Photo by Greg Rodgers
So what country claims the highest percentage of millionaires per capita?
The tiny city-island-country occupies only 274 square miles, making it even smaller than my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, USA. But apparently size doesn't matter when it comes down to business:
Singapore has the highest percentage of millionaires with one in every six households possessing at least $1 million dollars in disposable wealth -- excluding property, businesses, and luxury goods! If real estate would be factored in, the number would skyrocket; property in densely populated Singapore doesn't exactly come cheap.
- See where is Singapore?
While the rest of the world job market was floundering, Singapore reported an unemployment rate of only 1.9% in 2011. Perhaps that's why Singapore claims one of the highest percentages of foreign expats in the world. But that may change; a new initiative plans to cut back on the number of foreign workers that businesses may legally hire.
Singapore is ranked fourth out of the top financial centers in the world and boasts the third-highest per capita income (PPP) in the world. Interesting to note, Singapore does not have a minimum wage, and although government assistance is offered through various means, the country has historically balked at the idea of a public welfare system for fear of abuse.
So now you're thinking that there's no way you can possibly afford to visit Singapore. While accommodation is certainly more expensive than other countries in Southeast Asia, and you may have to sell a much needed kidney for a night of revelry out on the town, at least the incredible food remains cheap -- assuming you stay away from posh restaurants on the waterfront. You can enjoy delicious fusion cuisine and seafood in lively local eateries for only a few dollars.
And there are plenty of activities beyond just walking the miles and miles of concrete shopping malls, both above and below ground, that are free. During my two-week stay I enjoyed an outdoor film festival, an underground play, a kite festival, excellent museums, plenty of Indian and Chinese culture, and yes -- some shopping. Despite being highly developed, I explored many of Singapore's excellent green spaces that are interconnected by miles of bike trails and canopy walks.
So if you can resist the constant shopping temptations that begin as soon as you get off of the plane -- Singapore's Changi Airport is essentially a shopping mall with runways -- then you can enjoy an excellent visit to Singapore without returning Singapoor. Even without volunteering to wash dishes alongside all the other foreign workers at each restaurant.
So who gets to claim the highest percentage of billionaires? Hong Kong -- at least for now.