The world is not an equal place, and some places are a lot more unequal than others.

A national political border can have incredible significance; an abstract line separating neighboring peoples, economies, even life expectancies. Using GDP per capita as an indicator (sourcing the most recent Central Intelligence Agency data), the wealth divide between these four pairs of countries is vast … even though they geographically sit side by side.

(GDP defined)

Click on each country below to see the extent of the financial divide.
(I’ll leave it to you to figure out why this is.)

Kuwait and Iraq

Difference in GDP per capita: $38,300

United States and Mexico

Difference in GDP per capita: $34,200

Brunei and Malaysia

Difference in GDP per capita: $34,200 (tied with U.S.- Mexico)

North Korea and South Korea

Difference in GDP per capita: $30,000


Matthew Green

Matthew Green runs KQED’s News Education Project, an online resource for educators and the general public to help explain the news. The project lives at

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor