Central government debt, total (% of GDP)

Definition: Debt is the entire stock of direct government fixed-term contractual obligations to others outstanding on a particular date. It includes domestic and foreign liabilities such as currency and money deposits, securities other than shares, and loans. It is the gross amount of government liabilities reduced by the amount of equity and financial derivatives held by the government. Because debt is a stock rather than a flow, it is measured as of a given date, usually the last day of the fiscal year.

Description: The map below shows how Central government debt, total (% of GDP) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Japan, with a value of 201.13. The country with the lowest value in the world is Congo, with a value of 0.21.

Source: International Monetary Fund, Government Finance Statistics Yearbook and data files, and World Bank and OECD GDP estimates.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Limitations and Exceptions: For most countries central government finance data have been consolidated into one account, but for others only budgetary central government accounts are available. Countries reporting budgetary data are noted in the country metadata. Because budgetary accounts may not include all central government units (such as social security funds), they usually provide an incomplete picture. In federal states the central government accounts provide an incomplete view of total public finance. Data on government revenue and expense are collected by the IMF through questionnaires to member countries and by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Despite IMF efforts to standardize data collection, statistics are often incomplete, untimely, and not comparable across countries.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: The IMF's Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001, harmonized with the 1993 SNA, recommends an accrual accounting method, focusing on all economic events affecting assets, liabilities, revenues, and expenses, not just those represented by cash transactions. It accounts for all changes in stocks, so stock data at the end of an accounting period equal stock data at the beginning of the period plus flows over the period. The 1986 manual considered only debt stocks. Government finance statistics are reported in local currency. Many countries report government finance data by fiscal year; see country metadata for information on fiscal year end by country.

Aggregation method: Median

Periodicity: Annual