There isn’t much special about gold, chemically speaking. Yet, ask any gold investor around the world, and they’ll tell you how critical this precious metal is to global trade. That’s why we compiled this list of gold statistics and facts.
If you’re searching for reliable information about the gold market, you’ve come to the right place. We scoured the web for the latest gold facts from the most authoritative voices on the subject. That way, you can ensure any stats you’re using from this page are as accurate as possible.
Not sure where to begin? Check out our convenient table of contents for answers to the gold questions you’ve been searching for. Or browse our key takeaways for the most important gold facts and data you need to know.
- How Big Is the Gold Market?
- How Much Gold Exists In The World?
- Which Countries Trade the Most Gold?
- Is Gold a Good Investment?
- What Is the Annual Demand for Gold?
- Where Does the World’s Gold Supply Come From?
- How Much Gold Do Mines Produce?
- When Was the Gold Rush?
- Gold Fun Facts
- The global gold market is worth over $11 trillion in 2021, with jewelry and private gold investments making up the majority of this valuation.
- 21% of the world’s total gold or 54,000 tonnes of gold has yet to be mined as of this writing.
- Fort Knox is the largest institutional gold owner in the world, holding 147 million troy ounces or over 4,572 metric tonnes.
- The US is home to the world’s largest gold reserve, valued at $494 billion or 8,133.46 tonnes.
- The gold market makes up 1.88% of total world trade, meaning gold is the 8th most traded product in the world.
- India and China accounted for over 50% of the global gold market demand in terms of trade volume.
- The UK is the world’s largest gold exporter and gold importer by net value. Switzerland and Australia are the largest gold importer and net exporter, respectively.
- Gold has the highest average annual trading volume ($183B per day) behind the S&P 500 ($235B per day).
- Investors’ gold purchasing activities have increased 235% in three decades. Yet, gold still makes up only <1% of investor portfolios globally.
- Global demand for gold was down 28% YOY in 2020, with 14% less demand from consumers and 59% less demand from central banks.
- Mines produce 75% of the world’s annual gold supply. The remaining percentage comes from recycled gold.
- Gold supply dropped 4% in 2020, most likely due to COVID-19 lockdowns. In Q2 2021, gold supply recovered, growing by 13%.
- South Deep is the world’s largest gold mine, with 32.8 million ounces in reserves.
- Gold mines produce 2,500–3,000 tonnes of gold annually. Mines in the APAC region produce the most gold (23% of all new gold), followed by Central and South America (17%) and Africa (14%).
- The world’s first gold rush occurred in North Carolina in 1799, followed by the Tasmanian Gold Rush of 1847 and the 1848 California Gold Rush. There were also gold rushes in Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria throughout the latter half of the 1800s.
How Big Is the Gold Market?
Countries have always invested in gold as a way to strengthen economies. Gold is also a safe haven for investors during times of economic uncertainty. It’s no wonder, then, that the gold market is so large.
- The global gold market capitalization is estimated at $11,032,588,000,000 ($11 trillion) as of August 2021.
- The global gold market is estimated to reach $189.6 billion by 2022 from $163.9 billion in 2017 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.0% from 2017 to 2022, according to a BCC research report.
- Around 3,500 tonnes of gold are sold every year – that’s worth around $140 billion!
- On average, more than 20 million ounces of gold clear the London market daily.
- China’s gold bar and coin market grew from just 12 tonnes (t) in 2004 to 211t in 2019.
How Much Gold Exists In The World?
We can calculate the total amount of gold in the world using two measures: the amount of gold in circulation on the global market (i.e., above-ground gold) plus the gold we’ve yet to mine (i.e., below-ground gold).
- In August 2021, the global gold reserves are estimated to be 251,575 tonnes or a value of $14,047,948,000,000 ($14T), which comprises 197,575 tonnes ($11T) of above-ground gold and 54,000 tonnes ($3T) of below-ground gold.
- In August 2021, the global ‘above-ground reserves’ market capitalization is valued at $11,032,588,000,000 ($11T), which is 79% of the total gold reserves.
