The U.S. government owes $1.09 trillion to Japan and $1.058 trillion to China. Ireland holds $288 billion, the Cayman Islands hold $265 billion, and Brazil holds $259 billion. The government also owes money to the United States itself because it must repay government bonds that Americans bought.
The U.S. government debt is more than $19.9 trillion.
The government also owes money to the South American countries of Colombia, Chile, and Peru and to the Asian countries of Russia, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, and India. Taiwan and Hong Kong are also creditors. The U.S. owes money to Western European nations, such as Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. More European countries include Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Italy. Turkey, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, South Africa, and Australia are other creditor nations, and the U.S. owes money to its neighbors, Mexico and Canada.
The U.S. government also owes about $300 billion to Caribbean banks and more than $200 million to oil-exporting states. Foreign investors hold about 33 percent of the U.S. government's debt. These countries buy U.S. Treasury bonds as investments. The United States is obligated to pay back with interest the money raised through the sale of bonds.
Domestic private investors hold about 14 percent of U.S. government debt. This includes banks and individual citizens who buy Treasury bonds and expect a return on their investment.
Another category of debt is the federal accounts, or money the federal government has borrowed from itself. For example, the government borrows money from the Social Security trust fund to finance operations of other departments. This category accounts for 28 percent of U.S. debt.