Many people say that natural resources like oil and minerals are the way to prosperity. Indeed, in an old cartoon by Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, a professor taught his students, “The nation that controls magnesium controls the universe!” But natural resources have been left out of this chapter completely. Is this a big mistake?

a. Here are the 10 countries in the world that have the highest amounts of hydrocarbons (oil, natural gas, etc.) per person, in rank order:

1. Kuwait

2. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

3. Saudi Arabia

4. Iraq

5. Norway

6. Venezuela

7. Oman

8. Iran

9. Trinidad and Tobago

10. Gabon

Use the CIA World Factbook, a convenient online source of information, to see if most of these countries are prosperous. How many of these 10 countries have a GDP per person that is at least half of the U.S. level? How many are less than 10% of the U.S. level? Are any actually higher than the U.S. level?

b. Now, let’s look at the reverse: Let’s see if the 10 richest countries in GDP per capita have a lot of hydrocarbon wealth:

1. Luxembourg

2. United States

3. Singapore

4. Hong Kong

5. Norway

6. Australia

7. Sweden

8. Canada

9. Denmark

10. Japan

The one country on both lists also makes another list in this chapter. Which one is it?

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