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National Debt by Country / Countries with the Highest National Debt 2024

Just as individuals or companies may make purchases on credit or take out a loan to boost their finances, national governments often borrow money to further their country's growth or well-being. When this happens, the money borrowed becomes part of that country's national debt. Stated simply, national debt is the combined debt a country's government owes one or more lenders, such as other governments, various corporations, or even private individuals (such as with treasury bonds). But which countries have the world's highest national debt? The answer to that question merits a bit of explanation.

In terms of raw dollars, the country with the highest debt in the world is unquestionably the United States, whose national debt is more than twice that of any other country. However, the dollar amount of a country's debt is usually considered not by itself, but in relation to the country's overall gross domestic product (GDP)—which represents the country's ability to pay back the debt. Measuring by debt to GDP ratio, Japan's debt is the highest in the world and the United States—which has the world's largest economy and highest GDP—drops to 14th place.

Top 20 Countries with the Highest National Debt:

Country
GDP (UN '21)
Japan255.24%
Greece167.97%
Singapore167.89%
Italy143.73%
Bhutan123.45%
United States123.28%
Laos121.75%
Bahrain121.17%
Barbados115%
Cape Verde113.09%
Maldives110.25%
France110.03%
Portugal108.35%
Spain107.28%
Suriname106.99%
Canada106.38%
Belgium105.98%
United Kingdom104.14%
Republic of the Congo97.81%
Zimbabwe95.44%
Country
Debt (Millions)
United States$29.46 Mn
Japan$13.05 Mn
China$10.12 Mn
France$3.33 Mn
Italy$3.17 Mn
United Kingdom$3.04 Mn
Germany$2.97 Mn
India$2.38 Mn
Canada$2.24 Mn
Spain$1.69 Mn
Brazil$1.50 Mn
Australia$954,634
South Korea$929,584
Mexico$746,964
Iran$674,167
Singapore$650,630
Belgium$649,405
Netherlands$530,350
Indonesia$488,638
Greece$431,474

Profiles of Select Countries by National Debt

Japan

Japan has the highest percentage of national debt in the world at 259.43% of its annual GDP. The Japanese economy experienced stagnation during the 1990s, which led to the government launching several initiatives, such as selling bonds and bailing out banks and insurance companies with low-interest credit, to help reboot the struggling economy in the 2000s. Banking institutions had to be audited, consolidated, or even nationalized.

While these actions arguably salvaged Japan's economy, they also added greatly to the country's national debt. Since that time, additional concerns such as the Great Recession of 2008, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the COVID-19 pandemic have complicated efforts to combat the country's debt.

United States

The United States boasts both the world's biggest national debt in terms of dollar amount and its largest economy, which resolves to a debt-to GDP ratio of approximately 128.13%. The United States' government's spending exceeds its income most years, and the US has not had a budget surplus since 2001. Perhaps surprisingly, the countries to which the US is most in debt are Japan, which itself has significant debt, and China, which is often viewed as the United States' greatest economic competitor.

China

China’s national debt is currently over 10 trillion USD—however, because of China's massive economy, the country's debt is only 68.06% of its GDP. China's current debt level is a significant increase from 2014, when the national debt was 41.54% of the country's GDP. An International Monetary Fund report from 2015 stated that China’s debt was relatively low, and many economists have dismissed worries over the size of the debt both in its overall size and relative to China’s GDP. China currently has the world’s second-largest economy and the largest population, with approximately 1,425,821,667 people.

Russia

Russia’s debt ratio was one of the lowest in the world at 16.99% of its GDP in 2021—though the country's war with Ukraine, which began in early 2022, will likely have some effect on this ratio. Russia is usually one of the ten least-indebted countries in the world. Russia’s debt is currently at a total of just over 302 billion USD. Most of Russia’s external debt is private.

