Last updated: September 3, 2013
Next expected: December 21, 2013
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Bloomberg Visual Data, Bloomberg Rankings and Tom Randall
The Brazilian government has refrained since March from raising fuel prices as part of efforts to curb inflation. Tax breaks on electricity, basic foodstuffs and ethanol used in gasoline weren't enough to stave off the country's biggest protests in decades, spurred by increasing bus fares. The portion of day's wages that Brazilians must spend to afford a single gallon of gasoline fell 10 percent for the quarter, the biggest drop in the 61-country ranking. Brazil is one of the Earth's natural-resource superpowers, and oil is no exception, with more than 2.3 million barrels pumped every day. The country is also the second-biggest consumer of biofuels.
Canada is the world's sixth-biggest oil producer and has a higher income per person than the U.S. These stats add up to cheap gas and little pain at the pump. Only Americans use more gas per capita than Canadians. Canada is the second-biggest country by area, after Russia, and is thinly populated. That makes for long transportation routes, with costs that trickle through the economy. With rising prices across North America, Canada moved two positions higher on the ranking.
Italy is struggling to revive manufacturing and its economy, which remained in recession as the broader euro area returned to growth in the second quarter. High gas prices and economic uncertainty have been a shock to the home country of Fiat and Ferrari, where car ownership is among the highest in the world. European car sales showed the first signs of improvement in July after falling in June to the lowest demand in two decades. Pump prices fell about 3.5 percent for the quarter, moving the country down three positions in the rank of income spent on fuel.
The Czech economy has shrunk for a record six consecutive quarters as the euro-area crisis weakened demand for the country's exports, including cars. Auto purchases are a particularly strong economic barometer in the Czech Republic, where cars make up the largest manufacturing industry. The country builds more than a million cars a year for companies that include Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai. As Europeans stop buying cars, Czechs stop making them.
Petroleum accounts for almost half of Kuwait's gross domestic product and 95 percent of its exports and government income. In 2010, the country approved a plan to spend $130 billion over five years to diversify the economy. Kuwait has one of the world's biggest gas subsidies and the third-cheapest price at the pump. Filling up isn't much of a financial concern for Kuwaitis. They are the third-biggest consumers of gasoline after the U.S. and Canada.
Lithuania's growing economy has defied the European slump. Lithuanians could feel even better this quarter as gas priced in Lithuanian litas fell more than 7 percent, the biggest decline in the ranking. Lithuanian gasoline consumption is declining. The residents now spend about 0.9 percent of their incomes on filling up -- the 11th-lowest in the 61-country ranking.
Luxembourgers are among the world's biggest gas guzzlers. Only Americans, Canadians and Kuwaitis burn more fuel. The country also has the third-highest car ownership rate in the 61-country ranking, with 739 cars for every 1,000 people, according to data compiled by the World Bank. The tiny landlocked country enjoys the highest per capita income in the world, putting the nation's moderate gas prices among the world's most affordable. About 47 percent of the gas price is from taxation, one of the lowest rates in Europe.
Car sales in Europe are projected to see a sixth yearly decline in 2013, reaching a two-decade low. Even so, the worst is over, Roelant de Waard, head of sales and marketing for Ford Motor Co.'s European division, told Bloomberg News on Aug. 14. July car sales rose in Germany, France, the U.K. and Spain. Carlos Ghosn, head of Renault SA, said in July that annual demand may continue to shrink through 2015. The price of French gas declined more than 4.5 percent from the previous quarter, moving the country's rank down two positions.
The Dutch economy has contracted in eight of the last nine quarters and isn't expected to return to growth until next year. Gas prices have done little to relieve family budgets, with a decline of less than one percent. The bike-pedaling Dutch have the highest fuel tax in the European Union and the most bicycles per capita in the world. Row upon row of them stand parked at train stations, museums and national parks. A vast infrastructure of bike lanes, tunnels and traffic signals makes cycling easy to adopt.
Slovakia's economy has boomed since its break with the Czech Republic and the subsequent market reforms that allowed it to join the EU in 2004. The country's growth rate earned it the nickname Tatra Tiger, after the Tatra mountain range on its northern border with Poland. Slovakia rebounded from the 2009 recession with GDP growth greater than 3 percent. Growth is expected to slow this year as the country raises taxes to reduce its budget deficit. The portion of a day's income needed to buy a gallon of gas declined 1.9 percent.
