China and the US alone have a staggering 15 trillion dollars in debt. Is there any country which has no external debt and if so, then when did they pay back their debt?

  • $\begingroup$ I am unsure how the statement about China and the US relates to the question. Furthermore, are you aware of the definition of “external debt”? It’s not obvious how “pay back their debt” relates to the question. A country could conceivably have no external debt, but still have domestic debt outstanding. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ “..when did they pay back their debt?” who said they even had any debt to begin with? Basically for someone to have debt then someone else must have equity (to lent to the borrower). In practice however, I could borrow money from you, lending it back to yourself, and without netting, it means that we both have debt. Netting would require one of us not to have any debt. $\endgroup$
    – ssn
    Mar 14, 2018 at 22:00

1 Answer 1


The simplest answer is that yes, there are a few countries without external debt, all small. Wikipedia has a list of the external debt of countries. For instance Niue finished paying off its debt in October 2016.

  • $\begingroup$ Just as addition:or they are too young and risky to have accumulated debt (South Sudan) $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ There you get more into politics -- young countries only become countries if they have a fair amount of support from the international community and that means lending even if they're a risk. South Sudan had $963m external debt by 2016, or 27.5% of GDP (see imf.org/external/pubs/ft/dsa/pdf/2017/dsacr1773.pdf). $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Mar 15, 2018 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Ah should have checked other sources, my bad. I just assumed they hadn't any given that Wikipedia listed it as 0. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 20:12

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