Gas Prices Compared

The price consumers pay at the pump to fill up their cars with gasoline varies widely depending on where they live. We wonder: Which of the following countries has the highest gasoline prices?

A. United States
B. Saudi Arabia
C. Iran
D. China

A. United States is not correct.

A liter of gasoline cost 76 cents ($2.88 per U.S. gallon) in the United States in November 2010, when German research institute GIZ compiled global data. While prices at the pump have since risen in the United States and elsewhere, the United States has by far the lowest gas prices of any major developed economy. This is due largely to the country's low gasoline taxes.

Despite having one of the wealthiest populations, the United States had the 23rd-lowest gas price out of more than 170 countries surveyed. In neighboring Mexico — which has an average income about one-fifth of the United States' — gasoline was more expensive, at 81 cents per liter ($3.07 per gallon).

B. Saudi Arabia is not correct.

In oil-rich Saudi Arabia, drivers paid only 16 cents for a liter of gasoline (61 cents per gallon). Subsidizing gasoline is the rule throughout the Arab world, including in Libya, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Financially strapped governments in some developing countries — including Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan — have tried to reduce gas subsidies, but have encountered pushback from consumers.

C. Iran is not correct.

The country with the lowest retail gas price was Venezuela, where gas cost just 2.3 cents a liter (8.7 cents per gallon). In comparison, Iranians paid 9.7 cents per liter of gasoline (37 cents per gallon), making it the second-cheapest country in the world for gasoline.

However, since the survey was taken, the Iranian government increased gasoline prices four-fold. This price hike came about as the Iranian government realized that it could no longer afford to offer such generous gasoline subsidies to its citizens.

D. China is correct.

The retail price of a liter of gasoline in China was $1.11 per liter ($4.20 per gallon). China has been steadily increasing gasoline prices recently in response to rising crude oil prices. However, it is trying to avoid sudden, rapid retail price hikes in order to keep a lid on inflation.

Gasoline tended to be most heavily taxed in European countries, with consumers paying roughly $2 a liter ($7.58 per gallon) in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and the Netherlands. High taxes are aimed at deterring people from consuming gasoline in order to curb the pollution caused by burning fossil fuel.

Word count: 428