Which Nations Have Been Buying Gold?

Credit: Photo by Zlaťá on Unsplash

The U.S., Germany, Italy, France, Russia, China, Switzerland, Japan, India and the Netherlands hold the highest gold reserves (in tons). While there have been minor changes in positions over the years, the top ten nations ranking has remained pretty much the same since 2009. The buying patten by these nations and all others reflects the policy stance taken the central banks, based on macroeconomic factors, financial stability and global environment. Here’s a look at the top five nations that made the most additions to their gold reserves over the past five years (2017-2021), including Q1 2022.

1. Russia

Russia has been among the top buyers of gold in the last ten years pushing its gold reserves from 882.96 tons at the end of 2011 to 2,301.64 tons at the end of 2021. In the past five years, Russia has added 683.31 tons of gold, out of which 474.81 tons was bought in 2017 and 2018. Overall, the country has added more than 1,900 tons of gold since 2005. Russia’s gold reserves constitute around one-fifth of its total reserves and is roughly equivalent to $140 billion. During Q1 2022, there has been no fresh purchase or sale from its gold reserves. Russia currently has the fifth highest gold holdings among nations globally. Amid the rise of demand for gold by households, the central bank announced its decision to buy gold from credit institutions at a negotiated price to manage the demand and supply of gold more effectively.

2. Turkey

Turkey’s central bank has added around 278.55 tons of gold reserves since 2017. During 2017, 2018 and 2019, Turkey was the second largest purchaser of gold, and continued with its buying as the fourth highest buyer in 2020. The country’s gold reserves at the end of 2021 stood at 394.2 tons, equivalent to 24.37% of its total reserves. Turkey has been making efforts to mobilize the “under-the-pillow” stock of gold into the financial system by providing incentives on depositing gold. At the end of 2021, the country ranked thirteenth in terms of its gold reserves. During Q1 2022, Turkey added another 36.9 tons to its gold reserves placing it at the eleventh spot. Turkey is among the biggest gold jewellery producers in the world.

3. India

India’s gold reserve levels are the ninth highest in the world. One of the biggest purchases of gold was in 2009 when the Reserve Bank of India purchased 200 metric tons of gold from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), under the IMF’s limited gold sales program. This took its reserves to 537 tons. In the last five years, India has continued to add gold to its reserves, which have swelled its gold holdings from 557.77 tons at the end of 2016 to 754.1 tons at the end of 2021 with 77.45 tons bought alone in 2021. During Q1 2022, India added 6.31 tons, taking its total gold reserve holdings to 760.4 tons. Gold currently constitutes around 6.86% of its total reserves. Globally, India is among the largest importer and consumer of gold. During 2021, India imported 1,067 tons of gold, higher than 836.38 tons of imports in 2019.

4. Poland

In 2018, Poland’s central bank, Narodowy Bank Polski (NBP) made a strategic decision to significantly expand its gold reserves. “The decision was supported by the fact that NBP’s gold holdings were lower than implied by the overall size of its reserves portfolio when benchmarked against other countries,” according to NBP. In the last five years, Poland purchased 125.7 tons of gold with 100.01 tons bought in 2019. After bringing gold to Poland, Adam Glapiński, President of NBP said, “In a symbolic sense, we can say that history has come full circle and like in the times of the Second Polish Republic, once again there is gold in the vaults of the bank of issue.” The purchase of gold pushed Poland’s gold reserves from 102.96 tons at the end of 2016 to 230.84 tons at the end of December 2021. There is a possibility of further increasing gold reserves depending upon official reserve assets dynamics and market conditions.

5. China

China holds the world’s sixth highest gold reserves at 1,948.31 tons, which constitutes 3.3% of its official reserves. Globally, China has the highest reserves of gold at $3.42 trillion. Historically, China’s gold buying has been in spurts. China purchased 95.8 tons of gold in 2019 and has maintained its reserves at the same level. The years 2009 and 2015 witnessed China adding 454.11 tons and 708.22 tons of gold, respectively. China’s gold consumption (jewelry, bars, and coins) has been 971.55 tons, 994.35 tons, 849.13 tons, 612.65 tons and 960.12 tons in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. China imported an estimated 818 tons of gold in 2021, almost back to pre-COVID levels. At the end of December 2021, China held $1.06 trillion in U.S. treasury securities.

Rounding Up 

Kazakhstan, Hungary, Thailand, Japan and Brazil round up the top ten nations.

  • During 2017-2021, Kazakhstan added a total of 127.43 tons of gold in three tranches. However, around 34.26 tons were sold during Q1 2022, reducing the net buy to 93.17 tons over this period.
  • Over the years, Hungary’s gold stock remained unchanged at 3.1 tons until 2018. Hungary added a total of 91.41 tons in the last five years with 62.98 tons added in 2021.
  • Thailand added 90.2 tons of gold to its reserves in 2021, taking its total reserves in gold to 244.16 tons.
  • Japan holds the eighth largest gold reserves in the world, which constitute 3.9% of its total reserves. Its gold reserves have remained constant at 765.22 tons since long. However, 2021 witnessed an addition of 80.76 tons.
  • Brazil added 62.29 tons of gold in 2021.


The report has been carefully prepared, and any exclusions or errors in reporting are unintentional. The author has no position in any stocks mentioned. Investors should consider the above information not as a de facto recommendation, but as an idea for further consideration. The data is based on World Gold Council reports as well as individual country wise central bank figures.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Prableen Bajpai

Prableen Bajpai is the founder of FinFix Research and Analytics which is an all women financial research and wealth management firm. She holds a bachelor (honours) and master’s degree in economics with a major in econometrics and macroeconomics. Prableen is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA, ICFAI) and a CFP®.

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