The value of global currencies used to be directly linked to the value of gold. The so-called Gold Standard is no longer in use, but many countries and institutions still hold large reserves of this most precious of metals.
Below are the top 30 countries that are stockpiling the most gold:
1) United States of America: 8,133.5 tons
The United States of America is the country with the most gold in the world with 8,133.5 tons of gold bullion. That's nearly as much as Germany, the IMF and Italy combined. The majority of this gold is thought to be held in depositories across America, such as the famous Fort Knox.
2) Germany: 3,373 tons
Germany is the second largest hoarder of gold in the world with 3,373 tons of it. Concern over Its gold falling under Soviet control during the Cold War led to the stockpile being spread around the world. It was thought it was divided between the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, the Bank of England and the Banque de France. Recently at least half of this bounty has been bought back home to Frankfurt.
3) International Monetary Fund: 2,814 tons
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a group of 189 countries that work to foster global monetary co-operation. When it was founded in 1944 it was decided that 25% of initial quota subscriptions and subsequent quota increases were to be paid in gold. That remains the main source of the 2,814 tons of gold it holds.
4) Italy: 2,451 tons
Italy holds just a little bit more gold than France with 2,451 tons. Unlike most countries, where the gold reserves are owned by the state and managed by its central bank, Italy’s gold is actually owned by the Banca d’Italia. This gold is held in vaults in Rome and on foreign soil at the Swiss National Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank in New York and the Bank of England.
5) France: 2,435.9 tons
France has stockpiled 2,435.9 tons of gold, much of this reportedly acquired during the 1950s and 1960s. Although some is held abroad, most of this gold is said to be held in vaults under the Banque de France in Paris. A few hundred tons of French gold was sold off in the early part of this century, but its stocks have remained stable since about 2009.
6) China: 1,842.6 tons
China has 1,842.6 tons of gold in its reserves. It is also the world's biggest gold producer, ahead of Australia and Russia, and the local demand for gold has been boosted by the burgeoning wealth of its middle class.
7) Russia: 1,778.9 tons
Russia holds over a third more gold than Switzerland, with 1,778.9 tons of the stuff. The country can't get enough of this precious metal and has been busy expanding its reserves over recent years. It doesn't need to import to add to its stockpile either, as it has a billion-dollar gold mining industry.
8) Switzerland: 1,040 tons
The gold stocks move into four figures now with Switzerland holding 1,040 tons. The majority of this gold is held on home soil, but some of it is stored at the Bank of England and Bank of Canada. In 2014 there was a referendum to decide whether all the gold should be stored in Switzerland, whether the Swiss National Bank (SNB) should have the right to sell its gold reserves and whether the SNB should hold at least 20% of its assets in gold. The status quo prevailed
9) Japan: 765.2 tons
Japan holds 765.2 tons of gold in stock, more than 150 tons more than the Netherlands. It also has its own veins of gold running through its land, which have been mined on a small scale for centuries. Recent exploratory gold searches have proved positive and Japan is now looking to exploit those reserves further.
10) The Netherlands: 612.5 tons
The Netherlands takes the number 10 spot on the World Official Gold Holding Chart with 612.5 tons of gold in its stocks. Plans are currently being put in place to move its gold bullion from its current vaults in central Amsterdam to a new purpose-built facility near Zeist. Some Dutch gold is also said to be held at the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve Bank in America.
11) India: 557.8 tons
Indian households are known to hold more gold than most other nations, largely in the form of jewelry, and the country itself also places a high value on gold storage. India holds 50 tons more gold than the European Central Bank, with 557.8 tons. Although India does have a small gold mining industry it can't support the national demand and most of its yellow metal is bought in from abroad.
12) European Central Bank: 504.8 tons
It's not a country but the European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank of all the European Union countries that have adopted the euro as their currency. It holds 504.8 tons of gold in their name, largely as a result of transfers made to the bank by Euro member national central banks at the launch of the euro. This gold is said to be stored across five locations around the world.
13) Turkey: 495.6 tons
Turkey has over 70 tons more gold than Taiwan with 495.6 tons. The country is thought to see gold as the best way to stabilize its fragile banking system. Turkey is also pushing to exploit its own gold resources. Gold is thought to have been discovered in Turkey as early as 9000 BC, but it is only quite recently that it has become of international commercial interest.
14) Taiwan: 423.6 tons
Despite being a small island off the coast of China, Taiwan is sitting on 423.6 tons of gold and has held this amount of the precious metal for several years. Gold is always seen as a strong investment in uncertain times and with Brexit, the unpredictable Trump presidency and threats from North Korea, the world is certainly going through a period of instability. This has pushed the price of gold up, making Taiwan's gold assets a sound investment for the near term.
15) Portugal: 382.5 tons
Portugal has 382.5 tons of gold, nearly 60 tons more than Saudi Arabia. However, the country has battled with economic instability and there have been calls for it to sell off some of its gold reserves to reduce its national debt. Regulations make this easier said than done though and for now Portugal is holding on to its precious asset.
