Size isn’t everything.


Who is the richest country in the world?


Ah, you’re not going to be fooled by such a loaded question.  “How do you define richest?” I hear you say.  How about by GDP (gross domestic product) per head of the population?  Sounds pretty clear, yet even this measure is open to interpretation.  If you consult Wikipedia on this matter you’ll see that they provide four different rankings of nations, reflecting research by some contrasting organisations;

No two listings are alike, but good old Uncle Sam doesn’t make it into the top 5 by anybody’s calculations.  Nor do any of the other members of the G20 group of world economies.

How can this be?  Well those that do appear tend to be small; Quatar, Brunei, Macau for example.  Consequently their small populations, whilst individually well off, lack the financial muscle of more populous nations.

There are only two countries that feature in the top 5 of all four lists.

The first of these is Luxembourg, a country I have only visited once and whose capital was populated by sharp dressed business men and women yet but whose character beyond the city seemed far more rural and heavily forested.  It also provided me with a bizarre hotel stay, made memorable by the deepest bath I have ever encountered and bus loads of rowdy revellers whose celebrations continued long into the early hours and deprived me of a good night’s sleep.  Oddly this wasn’t a stag night or a hen party, nor some teenage prom.  The bon-vivants were all elderly but just as intent on burning the midnight oil.

The second of these small but wealthy states is Singapore, less than a third of the size of even Luxembourg.  I have no stories to recount of my time there as it remains on my bucket list of places to visit, but my portrait today is of Shalini, born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore.  As a Business Law undergraduate she’s working to add to that per capita GDP.



And we think it’s wet here…

Whilst I was thinking about someone to photograph today I spotted a Malaysian family crossing Bridge Street.  The young man in the party crossed first just as the lights changed leaving him temporarily stranded until the rest of his family could join him.

As there were lots more people around here than usual I asked him if something was happening at the Stadium of Light, as that seemed to be where most were headed.

I should have guessed of course; it was the university graduation ceremony.  Students and their parents were converging on the banqueting suite at the football club.

Li, the young man, was here to see his brother graduate having completed his pharmacy degree, one of the subjects at which the university has excelled for many years.   Once his family had rejoined him, he asked for directions to the stadium which I was happy to give, so on they went dodging through the puddles.

I wished I’d offered them a lift, my car was close by and they were a nice family, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.  Still, they must be used to it.

Whilst we moan about the weather in this country if you look at us in the rainfall league table we’re very average, mid-table performers who average something in the region of 750mm of precipitation each year.  Malaysia manages approximately three times as much.  No problem then – I hope they enjoyed the ceremony.