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Governments, or nowadays central banks, are traditionally the largest holders of gold. And for most of the past two decades, central banks have been net sellers of gold. But since 2010, central banks are net buyers again, because central banks of emerging market economies are aiming to diversify their ever growing currency reserves and reach a similar level in gold reserves as the club of old industrial economies.

Looking at the list of the 10 nations with the largest gold reserves, 3 of them are now BRIC nations, with other like Brazil, Mexico or Thailand catching up:

#1 United States: 8134 tons of gold

#2 Germany: 3401 tons of gold

#3 Italy: 2452 tons of gold

#4 France: 2435 tons of gold

#5 China: 1054 tons of gold

#6 Switzerland: 1040 tons of gold

#7 Russia: 811 tons of gold

#8 Japan: 756 tons of gold

#9 Netherlands: 613 tons of gold

#10 India: 558 tons of gold

It was big news in April when it became known that the central bank of Mexico bought up a large chunk of almost 100 tons of gold during February and March alone. Such a large order is one of the biggest central bank purchases in recent history, as it was worth USD $4.6 billion and equivalent to about 3.5 per cent of annual mined output.

Russia bought 18.8 tons of gold in March, and Thailand bought 9.3 tons. India drastically expanded its gold reserves in 2009, and will most likely overtake the Netherlands soon to become the new number 9 in the list.