Foreign-exchange reserves (also called Forex reserves) are, in a strict sense, only the foreign-currency deposits held by national central banks and monetary authorities (See List of countries by foreign-exchange reserves (excluding gold)). However, in popular usage and in the list below, it also includes gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reserve position because this total figure, which is usually more accurately termed as official reserves or international reserves or official international reserves, is more readily available.
These foreign-currency deposits are the financial assets of the central banks and monetary authorities that are held in different reserve currencies (e.g. the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the Yen and the Pound sterling) and which are used to back its liabilities (e.g. the local currency issued and the various bank reserves deposited with the central bank by the government or financial institutions). Before the end of the gold standard, gold was the preferred reserve currency. Some nations are converting foreign-exchange reserves into sovereign wealth funds, which can rival foreign-exchange reserves in size.
The list below is mostly based on the latest available IMF data and includes both sovereign states and non-sovereign territories (such as Hong Kong and Macau, which are under the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China). While most nations report in U.S. dollars, a few nations in Eastern Europe report solely in Euros. And since all the figures below are in U.S. dollar equivalence, exchange rate fluctuations can have a significant impact on these figures.
For consistency, forward currency swap contracts are not included in this list until they mature; figures that include them may be higher or lower than those listed here. IMF or other outstanding loans are also not shown here; if they were accounted for, many nations would list lower.