38 Incredible Facts About the World’s Richest People

Hands up if you want to be rich.

After all, the trappings of wealth can be spectacular. A resplendent waterfront bungalow in Sentosa Cove. A ski chateau in Switzerland. Gulfstream jets to get you to and from. Ferraris and Bentleys awaiting you on either side.

But lest we forget, a person’s happiness does not necessarily increase linearly with his wealth. It’s also more important to have just ‘enough’.

Either way, just to further whet your appetite, here’s a list of 38 incredible facts about rich people.

1. If you add up the net worth of every person on the planet, it equates to US$135.5 trillion.

2. On a per capita basis, that’s roughly US$19,000 per person, or roughly equivalent to 7.4 times the median monthly salary of S$3,250 for a Singapore resident last year.

3. All told, there are an estimated 13.8 million households in the world today that are worth at least US$1 million.

4. This equates to roughly 0.9% of the global population. So if you want to join the 1%, you’d better become a millionaire.

5. The most popular country for millionaires to live in is the United States, with 5.8 million households that are worth at least US$1 million.

6. Japan comes in second with 1.5 million millionaire households.

7. And China rounds out the top three, with 1.3 million.

8. The country with the highest density of millionaires is Qatar, where 143 out of every 1,000 households had private wealth of at least US$1 million.

9. Switzerland is second, with 116 out of every 1,000 households.

10. And Kuwait comes in a close third, with 115 out of every 1,000 households.

11. By comparison, only 49 out of 1,000 households in the United States are worth at least US$1 million.

12. Try this on for size: There are an estimated 3,016 households in the United States with more than US$100 million in private financial wealth!

13. The United Kingdom is second, with 1,001 “ultra-high-net-worth” households.

14. And China is third, with 851 of these ridiculously rich households.

15. The richest living person is Bill Gates, who, along with Paul Allen, founded software maker Microsoft in 1975.

16. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, Gates’ total net worth is US$77.8 billion, roughly a fifth of which is tied up in Microsoft stock.

17. That’s nearly six times the 2012 GDP of Iceland and one-third that of Singapore’s!

18. On Valentine’s Day alone, Gates’ net worth increased an estimated US$360 million.

19. The second richest person is Carlos Slim, a Mexican business tycoon worth an estimated US$68.4 billion.

20. Third is Amancio Ortega, a Spaniard who owns 59% of the world’s largest clothing retailer (the popular Zara brand falls under his banner). He’s said to be worth US$61.6 billion.

21. And, how could we leave out Warren Buffett? The chairman and CEO of the American investment holding company and conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, comes in fourth on the list with a private fortune of US$59 billion. That’s more than the current market capitalisation of telecommunications provider SingTel (SGX: Z74). At S$57.1 billion, SingTel has the largest market cap among all publicly-listed companies in Singapore.

22. Virtually all of the Oracle of Omaha’s wealth derives from his 20% stake in Berkshire Hathaway, a once-faltering textile company that he transformed into one of the greatest wealth-generating vehicles of all time.

23. Meanwhile, two of the four Koch brothers are worth a combined US$99.4 billion.

24. Essentially all of the Koch brothers’ wealth is tied up in Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in America, after only Cargill.

25. And the four children of Sam Walton, the founder of American hypermarket retailer Wal-Mart, are worth an astounding US$143.1 billion.

26. Through Walton Enterprises, a private corporation established by Sam and his wife, Helen, the four Waltons own an astounding 49.75% of Wal-Mart’s outstanding shares.

27. These all might seem like a lot, and they are, but at the time of John D. Rockefeller’s death in 1937, he was worth the equivalent of US$340 billion in today’s dollars. To put things into scale, the top five companies in the Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI) as of 14 Feb 2014 consisted of DBS Group Holdings (SGX: D05), SingTel, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (SGX: O39), United Overseas Bank (SGX: U11), and Jardine Matheson Holdings (SGX: J36). These companies combined ‘only’ have a market value of S$207 billion, almost half of what Rockefeller’s wealth was worth in today’s dollars!

28. Henry Ford wasn’t far behind, with an inflation-adjusted net worth of US$199 billion at the time of his death in 1947.

29. In terms of the global distribution of wealth, US$43.3 trillion of the US$135.5 trillion is based in North America.

30. That equates to 32% of the total, even though only 5% of the population lives there.

31. Western Europe is second, with US$35.8 trillion in private wealth, or 26% of the total.

32. And Asia, excluding Japan, is third, with US$28 trillion in total private wealth, or 21% of the total.

33. Japan, by the way, has a total of US$17.2 trillion in private wealth.

34. Going forward, this distribution is going to change considerably because developing countries are growing so much faster than developed countries like the United States, Great Britain, and Japan.

35. Between now and 2017, private wealth in North America is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.1%.

36. Thanks to some of the worst demographics in the world, Japan’s will only increase at a compound annual growth rate of 1.1%.

37. By comparison, the Asia-Pacific region (again, excluding Japan) is expected to see its aggregate private wealth rocket higher at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4%.

38. If these predictions turn out to be true, Asia will surpass North America as the world’s richest region by 2017.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. This article was written by John Maxfield and first published on It has been edited for