- The global above-ground breakdowns are as follows:
- Jewellery: 92,947 tonnes or $5.1 trillion (47%)
- Private investment: 42,619 tonnes or $2.4 trillion (22%)
- Official Holdings: 33,919 tonnes or $1.9 trillion (17%)
- Other: 28,090 tonnes or $1.6 trillion (14%)
- The global ‘below-ground reserves’ market capitalization is worth an estimated $3,015,360,000,000 ($3T), representing 21% of the total gold reserves as of August 2021.
Ever wondered which financial institutions own the most gold? So did we, which is why we did some digging. This is what our research revealed:
- The IMF holds more than 90 million ounces (2,814.1 metric tons) of gold at designated depositories which are worth an estimated value of $4.6 billion.
- Fort Knox is home to the US Bullion Depository, which stored more than 147 million troy ounces (4,600 tonnes) of gold as of March 2021.
- De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) managed more than 600 tonnes of gold as part of its total assets.
- Approximately 26% of the European Central Bank’s total official reserves were in gold, compared with 15% in 1999.
Countries own the majority of the world’s above-ground gold. Here are the countries that own the most gold.
- The US has the world’s largest gold reserve with a value of $493,605,370,000 ($494 billion) or 8,133.46 tonnes.
|Country||Gold Reserves Tonnes||Gold Reserves (Millions)||Holdings %|
|United States of America||8,133.46||493,605.37||78.67|
- The top 5 countries which have the highest gold-to-forex reserves ratio are:
- Venezuela: 84% ($9.7B vs $1.9B)
- Portugal: 79% ($23B vs $6.2B)
- United States of America: 79% ($494B vs $134B)
- Germany: 76% ($204B vs $64B)
- Italy: 71% ($149B vs $62B)
- Gold constituted 17.7% of the reserves of advanced economies and 6% of the reserves of emerging and developing economies, according to the IMF.
Which Countries Trade the Most Gold?
Humans have been trading gold for thousands of years, and modern times are no different. Here are the top facts about global gold trading and a breakdown of the countries importing and exporting the most gold.
- Gold is the world’s 8th most traded product with a total trade value of $341B, representing 1.88% of total world trade, according to OEC.
- Gold exports grew by 8.07% from $316B to $341B between 2018 and 2019.
- India and China accounted for over 50% of the global gold market demand in terms of trade volume.
- The average gold import tariff is 5.09%.
Top 10 largest gold countries by import value
Gold is often considered a symbol of a country’s strength. With that in mind, here are the strongest countries based on gold import value.
- Switzerland is the world’s largest gold importer with a total trade value of $3,414,778,534 ($3B) followed by India at $1,197,094,325 ($1.2B) and Rwanda at $18,361,490 ($18M).
|United Arab Emirates||$7,159,430|
Top 10 largest gold countries by export value
Ever wondered: why does the United Kingdom export so much gold? It’s because the London Bullion Market is one of the top wholesale gold markets in the world. Keep reading to find out exactly how much gold the United Kingdom exports and which countries are close behind.
- United Kingdom is the world ‘s largest gold exporter with a total trade value of $64,954,155,294 ($65B) followed by Switzerland $63,478,587,363 ($63B), and China $41,522,891,598 ($42B).
|United Arab Emirates||$31,755,349,719|
Top 10 largest gold countries by Net Exporter
Net trade refers to the value of a country’s exports minus imports (net export) or imports minus exports (net import). Our research uncovered that the following countries are dominating net exports of gold:
- Australia is the largest net exporter of gold in the world, with $20,908,818,122 ($21B). Following behind Australia, South Africa net exports $14,099,171,969 ($14B) and Ghana net exports $10,826,336,029 ($11B).
|Country||Trade Value Export||Trade Value Import||Trade Value Delta|
Top 10 largest gold countries by Net importers
Countries generally import gold for one of two reasons: to participate in the gold trade or to diversify their stores of wealth. These are the ten countries that import the most gold by net value.
- The United Kingdom is the world’s largest net importer of gold, with $40,973,620,594 ($41B). China and India follow close behind, with $39,731,671,290 ($40B) and $32,977,772,230 ($33B), respectively.
|Country||Trade Value Export||Trade Value Import||Trade Value Delta|
|United Arab Emirates||$21,405,629,825.00||$31,755,349,719.00||-$10,349,719,894.00|
Top 10 highest Import Tariffs Countries
The purpose of trade tariffs is to restrict imports. Here’s a breakdown of which countries apply tariffs to gold imports, making the precious metal less attractive to investors
- Angola has the world’s highest gold import tariffs at 50%, followed by Cameroon at 29%, and Gabon at 29%.