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Country
Debt (Millions)
GDP (UN '21)
Debt per Capita
Japan$13.05 Mn255.24%$103,386
Greece$431,474167.97%$40,691
Singapore$650,630167.89%$119,294
Italy$3.17 Mn143.73%$53,743
Bhutan$3,234123.45%$4,294
United States$29.46 Mn123.28%$88,697
Laos$15,328121.75%$2,107
Bahrain$45,047121.17%$30,603
Barbados$6,887115%$23,936
Cape Verde$2,715113.09%$4,884
Maldives$5,768110.25%$10,671
France$3.33 Mn110.03%$49,075
Portugal$318,643108.35%$30,781
Spain$1.69 Mn107.28%$35,646
Suriname$3,587106.99%$6,062
Canada$2.24 Mn106.38%$58,701
Belgium$649,405105.98%$55,833
United Kingdom$3.04 Mn104.14%$45,308
Republic of the Congo$13,10197.81%$2,316
Zimbabwe$174,69995.44%$11,929
Dominica$58393.91%$8,077
Jordan$38,49893.76%$3,773
Egypt$377,42992.68%$3,697
Mozambique$16,78289.66%$522
Argentina$393,90089.51%$8,599
Sierra Leone$3,28988.89%$404
Ukraine$95,04088.15%$2,318
Brazil$1.50 Mn88.08%$6,990
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines$77986.17%$6,999
Palau-85.39%-
Ghana$65,00784.91%$2,071
Angola$64,96384.87%$1,914
Bahamas$10,16784.2%$25,615
Fiji$3,70183.59%$4,099
China$10.12 Mn82.98%$7,164
Aruba-82.89%-
India$2.38 Mn81.89%$1,724
Senegal$20,22181.02%$1,176
Bolivia$32,75680.78%$2,768
Antigua and Barbuda$1,39080.47%$14,194
Mauritius$11,05579.67%$8,746
Cyprus$28,72578.58%$31,751
Malawi$7,67278.55%$390
Tunisia$38,31077.83%$3,210
Pakistan$260,84276.57%$1,172
Austria$395,21474.76%$44,016
Saint Lucia$1,62474.17%$8,807
San Marino$1,10673.97%$31,774
Guinea Bissau$1,16573.94%$592
South Africa$288,95573.67%$4,804
Finland$196,95273.63%$35,498
El Salvador$23,69072.97%$3,634
Burundi$2,03672.73%$171
Gambia$1,55472.34%$643
Jamaica$14,61372.34%$4,915
Kenya$74,97070.22%$1,363
Mongolia$12,19369.94%$3,576
Morocco$98,49369.68%$2,712
Hungary$139,91668.71%$14,441
Slovenia$45,99068.47%$21,825
Namibia$8,85667.58%$3,473
Togo$4,57367.19%$552
Malaysia$257,45266.91%$7,873
Yemen$15,82666.42%$531
Germany$2.97 Mn65.86%$35,665
Montenegro$5,12765.76%$8,260
Gabon$13,31364.89%$5,842
Croatia$54,02663.81%$13,927
Rwanda$7,36863.3%$555
Costa Rica$43,92762.97%$8,480
Albania$11,51162.94%$4,068
Uruguay$38,58761.61%$11,072
Thailand$291,98161.44%$4,174
Lesotho$1,31961.3%$611
Iceland$16,74061.19%$45,390
Burkina Faso$10,00061.18%$465
Seychelles$1,06160.76%$10,700
South Sudan$1,49460.38%$135
Grenada$74560.23%$6,592
Dominican Republic$59,73159.8%$5,453
Belize$1,99459.34%$4,638
Sao Tome and Principe$38858.53%$1,771
Israel$291,99258.18%$31,690
Philippines$224,43857.56%$2,037
Myanmar$31,91457.54%$587
Ivory Coast$29,23456.83%$1,108
Slovakia$72,50156.68%$13,340
Ecuador$66,07455.45%$3,694
Algeria$102,48655.12%$2,297
Colombia$203,11154.97%$3,979
South Korea$929,58454.27%$17,968
Malta$9,80554.1%$18,820
Madagascar$7,58954.03%$267
Saint Kitts and Nevis$60253.2%$11,242
Benin$8,83852.98%$710
