Gold definitely has caught the public's attention; for proof, just look at the number of cash for gold ads. Gold has been rising since 2001 and its near vertical rise over the last two years helps explain some of the recent fascination, but political actions have helped as well. In the United States, Rep. Ron Paul and others have called for a return to the gold standard. Elsewhere, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez recently nationalized his country's gold industries, and some analysts have said countries should dip into their gold reserves to alleviate the sovereign debt crisis. With all these recent stories, we wanted to see which countries actually have the most gold in their reserves, based on information from the World Gold Council.
Honorable Mention: Venezuela
Although Venezuela technically is number 13 on the list behind Taiwan and Portugal, Venezuela President Hugo Chávez's move to nationalize his country's gold industry was the catalyst for this list. With gold and oil under his control, perhaps now he can possess that pinnacle of dictatorial decadence. Venezuela's gold reserves are worth approximately $21 billion.
% of reserves: 60.8%
The world's second most populous country barely made the top 10 list. It's interesting that although India consumes more gold than any other, it only has 8.7% of its reserves dedicated to it. India's gold reserves are worth approximately $33 billion.
% of reserves: 8.7%
Although known for being a fairly liberal society, the Netherlands is fairly conservative in its financial reserves, dedicating 58.9% to gold. The Netherland Bank manages the country's national finances, including the gold reserves, which amount to approximately $36 billion
% of reserves: 58.9%
Although Japan's 765.2 tonnes of gold is enough to make the top 10 list, that gold only constitutes a very small percentage of its overall reserves. Like another Asian country on this list, Japan holds a significant number of U.S. dollars in its reserves. Japan's gold reserves are worth approximately $45 billion.
% of reserves: 3.3%
As the world's number five gold producing nation, Russia's gold reserves have grown significantly over the last couple years. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation is in charge of the country's 836.7 tonnes of gold that are valued at approximately $50 billion.
% of reserves: 7.7%
Beyond watches, chocolate and pocket knives, Switzerland is best known as a financial center. The Swiss National Bank conducts Switzerland's monetary policy and guards the country's 1,040.1 tonnes of gold. Switzerland's gold reserves are worth approximately $62 billion.
% of reserves: 17.8%
It might be surprising to find the world's most populous nation at only five on the list, but bear in mind that China's gold holdings are only 1.6% of its total reserves. While its gold holdings are worth "only" about $63 billion, it has more than $3 trillion in U.S. dollars in its reserve.
% of reserves: 1.6%
Now we're getting into some bigger numbers. The French National Bank, Banque De France, is home to the country's gold holdings, which are worth approximately $146 billion.
% of reserves: 66.2%
Coming in at number three, Italy is the only top 10 country to also make the prestigious "PIIGS" list of Eurozone countries with sovereign debt problems (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain), although Portugal just missed the list at number 12. Italy's gold reserves are worth approximately $147 billion.
% of reserves: 71.2%
The largest economy in the Eurozone also has the largest reserve of gold. With 71.4% of its reserves in gold, only the United States, Greece and Portugal have more of their reserves dedicated to the yellow metal. Germany's gold reserves are worth approximately $203 billion.
% of reserves: 71.4%
#1: United States
Far and away the United States has more gold in its reserves than any other country. In fact, the United States holds nearly 30% of the 27,372.6 tonnes of gold in all sovereign reserves. Although Fort Knox is the iconic location of U.S. gold, more gold actually is stored in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's underground vault, although not all of it belongs to the U.S. government. At $1,700 an ounce, the U.S. gold reserve is worth approximately $487 billion.
% of reserves: 74.2%