The “billionaire” is a relatively new concept; the first documented billionaire was John D. Rockefeller in 1916, not even 100 years ago. Yet even then, billionaires were rare. It hasn’t been until recent memory that the number of billionaires has really started to take off. As of 2015, there are over 1,800 known billionaires, with a combined wealth of $7.05 trillion. Yet which countries host the most billions? I recently came across an article that shows the top countries for billionaires, based on data from 2013. The countries are listed here:
1. The US (515 billionaires, $2,064 billion total net worth)
According to data from Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census in 2013, nearly a quarter of the world’s wealthiest people are based in the land of the free. And if you look a little lower on the grand scheme of the wealth ladder, at people worth $30 million or more, Americans make up 32% of the world’s super-rich. American women have a lot of that wealth, with $1.2 trillion worth of assets, more than ultra-wealthy women anywhere else in the world. California, the jewel of the American tech and entertainment industry, accounts for 20% of the country’s super-rich, while New York and Texas rank high as well.
2. China (157 billionaires, $384 billion total net worth)
While China’s growth has recently slowed, it remains a major hotspot for billionaires, adding 10 new billionaires over the last year alone. That number might even be higher, but some wealthy residents have chosen to take their money beyond the mainland to other Asian cities, such as Hong Kong due to the country’s continuing credit crunch and recent anti-corruption campaign against luxury spending.
3. Germany (148 billionaires, $432 billion total net worth)
Thanks to its robust economy, Germany was able to drag the rest of Europe out of the 2008 financial crisis, a strength that also helped it keep producing ultra-rich Germans. Despite its much smaller population, Germany has nearly as many billionaires as China. Wealth creation has been even stronger for those whose assets are valued between $30 million and $199 million.
4. United Kingdom (135 billionaires, $420 billion total net worth)
Considering that London is one of the top financial capitals of the world, it’s hardly surprising that it boasts an ever-growing number of ultra-wealthy. There’s been a 5.7% increase in ultra-wealthy Londoners from 2012 to 2013, although the ranks of billionaires in the UK overall dropped slightly.
5. Russia (108 billionaires, $342 billion total net worth)
During the power vacuum following the collapse of the Soviet Union, numerous Russians emerged from the chaos extremely wealthy, many of them through less-than-scrupulous methods. Even as the Russian economy has been hurting in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, there remain plenty of ultra-rich Russians. However, how much the political unrest and US and EU-imposed sanctions will affect the country’s overall wealth remains to be seen.
6. India (103 billionaires, $180 billion total net worth)
Overall, 2013 wasn’t a great year for the ultra wealthy in India, thanks to such issues as a weak rupee, slowing growth and high public debt. However, thanks to a sweeping victory for the country’s pro-business party and the inauguration of a new prime minister, investors have high hopes for a turnaround. The new prime minister is focused on growth, and is seeking to attract foreign investment through minimizing bureaucratic challenges that businesses face in India.
7. Hong Kong (75 billionaires, $224 billion total net worth)
As mainland Chinese investors seek to diversify their assets, many of them are attracted to Hong Kong, a place known for low taxes and light regulation. The combined worth of the super-rich in Hong Kong is a staggering $530 billion, with their wealth growing rapidly.
8. Saudi Arabia (64 billionaires, $204 billion total net worth)
Thanks to the wealth to be had in oil, the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, has long been a mecca for billionaires. It also hosts a growing population of ultra-wealthy people, gaining 200 of them just last year. However, in a country where women aren’t even allowed to drive, it’s hardly surprising that women continue to struggle to gain a foothold among the elite of Saudi Arabia, accounting for just 5% of the country’s super-rich.
9. France (64 billionaires, $202 billion total net worth)
France’s “millionaire tax”, that heavily taxes companies that pay high annual salaries with a tax rate as high as 75%, has concerned many people who feel that the tax would push some wealthy residents to leave the country. Nonetheless, that impact has yet to be seen.
10. Switzerland (61 billionaires, $128 billion total net worth)
As Europe recovers from the debt crisis, its high earners have seen some huge gains, particularly Switzerland, where the super rich added nearly $100 billion to their coffers last year. And even as the government cracks down on tax evasion and banking secrecy laws, they still earned four new billionaires last year.
11. Brazil (50 billionaires, $259 billion total net worth)
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Sports, Brazil is expected to get a $70 billion boost from the influx of spectators during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This could be just what the Brazilian economy needs after its recent slow growth.
12. Turkey (38 billionaires, $56 billion total net worth)
Since the global financial crisis, the Turkish economy has actually been getting stronger, with 4% growth from last year. Even as the International Monetary Fund downgraded Turkey’s growth for this year, its economy is still predicted to expand by 2.3%. The country added 70 people to the ranks of its super-rich last year.
13. Canada (37 billionaires, $94 billion total net worth)
America’s neighbor to the north is spread over six time zones, and is home to a wealth of natural resources. Interestingly, Canada’s wealthy tend to skew older and male when compared to other countries in the top 15.
14. United Arab Emirates (37 billionaires, $45 billion total net worth)
For a long time, Dubai has been known as a playground for the wealthy, and businesses don’t have to pay any federal income tax. 59% of the UAE’s super-rich are self-made, and with growth in the double digits, it’s expected to rank even higher on the billionaire list in the years to come.
15. Japan (33 billionaires, $77 billion total net worth)
Although the Japanese economy has been struggling since the 1990s, thanks to policies such as a stimulus program and higher national sales tax, Japan saw its population of super rich grow by double digits last year.