In the end, which country had the most impressive Olympic Games in London?
The Economic Time Machine votes for Grenada.
The tiny Caribbean nation only snagged one medal — a gold in the men’s 400-meter dash. But with a population of 109,000 people, Grenada finished atop of the medals-per-citizen ranking.
The interactive chart above sorts medals per 100,000 residents. The person-per-medal numbers get far too small otherwise.
As you can see, Grenada pulls out a statistical upset by having so few citizens. Then comes Jamaica, which tied Iran for 15th place in the medal count with 12 medals overall, according to a tally on the Sports Illustrated website. But with only 3 percent of Iran’s population (2.9 million Jamaicans versus 79 million Iranians) the performance seems far more impressive for Jamaica. (Iran ranked 61st out of the 85 countries that received medals.)
At the bottom of the medal-per-citizen list: India, which won six medals and has about 1.2 billion people. That makes it the second largest country behind China’s population of 1.35 billion. Yet India took home the same number of Summer Olympic medals as did Croatia (population: 4.5 million.)
The Wall Street Journal explored India’s relatively poor showing on the medal-per-person standings, but did not include rankings for all of the countries. At ETM headquarters, we figured the Caribbean would fare well, so we decided to do the math. Note: depending on which population numbers you use, the rankings can change. This excellent website, medalspercapita.com, ranks Bahamas No. 5 behind New Zealand using the same formula.
The United States ranked No. 49 in the ETM rankings, despite winning the most number of medals: 104.
But think twice before looking down at the U.S. effort in this statistical global match-up.
To beat Grenada in this ranking with the U.S. population of 314 million people, the American squad would have had to have captured 2,880 medals. Only 959 were awarded in London.
The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine tracks 60 local indicators in an effort to chart South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession. By comparing current conditions to where they were before the downturn, the ETM attempts to measure how far back the recession set the economy. The answer so far: June 2003. Visit ETM headquarters at miamiherald.com/economic-time-machine for the latest updates.