The 17 countries with the highest level of government debt

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Which Countries Spend More Than They Make?

All eyes are back on Greece in April as the country tries to unlock more funds from international creditors to help mend its battered economy.

But despite racking up huge amounts of government debt, Greece is not the most indebted country in the world.

The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Survey looks at the financial health and risks of countries around the world.

One of the most interesting and important rankings is actually the level of government debt.

By looking at level of gross government debt as a percentage of GDP, it can indicate how able a country is to pay back debts without incurring further debt.

Basically the lower the debt-to-GDP ratio the better.

Take a look to see who made the top 17 and who beat Greece for the top spot.

17 countries with the highest level of gov debt (BI)
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The 17 countries with the highest level of government debt

17. Iceland – 90.2%

Prior to the credit crisis in 2007, government debt was a modest 27% of GDP. At the time of WEF's rankings, its debt was still super high.

(Photo via Getty Images)

16. Barbados – 92.0%

The tax-haven nation is the wealthiest and most developed country in the eastern Caribbean, but its growth prospects look weak due to austerity measures to combat the effects of the credit crisis eight years ago.

(Photo via Alamy)

15. France – 93.9%

The eurozone's second-biggest economy has been recovering "in fits and starts," says the country's statistical agency.

(Photo by Allan Baxter via Getty Images)

14. Spain – 93.9%

S&P is confident that Spain's buoyant growth prospects and labour-market reforms will boost its outlook.

(Photo via Getty)

13. Cape Verde – 95.0%

The island nation is a service-orientated economy and suffers from a poor natural-resource base. This means it has to import 82% of its food, leading to vulnerability to market fluctuations.

(Photo via Getty Images)

12. Belgium – 99.8%

The country is known as "the sick man of Europe," because while the government managed to reduce the budget deficit from a peak of 6% of GDP in 2009 to 3.2% — its debt is still incredibly high.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

11. Singapore – 103.8%

It's one of the wealthiest countries in the world but the island nation suffers from high debt. The government is now trying to find new ways to grow the economy and raise productivity.

(Photo via Getty Images)

10. United States – 104.5%

The US hiked interest rates for the first time in seven years in December last year. In March, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the economy was on a path of slow and steady growth.

(Photo via Getty Images)

9. Bhutan – 110.7%

The small Asian economy is closely linked to India and depends heavily on it for financial assistance and foreign labourers for infrastructure.

(Photo via Getty Images)

8. Cyprus – 112.0%

The country's excessive exposure to Greece hit it hard when the European sovereign-debt crisis rippled across the world in 2010. Like Greece, it had to be bailed out by international creditors and enforce capital controls and austerity measures to get funding.

(Photo by Rosita So Image via Getty Images)

7. Ireland – 122.8%

The country exited its bailout programme two years ago but still faces a huge debt pile. But it's on the right track. Ireland has already had success in refinancing a large amount of banking-related debt.

(Photo via Getty Images)

6. Portugal – 128.8%

Portugal exited its own bailout programme in the middle of 2014. However, GDP was still 7.8% lower than it was at the end of 2007.

(Photo via Getty Images)

5. Italy – 132.5%

The country's proportion of debt to GDP is the second highest in the Eurozone.

(Photo via Getty Images)

4. Jamaica – 138.9%

The services industry accounts for 80% of GDP, but high crime, corruption, and large-scale unemployment drag the country's growth down. The International Monetary Fund said Jamaica has to reform its tax system, among other things.

(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Lebanon – 139.7%

The country used to be a tourist destination but war in Syria and domestic political turmoil have led to a lack of an official budget for months.

(Photo via Getty Images)

2. Greece – 173.8%

The country has taken over €320 billion worth of bailout cash and it's looking increasingly impossible to pay it all back — especially since it has had to implement painful austerity measures to get its loans. But it's surprisingly not the worse country in the world for government debt.

(Photo by Konstantin Kalishko via Getty Images)

1. Japan – 243.2%

The country is in a troubling spot. Its economy is growing very slowly and now the central bank has implemented negative interest rates.

(Photo via Getty Images)


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