10 Countries With the Most Debt

The 10 countries with the most debt in the world have more than $51.4 trillion of debt outstanding, and the ones on top of the list may surprise you.

The World Bank notes that 66 of the largest countries have a total of $69.4 trillion in debt, and the top 10 of those countries make up almost three-quarters of that amount. While the countries with the most debt are also some of the most powerful economically, it is also vitally important to monitor how that debt is trending through the years.


The appropriate management of debt is one of the key ways to ensure a country's economy functions in a smooth and stable way, while also protecting the reputation of a government. Last year's government shutdown in America and continual disagreements over what to do with the debt in the United States provide an example of that reality.

Knowing what countries have the most debt is helpful in framing the discussion about it in the United States and beyond. Check out our slideshow below.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 5:16 PM, sliderw wrote:

    Telling us about each country's absolute debt level is useless without a context of the country's (in)ability to handle it.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 4:16 AM, DevonShire123 wrote:

    Ireland's debt isn't real. It was signed onto them when they joined the EU. They tried to do the same to Iceland. The bankers literally had to flee the country for their lives. Our debt is partially manufactured, and partially real--but the real debt is debt we owe to a private bank (The Federal Reserve) for the privilege of using their money (which is against the Constitution, by the way). The propagandists at the Motley FOOL won't report any of this, of course.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 5:38 PM, BuffMagnum wrote:

    Has to be compared to GDP/GNP to even start analysis on debt service ability; pretty meaningless without it.

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Patrick Morris

After a few stints in banking and corporate finance, Patrick joined the Motley Fool as a writer covering the financial sector. He's scaled back his everyday writing a bit, but he's always happy to opine on the latest headline news surrounding Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and all things personal finance.

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