Gold has been considered valuable since the stone age, when ancient human beings used the shiny precious metal to create jewelry and other artifacts. Today, gold is still considered a valuable resource and, as such, is mostly held in several secure banks and vaults throughout the world.
So what countries and organizations can lay claim to a piece of the world’s golden pie? In total, the top 10 owners control nearly 25,000 tons of gold — that’s 15.4 percent of all gold ever mined.
Weighing in at 843.3 tons, Japan’s share of gold is worth about $49.11 billion. The gold is managed by the Bank of Japan, headquartered in Chuo, Tokyo. The bank is actually located on the site of a former gold mint, and near a district named for a silver mint. According to Japanese law, the government is heavily involved in the country’s currency and monetary control. Japan’s share of gold counts for 3.3 percent of the country’s foreign reserves.
Switzerland’s gold is worth more than $66 billion and equates to about 1,150 tons. The gold accounts for 17.8 percent of the country’s foreign reserves, and is housed in the Swiss National Bank. The bank is managed by a Governing Board, made up for three members who determine monetary policy, oversee asset management strategy, and contribute to the system’s stability and international monetary cooperation. The gold is believed to be stored underground, though its actual location is kept a secret — bank officials claim it is stored in several locations throughout the country as well as abroad. The Swiss National Bank made global headlines when it was under accusation of transferring Nazi gold during World War II.
China, the world’s most populous country, ranks at #7 on this list of the world’s largest gold reserves with $67.65 billion in gold — that’s about $50 in gold per person in a country of 1.34 billion people. China stores its 1,161.6 tons of gold in the People’s Bank of China, located in Beijing and responsible for all central and commercial banking operations.
6. SPDR Gold ETF (GLD)
The Standard & Poor’s Depositary Receipts (SPDR) is a family of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The SPDR gold shares are housed in the London vault of the HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) Bank USA. The SPDR’s gold bullion equals more than 1,200 tons and $70.7 billion. This gold reserve is different than other major reserves because investors can buy in. The SPDR regularly reports on the worth of its gold, depending on the market price.
France’s gold share tips the scales at 2,683.8 tons and rings in at $156.31. The country’s gold holdings are housed in the Banque De France, which is linked with the European Central Bank. Franc’es gold reserves account for 72.6 percent of the country’s foreign reserves, the second highest percentage of gold in foreign reserves to make this list.
Just barely beating out France, the fourth largest gold reserve goes to Italy with $157.36 billion and 2,701.9 tons. The gold reserves are kept in the Banca D’Italia, headquartered in Rome and also part of the European Central Bank system. The bank is always overseen by a Governor, appointed by the internal commission of managers and the president of the Italian Republic.
3. THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
The International Monetary Fund includes 185 countries and is responsible for overseeing international economic operations for all member countries. The reserves are maintained for the purpose of stabilizing international markets and aiding struggling national economies, often by offering highly leveraged loans to poorer countries. Currently, the reserves consist of 3,101 tons of gold, worth a total of $180.6 billion.
Like France and Italy, Germany is also a member of the European Central Bank system. Germany stores its 3,747.9 tons of gold (valued at $218.28 billion) in its central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank. This bank was the first central bank to begin operating independently of its government. Germany’s gold reserves equate to 70 percent of the country’s total foreign reserves.
1. UNITED STATES
The United States houses the majority of its gold reserves in Fort Knox, Kentucky, but some of its gold holdings are kept in Philadelphia, Denver, West Point and San Francisco. Fort Knox’s United States Bullion Depository is considered the most famous gold stockpile in the world, and is heavily guarded with no visitation allowed. The United States’ total gold reserves add up to $522.16 billion and nearly 9,000 tons.