Why are some countries very wealthy and others so poor? In this lesson you will learn about the factors that contribute to a nation's standard of living.


Capital Resources, Entrepreneurship, Income, Natural Resources


If You're So Smart...
The Rich Nations Mystery
Which "Wood" You Choose?

The Rich Nations Mystery



  1. It has just been announced that in the interest of world harmony, all students are required to move to another country. You must now choose your new homeland. Try to select a country or region that you think has a high standard of living. Look over these selections and make your choice. 

    Country 1: Population: 50,447,719
                           Area: 603,700 sq km
                           Natural Resources: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur,                                          graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber. 
    Country 2: Population: 24,317,000
                           Area: 120,540 sq km
                           Natural Resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron                                                  ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower.
    Country 3: Population: 1,221,591,778
                           Area: 9,326,410 sq km
                           Natural Resources: coal, iron ore, petroleum, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony,                              manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium,                            hydropower potential (world's largest).                           
    Country 4: Population: 6,547,189
                            Area: 1,092 sq km
                            Natural Resources: outstanding deepwater harbor, feldspar.
    Country 5: Population: 7,240,463
                            Area: 41,290 sq km
                            Natural Resources: hydropower potential, timber, salt. 
    Country 6: Population: 45,948,811
                            Area: 98,480 sq km
                            Natural Resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower.
  2. Here is some more information about each country or region. 

    1: Ukraine: GDP $161 Billion 
                             GDP per capita $3,170
    2: North Korea: GDP $20.9 Billion 
                                       GDP per capita $900
    3: China: GDP $3,390 Billion 
                         GDP per capita $2,800
    4: Hong Kong: GDP $163 Billion 
                                     GDP per captia $26,000
    5: Switzerland: GDP $161 Billion 
                                     GDP per capita $22,600
    6: South Korea: GDP $647 Billion
                                      GDP per capita $14,200


  1. Have students answer the following questions from parts 1 and 2 from the procedure. 

    -You had to make your choice without all of the information you needed. Now that you have more data, which single figure would you rely on to determine whether a country was rich or poor? Was it GDP (Gross Domestic Product)? GDP is the value of all the goods and services a country produces per year. Which of those above has the highest GDP? 
    -From this group, China has the highest GDP. Most people consider China to be relatively poor. Why? 


The number of people sharing the income makes a difference. 

Likewise, though GDP shows how much output a country produces, the population makes a difference. GDP per capita shows how much output is produced per member of the population. List the countries from the highest GDP per capita to the lowest. GDP per captia shows where people are likely to have the most goods and services per person, and therefore, the highest standard of living.