10 Countries Sitting On Ginormous Mounds Of Gold

Central banks made 368.6 tonnes in net gold purchase in 2013, according to The World Gold Council.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Korea, all saw significant increases in official reserves last year. Meanwhile, no gold sales were made in the final year of the current Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA), other than a sale that was part of Germany’s coin minting program.

Global official gold holdings totaled 31,890.7 tonnes as of February 2014, according to the latest report from the World Gold Council.

We identified the 10 countries with the largest gold reserves.

Note: CBGA refers to the Central Bank Gold Agreements. The first Agreement (CBGA 1) ran from September 27, 1999 to September 26, 2004. The second Agreement (CBGA 2) ran from September 27, 2004 to September 26, 2009. The third Agreement (CBGA 3) will run for five years from September 2009.

10. India

Official gold holdings:
557.7 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

7.2%

The government has been trying to deter people from purchasing the precious metal. Gold imports have been blamed for the nation's high current account deficit. India's central bank governor Raghuram Rajan has previously said the country can pay off its debt in gold.

Source: World Gold Council

9. Netherlands

Official gold holdings:
612.5 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

51.2%

A large portion of the Netherlands' gold reserves are held in the U.S., and some are held in Canada and the U.K. About 10% is expected to be held in Amsterdam. Earlier this year the Netherlands wanted to repatriate its gold.

Source: World Gold Council

8. Japan

Official gold holdings:
765.2 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

2.3%

Japan's gold reserves were at just 6 tonnes in 1950, and its central bank registered its first serious jump in gold holdings in 1959, with purchases increasing by 169 tonnes from the previous year.

In 2011, the Bank of Japan sold gold to pump ¥20 trillion into the economy to calm investors after the tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Source: World Gold Council

7. Russia

Official gold holdings:
1,035.2 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

7.9%

Russia's central bank gold holdings crossed the 1,000 tonne mark for the first time in Q3 2013.

Source: World Gold Council

6. Switzerland

Official gold holdings:
1,040.1 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

7.6%

In 1997, proposals were announced to sell a portion of the country's gold reserves because they were no longer considered to be 'necessary for monetary policy purposes,' according to the World Gold Council. In May 2000 the country began selling 1,300 tonnes of what it considered to be surplus gold. Under CBGA1 1,170 tonnes were sold, and 130 tones were sold under CBGA2. Switzerland has announced no plans to sell gold under CBGA 3.

Source: World Gold Council

5. China

Official gold holdings:

1,054.1 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:
1.1%

China overtook India to be the world's largest gold consumer in 2013. Gold still accounts for a very small percentage of China's $US3.7 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, compared with the international average of 10%. Building up gold reserves will be crucial to China as it moves to internationalize its currency, and hopes to make it a reserve currency, according to the Financial Times.

Source: World Gold Council

4. France

Official gold holdings:
2,435.4 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

65.0%

France sold 572 tonnes of gold under CBGA 2, and outside of the agreement France transferred about 17 tonnes to the Bank for International Settlements in late 2004 as part of a purchase of BIS shares. France announced no plans for sales of gold reserves under CBGA 3.

Bank of France has said it won't sell gold reserves because it provides confidence and diversification and can absorb volatility in its balance sheet, Reuters reported.

Source: World Gold Council

3. Italy

Official gold holdings:

2,451.8 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

65.1%

Italy sold no gold under CBGA 1 or 2 and has announced no sales under CBGA3. But in 2011, Italian banks were looking to the Bank of Italy to buy gold and bolster their balance sheets ahead of stress tests.

Source: World Gold Council

2. Germany

Official gold holdings:
3,387.1 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

66.1%

Germany reduced its gold holdings in October. The Bunesbank sells six to seven tons to the finance ministry every year. Germany sold gold under CBGA 1 and 2 for the purposes of minting commemorative gold coins. In the first year of CBGA3 (2008 - 2009), the Bundesbank sold approximately 6 tonnes, and it has sold 4.7 tonnes of gold since Sept. 7, 2011.

Source: World Gold Council

1. United States

Official gold holdings:
8,133.5 tonnes

Per cent of foreign reserves in gold:

70.2%

The U.S. had its largest gold reserves in volume terms in 1952, when reserves totaled 20,663 tonnes. Holdings first fell below the 10,000 mark in 1968.

Source: World Gold Council

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