Congratulations! You've just won the chance to create your own small country! You get 200,000 loyal subjects; 200,000 acres of land; and 200,000 USD worth of starting capital/goods.

Your 200,000 citizens are mostly unskilled workers, and have absolute loyalty towards you, as do their descendants.

The 200,000 acres of land are in the form of a circular island that's magically appeared at 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W, covered mainly in grasses and edible grains, with fruit-bearing plants also present. A more heavily-wooded region exists towards the center.

The capital/goods can be obtained at any time, but you can't get more "credit" in any way -- any future things that must be obtained from the outside world must be obtained via trade.

How do you make a nation with the highest possible GDP after 10 years?

  • $\begingroup$ check out Singapore it is already 50-years old. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Aug 31 '15 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ What are the rules regarding the loyalty of citizens? Can I break them if I demand too much? Do their children remain loyal to me, or do they get to make their own decisions? And are you comfortable with the choice of providing $1 per capita? As written, there is going to be a vast push towards tribal style architecture and farming. First thing we're going to need to do is build housing. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 31 '15 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ Given such... why are we optimizing GDP? That seems like a strange thing to care about. I don't think the citizens of Niger or Liberia (the poorest countries int he world, earning around $400/yr/person) even think about GDP. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 31 '15 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ I'm simply using GDP as an objective-ish criterion to determine success -- it's a lot harder to estimate something like HDI. $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '15 at 3:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ All of the answers have pointed out that \$200k is actually something to sneeze at. It has almost no effect in any way shape or form when you start playing with populations of that size. As an alternative, consider 200,000 oz of gold (roughly \$1100 per person), so they can at least begin to buy basic shelter and minimal farming equipment. You could use 200,000 pounds of silver (roughly \$410 per person) if you're feeling stingy. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 31 '15 at 4:47

As with many small countries, it needs to niche itself to do things like gambling, or being a tax haven, or extremely touristy. 200,000 is way too little to start with, so you will need to attract investors or people willing to spend lots of money immediately.

If you have absolutely loyal inhabitants, sounds like you have all needed for some type of blood sport that could attract a bored elite for entertainment, as depicted in many movies and stories... Just a matter before a human rights organization starts knocking on the door...

  • $\begingroup$ Tax haven is a good one. That could bring in a ton of capital really quickly. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 31 '15 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ My first thought was tax haven too. Spend half your startup on solar and satellite, the other half on shelter and fishing boats and a few tools. Unless you have volcanic heating the island will be cold. Catch high fat fish, or whales if possible. $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '15 at 13:41

You don't get the highest GDP in 10 years.

You starting point is ridiculously poor compared to the US (the current GDP leader).

There are only a few ways to grow an economy. Increased trade via manufacturing growth, financial strength, technology goods, sales of services etc.; all depend upon either human capital, physical capital (commodities, etc) and/or financial capital.

You have a tremendously poor starting point for all possible forms of capital. 200,000 acres is 312.5 sq miles or 809.4 sq. km. New York City is 1214 sq km. So you cannot possibly have the iron, coal, copper, aluminum, oil, etc. needed to support a multi-trillion dollar economy. Even the resources you have will be hard to develop to large capacity in 10 years since you don't have any significant amount of other capital.

Your starting financial capital is incredibly impoverished. You can't even afford to build basic sanitation or food and water distribution systems. What little population you have will start to die off.

Your starting industrial base is completely non-existent.

You might as well be corrupt, steal what you can and make your escape to an existing country.

Well, that edit the changed the question considerably. As someone already mentioned, Singapore is truly an excellent of rapid growth since 1965 when it became independent of the UK. In 1965, Singapore had a per capita GDP of 500 dollars, not 1 dollar and it already had very nice shipping facilities and a decently educated English speaking workforce

Singapore is also semi-tropical instead of the tundra climate that I would expect in your new island. Compare with Port-aux-Français in the Indian ocean at almost the same latitude. Subsistence farming will be very difficult, might I suggest taking up fishing.

You still don't have the capital needed to build anything significant, so you need to chop down as much forest as needed to built shelters immediately as your people will quickly freeze to death. So, initially it is a race to see whether you die of exposure, or something else.

Assuming you can survive the first year, about the only thing you can really expect to export is food from ocean fishing. As your people are largely uneducated and you have almost no financial capital there is not really a lot more your can do within 10 years by yourself.

You might be able to get some decent fishing boats to increase the harvest and perhaps you could tempt in some human capital to start the basic education processes needed to bootstrap the next generation.

Keep expanding the fishing industry and invite some other countries to come and exploit any offshore oil than may exist. Likewise send out invitations for mineral companies to come looking for gold, diamonds, etc. that may be onshore. Likewise, you can sell fishing licenses for use within your territorial waters.

In short, unless the oil or mineral right bring in lots of cash, after 10 years your people are still dirt poor and will likely remain that way for the rest of natural life of the worlds newest dictator.

The lousy climate will severely limit tourism; average high during the warmest month of the year is going to be about 11.5 C / 53 F. You need money to build 5-star resorts too. I also see gambling and tax havens mentioned -- these bring in both money and corruption. But you still need better climate for real success at gambling, as well as an electric and telecommunications grid for financial services -- again, outside investment again being the key.

It is also true that you will get the short end of the deal on outside investment, unless they are truly dependent on using resources under your control, you will have a poor bargaining position. Your 10 year window is a big problem too. People don't have a reason to trust that you won't confiscate their offshore dollars in your casinos or banks. The Cayman's add 1.2 billion of their GDP to their economy based on 1.5 trillion in financial deposits. Any deal you can strike within a few years will not be nearly as lucrative as the Cayman's have developed over the last 4 decades. Gambling is not the cash cow it used to be either -- too much competition among the casinos these days, margins are down and investors are skittish.

In short, unless oil, etc bring in lots of cash, after 10 years your people are still dirt poor and will likely remain that way for the rest of natural life of the worlds newest dictator.

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, should've been clearer. Editing question: The highest possible, not highest globally. $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '15 at 3:05

200,000 acres is about 312 square miles. Some research I did for a project a few years ago says hunter/gatherer societies need about 10 square miles per person. Even with modern farming methods, it still takes several acres per person. Which means you're going to need a lot more land just to keep your population alive.

And your \$200,000 isn't going to help much. If it cost \$1 per person per day, you still run out of money the instant you start your project. Even if you could plant enough food to sustain your population, they'd starve to death before you could harvest it.

So your best bet is to order most of the population to commit ritual suicide so the rest of you can survive. From this cost of living index, it looks like the cheapest place on the planet (Moldova) is about a quarter of U.S. for groceries. This resource says groceries are \$20 - \$40 a week. That's around \$2.86 a day. A quarter of that is \$0.71 a day. Let's say it takes 4 months for harvest to come in, that means you need about \$85.71 per person if the food is shipped for free as part of the startup package. So your \$200,000 starting money could feed about 2333 people for 4 months.

2333 people should be easily sustainable on 200,000 acres at this point. If we assume around 5 acres per person is needed, we can now rebuild the population up to 40,000 people or so.

Of course, none of this includes the equipment to till the ground, plant the seeds, feed the cows, etc. So really, you're probably talking more like 100-500 people you can sustain up front (tractors are expensive -- you could easily spend the entire budget on a single combine). It also doesn't cover how to make more money, which requires having a surplus of goods.

Now, even if you do have a surplus of goods, trying to sell it from the middle of the Pacific is going to be prohibitively expensive. It would likely take more than 10 years to build enough infrastructure to start making any meaningful profit.

Realistically, you're probably better off using "I'm happy because I kept all the hot girls/guys as my personal servants" as a metric for success than any kind of monetary gain.


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