Ireland is a road-dependent economy with public transportation that's less extensive than in many of the country's neighbors in Western Europe. Ireland's gasoline price declined more than 2.5 percent, moving the country down two positions in the price ranking.
The rising cost of fueling up is contributing to Argentina's 11 percent inflation rate. The country had the biggest increase in locally denominated gas prices in the 61-nation ranking. Argentina, which has the world's third-biggest shale gas reserves after the U.S. and China, also has the third-biggest fleet of cars that run on compressed natural gas, according to NGVA Europe, a trade group for natural gas vehicle companies. Argentines account for 13 percent of the world's natural gas vehicles. They also produce the fifth-highest volume of biofuels in the world -- 50,340 barrels per day.
Norway regained the top title for the world's most expensive gas. The Scandinavian country doesn't subsidize fuel at the pump, using its oil profits instead for national services, such as free college education and savings for infrastructure improvements. The best use of Norway's $760 billion sovereign wealth fund is under debate in the nation's Sept. 9 election. Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg, who polls suggest will win, has discussed splitting the fund into smaller units. Gas prices in Norway rose more than 1 percent, bucking the global trend of declines. With the world's second-highest incomes, Norwegians absorb the high price of gas with relative ease.
Nigeria has some of the cheapest gas, yet it's out of reach for the nation's poor population. Nigeria's spending on fuel subsidies burns through much of the proceeds from the nation's oil bounty, making it difficult to invest in much-needed infrastructure and education. An attempt by President Goodluck Jonathan to scrap the subsidies in January 2012 triggered nationwide strikes. He quickly backtracked, restoring some subsidies. In March, Jonathan said he still plans to withdraw subsidies. Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, relies on imports for about 70 percent of its fuel because it lacks the refining capacity to turn its oil into gasoline.
The price of gas has been the biggest complaint behind cost-of-living demonstrations in recent years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has intervened on numerous occasions to prevent prices from rising as quickly as the global price of oil. Israel caps the price of 95-octane gas while allowing other forms of the fuel to fluctuate. Prices were held steady for the quarter.
Australia's controversial carbon tax, which Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has vowed to scrap, doesn't apply to driving, which means the nation continues to enjoy relatively pain-free pumping. Australia is the sixth-biggest consumer of gasoline. The carbon tax has shifted the price of energy such that wind energy is now cheaper than coal or natural gas for producing electricity, according to a report in March by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The proportion of paychecks spent at the bowser (the Australian word for fuel pump) declined 8.8 percent, moving Australia down ten positions in the ranking.
Global fuel prices surged last year as the U.S. and EU tightened sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Iran is the fourth-biggest oil producer and in 2010 had the highest fossil-fuel subsidy in the world. In December 2010, Iran began a five-year program to reduce subsidies and bring gas and electricity prices more in line with the international market. The plan was blamed for inflation that surpassed 30 percent. Globally, fossil-fuel subsidies jumped almost 30 percent in 2011, to $523 billion, according to the International Energy Agency. That's more than six times the subsidies for renewable energy. Iran is in a three-way tie with the U.S. and Mexico for devoting the fifth-highest proportion of incomes on gasoline.
The densely urban islands of Singapore, which is made up of 63 separate bodies of land, have one of the smallest networks of roads, spanning just 2,085 miles. Still, the country makes oil its business, with some of the largest refineries in the world. Singapore imports oil and ships gasoline back to oil-producing countries in the Middle East. A massive expansion of Middle Eastern oil-refining is poised to curb profits for Asian processors. Fuel prices in Singapore rose in the quarter, pushing the country up two positions in the price ranking. Wealthy Singaporean drivers nevertheless experience relatively little pain at the pump.
Thailand has cheap gas relative to most nations, but it's a steep price for many Thais. The country is ranked ninth in the portion of an average day's wages needed to buy a gallon of gasoline. Pain at the pump in Thailand helped encourage wide adoption of three-wheeled auto rickshaws, known as tuk-tuks, in the country's biggest tourist cities. The open-aired vehicles use less gas but are less safe than cars and are big polluters.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Countries have different ideas of which rights are inalienable. In Western Europe, universal healthcare is the norm. In oil-rich Norway, college is free. Venezuela stands alone in considering cheap gasoline a birthright. At 4 cents a gallon, it's practically free. Venezuela is a poor country that burns through gas like a rich one. Former President Hugo Chavez, who died in March, at times called for the country to reduce consumption, but with fuel so cheap there was little incentive. The last time Venezuela tried to cut subsidies, in 1989, it was torn by riots that killed hundreds of people. The cost of filling up the 39-gallon tank of a Chevrolet Suburban in Venezuela is $1.56, compared with $142.74 in the U.S. and $393.12 in Norway.
