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Why are the Lannisters so rich? Whenever a situation presented itself to the execution of a Lannister, all we hear is how their executioners will receive so much gold, enough for their 7 generation. So how did they become so rich?
I am assuming they are NOT inherently rich owing to oil wells or mines of gold/gemstones because in the real world (which GoT closely resembles), a region having plenty of expensive resources is usually much poorer.

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    A region having resources is usually much poorer? What do you base that on? – TLP Aug 14 '13 at 10:42
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    books state the source of their wealth. so if it is writen or shown it would probably have its own wiki like most Things to theese days.a quick search on "house lannister" and viola : The Lannisters are the richest family in the Seven Kingdoms, due in large part to the many gold mines under their control, despite by no means being the largest kingdom and being rather mountainous. – Cherubel Aug 14 '13 at 11:38
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    Dont you know? Tywin Lannister shits gold. – Jakob Aug 14 '13 at 11:59
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    "a region having plenty of expensive resources is usually much poorer" - Maybe the median in exploited areas, but there is always an upper class that gets rich controlling the resources. – Kevin Aug 14 '13 at 13:55
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    The Golden Rule - He who has the gold, makes the rules. – JohnP Aug 14 '13 at 15:51
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You would be assuming wrong. Quoting from the Westeros.org wiki on House Lannister:

The Lannisters are the richest family in the Seven Kingdoms, due in large part to the many gold mines under their control.

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    I would like to add in the above answer that also the Lannisters loan their wealth. Debt is true power. – Anton Aug 15 '13 at 3:47
  • But did they inherit those gold mines due to their geographical presence OR ventured into an unstable dilapidated(but naturally rich) state far across the sea to help sort out their problems & bring peace to them with the ulterior motive of taking control of those natural resources? – KharoBangdo Aug 15 '13 at 8:12
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    @KharoBangdo I have no idea what you are trying to say with that sentence. Far across the sea? Venture into an unstable dilapidated state? Sort out whose problems? As far as I know, house Lannister has never left Westeros. – TLP Aug 15 '13 at 10:58
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    @KharoBangdo - The mines are in their lands. So yes, they inherited it. – System Down Sep 23 '13 at 19:24
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The Lannisters are the ruling house of The Westerlands which have been historically rich in natural resources.

The Westerlands are a place of rugged hills and rolling plains, of misty dales and craggy shorelines, a place of blue lakes and sparkling rivers and fertile fields, of broadleaf forests that teem with game of every sort, where half-hidden doors in the sides of wooded hills open onto labyrinthine caves that wend their way through darkness to reveal unimaginable wonders and vast treasures deep beneath the earth.

These are rich lands, temperate and fruitful, shielded by high hills to the east and south and the endless blue waters of the Sunset Sea to the west.

The World of Ice and Fire - The Westerlands

However it was not originally the Lannisters who found the gold in the hills, it was the Casterlys and hence where Casterly Rock got its name.

The truth of that tale is lost in the mists of time, but we cannot doubt that Corlos, or some progenitor of what would become House Casterly, found gold inside the Rock and soon began to mine there.

[...]

Though never kings, the Casterlys became the richest lords in all of Westeros and the greatest power in the westerlands, and remained so for hundreds of years. By then the Dawn Age had given way to the Age of Heroes.

The World of Ice and Fire - The Westerlands

It was during the Age of Heros that the Lannisters came to control The Rock.

That was when the golden-haired rogue called Lann the Clever appeared from out of the east. Some say he was an Andal adventurer from across the narrow sea, though this was millennia before the coming of the Andals to Westeros. Regardless of his origins, the tales agree that somehow Lann the Clever winkled the Casterlys out of their Rock and took it for his own.

The World of Ice and Fire - The Westerlands

It was from then on the Lannister were made rich from the gold mines in the lands, but it was industry the firmly cemented them in that regard.

The land was fertile, the sea teemed with fish, and the site they had chosen had an excellent natural harbor. Soon enough the village grew into a town, then a city: Lannisport.

By the time the Andals came, Lannisport had become the second biggest city in Westeros. Only Oldtown was larger and richer, and trading ships from every corner of the world were sailing up the western coasts to call upon the golden city on the Sunset Sea. Gold had made House Lannister rich; trade made it even richer.

The World of Ice and Fire - The Westerlands

However, in the end the gold is what they are famous for.

The great wealth of the westerlands, of course, stems primarily from their gold and silver mines. The veins of ore run wide and deep, and there are mines, even now, that have been delved for a thousand years and more and are yet to be emptied. Lomas Longstrider reports that, even in far Asshai-by-the-Shadow, there were merchants who asked him if it was true that the "Lion Lord" lived in a palace of solid gold and that crofters collected a wealth of gold simply by plowing their fields. The gold of the west has traveled far, and the maesters know there are no mines in all the world as rich as those of Casterly Rock.

The World of Ice and Fire - The Westerlands

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