2018 MEAN TARIFF : 5.09%
- Most of the largest GDP countries have near 0% import tariffs.
|United States||$19.485 trillion||0.52|
|United Kingdom||$2.638 trillion||0.00|
Is Gold a Good Investment?
Investors often use gold as a hedge against inflation during times of economic downturn. That’s why gold can be a better investment than the US dollar and, sometimes, the entire stock market.
- Gold has the highest average annual trading volumes behind the S&P 500.
- Annual trading volumes of gold equal $183B per day, while the S&P 500 (all stocks) has annual trading volumes of $234.82 ($235B) per day.
|US corporate bonds||38.00|
|Dow Jones (all stocks)||54.98|
|US 1-3 yr Treasuries||118.50|
|S&P 500 (all stocks)||234.82|
- The volume of gold ounces transferred in June 2021 was 18.1, which was a 12% decrease from 20.6 ounces of gold traded in June 2020.
- In June 2021, the price of gold was $33.3B, a 6.7% decrease from the previous year.
- Gold transfers increased nearly 12% from June 2020, with 4,713 transfers in June 2021.
- The annualized return of gold over the past 10 years is 0.53% while the S&P 500’s 10-year annualized return is 11.35%
|Year||Gold Price||S&P 500|
- Gold delivered a 24.6% annual return in 2020.
- Globally, gold still only makes up less than 1% of investor portfolios.
- The annual volume of gold bought by investors has increased by 235% over the past three decades.
- Approximately 80 gold-backed exchange-traded funds existed across the world as of March 2017.
What Is the Annual Demand for Gold?
Gold is the most valuable precious metal in the world, not just for investors but for consumers too. Recall that the jewellery market consumes the majority of above-ground gold. Considering gold jewellery made up a $2.2B market in 2020, the following facts about gold demand should be no wonder.
- Global gold demand dropped by 28% YOY to 783.4t in Q4 2020, and it was the weakest quarter since the midst of the global financial crisis in Q2 2008.
- Gold consumer demand decreased by 3,759.6t by 14% in annual demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Central banks bought 59% lower gold during the pandemic period in 2020.
- In Q4 2020, gold jewellery demand declined by 13% y-o-y to 515.9t, making it 34% lower than in 2019.
- The recovery of the gold market in China and India influenced Western markets to lift annual demand to 896.1t (+3%) in the second half of 2020.
- During Q2 2021, there were only modest net inflows of 40.7t into gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
- Central banks bought 651 tonnes of gold in 2018, up 74% compared to 2017 and the highest level since 1971.
- Jewellery demand for gold grew by an average 17% annual growth between 1990 and 2019.
Where Does the World’s Gold Supply Come From?
The world’s above-ground gold supply comes from two sources: new gold and recycled gold. Following is a breakdown of where the world’s supply of new and recycled gold comes from today.
- Mine production typically accounts for 75% of the gold supply each year.
- On average, it takes between 10-20 years before a gold mine is ready to produce material that can be refined.
- Approximately 90% of recycled gold comes from jewellery and 10% from extracting gold from technology.
- Recycled gold has provided approximately 30% of the total supply of gold over the past 20 years.
- There was a 4% drop in total annual gold supply in 2020, making it the largest annual fall since 2013. Experts speculate this decline was due to Q1 2020 coronavirus lockdowns.
- The total supply of gold grew by 13% to 1,172t as the industry experienced far fewer Covid-related disruptions for Q2 2021.
How Much Gold Do Mines Produce?
Mines have produced over 66% of the world’s above-ground gold supply since 1950. But exactly how much does gold mining produce? And which countries produce the most gold annually? Here are the facts you need to know.
- With 32.8 million ounces of gold reserves, the largest gold mine in the world is South Deep in Witwatersrand, South Africa.
- South Africa is also home to the Mponeng gold mine but, with only 11.65 million ounces, it has produced less than half as much gold as South Deep.