Panama$37,16652.84%$8,482
Mexico$746,96452.67%$5,734
Trinidad and Tobago$14,14052.54%$10,076
Liberia$1,78152.31%$352
Australia$954,63451.92%$37,049
Mali$9,94851.8%$477
North Macedonia$7,38951.58%$4,023
Serbia$36,48651.28%$5,368
Romania$145,99451.05%$7,669
Central African Republic$1,23050.14%$250
Poland$365,27649.83%$9,701
Mauritania$5,11149.54%$1,070
Netherlands$530,35049.52%$30,150
Papua New Guinea$11,60949.47%$1,298
Iraq$122,14449.25%$2,966
Niger$7,66148.67%$305
Uganda$22,23748.3%$524
Armenia$8,39147.94%$2,827
Kyrgyzstan$5,21847.02%$780
Vanuatu$47246.77%$1,564
Nepal$14,32746.72%$492
Honduras$14,31046.29%$1,414
New Zealand$90,85446.05%$17,864
Czech Republic-45.38%-
Belarus$29,11944.1%$3,094
Chad$6,60143.19%$390
Ireland$279,13642.69%$55,165
Tanzania$28,59542.58%$465
Eswatini$2,17442.38%$1,854
Cameroon$20,66941.95%$759
Djibouti$1,55041.84%$1,546
Nicaragua$6,04841.51%$931
Qatar$104,86041.35%$35,782
Tonga$22341.08%$2,092
Paraguay$14,64240.86%$1,991
Latvia$17,77540.56%$9,476
Georgia$9,25439.59%$2,509
Switzerland$336,51039.46%$38,518
Bangladesh$147,97139.37%$890
Indonesia$488,63839.03%$1,795
Nigeria$148,09138.79%$718
Chile$114,96038.41%$5,984
Equatorial Guinea$5,25238.34%$3,622
Oman$54,03138.21%$11,935
Ethiopia$52,56237.91%$527
Andorra$1,61637.74%$20,317
Norway$209,31937.4%$38,582
Samoa$39136.17%$1,952
Lithuania$29,27336.11%$10,432
Cambodia$8,85935.32%$530
Uzbekistan$24,74335.12%$716
Moldova$4,53035.05%$1,760
Turkey$341,74934.41%$4,036
Vietnam$145,42733.96%$1,481
Peru$82,13733.91%$2,462
Tajikistan$4,10233.51%$430
Comoros$29333.27%$336
Sweden$228,56032.3%$21,867
Guinea$6,86931.65%$509
Iran$674,16730.55%$7,946
Denmark$145,89930.14%$24,841
Guyana$3,31029.88%$4,189
United Arab Emirates$145,81929.4%$14,595
Nauru$3629.13%$3,280
Bosnia and Herzegovina$8,27928.58%$2,378
Guatemala$26,45828.34%$1,546
Luxembourg$20,96827.55%$32,489
Taiwan$219,70326.62%$9,399
Saudi Arabia$250,12824.08%$7,078
Kazakhstan$49,47623.38%$2,587
Solomon Islands$21022.23%$305
Estonia$6,55121.6%$4,919
Russia$302,21821.22%$2,076
Bulgaria$19,14320.99%$2,799
Haiti$5,09219.63%$441
Botswana$3,55118.7%$1,481
Azerbaijan$14,44618.19%$1,422
Marshall Islands$5118.05%$855
Puerto Rico-16.72%-
Timor Leste$19316.41%$149
DR Congo$8,03013.28%$88
Kiribati$3513.1%$291
Micronesia$7912.55%$760
Tuvalu$68%$535
Hong Kong$8,0196.09%$1,083
Turkmenistan$6,8915.13%$1,126
Kuwait$12,4023.38%$2,655
Brunei$3522.33%$819
showing: 183 rows

What country has the highest national debt?

The United States has the highest national debt. However, Japan has the highest national debt relative to its GDP of any developed economy in the world.

Which 5 countries own the most US debt?

Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Luxembourg own the most US debt, in that order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources