The United States has the largest gold reserves in the world, with 8,133 tons, more than Germany and Italy combined. The United States also has the highest allocation of gold as a percentage of its foreign exchange reserves, approximately 76%. The gold is kept in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The United States has the largest gold reserve in the world by a significant margin.
The government has almost as many reserves as the next three countries with the largest gold reserves combined (Germany, Italy and France). Russia completes the top five. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reported to have more gold reserves than Italy, but less than Germany. Gold has served as a medium of exchange, to varying degrees, for thousands of years.
For much of the 17th and 20th centuries, paper money issued by national governments was called gold and acted as a legal claim to physical gold. International trade was carried out with gold. For this reason, countries needed to maintain gold reserves for both economic and political reasons. The eurozone crisis led some to call on the Italian government to sell some of its gold reserves to raise funds, but those plans never materialized.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the custodian of gold owned by foreign governments, foreign central banks and official international organizations. After the outbreak of the war, the gold stored in France was sent to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, which was then part of the French colonial empire. After the Germans occupied Belgium and France in 1940, they demanded the Belgian gold reserve located in Senegal. The gold listed for each of the countries in the table may not be physically stored in the country listed, since central banks generally do not allow independent audits of their reserves.
In fact, every year, governments increase their gold reserves, which are measured in metric tons, in hundreds of tons. To date, some 244,000 metric tons of gold have been discovered (187,000 metric tons produced historically plus current underground reserves of 57,000 metric tons). In 1941, the French authorities in Vichy organized the transport of 4,944 boxes containing 198 tons of gold to German Reichsbank officials, and the German Government used them to purchase products and ammunition from neutral countries. A gold reserve is gold held by a national central bank, primarily intended to fulfill promises of payment to depositors and banknote holders (e.g., most of the gold produced today is used for the manufacture of jewelry, but gold is also an essential industrial metal that plays critical roles in computers, communications equipment, spaceships, jet engines, and many other products).
Paper money), or its trading pairs, during the era of the gold standard, and also as a store of value or to support the value of the national currency. For most of history, a nation's gold reserves were considered its main financial asset and an important war prize. Therefore, 24-carat gold is pure gold; 12K would be an alloy that is half gold and half copper or other metals.