer of gold. It is also known for its reserves of various industrial minerals. Gold accounts for over 20 percent of the nation’s total exports. Southern Ghana is considered to be one of the world’s best regions for gold. The nations, is also rich in bauxite, diamonds, manganese, crude oil, silver, and salt.

While how to generate wealth may prove difficult to achieve, it is up to emerging economies to take the lead in this endeavour with innovative technologies. At the same time, the ability of a country to capitalize on supplier networks and the multiplier effect depends on the capacities of the local labour and industrial markets. Many resource-rich countries strive to maximize the economic benefits of their resource endowments by encouraging the growth of related industries.

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