Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dollars and Sense

It’s fairly common knowledge that Bermuda is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. What, you hadn’t heard? Even if this comes as a surprise a quick glance around town would undoubtedly tip you off: A conversation with one of Bermuda’s well-traveled taxi drivers might do the trick as would a Sunday drive on the island’s immaculately manicured roads. Have a look at the hillsides and it would be hard not to notice handsome Bermuda cottages with fresh coats of candy-colored paint and thick verdant forests of coconut palms, casuarinas, and more. It’s a beautiful place this Bermuda, but no doubt because of the wealth that’s generated from its thriving financial, banking and insurance sectors. Still not convinced? Take this recent report from the United States’ CIA World Factbook: Based on the latest department statistics, Bermuda has once again topped the list of countries with the highest gross domestic product per capita. The island generated a whopping $5.85 billion of wealth in 2007—the latest year that wealth can be measured—which when broken down, equals $91,477 per person. That puts this twenty-one-square-mile archipelago ahead of oil-crazed Qatar at $87,600 and ritzy Luxembourg at $79,400. When compared to its major trading partners Bermuda is miles ahead: $45,800 for the U.S., $38,600 for Canada and $35,000 for the U.K. Which is not at all surprising given those country’s thriving populations, but when you consider how much wealth is indeed generated from this tiny mid-Atlantic country it’s enough to make your head spin. Over $91,000 per person? It’s no wonder my favorite taxi driver wears a gold Cartier screw bracelet.

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