Olympics

Small country is true Olympics winner, at least for its citizens

Small country is true Olympics winner, at least for its citizens
CNN
News
Monday, February 24, 2014 - 9:42am

Russian President Vladimir Putin is no doubt leaving Sochi with a smile on his face: True, his beloved men's hockey team crashed out of Winter Olympics competition before medals were up for grabs, but the host nation claimed 33 medals overall, the most of any country at the Games.

But then, Russia was one of the very largest countries competing in Sochi, with 143.5 million people. And when you take its medal count per capita, it's not such a great haul.

In fact, Team Russia won just 0.23 medals per million Russians, which wouldn't even put the host nation in the top 10 on the medal table.

But if you consider the size of the countries competing, some smaller nations would rocket into the standings.

The Czech Republic's eight medals would put them in eighth place, with 0.76 medals per million Czechs.

Finland's five medals would earn the nation seventh place, since there are only 5.4 million Finns.

Tiny Latvia would shoot up to joint third place with Austria, each country managing to bring home two medals per million citizens.

Mighty Canada would tumble down to ninth place, its 25 medals averaging out to 0.72 medals per million Canadians.

But Team USA would fall much farther than Canada. There are about 314 million Americans, so the country's 28-medal total works out to 0.09 medals per million people -- below South Korea and Poland, each of which claimed 0.16 medals per million.

Who comes out top of the medal table per capita?

The answer won't surprise veteran Winter Olympics fans: One small country is already the most successful nation in Winter Olympic history, claiming the largest number of gold medals and the largest number of medals overall. This year, there was even an event (a women's cross-country ski race) where all three medals went to that country.

It is, of course, Norway, which took home 26 medals from Sochi, the third-highest medal total overall. Only Russia and the United States had a larger haul.

But Norway has only 5 million people. That means it claimed 5.2 medals per million, far more than Russia and the Americans, and knocking little Slovenia into second place, with four medals per million.

Here's the whole top 10 (actually 11) Sochi Games medal based on population size:

1. Norway 5.2 medals per million people

2. Slovenia 4.0

=3. Latvia 2.0

=3. Austria 2.0

4. Sweden 1.58

5. Netherlands 1.43

6. Switzerland 1.38

7. Finland 0.93

8. Czech Republic 0.76

9. Canada 0.72

10. Belarus 0.63

Population source: World Bank, 2012 

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