Slovenes consume slightly more gasoline than the world average while earning below-average wages. The result is that Slovenes spend the fourth-highest proportion of their paychecks fueling up. Prices declined slightly for the quarter, but by less than the world average. Taxes make up about 55 percent of the gas price, just above the European average.
With a population of 1.3 billion, China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer after the U.S. Consumption is expected only to increase as its middle class expands. The number of vehicles in China may triple to 260 million by 2020, matching current U.S. levels, according to the State Information Center. China regulates the price of retail gasoline and diesel fuel to curb inflation. With low average wages, the country ranks among the 10 worst for gas affordability, despite a gas price that's 20 percent lower than the global average. China's total consumption is formidable; the average person's consumption is not.
Chile depends on petroleum imports to fuel its economy, and that reliance is increasing. The ratio of crude petroleum production to imports has dropped steadily, from 27 percent in 1990 to less than 3 percent in 2011. In 2011, Chile introduced a self-adjusting excise tax to smooth spikes in global gas prices. When global prices jump too high, the tax declines; when prices fall, the tax rises. This and other price-adjustment tools helped smooth the transition from a heavily subsidized fuel market prior to the 1970s. Chile declined three positions on the ranking of wages needed to buy a gallon of gas.
Belgium has one of the most expensive gas prices in the world, but with high incomes and low rates of consumption, pain at the pump is less than average. Belgium has negligible oil and gas of its own and relies on imported energy. While EU law prohibits countries from setting price controls, Belgium does set ceilings for oil products to protect consumers from price spikes. Belgium subsidized coal production until 1992, when the last mine was closed. Since then, the government hasn't underwritten the production of any fossil fuel.
The average cost of gasoline in Europe is more than double the price in the U.S. A German driver filling the 14.5-gallon (55-liter) tank of Europe's most popular car, Volkswagen's Golf hatchback, pays $116.15, compared with $53.07 for the same fill-up in the U.S. Germany's economy helped boost gross domestic product in the euro area in the three months through June, ending a six-quarter streak of contractions. That's good news for the home of Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest carmaker. European sales of Volkswagen passenger cars fell 3.9 percent in July compared with July 2012. That's a significant improvement following a dismal first half of 2013.
Hong Kong is a part of China but has its own constitution, its own political structure and its own price of gas. On average, Hong Kong residents now pay 74 percent more for a gallon of gas than their neighbors in China, where the government caps the price. Hong Kong and China are both among the world's smallest consumers of gasoline per capita. Hong Kong drivers, with their higher urban incomes, feel less pain at the pump. In fact, Hong Kongers spend a smaller proportion of their paychecks on gas than the people of any other country except Venezuela.
Poland has a relatively low gas tax for Europe. That hasn't stopped fuel tax fraud, which cost the country 3 billion zloty ($943 million) last year, according to the Polish Organization of Oil Industry and Trade. Tax cheating jumped 47 percent from 2010 to 2012. Polish prices declined significantly for the quarter, moving the country down seven positions in the ranking. It was the biggest shift for any country and was partly due to changes in foreign exchange rates. Poland relies on Russia for 90 percent of its oil imports and more than 80 percent of its natural gas. It's trying to shift from a reliance on coal to cheaper and cleaner energy sources. As of 2010, coal still accounted for 55 percent of the total primary energy supply, the highest in Europe.
Spain has endured eight consecutive quarters of economic decline, with an unemployment rate of more than 26 percent. Despite some signs of improvement, gas consumption fell 14 percent in June from a year earlier, according to government data. The country has the 21st-highest gas price. The Spanish recession eased in the second quarter, supporting the government's forecast of a recovery this year.
Indonesians experienced the biggest price hike: 44 percent. That doesn't show up in this ranking, though, because most Indonesians buy a subsidized grade of fuel that has a lower octane than what's available in most countries and what's used for the Bloomberg ranking. The gas cost just 4,500 rupiah per liter ($1.49 a gallon). In June, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stared down demonstrators and ordered cuts to the subsidies. The change boosted inflation and drove up the cost of living nationwide, weighing especially heavily on the nation's 100 million people who live on less than $2 a day. The subsidy, previously on track to cost $31 billion in 2013, has slowed social and economic development, according to the IEA.
