The Global Distribution of Freshwater: Fresh Water by Country

Fresh Water by Country

Fresh water is one of the most vital natural resources for human life and development. However, its availability varies significantly around the world. Some countries are rich in fresh water supplies while others face acute scarcity.

The distribution and management of freshwater have huge implications for agriculture, industry, energy production, and the health and livelihoods of local populations.

In this blog post, we will share about the most renewable internal freshwater resources per capita and also the top 30 countries with the most total renewable water resources. so let’s start.

Brazil possesses the largest renewable freshwater resources in the world, totaling approximately 8,233 cubic kilometers per year. The Amazon River basin accounts for over 65% of the country’s freshwater supplies.

Brazil’s abundant water resources support extensive agricultural production, though pollution and deforestation pose challenges to water quality and availability in some regions.

Russia is the second most well-endowed country with fresh water, having approximately 4,508 cubic kilometers renewed per year. However, the distribution is uneven, with over half its water resources located east of the Urals while most of its population lives in the western regions.

Canada, Indonesia, China, Colombia, and Peru rank next in terms of total annual renewable freshwater flows.

In contrast, some of the most populous countries face much more strained freshwater resources. India and China have less than 2,000 cubic meters of fresh water per person per year while facing huge population pressures. Both countries have undertaken massive engineering projects like dams and river diversions to enhance water management. However, tensions over water-sharing arrangements persist between different provinces and regions.

The Middle East and North Africa region overall suffers from acute water scarcity due to its arid climate and growing populations. Countries like Yemen, Jordan, and Qatar have less than 200 cubic meters per person per year.

High water stress drives excessive groundwater pumping, leading to depletion and deterioration of quality. Water desalination provides a supply source but poses challenges for cost and environmental impact. Wars and conflicts have also been fought over control of major rivers in the region.

Sub-Saharan Africa displays high variability in water resources. The Congo River basin registers abundant flows while countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa face water constraints due to seasonal and multi-year droughts.

Lack of infrastructure for storage, flood control, and irrigation limits water security for agriculture and domestic uses in many countries. Meanwhile, pollution from mining, industry, and urban wastewater further degrades water quality.

Top 30 countries with the most renewable internal freshwater resources per capita

  1. Greenland (10,662,190 cubic meters)
  2. Iceland (519,264.7 cubic meters)
  3. Suriname (311,943.8 cubic meters)
  4. Guyana (282,574.6 cubic meters)
  5. Norway (258,460.5 cubic meters)
  6. New Zealand (243,850.2 cubic meters)
  7. Canada (237,081.5 cubic meters)
  8. Finland (228,654.4 cubic meters)
  9. Sweden (226,173.5 cubic meters)
  10. Bolivia (219,692.4 cubic meters)
  11. Papua New Guinea (204,460.5 cubic meters)
  12. Colombia (196,264.6 cubic meters)
  13. Venezuela (188,570.5 cubic meters)
  14. French Guiana (187,305.3 cubic meters)
  15. Malaysia (178,712.8 cubic meters)
  16. Ecuador (176,107.2 cubic meters)
  17. Laos (174,125.8 cubic meters)
  18. Central African Republic (169,397.7 cubic meters)
  19. United States (166,231.7 cubic meters)
  20. Australia (162,107.2 cubic meters)
  21. Cambodia (157,776.2 cubic meters)
  22. Brazil (155,107.2 cubic meters)
  23. Solomon Islands (154,231.7 cubic meters)
  24. Peru (151,776.2 cubic meters)
  25. Indonesia (148,776.2 cubic meters)
  26. United Kingdom (143,570.5 cubic meters)
  27. Micronesia, Federated States of (141,776.2 cubic meters)
  28. Chile (140,107.2 cubic meters)
  29. Austria (139,570.5 cubic meters)
  30. Netherlands (138,231.7 cubic meters)

This measures the total renewable freshwater resources within a country divided by its population. The top countries tend to have abundant water resources and relatively low population densities.

Top 30 countries with the most total renewable water resources

  1. Brazil (8,233 cubic kilometers)
  2. Russia (4,508 cubic kilometers)
  3. United States (3,069 cubic kilometers)
  4. Canada (2,902 cubic kilometers)
  5. China (2,840 cubic kilometers)
  6. Colombia (2,132 cubic kilometers)
  7. European Union (2,057 cubic kilometers)
  8. Indonesia (2,019 cubic meters)
  9. Peru (1,913 cubic meters)
  10. India (1,911 cubic meters)
  11. Democratic Republic of the Congo (1,283 cubic meters)
  12. Venezuela (1,233.2 cubic meters)
  13. Bangladesh (1,210.6 cubic meters)
  14. Burma (1,045.6 cubic meters)
  15. Chile (922 cubic meters)
  16. Vietnam (891.2 cubic meters)
  17. Argentina (814 cubic meters)
  18. Papua New Guinea (801 cubic meters)
  19. Bolivia (622.5 cubic meters)
  20. Malaysia (580 cubic meters)
  21. Philippines (479 cubic meters)
  22. Cambodia (476.1 cubic meters)
  23. Mexico (457.2 cubic meters)
  24. Ecuador (432 cubic meters)
  25. Japan (430 cubic meters)
  26. Norway (381.4 cubic meters)
  27. Paraguay (336 cubic meters)
  28. Laos (333.6 cubic meters)
  29. Nigeria (286.2 cubic meters)
  30. Cameroon (285.5 cubic meters)

This measures a country’s total internal renewable freshwater resources including rivers, lakes, and groundwater. The largest totals are found in the biggest countries and those with abundant surface water flows.


The global distribution of freshwater underscores the critical need for integrated water resource management. Technological solutions like desalination and wastewater treatment can augment supplies but come at high costs. Strengthening cross-border water-sharing frameworks is vital, especially for river basins spanning multiple nations.

With climate change expected to exacerbate water variability, building resilience against droughts and floods will become increasingly important. Sustainable development necessitates protecting water resources and ensuring adequate access for all human needs. Check out here more interesting list and data for countries.


Q: Which country has the most renewable freshwater resources in the world?

A: Brazil has the most with over 8,000 cubic kilometers per year, mostly coming from the Amazon River basin.

Q: What countries have the most freshwater resources per capita?

A: Iceland, Guyana, and Suriname have the most freshwater per capita, with over 100,000 cubic meters per person.

Q: Why do some countries have more freshwater than others?

A: Abundant precipitation, large surface rivers, many aquifers, and low population density relative to water availability all contribute to more freshwater resources.

Q: Which regions of the world are the driest?

A: The Middle East, North Africa, and some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are the driest regions, with very limited rainfall and few major rivers.

Q: Do developed countries have more freshwater than developing countries?

A: Not necessarily. Some developing countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Indonesia have enormous freshwater resources.

Q: Which country is the driest?

A: Kuwait and several small Gulf nations have the least annual freshwater availability per capita, under 10 cubic meters per person.

Q: Why is freshwater important to measure by country?

A: It indicates each country’s capacity to provide water for its population and economic activities. Scarcity puts major constraints on development.

Q: How is freshwater availability changing over time?

A: Climate change, growing populations, and increasing consumption are putting more pressure on limited supplies in many parts of the world.

Q: What can countries do to increase their freshwater resources?

A: Investing in rainwater harvesting, water reuse, desalination, and cross-border water transfers can help augment supplies though at high costs.

Q: How does trade affect national water usage?

A: Virtual water trade in food and commodities allows water-scarce countries to import water-intensive products.