There are more billionaires in the world than ever before–Forbes puts the figure at 1,210.Even so, there’s something impressive about being able to call yourself the richest person in a given country.
We looked at the data on Forbes’ latest billionaires list, which includes the net worths of the world’s richest people as of March 2011.
There were lots of shakeups this year, with lots of former titleholders losing their superlatives, and several titleholders vastly increasing their net worths.
Now, meet the richest man or woman from every major country across the globe.
Net worth: $4.7 billion
Forbes rank: 223
Background: He is the grandson of the inventor of Legos, the ubiquitous kids' building block. Kristiansen ran the company for 25 years before stepping down in 2004.
Net worth: $5 billion
Forbes rank: 208
Background: Mateschitz is the creator of Red Bull, the energy drink that is popular worldwide.
He also owns stakes in two soccer teams, a Formula One racing team, and a luxury resort in Fiji.
Net worth: $5.1 billion
Forbes rank: 200
Background: The brothers turned Bridas, their father's oil services company, into Argentina's second-largest oil and gas company.
They overtook the former richest person in Argentina, Gregorio Perez Companc, whose net worth fell from $2 billion to $1.4 billion this year.
Net worth: $6.8 billion
Forbes rank: 143
Background: The husband and wife duo run HTC, one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Wang was also born into wealth.
They replaced Terry Gou, an electronics magnate who was previously the richest person in Taiwan.
Net worth: $7.5 billion
Forbes rank: 124
Background: Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken took over Heineken when her father, Henry Heineken, passed away leaving her his fortune. Carvalho-Heineken lives her life out of the spotlight. Unlike her father, who was known to show off his wealth, she lives an anonymous life with her husband and five kids.
Networth: $8.1 billion
Forbes rank: 113
Background: Son is the founder of the internet and telecom firm SoftBank. He owns stakes in several major internet companies, and beat out Tadashi Yanai to become the richest person in Japan.
Net worth: $8.6 billion
Forbes rank: 105
Background: Lee Kun-Hee is the chairman of Samsung. In 2008, he stepped down as chairman due to charges of tax evasion and breach of trust. But after being pardoned at the end of 2009, he resumed his position in March of 2010.
Net worth: $9 billion
Forbes rank: 100
Background: Gina Rinehart owns all the shares of her father's mining company, Hancock Mining. Given the recent boom in the value of her iron mines, she's on track to become the richest woman in the world.
Net worth: $9.3 billion
Forbes rank: 114 (as of March 2011)
Background: Wengen, chairman of machinery manufacturer Sany Group, just overtook Baidu founder Robin Li to become the titleholder of the richest man in China. Forbes puts his fortune at $9.3 billion, while HuRun report says its closer to $11 billion.
Net worth: $10 billion
Forbes rank: 81
Background: Ernesto Bertarelli inherited his father's company, Serono, SA in 1996 which his family sold in 2007. Today he is involved with Kedge Capital and Ares Life Sciences. Ernesto also founded a yachting team in 2000 and they won the America's Cup in 2003. Ernesto serves as navigator of the team.
Net worth: $10.5 billion
Forbes rank: 75
Background: Sarmiento started out in the construction industry and later expanded his empire into financial services.
He just overtook the former wealthiest man in Chile, Julio Mario Santo Domingo.
Net worth: $12.5 billion
Forbes rank: 61
Background: Kuok made his fortune in the shipping, palm oil and cane sugar fields.
At one point it was rumoured that he bought the world's most expensive yacht--a $4.8 billion, gold-covered monstrosity--but those rumours were quickly debunked.
Net worth: $13.8 billion
Forbes rank: 51
Background: The Nigerian's fortune increased 557% per cent in the past year, propelling him up in the rankings.
He started out as a commodities trader and built his Dangote Group into a company with interests in sugar, flour milling, salt processing, cement manufacturing, textiles, real estate, and oil and gas.
Net worth: $16 billion
Forbes rank: 39
Background: Akhmetov started in the coal and coke fields and expanded it into the conglomerate System Capital Management.
He bought a $221 million penthouse at One Hyde Park in London last year, and built a $400 million soccer stadium in his hometown of Donetsk.
Networth: $18 billion
Forbes rank: 32
Background: Michele Ferrero owns European chocolate company Ferrero. Ferrero created Tic-Tacs, Kinder Eggs, Nutella, and of course Ferrero Rocher. Unlike most Italian billionaires, Ferrero prefers to live life out of the spotlight and simply has a passion for creating great chocolate.
Networth: $19.2 billion
Forbes rank: 27
Background: Iris Fontbona and her family control one of the world's largest copper mining businesses, Antofagasta. Fontbona was once married to billionaire Andronico Luksic who died in 2005.
Networth: $24 billion
Forbes rank: 14
Background: Vladimir Lisin went from rags to riches. Lisin began his career as a mechanic, then a steelworker. He later joined Trans-World Group, traders who had control of the steel and aluminium industry in Russia. After Trans-World Group split up, Lisin received a 13% share, and then a controlling share.
Net worth: $24.5 billion
Forbes rank: 13
Background: Persson is the chairman of H&M, the budget retail store that has expanded quickly across Europe and the U.S.
He displaced Ingvar Kamprad, chairman of Ikea, whose wealth dropped from $17 billion to $6 billion this year.
Net worth: $31 billion
Forbes rank: 7
Background: Amancio Ortega began his career as a manager at a clothing shop. After noticing only the wealthiest customers could afford the expensive clothing, he decided to make a line of his own. Over time, his business grew and profited and today he owns Zara, a clothing store known for having the trends at low prices.
Networth: $31.1 billion
Forbes rank: 6
Background: Huge profits at Mittal's company, ArcelorMittal, helped push Mittal into the number one spot in India ahead of the former placeholder, Mukesh Ambani.
Net worth: $41 billion
Forbes rank: 4
Background: Bernard Arnault's fashion fortune began in 1984 when he bought bankrupt company, Boussac Saint-Frères, which owned luxury brand House of Dior. He soon bought LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Tag Heuer, Donna Karan, Fendi, and Moët & Chandon.
Now, he obsesses over every detail of every collection released by the designers, his wife told the WSJ.
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