Denmark has above-average gasoline taxes for the EU and prices that are 35 percent higher than the world average. Still, filling up is relatively easy for Danes, who have high incomes and a comfortable pain-at-the-pump ranking.
The Philippines is shifting to a manufacturing and services economy from one based primarily on agriculture. The economy grew 6.6 percent last year. Energy demand is high. Wages aren't. Filipinos' pain at the pump is partly offset by an unconventional energy resource available to their economy. The country is the world's second-biggest producer of geothermal energy after the U.S., according to the International Geothermal Association. The nation of 95 million people and 7,100 islands uses this natural source for about 17 percent of its energy needs. The Philippines consumes a small fraction of the gasoline used by most other countries in the ranking.
European demand for fuel has been declining, leading to the closure of at least 15 refineries in the region since 2008. The price of gas declined in Finland, but not as quickly as in most other countries. Finns have the third-highest gas taxes in Europe, just above their neighbors in Sweden.
Persian Gulf oil producers are seeking new ways to generate power, because they would rather sell their crude to gas-hungry countries than burn it at home. Diversifying will be necessary if Saudi Arabia is to continue to spend hundreds of billions of riyals on annual social welfare and building projects. That spending has helped insulate the royal family from Arab Spring protests that have swept the region. Saudi Arabia is OPEC's biggest producer and heavily subsidizes its unchanging price of gasoline. Saudis rank among the greatest consumers of gasoline in the world but devote among the smallest shares of their incomes to buy it.
Turkey, with an $800 billion economy that has consistently expanded since 2009, has weathered the EU financial crisis better than its neighbors. Still, having the second-most expensive gas doesn't make filling up easy for the Turks. The country's history of poor tax compliance has been an obstacle to its development. About 40 percent of workers are part of an informal economy that pays no taxes, according to the World Bank. Only about 4 percent of the total population pays personal income tax. In recent years Turkey has increased its revenue base through consumption taxes, such as the fuel tax, which are relatively easy to enforce. The country has one of the highest gas taxes in the world.
Gasoline prices have jumped as tensions in Syria threaten a wider Middle East conflict. The hikes are especially nettlesome in the U.S., where the cost of gasoline had already climbed 3.9 percent in the past quarter, the biggest rise in this ranking of 61 nations. Still, Americans have little to complain about. Imagine shelling out $10.08 a gallon, the price in Norway. Indians must put in more than a full day's work, on average, to afford a single gallon of gas. Only five countries have less pain at the pump than the U.S.; all but one are members of OPEC. Of course, not all gas tanks are created equal. With all that cheap gas, Americans burn through 1.2 gallons per person each day -- 31 percent more than 2nd-ranked Canadians, who themselves are gas hogs. Even at low prices, that takes a toll on budgets.
Energy prices in Sweden are subject to taxes on tailpipe pollution, including carbon dioxide, the most consequential greenhouse gas. Sweden is a European leader in per capita use of biofuels. Filling stations there are required to sell alternative fuels, such as ethanol, to help reduce the country's dependence on oil. Undeterred by one of the highest tax rates in Europe, Swedes remain the 10th-biggest consumers of gasoline per capita.
Latvia, which regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, still depends on Russia for almost all its energy needs. Latvia was a key terminal for Russia's oil exports on the Baltic coast until the opening of Russia's port at Primorsk and the Baltic Pipeline System, which have drastically diminished the country's role, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The price of gasoline in Latvia fell for the quarter but not as much as it did in other countries.
Croatia, which lost more than 20,000 people fighting for independence in the early 1990s, became the 28th European Union member on July 1. The nation is trying to revive growth after four years of recession and stagnation. As much as 10 billion euros in EU funds may be committed through 2020 to modernize communist-era infrastructure and raise living standards to those of other eastern EU nations. The country of 4.2 million is also seeking to boost investment in energy and boost exploration of oil and gas supplies in the Adriatic Sea. The government has said it's close to finding a partner to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the island of Krk. Croatia was added for the first time this quarter to the Bloomberg gas price ranking.
The island economy of Malta has weathered the European debt crisis better than its southern European neighbors. Malta has relatively low unemployment, and growth has recovered since the recession in 2009. Prices declined for Maltese drivers for the quarter, moving the country's rank down one position.
