Most Successful Countries of All-Time - per GDP

Here are tables of the top ranked countries based on all-time medals won relative to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP, one the primary indicators used to gage the health of a country's economy). Using GDP data to rank the success of nations at the Olympic Games is an alternative to the popular listing based on total gold medals won. See the complete list of country GDP data, and also a discussion of the different ranking systems. We have also calculated the per GDP medals for the 2008 Olympic Games results, and calculated lists based on medals per capita.



A country may rank high on these tables either due to a great medal result, or a poor GDP. Countries with a very low current GDP, such as Jamaica, Grenada, and The Bahamas, do not require many medals to rank highly.

Top Nations: Gold Medals Relative to GDP

The country with the most gold medals relative to their GDP is Jamaica. Grenada is on this list thanks to runner Kirani James won the Men's 400 meters in 2012. Compare this to a country with a high GDP. Second on the list, and not far behind in relative terms, is Hungary with both a high number of gold medals and a relatively healthy GDP.

Table: Top ranked teams based on gold medals per GDP

Rank Country Total Gold Medals GDP (billion) gold/GDP
1 Jamaica 26 15.8 1.64
2 Hungary 181 163.5 1.11
3 North Korea 16 16.3 0.98
4 Grenada 1 1.2 0.83
5 Cuba 85 105.4 0.81
6 Bulgaria 54 67.9 0.79
7 Bahamas 8 13.6 0.59
8 Georgia 10 17.7 0.56
9 Kosovo 3 8.0 0.38
10 Finland 101 269.3 0.38

Top Nations: Total Medals Relative to GDP

Jamaica leads this list of nations who are highly successful at the Olympics relative to their GDP. Despite being a much larger country, North Korea is second thanks to a relatively low GDP. has a low GDP. Fourth and fifth Hungary and Genada are two very contrasting nations. Genada with 3 medals and a tiny GDP, has a very similar medal per GDP score to Hungary, which has both a large medal total and GDP.

Table: Top ranked teams based on total medals per GDP

Rank Country Total no. of medals GDP (billion) Total Medals/GDP
1 Jamaica 87 15.83 5.4959
2 North Korea 54 16.331 3.3066
3 Bulgaria 224 67.925 3.2978
4 Hungary 511 163.469 3.1260
5 Grenada 3 1.211 2.4773
6 Cuba 241 105.354 2.2875
7 Georgia 40 17.742 2.2545
8 Mongolia 30 13.852 2.1658
9 Tonga 1 0.508 1.9685
10 San Marino 3 1.602 1.8727

Top Nations: Average Gold Medals Relative to GDP

As pointed out by many readers, the tables above may not best represent per GDP medals. The data does not account for the number of appearances of each country. For example, it is not fair to compare the total medal count of the UK who have appeared at all Olympic Games with China, who have appeared only 10 times. A better analysis would be to base the analysis on the average number of medals won per appearance, not on the total medal count.

Table: Top ranked teams based on average gold medals per GDP

Kosovo has only participated in the Olympic Games as an independent nation twice, and have won three medals, all gold.

Rank Team  appearances gold medals golds per olympiad GDP (billion) ave golds/GDP
1 Kosovo 2 3 1.5 7.952 0.1886
2 North Korea 10 16 1.6 16.331 0.0980
3 Jamaica 18 26 1.4 15.83 0.0912
4 Grenada 10 1 0.1 1.211 0.0826
5 Georgia 7 10 1.4 17.742 0.0805
6 Burundi 7 1 0.1 3.002 0.0476
7 Hungary 27 181 6.7 163.469 0.0410
8 Cuba 21 85 4.0 105.354 0.0384
9 Bulgaria 21 54 2.6 67.925 0.0379
10 Bahamas 17 8 0.5 13.578 0.0347

Top Nations: Average Total Medals Relative to GDP

After crunching the numbers with average medals per appearance, rather than total medals, the results are quite different to those above. .

Table: Top ranked teams based on average medals per GDP

Rank Team  appearances Total total medals / Olympics GDP (billion) ave total/GDP
1 North Korea 10 54 5.4 16.331 0.331
2 Georgia 7 40 5.7 17.742 0.322
3 Jamaica 18 87 4.8 15.83 0.305
4 Grenada 10 3 0.3 1.211 0.248
5 Tonga 10 1 0.1 0.508 0.197
6 Belarus 7 85 12.1 63.08 0.192
7 Kosovo 2 3 1.5 7.952 0.189
8 Armenia 7 18 2.6 13.672 0.188
9 Bulgaria 21 224 10.7 67.925 0.157
10 Mongolia 14 30 2.1 13.852 0.155

Table Notes:



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