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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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Chart of the Week

The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets in the Last 10 Years

This telling chart shows how national wealth markets have changed over the past decade, highlighting the biggest winners and losers.

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The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets

A lot can change in a decade.

Ten years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent the world’s financial markets into a tailspin, a catalyst for years of economic uncertainty.

At the same time, China’s robust GDP growth was reaching a fever pitch. The country was turning into a wealth creation machine, creating millions of newly-minted millionaires who would end up having a huge impact on wealth markets around the world.

The Ups and Downs of Wealth Markets (2008-2018)

Today’s graphic, using data from the Global Wealth Migration Review, looks at national wealth markets, and how they’ve changed since 2008.

Each wealth market is calculated from the sum of individual assets within the jurisdiction, accounting for the value of cash, property, equity, and business interests owned by people in the country. Just like other kinds of markets, wealth can grow or shrink over time.

Here are a few countries and regions that stand out in the report:

Developing Asian Economies
In terms of sheer wealth growth, nothing comes close to countries like China and India. The size of these markets, combined with rapid economic growth, have resulted in triple-digit gains over the last 10 years.

For the world’s two most populous countries, it’s a trend that is expected to continue into the next decade, despite the fact that many millionaire residents are migrating to different jurisdictions.

Mediterranean Malaise
European nations saw very little growth over the past decade, but the Mediterranean region was particularly hard-hit. In fact, eight of the 20 worst performing wealth markets over the last decade are located along the Mediterranean coast:

Rank (Out of 90)Country% Growth (2008-2018)
89๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece-37%
87๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus-21%
86๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy-14%
85๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain-13%
84๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey-11%
82๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt-10%
80๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France-7%
76๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia-6%

European Bright Spots
There were some bright spots in Europe during this same time period. Malta, Ireland, and Monaco all achieved positive wealth growth at rates higher than 30% over the last 10 years.

Australia
While it’s expected to see rapidly-growing economies as prolific producers of wealth, it is much more surprising when mature markets perform so strongly. Singapore and New Zealand fall under that category, as does Australia, which was already a large, mature wealth market.

Australia recently surpassed both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world, and last year alone, over 12,000 millionaires migrated there.

Venezuela
The long-term economic slide of Venezuela has been well documented, and it comes as no surprise that the country saw extreme contraction of wealth over the last decade. Since war-torn countries are not included in the report, Venezuela ranked 90th, which is dead-last on a global basis.

Short Term, Long Term

In 2018, global wealth actually slumped by 5%, dropping from $215 trillion to $204 trillion.

All 90 countries tracked by the report experienced negative growth in wealth, as global stock and property markets dipped. Here’s a look at the wealth markets that were the hardest hit over the past year:

Wealth MarketWealth growth (2017 -2018)
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela-25%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey-23%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina-20%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan-15%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola-15%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine-13%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France-12%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia-12%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran-12%
๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar-12%

The future outlook is rosier. Global wealth is expected to rise by 43% over the next decade, reaching $291 trillion by 2028. If current trends play out as expected, Vietnam could likely top this list a decade from now with a staggering 200% growth rate.

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Chart of the Week

Mapping the World’s Busiest Air Routes

Flying can get you almost anywhere, but often people are journeying between two popular destinations. Here we map the busiest air routes globally.

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Mapping the World’s Busiest Air Routes

Modern air travel gives us almost unlimited possibilities for getting around.

Whether you are acting on your wanderlust to explore new and exotic destinations, hopping to a familiar island for a well-deserved vacation, or jetsetting to London in the comfort of business class, the modern airline industry can get you almost anywhere you need to go.

But while flying allows us to have unique experiences, it’s often the case that we are all coming and going from many of the same popular destinations. As a result, the world’s busiest air routes have hundreds of flights per day connecting important city pairs together.

Ranking City Pairs

Today’s chart pulls data from OAG, which has compiled a detailed report ranking the busiest domestic and international air routes from around the globe.

It’s worth noting that the data is over the period of March 2018 to February 2019, and it excludes carriers that operate fewer than 500 routes per year.

Let’s dive in to see which city pairs have the most air travel between them.

Domestic Routes

Domestic routes are far more popular than international routes globally. According to the report, there are 15 domestic routes that have more operating flights per year than any international route anywhere.

Here’s a look at the top 10 domestic routes:

RankCountryCity PairFlights (Annually)Carriers
#1๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ทJeju โ†”๏ธ Seoul79,4607
#2๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บMelbourne โ†”๏ธ Sydney54,1024
#3๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณMumbai โ†”๏ธ Delhi45,1886
#4๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ทSรฃo Paulo โ†”๏ธ Rio de Janeiro39,7473
#5๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตFukuoka โ†”๏ธ Toyko39,4064
#6๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณHanoi โ†”๏ธ Ho Chi Minh City39,2913
#7๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตHokkaido โ†”๏ธ Tokyo39,2714
#8๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉJakarta โ†”๏ธ Surabaya City37,7626
#9๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธLos Angeles โ†”๏ธ San Francisco35,3655
#10๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆJeddah โ†”๏ธ Riyadh35,1495

The busiest domestic route might be a surprise, unless you are familiar with Asian geography.

With almost 80,000 annual flights, the 300-mile hop between Seoul and Jeju Island in South Korea is the busiest air route in the world by a large margin. Overall, there are seven carriers competing on it each day, with over 200 daily flights available between them.

What makes Jeju so popular?

Known as the “Hawaii of South Korea”, this volcanic island is an extremely popular vacation destination within the country, and it hosts roughly 15 million guests per year.

International Routes

On an international basis, the busiest route has almost 50,000 fewer flights per year than the Jeju-Seoul city pair listed above. Not surprisingly, this route – and many other top international routes – are also located in the Asia Pacific region.

RankCountriesCity PairFlights (Annually)Carriers
#1๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌKuala Lumpur โ†”๏ธ Singapore30,1878
#2๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผHong Kong โ†”๏ธ Taipei28,4475
#3๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌJakarta โ†”๏ธ Singapore27,0467
#4๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณHong Kong โ†”๏ธ Shanghai20,6785
#5๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พJakarta โ†”๏ธ Kuala Lumpur19,7418
#6๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตSeoul โ†”๏ธ Osaka19,7118
#7๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆNew York (LGA) โ†”๏ธ Toronto17,0383
#8๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ทHong Kong โ†”๏ธ Seoul15,7709
#9๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌBangkok โ†”๏ธ Singapore14,6985
#10๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผDubai โ†”๏ธ Kuwait14,5814

The short hop between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur takes only one hour, and it connects two major Southeast Asian commercial hubs. The route has 41 flights per day between eight airlines, making it one of the most competitive routes globally.

The busiest international route outside of the Asia Pacific is between Toronto and New York (LaGuardia) with 17,038 annual flights. Interestingly, it only has three competing carriers – the lowest of any of the top 10 routes.

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