Japan's long-standing national gasoline tax helped the country's carmakers take an early lead in developing fuel-efficient vehicles. Still, the Japanese consume about a third more gas per capita than the ranking's average. Automakers are teaming up to increase the number of electric-car charging stations in the country to encourage adoption of such vehicles as Nissan's zero-emission Leaf. Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi agreed to share costs to help build 12,000 new charging stations. The country currently has just 4,700 chargers. Japan ranked second behind the U.S. in terms of electric-vehicle sales during the first half of the year and led the world in hybrid vehicle sales, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
With the third-highest incomes in the 61-country ranking, the Swiss can afford to splurge a little on gasoline. The country ranks 11th in amount of gasoline consumed per person. Despite that indulgence, the Swiss maintain some green credentials. Investments in hydroelectric, nuclear and wind power leave them with a carbon dioxide emission rate that's less than half the average of OECD nations.
New Zealand consumes about twice the gasoline per person as the ranking's average of a quarter gallon a day. The share of the average Kiwi's income that goes to filling up declined about 2.8 percent during the quarter. It's still the ninth-highest in the 61-country ranking. New Zealand is a net exporter of coal, though it imports most of its oil. It has the world's fourth-highest rate of car ownership, with 712 cars for every 1,000 people, according to the World Bank.
Russia is the world's biggest oil producer and enjoys some of the cheapest gasoline prices. Still, with relatively low wages, pain at the pump for Russians is middling. Russian consumer spending accelerated in July as unemployment fell and inflation eased to the slowest pace in eight months. With falling prices, Russia's rank of income spent on fueling up declined seven positions.
Bulgaria moved up two positions on the most-expensive-gas ranking for the quarter. It's a burden for Bulgarians to fill up, requiring the seventh-highest portion of a day's wages to afford a gallon of fuel.
Pakistanis feel the second-highest pain at the pump in the 61-country Bloomberg ranking, after India. Pakistanis must put in more than a full day's work, on average, to afford a gallon of gasoline. Most Pakistanis opt for cheaper and cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG fuels about 89 percent of the nation's auto fleet. Pakistan has about 3.1 million CNG vehicles on the road, the most of any country, according to NGVA Europe, a trade group for natural gas vehicle companies.
The price of gasoline in Romania declined, but by less than the global average. Romanian gas consumption is a quarter of the ranking's average. Romanians thus spend a smaller-than-average percentage of their income filling up. The country has the fourth-lowest gasoline tax in Europe.
Portuguese gas prices declined for the quarter, but by less than the global average. The country moved up two positions on the ranking to take the sixth highest price in the 61-nation survey. The gas tax is one of several levies expanded in Portugal since 2001 to protect the environment. Taxes on vehicles take into account carbon dioxide emissions and engine cylinder capacity and have led to a more efficient fleet on the road. Taxes account for 53 percent of the price of gas in Portugal. That's higher than in neighboring Spain, leading some Portuguese drivers to cross the border in search of cheaper gas.
The price of gas tumbled for the quarter, moving Estonia's rank down five positions for the quarter. Income-adjusted pain at the pump declined 6.6 percent. Estonians use less gasoline than the global average, but with their relatively low incomes, the fuel bill still takes a toll on family budgets.
Mexican subsidies and favorable foreign exchange rates once tempted U.S. drivers to cross the border to fill up. That's changing. The world's seventh-biggest oil producer has been gradually cutting the subsidy it provides at the gas pump as a way to keep expenses in check and to remove incentives for wasting gas. Of all the OECD member countries, only the U.S. charges less in taxes than Mexico. Gas priced in pesos jumped 2.9 percent for the quarter, the second-biggest increase in local-currency prices. Mexico relies on its northern neighbor to refine its crude into gasoline.
Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, is seeking to restore stability after the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi triggered violent protests and a military crackdown that left more than 900 civilians dead in the span of a week. The Mursi government never followed through on its pledge to overhaul the energy industry and curb fuel subsidies. The local gas price in Egyptian pounds was unchanged, and the heavily subsidized fuel remains the fourth-cheapest in the world.
Since the discovery of oil in the United Arab Emirates in the 1960s, the U.A.E. has evolved from a poor region of principalities to a wealthy modern state with a high standard of living, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Economic diversification efforts in recent years have reduced the proportion of the economy dependent on oil and gas to 25 percent. The U.A.E. is the world's eighth-biggest oil producer, and as of 2010 it was subsidizing about 68 percent of its gas price. Despite its oil wealth, the U.A.E. has long had to import its gasoline because it lacks refining capacity. The largest-ever expansion of Middle East oil refining is set to change that.