- The United States also has two top-producing gold mines — the Carlin Trend (12.46 million ounces) and Cortez (8.7 million ounces) gold mines in Nevada.
|Gold Mine||Location||Ounces (Millions)|
|South Deep||South Africa||32.80|
|Lihir||Papua New Guinea||24.00|
|Carlin Trend||Nevada, US||12.46|
|Pueblo Viejo||Dominican Republic||10.92|
- Mines add approximately 2,500-3,000 tonnes of gold per year to the overall above-ground stock of gold through global gold mining.
- The annualised growth rate of gold was 23% from 2010 to 2020.
- Over the last 10 years, mines produced 36,389 tonnes of gold, which is 18% of the world’s above-ground gold supply and 15% of the world’s total gold reserves.
- In 2020, China mined the most gold, producing 11% of total global gold or 368.3 tonnes.
- The top twelve gold-producing countries mined 2134.8 tonnes of gold in 2020, which accounts for over 61% of total global gold mined that year.
- Canada’s gold production was 170.6 tonnes in 2020
- South Deep has supplied over 40% of the world’s above-ground gold. In 1970, South Deep produced almost 80% of the world’s gold supply.
- In 2013, gold mines contributed more than US$171.6bn to the global economy through their production activities and expenditure on goods and services.
When Was the Gold Rush?
Did you know that the United States California gold rush wasn’t the first of its kind? In fact, California’s gold rush wasn’t even the first gold rush in the United States! Learn more about gold rushes in the US and around the world below.
- Nearly 50 years before the 1848 California Gold Rush, the Carolinas were the main region for gold production in the US.
- 40,000 miners joined the California Gold Rush in 1849, and they were called “49ers”. Only a small number of the 49ers ever got rich.
- The first gold report was made near Beaconsfield in Tasmania in 1847.
- On 12 February 1851, Edward Hammond Hargraves found the first payable goldfields at Ophir, near Bathurst, New South Wales. After this news gold rush occurred, and in 1852 alone, 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia.
- Victoria’s first gold discovery was recorded in June 1851, and it sparked Victoria’s famous gold rush. Around 600 diggers who wanted to seek their fortune arrived in Victoria.
- In 1857 a Gold Rush occurred in Queensland, and it triggered a new phase for the fledgling Colony with major economic development.
- Gold discoveries were first recorded in the Kimberley, in Western Australia, in 1885.
Gold Fun Facts
You may feel like a gold expert by now, but we’ve only scratched the surface of everything there is to know. Check out these fun facts about gold for everything else you need to know.
- Julius Caesar once gave 200 gold coins to each of his soldiers from the spoils of its war with Gaul.
- The word “gold” comes from the Old English word “gyldan”, which comes from the Germanic word “gulþa”.
- On 26 September 1980, Kevin Hillier discovered the Hand of Faith — an 875-troy ounce gold nugget — while using a metal detector near Kingower, Victoria, Australia.
- The Perth Mint in Australia casted the largest gold coin ever created in 2012. The coin weighed one tonne and measured 80 cm in diameter.
- At 10 parts of gold per quadrillion, the world’s oceans are estimated to hold up to 15,000 tonnes of gold.
- All of the gold ever mined would fit into a 21-metre crate.
- According to a Gold IRA survey, 12% of the American population owns gold.
- A tonne of gold is worth more than $55 million today.
- There are just over 31 grams in one troy ounce of gold.
- The largest-ever gold nugget weighed 2316 troy ounces.
- 18-karat gold is composed of 750 parts per 1,000 of pure gold.
- It’s rarer to find a one-ounce nugget of gold than a five-carat diamond.
- Gold is the 58th rarest element. The rarest elements on earth are platinum-based metals like osmium, rhodium, and iridium.
- Gold ranks 954th in the Product Complexity Index (PCI).
- A typical iPhone contains around 0.034g of gold.
- Olympic gold medals contain a minimum of 6 grams of gold and consist of at least 92.5% silver.
- A Rio 2016 gold medal was worth approximately US$600.
- Gold boils at 2808 degrees centigrade.
- Gold melts at 1064 degrees centigrade.
- One ounce of gold can stretch to a length of 50 miles.
- One ounce of gold can be hammered into a single sheet measuring nine square metres.
- One ounce of gold can be beaten into a translucent sheet 0.000018 cm thick or pulled into a wire 80 km (50 miles) long.