Central banks around the world are accumulating and hoarding gold, a precious metal with a history of stability and safety. These countries are storing gold to diversify their assets, or to protect against currency fluctuations.
The United States leads the way with 8,133 tonnes, followed by Germany at 3,370. Switzerland is third, with 1,040 tonnes.
1. United States
The United States has the largest gold reserves in the world. It holds nearly 8,134 metric tons of the shiny metal.
Countries have been storing gold as a means of exchange since ancient times, and it is still used in some cases today. It is also a safe haven for investors who believe it will retain value in the event of an economic downturn.
The United States currently stores 147 million troy ounces of gold bullion at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The depository is part of a network of six facilities that are under the control of the director of the United States Mint, an official of the Department of the Treasury.
China has the world’s sixth-largest official national gold reserves after the United States, Germany and Russia. Its holdings have quadrupled since the early 2000s amid much secrecy.
In recent years, China has been increasing its gold reserves as a diversification strategy away from the dollar, the global reserve currency. It is also a safe haven investment that has historically held its value in times of crisis.
However, China’s declared holdings equate to only 3% of its foreign exchange reserves. To declare such huge quantities would likely cause an unwanted surge in the yuan and price.
Australia is one of the countries with the most gold reserves, a fact that could be beneficial for investors and exploration companies. It is a country with a wide range of deposit types, and is also home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of orogenic gold in the Victorian Goldfields.
In addition, it has a long history of mining for gold. The country’s gold rushes drew tens of thousands of immigrants from around the globe, which led to rapid growth in inland towns, communications, transport and foreign trade.
In the past few years, the country has been a net buyer of physical gold, collectively buying the better part of 3,000 tonnes. This is a sign that the GFC has not put an end to the appetite for the metal, as central banks continue to purchase gold in order to secure state solvency and mitigate economic volatility caused by fluctuations in the US dollar.
Russia is the country with the largest gold reserves in the world. This includes an estimated 150,000 gold bars, worth $140 billion USD.
The history of Russia’s fondness for gold dates back to the czars, who viewed it as a means of strengthening their national currency and providing an enduring form of legal tender. This strategy was successful and helped ensure that the Russian ruble remained strong.
However, this gold has a potential to end up in countries where it could be used for financial crimes and conflict. It is possible that Russian gold could be transported to places such as Uganda or Dubai, where it would be smuggled into the illicit gold market and used for illegal activities.
5. South Africa
South Africa holds some of the world’s largest gold reserves. However, it produces less than half as much gold as Australia and China.
The country’s rich mineral resources include uranium, coal, silver, gold and platinum group metals. It also has a well-developed manufacturing industry and is a world leader in railway rolling stock, synthetic fuels and mining equipment and machinery.
Throughout the country, travelers should be aware that criminal activity is common, including carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles. The government has a number of anti-crime initiatives in place, but violent crimes still occur.