16) Saudi Arabia: 322.9 tons
The oil rich country of Saudi Arabia has the highest gold reserves in the Middle East, with 322.9 tons of the precious metal. As part of plans to diversify its economic base and place less of a reliance on oil, Saudi Arabia is also committed to boosting its gold mining industry. Although overshadowed by oil, this is not a new endeavor. Archaeological studies show that gold began being mined in the country up to 5,000 years ago.
17) United Kingdom: 310.3 tons
Many countries choose to store their gold in the heavily fortified Bank of England vault in London, the second largest in the world after the vault at the New York Federal Reserve. The UK has its fair share of gold reserves too, with 310.3 tons of the precious metal held in its name. Despite there being no gold mines currently.
18) Kazakhstan: 289.3 tons
The world's largest land-locked country Kazakhstan is currently working on developing its gold mining industry. With the help of foreign investors, attracted by its government's limited regulations, it hopes to become one of the world's largest gold-producing nations within 10 years. Perhaps it will use this to add to its own gold stocks, which currently amount to an impressive 289.3 tons.
19) Lebanon: 286.8 tons
It's definitely not the most stable country in the world, but this small Middle Eastern land is rich in gold. Lebanon is currently holding on to 286.8 tons of gold and it has the second largest gold reserves in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia. Although Lebanon has a mining industry, gold is not one of its abundant natural resources.
20) Spain: 281.6 tons
Just making the top 20 is Spain, which holds just over a ton more of gold than Austria with 281.6 tons in its stocks. Gold mining has been going on in Spain since before pre-Christian times and it was the Romans who turned it into a flourishing industry. There is now a renewed interest in Spanish gold with a lot of prospector activity being carried out in the hope of being able to strike it lucky. It's unlikely to impact heavily on the country's gold reserves, however.
21) Austria: 280 tons
There is another big leap between 22nd and 21st place with Austria recorded as holding 280 tons of gold, more than 50 tons more than Belgium. Much of its stock was held in the Bank of England, but the Austrian National Bank is said to be working on repatriating much of this back to Vienna so that at least half of its gold is held at home.
22) Belgium: 227.4 tons
Belgium is holding on to 227.4 tons of gold. Most of this is thought to be held abroad, some in the Bank of England and some in the Bank of Canada. There had been talk of the country looking into repatriating its stocks back to Belgium, but it's thought that the transport and security costs involved in the move were prohibitive and that Belgium was unsure where to store it if it did return to home soil.
23) Philippines: 196.4 tons
The Philippines is one of Asia's largest gold producers. Although mining is big business here, it's thought that much of its gold is still untapped. Desperately poor locals hoping to get lucky and literally strike gold even undertake dangerous dives in mud-filled swamp mines in search of the precious metal. The country has large reserves of gold already, however, with 196.4 tons recorded as being under its ownership.
24) Venezuela: 187.6 tons
Venezuela was in the top 20 gold owners until a few years ago, but in a bid to reduce its vast debts and fend off an economic crisis it sold off about $1.7 billion (£1.2 billion) of gold in early 2016 and it's now down to 187.6 tons. There is an established gold mining business in Venezuela but as its economic situation worsens an increasing number of unlicensed illegal mines are springing up.
25) Algeria: 173.6 tons
The north African country of Algeria has 20 tons of gold more than Thailand, with 173.6 tons of the stuff. It also has a strong gold mining tradition with gold thought to have been mined here on a small scale since pre-Roman times. The government has only recently taken steps to encourage commercial gold mining on a large scale as it's thought that there is a great deal of wealth hidden beneath its soil.
26) Thailand: 152.4 tons
Thailand is stockpiling 152.4 tons of gold, over 20 tons more than Singapore. Thailand mines its own gold and the Thai people place a high value on the precious metal. In fact, south-east Asians as a whole are much keener on gold, for jewelry in particular, than people anywhere else in the world.
27) Singapore: 127.4 tons
Those looking for a secure place to store their gold often settle on Singapore, because the country has not been tarnished by any major corruption scandals, crime is low and so are taxes, plus the cost of gold storage here is incredibly competitive. The country itself has also got a substantial reserve of gold: 127.4 tons of the stuff to be precise.
28) Sweden: 125.7 tons
Sweden isn't an obvious choice for being a major player in the gold market, but this Scandinavian country actually owns 125.7 tons of gold bars. It doesn't keep all of its stocks on home ground, however. As well as Sweden's central bank, the Riksbank, the country's gold is also reportedly held within the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada, the Federal Reserve Bank in America and the Swiss National Bank.
29) South Africa: 125.3 tons
Once one of the world's largest gold producers, gold production has dropped significantly in South Africa in recent years and as a result of this the numbers working in the gold mining industry have fallen too. The country still has large piles of gold in its stores, however, with 125.3 tons of the precious metal being held.
30) Mexico: 120.5 tons
Not only does Mexico keep its gold reserves high, with 120.5 tons in its stores, it is also a major producer of gold. The Central American country is one of the 10 largest gold miners in the world. Many countries store gold abroad, often simply because the logistics of transporting it home are too complicated, and Mexico is reported to hold a proportion of its gold in the Bank of England gold vaults in London.