Infographic: The Geography of the World's 50 Top Billionaires
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The Geography of the World’s 50 Top Billionaires

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50 Top Billionaires by Geography

The Geography of the World’s 50 Top Billionaires

The business world has undergone considerable change in the last two decades.

While some fortunes are always reliably passed on to their respective heirs and heiresses, there are also entirely new industries that rise out of nowhere to shape the landscape of global wealth.

As the wealth landscape shifts, so does its geographical distribution.

The 2019 List of Billionaires

Today’s chart uses data from the most recent edition of the Forbes Billionaires List to map the distribution of the world’s richest people, and then compare that to data from 20 years prior.

We’ll start here by looking at the most recent data from 2019:

RankNameNet Worth ($B)CitizenshipIndustry
#1Jeff Bezos131๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech, eCommerce
#2Bill Gates96.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#3Warren Buffett82.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAInvestments
#4Bernard Arnault76๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท FranceLuxury Goods, Cosmetics
#5Carlos Slim Helu64๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ MexicoTelecommunications
#6Amancio Ortega62.7๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ SpainApparel
#7Larry Ellison62.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#8Mark Zuckerberg62.3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#9Michael Bloomberg55.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAMedia
#10Larry Page50.8๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#11Charles Koch50.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USADiversified
#12David Koch50.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USADiversified
#13Mukesh Ambani50๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ IndiaOil & Gas, Telecoms
#14Sergey Brin49.8๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#15Francoise Bettencourt49.3๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท FranceCosmetics
#16Jim Walton44.6๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USARetail
#17Alice Walton44.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USARetail, Art
#18Rob Walton44.3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USARetail
#19Steve Ballmer41.2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#20Ma Huateng (Pony)38.8๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaTech
#21Jack Ma37.3๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaTech, eCommerce
#22Hui Ka Yan36.2๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaReal Estate
#23Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr.36.1๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช GermanyRetail
#24Sheldon Adelson35.1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USACasinos
#25Michael Dell34.3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#26Phil Knight33.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAApparel
#27David Thomson32.5๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ CanadaMedia
#28Li Ka-shing31.7๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaDeveloper
#29Lee Shau Kee30.1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaDeveloper
#30Franรงois Pinault29.7๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท FranceLuxury Goods
#31Joseph Safra25.2๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท BrazilDiversified
#32Leonid Mikhelson24๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaOil & Gas
#33Jacqueline Mars23.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAFood
#34John Mars23.9๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAFood
#35Jorge Paulo Lemann22.8๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท BrazilDiversified
#36Azim Premji22.6๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ IndiaTech
#37Dieter Schwarz22.6๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช GermanyRetail
#38Wang Jianlin22.6๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaReal Estate
#39Giovanni Ferrero22.4๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ItalyFood
#40Elon Musk22.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAAutomotive, Tech
#41Tadashi Yanai22.2๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต JapanApparel
#42Yang Huiyan22.1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaReal Estate
#43Masayoshi Son21.6๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต JapanBanking, Investments
#44Jim Simons21.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAInvestments
#45Vladimir Lisin21.3๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaSteel, Transportation
#46Susanne Klatten21๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช GermanyAutomotive, Pharma
#47Vagit Alekperov20.7๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaOil & Gas
#48Alexey Mordashov20.5๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaSteel, Investments
#49Gennady Timchenko20.1๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaOil & Gas
#50Leonardo Del Vecchio19.8๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ItalyEyewear

The most recent billionaires list features Jeff Bezos at the top with $131 billion, although it’s likely his recent divorce announcement will provide an upcoming shakeup to the Bezos Empire.

Bezos is just one of 21 Americans that find themselves in the top 50 list, which means that 42% of the world’s top billionaires hail from the United States.

Billionaire Geography Over Time

If we compare the top 50 list to that from 1999, it’s interesting to see what has changed over time in terms of geographical distribution.

Here’s the distribution of top countries on both lists, compared:

CitizenshipTop Billionaires (1999)Top Billionaires (2019)Change
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia05+5
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China37+4
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States1821+3
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil02+2
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India02+2
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy12+1
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain01+1
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico110
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada110
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฒ Bermuda10-1
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan32-1
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France53-2
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia20-2
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan20-2
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden30-3
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญSwitzerland30-3
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany73-4

In the last 20 years, Russia and China have stockpiled the most top billionaires, adding five and four to the top 50 list respectively. The United States added three, going from 18 to 21 billionaires over the timeframe.

On the other end of the spectrum, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland have lost the most billionaires from the top 50 ranking.

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Economy

The $16 Trillion European Union Economy

This chart shows the contributors to the EU economy through a percentage-wise distribution of country-level GDP.

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The $16 Trillion European Union Economy

The European Union has the third-largest economy in the world, accounting for one-sixth of global trade. All together, 27 member countries make up one internal market allowing free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

But how did this sui generis (a class by itself) political entity come into being?

A Brief History of the EU

After the devastating aftermath of the World War II, Western Europe saw a concerted move towards regional peace and security by promoting democracy and protecting human rights.

Crucially, the Schuman Declaration was presented in 1950. The coal and steel industries of Western Europe were integrated under common management, preventing countries from turning on each other and creating weapons of war. Six countries signed on โ€” the eventual founders of the EU.

Here’s a list of all 27 members of the EU and the year they joined.