South Africans face a lot of pain at the pump, which is made worse by the amount of gas they consume. South Africans are second only to Greece in the share of their paychecks that goes to fueling up. Prices in South Africa are set monthly by the Central Energy Fund, a state-owned entity set up in 1997. The government has raised gas prices significantly in the past year, helping push inflation past the central bank's maximum target range of six percent in July for the first time in 15 months. Prices denominated in South African rand rose slightly, but after accounting for the weakening currency, the country's global price rank fell two positions.
Even with falling prices, India maintained the top spot in the pain-at-the-pump ranking, edging out Pakistan. In both of these countries, low wages and limited infrastructure result in widespread energy poverty. Quality of life is hampered by limited access to electricity and clean fuels. Energy subsidies account for about 10 percent of India's annual budget, according to government estimates. Consumption subsidies aren't an efficient way to alleviate energy poverty, according to the OECD; they place a burden on the government and taxpayers and primarily benefit wealthier households. The average Indian needs to work more than a full day to afford a gallon of gasoline. Due to the cost, this country of 1.2 billion people has the lowest per capita consumption.
Consumer prices in the U.K. have been climbing faster than wages. The government is trying to address the rising cost of living, in part, by looking at fuel prices. Prime Minister David Cameron has asked his newly formed policy unit to consider requiring gas stations to display prices more prominently to encourage competition. Drivers on U.K. motorways don't know prices until they have stopped their vehicles, reducing choice, according to a January report by the Office of Fair Trading. The agency noted the gasoline market overall is competitive, with prices mostly driven by taxes and crude rates. U.K. prices declined in the quarter, with the country's rank dropping three positions.
At a time when slowing economic growth and political protests are triggering capital flight from emerging markets, Malaysia has become a refuge for investors. The country's reserves are the third-highest in the Asia-Pacific region, after China and India. It's a significant producer of oil and is well situated for trading energy by sea. Malaysia's extensive fuel subsidies give it one of the cheapest gas prices in the 61-country ranking. Prime Minister Najib Rasak, who won a contentious election in May, has said it would be in the country's best interest to use oil profits for long-term economic development rather than fuel subsidies.
Austria's economic growth depends on exports, about a third of which go to Germany. That relationship hasn't saved one of the world's richest economies from the ailing euro zone. Despite having the EU's lowest unemployment, economic growth has been tepid. Austrians buy less gasoline and pay less for it than the European average.
Colombia's inflation rate this year unexpectedly dropped to its lowest point in more than three years and has continued to trail analyst estimates. That's partly due to declines in transportation costs after the government cut a tax on gasoline. Tumbling prices pushed Colombia's price rank down four positions for the quarter. Thirteen percent of the country's vehicles run on compressed natural gas, the seventh-highest rate in the world, according to NGVA Europe, a trade group for natural gas vehicle companies.
Wages in Greece declined last year amid the country's financial and political crisis. As part of attempts to rein in government debt, Greece has raised gasoline taxes since 2009 to the third-highest in Europe. Greeks' pain at the pump is worsened by the amount they consume. Greeks now spend more of their income on gasoline than the people of any other country in the ranking. The nation's political turbulence has stabilized, and the risk of a government default on debt has significantly decreased. Greece's price rank rose two positions to the fifth-highest in the world.
Production of Hungary's oil and natural gas resources has peaked and is expected to continue to decline, according to the OECD. More than 80 percent of the country's oil is imported from Russia. Gas prices denominated in the Hungarian forint declined 4.8 percent, the third-biggest drop among the countries surveyed.
Despite being one of the world's smaller nations -- roughly the size of the U.S. state of Indiana -- South Korea is a leader in cars. South Korean brands led by Hyundai and Kia are now responsible for about 10 percent of the U.S. car market for ages 25 to 34, according to Edmunds.com, which tracks auto registrations. That's more than double its market share for the same demographic in 2008. South Korea's current-account surplus is enabling Asia's fourth-biggest economy to keep interest rates low to support growth at a time when other emerging-market economies are raising borrowing costs to shore up their currencies.
With above-average gas prices, low incomes and lots of driving, Cypriots give up the third-greatest share of income to fueling up. The only countries whose people spend more are South Africa and Greece. Cyprus has the lowest gasoline taxes in Europe; transporting fuel to island nations like Cyprus adds to the price.
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