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Straits Times: S'pore is 3rd-richest country: Forbes

Singapore is the third-richest country in the world, ranking behind only Qatar and Luxembourg, according to Forbes magazine.

Using the most recent International Monetary Fund data available, Forbes said Singapore 'thrives as a technology, manufacturing and finance hub with a GDP (PPP) per capita of nearly US$56,700 (S$71,200)'.

This compares with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for purchasing power (PPP), of more than US$88,000 for the world's richest nation, Qatar. The Persian Gulf emirate of 1.7 million people taps the world's third-largest reserves of natural gas for its wealth, some of which it is pouring into the construction of all air-conditioned stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

Coming in second, with slightly more than US$81,000, was Luxembourg. The tiny Grand Duchy, bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, has only a half-million people, but scores as a financial hub with banking secrecy laws that makes it a tax haven, Forbes said.

The magazine said it compiled its rich list by examining the GDP of 182 countries, adjusted for PPP, which is preferred by economists when doing international comparisons. It says this takes into account the relative cost of living and inflation rates. This is mostly from 2010 figures, but a 2009 estimate in Singapore's case.

But Forbes quotes associate professor of economics Gian Luca Clementi, of New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business, as saying that 'the numbers must be taken with a grain of salt'.

Many issues, including how the quality of goods varies from country to country, can make any GDP comparisons misleading, he said.

The top 10 list includes fifth-ranked Brunei, the United States at No. 7, and eighth-placed Hong Kong.