List of countries by GDP (PPP) in the nineteenth century

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These are lists of countries in the nineteenth century by their estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), the value of all final goods and services produced within a country/region in a given year. GDP dollar (international dollar) estimates here are derived from PPP estimates.


Due to the absence of sufficient data for nearly all economies until the 20th century, earlier GDP is only roughly estimated. In a first step, economic historians try to reconstruct the GDP per capita of a given political or geographical entity from the meagre evidence. This value is then multiplied by the estimated population size, another determinant for which as a rule only little ancient data is available.

A key notion in the whole process is that of subsistence, the income level which is necessary for sustaining one's life. Since pre-industrial societies, by modern standards, were characterized by a very low degree of urbanization and a large majority of people working in the agricultural sector, economic historians prefer to express income in cereal units. To achieve comparability over space and time, these numbers are then converted into monetary units such as International Dollars, a third step which leaves a relatively wide margin of interpretation.

The formula is: GDP (PPP) = GDP per capita (PPP) × population size

It should be stressed that, historically speaking, population size is a far more important multiplier in the equation. This is because, in contrast to industrial economies, the average income ceiling of premodern agrarian societies was quite low everywhere, possibly not higher than twice the subsistence level.[1] Therefore, the total GDP as given below primarily reflects the respective historical population size, and is much less indicative of contemporary living standards than, for example, estimations of past GDP per capita.

According to 20th-century macroeconomist Paul Bairoch, a pioneer in historical economic analysis,

it is obvious that by itself the volume of total GNP has no important significance, and that the volume of GNP is not by itself the expression of the economic strength of a nation.

Rather, Bairoch advocates a formula combining GNP per capita and total GNP to provide a better measure of the economic performance of national economies.[2]

The total GDPs of the British Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire were difficult to calculate due to lack of information from some localities in Maddison's work. There is no information to speculate the GDP of many colonies and national subdivisions. In the case of Austria-Hungary, the data given is about the modern territory of the Austria and Hungary, while the majority of the population and economy lay outside today's borders. There were data about future countries that were once part of the Empire. Using that, the Czechoslovakia's GDP was split in the rate of 2:1 to Austria and Hungary respectively because of the location of each part in the former empire and the population rate between Czech and Slovakian territories of 2:1. Data about the GDP of the territory of the future Yugoslavian kingdom in 1890s existed, so the proportion of the population among Croatia-Slavonia, Serbia and the other constituents of the future kingdom were used to deduce the GDP of each place. Information about Galician GDP was deduced using the proportion of the people it had in what would become Poland. Information about other parts were missing, so the GDP of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was actually bigger than shown, as well as the British Empire.


List by the Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD (Partial forecasted estimates for 1879–1880) and Maddison Project[3][4][5]

Rank Country GDP
(millions of 1880 Int$)
 World at least 1,500,000
1  British Empire
2 US flag 38 stars.svg United States 211,678
3 Qing dynasty Qing dynasty 205,309
4 Reichskolonialflagge.svg German Empire
126,172 [o 1]
5 France French Empire
108,772 [o 2]
6 Russian Empire Russian Empire
7 Austria-Hungary Austro-Hungarian Empire
c. 63,000
8 Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Italy 49,686
9 Dutch Empire Netherlands
40,386 [o 3]
10 Empire of Japan Empire of Japan 37,016
11 Spanish Empire Spanish Empire
35,399 [o 4]
12  Belgium 20,443
13  Ottoman Empire 18,749
14 Union Jack of Sweden and Norway (1844-1905).svg Sweden-Norway
15  Empire of Brazil 11,001
16  Mexico 10,860
17   Switzerland 8,766
18 Tricolour Flag of Iran (1886).svg Persia 7,749
19  Argentina 7,265
20 Kingdom of Portugal Portuguese Empire
c. 7,000
21 Kingdom of Romania Romania 6,553
22  Denmark 5,462
23 Flag of Thailand 1855.svg Siam 5,229
24  Chile 4,781
25 Ethiopian Pennants.svg Ethiopia c. 4,000
26 Joseon Korea c. 4,000
27  Morocco 3,182
28 Bulgaria Bulgaria c. 3,000
29  Colombia 2,379
30 Flag of Venezuela (1863-1905).svg Venezuela 2,172
31 Kingdom of Greece Greece 2,640
32 Flag of Nepal (19th century-1962).svg Nepal 1,504
33 Orange Free State Orange Free State c. 2,000
34 Kingdom of Serbia Serbia c. 1,708
35 Flag of Peru (state).svg Peru 1,650
36  Uruguay 1,594
37 South African Republic Transvaal c. 1,000
38 Flag of Bolivia (state).svg Bolivia c. 1,000
39  Guatemala c. 1,000
40  Luxembourg c. 700
41  Ecuador 589
42 Flag of El Salvador (1875-1877).svg El Salvador c. 500
43 Principality of Montenegro Montenegro c. 500
44  Honduras c. 500
45 Flag of Nicaragua (1889-1893).svg Nicaragua c. 400
46 Flag of Costa Rica (1848-1906).svg Costa Rica c. 400
47  Liberia c. 300
48 Flag of Haiti (1859-1964).svg Haiti c. 250
49  Monaco c. 50
50  San Marino c. 30
51 Flag of Liechtenstein (1852-1921).svg Liechtenstein c. 25
52 Flag of Andorra (1934).svg Andorra c. 13
?  Emirate of Afghanistan ???
? Flag of Paraguay (1842-1954).svg Paraguay ???
? Flag of the Second Saudi State.svg Emirate of Nejd ???
? Flag of the Dominican Republic (up to 1844).svg Dominican Republic ???
? Muscat and Oman ???
? Flag of Congo Free State.svg Congo ???
? Neutral Moresnet ???
?   Bhutan ???
? Hawaii Hawaii ???


  1. ^ (excluding colonies)
  2. ^ (excluding territories with uncertain GDP)
  3. ^ (excluding territories with uncertain GDP)
  4. ^ (excluding territories with uncertain GDP)


  1. ^ Milanovic 2006, p. 460, 468:

    In conclusion, the fact that the average incomes in the most developed agricultural economies like Augustan Rome and Basil's Byzantium were about twice or less than the subsistence minimum might indicate that the pre-industrial societies were unlikely to ever exceed that ceiling. This in turn has implications for our assessment of the average standard of living in other, non-Western, pre-industrial economies like those of China, India, pre-Columbian Americas, and Africa....A further implication of these calculations is that a realistic maximum income that could be envisaged for the pre-industrial societies might be a bit more than twice the subsistence minimum, or around $PPP 1000 (at 1990 international prices).

  2. ^ Bairoch 1976, p. 282
  3. ^ "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD". Angus Maddison. Retrieved 9 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ GGDC - Maddison Project
  5. ^ David Rumsey

External links[edit]