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|
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|
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|
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|
- The GDP data is sourced from the Wikipedia page on 9 August 2021: List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal), which includes data compiled by the United Nations Statistics Division. The calculations above assume (probably wrongly) that the GDP data has been relatively the same throughout Olympic history.
- The data includes all medals won at the summer Olympic Games (including 2021). The original medal list source: Wikipedia, retrieved 8 Aug 2021.
- There are quite a few countries/teams that no longer exist that have won medals in the past. The following teams have not been included in this analysis due to no current GDP data; Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Unified Team, Yugoslavia, Mixed team, Australasia, Russian Empire, Serbia and Montenegro, Netherlands Antilles, Bohemia, Independent Olympic Participants, British West Indies.
- Calculated the per GDP medals for the 2008 Olympic Games results.
- See similar lists based on medals per capita (population)
- medal tables from all Olympic Games
- Medals per Country Size — comparing medals with country size (both size and population)
- A discussion of different ranking systems.
- About Olympic Medals