2020 might have been a miserable year for most Americans, but it was a high-water mark for a certain group of citizens -- Bitcoin (BTC -0.50%) traders. According to a multi-country study undertaken by blockchain research company Chainalysis, these folks collectively booked an estimated $4.1 billion in profits from wheeling and dealing in the leading cryptocurrency.

The U.S. tally was nearly four times that of the runner-up, China, whose citizens earned around $1.1 billion in profits during the year. 

The top five countries were rounded out by Japan at No. 3 (approximately $900 million in volume), followed by the U.K. ($800 million), then Russia ($600 million). 

A silhouetted woman looking at a set of brightly lit indexes and graphs.

Image source: Getty Images.

For active Bitcoin traders in 2020, profits were not hard to come by. Particularly in the later months, the cryptocurrency skyrocketed in value. Across the full year, it rose by nearly 310%.

One intriguing finding unearthed by Chainalysis is the discrepancy between numerous countries' economic positions and their Bitcoin profitability ranks.

The company cited Vietnam, which it points out was No. 53 in the world in terms of total annual gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Yet the following year, it took 13th place on the Bitcoin league table -- beating far richer nations like Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. That dynamic was similar with Turkey (No. 25 in terms of 2019 GDP and No. 16 on the Chainalysis Bitcoin chart) and Spain (19th and 9th, respectively).

"Overall, our analysis of Bitcoin gains by country in 2020 should be encouraging for the cryptocurrency world," Chainalysis wrote on its official blog. "The data suggests that Bitcoin has given investors in emerging markets access to a high-performing asset, the likes of which they may not have otherwise had access to."