CountryYear of entry
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium1958
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France1958
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany1958
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy1958
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg1958
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands1958
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark1973
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland1973
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece1981
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal1986
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain1986
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria1995
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland1995
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden1995
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus2004
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czechia2004
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia2004
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary2004
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia2004
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania2004
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta2004
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland2004
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia2004
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia2004
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria2007
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania2007
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia2013

Greater economic and security cooperation followed over the next four decades, along with the addition of new members. These tighter relationships disincentivized conflict, and Western Europeโ€”after centuries of constant warโ€”has seen unprecedented peace for the last 80 years.

The modern version of the EU can trace its origin to 1993, with the adoption of the name, โ€˜the European Union,โ€™ the birth of a single market, and the promise to use a single currencyโ€”the euro.

Since then the EU has become an economic and political force to reckon with. Its combined gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $16.6 trillion in 2022, after the U.S. ($26 trillion) and China ($19 trillion.)

โ„น๏ธ GDP is a broad indicator of the economic activity within a country. It measures the total value of economic outputโ€”goods and servicesโ€”produced within a given time frame by both the private and public sectors.

Front Loading the EU Economy

For the impressive numbers it shows however, the European Unionโ€™s economic might is held up by three economic giants, per data from the International Monetary Fund. Put together, the GDPs of Germany ($4 trillion), France ($2.7 trillion) and Italy ($1.9 trillion) make up more than half of the EU’s entire economic output.

These three countries are also the most populous in the EU, and together with Spain and Poland, account for 66% of the total population of the EU.

Hereโ€™s a table of all 27 member states and the percentage they contribute to the EUโ€™s gross domestic product.

RankCountry GDP (Billion USD)% of the EU Economy
1.๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany4,031.124.26%
2.๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France2,778.116.72%
3.๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy1,997.012.02%
4.๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain1,390.08.37%
5.๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands990.65.96%
6.๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland716.34.31%
7.๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden603.93.64%
8.๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium589.53.55%
9.๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland519.83.13%
10.๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria468.02.82%
11.๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark386.72.33%
12.๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania299.91.81%
13.๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czechia295.61.78%
14.๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland281.41.69%
15.๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal255.91.54%
16.๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece222.01.34%
17.๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary184.71.11%
18.๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia112.40.68%
19.๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria85.00.51%
20.๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg82.20.49%
21.๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia69.40.42%
22.๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania68.00.41%
23.๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia62.20.37%
24.๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia40.60.24%
25.๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia39.10.24%
26.๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus26.70.16%
27.๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta17.20.10%
Total16,613.1100%

The top-heaviness continues. By adding Spain ($1.3 trillion) and the Netherlands ($990 billion), the top five make up nearly 70% of the EUโ€™s GDP. That goes up to 85% when the top 10 countries are included.

That means less than half of the 27 member states make up $14 trillion of the $16 trillion EU economy.

Older Members, Larger Share

Aside from the most populous members having bigger economies, another pattern emerges, with the time the country has spent in the EU.

Five of the six founders of the EUโ€”Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgiumโ€”are in the top 10 biggest economies of the EU. Ireland and Denmark, the next entrants into the union (1973) are ranked 9th and 11th respectively. The bottom 10 countries all joined the EU post-2004.

The UKโ€”which joined the bloc in 1973 and formally left in 2020โ€”would have been the second-largest economy in the region at $3.4 trillion.

Sectoral Analysis of the EU

The EU has four primary sectors of economic output: services, industry, construction, and agriculture (including fishing and forestry.) Below is an analysis of some of these sectors and the countries which contribute the most to it. All figures are from Eurostat.

Services and Tourism

The EU economy relies heavily on the services sector, accounting for more than 70% of the value added to the economy in 2020. It also is the sector with the highest share of employment in the EU, at 73%.

In Luxembourg, which has a large financial services sector, 87% of the countryโ€™s gross domestic product came from the services sector.

Tourism economies like Malta and Cyprus also had an above 80% share of services in their GDP.

Industry

Meanwhile 20% of the EUโ€™s gross domestic product came from industry, with Irelandโ€™s economy having the most share (40%) in its GDP. Czechia, Slovenia and Poland also had a significant share of industry output.

Mining coal and lignite in the EU saw a brief rebound in output in 2021, though levels continued to be subdued.

RankSector% of the EU Economy
1.Services72.4%
2.Industry20.1%
3.Construction5.6%
4.Agriculture, forestry and fishing1.8%

Agriculture

Less than 2% of the EUโ€™s economy relies on agriculture, forestry and fishing. Romania, Latvia, and Greece feature as contributors to this sector, however the share in total output in each country is less than 5%. Bulgaria has the highest employment (16%) in this sector compared to other EU members.

Energy

The EU imports nearly 60% of its energy requirements. Until the end of 2021, Russia was the biggest exporter of petroleum and natural gas to the region. After the war in Ukraine that share has steadily decreased from nearly 25% to 15% for petroleum liquids and from nearly 40% to 15% for natural gas, per Eurostat.

Headwinds, High Seas

The IMF has a gloomy outlook for Europe heading into 2023. War in Ukraine, spiraling energy costs, high inflation, and stagnant wage growth means that EU leaders are facing โ€œsevere trade-offs and tough policy decisions.โ€

Reformsโ€”to relieve supply constraints in the labor and energy marketsโ€”are key to increasing growth and relieving price pressures, according to the international body. The IMF projects that the EU will grow 0.7% in 2023.

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