Meet The Richest Person From Every Major Country In The World...
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 worth. Now, meet the richest man or woman from every major country across the globe.
1. The richest Dane: Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen
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.
2. The richest Greek: Spiro Latsis
Net worth: $4.8 billion
Forbes rank: 219
Background: Latsis made his fortune in the shipping industry, but he has taken a real hit as Greece's economy has collapsed.
3. The richest Austrian: Dietrich Mateschitz
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.
4. The richest Argentines: Carlos and Alejandro Bulgheroni
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.
5. The richest Egyptian: Nassef Sawiris
Networth: $5.6 billion
Forbes rank: 182
Background: Nassef Sawiris' father, Onsi, founded Orascom conglomerate. Nassef took over the company's construction and fertilizer division in 1998.
6. The richest Taiwanese: Cher Wang & Wenchi Chen
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.
7. The richest Dutch: Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken
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.
8. The richest Japanese: Masayoshi Son
Net worth: $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.
9. The richest South Korean: Lee Kun-Hee
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.
10. The richest Australian: Gina Rinehart
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. She overtook the former wealthiest Australian, Andrew Forrest, who also owns an iron ore company.
11. The richest Czech: Petr Kellner
Net worth: $9.2 billion
Forbes rank: 97
Background: Petr Kellner is the major shareholder in Dutch holding company PPF Group N.V., which controls the PPF Group, founded by him in 1991. He was born in the Czech Republic and graduated from the University of Economics, Prague in 1986.
12. The richest Chinese: Liang Wengen
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.
13. The richest Swiss: Ernesto Bertarelli
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.
14. The richest Israeli: Sammy Ofer
Net worth: $10.3 billion
Forbes rank: 73
Background: Sammy Ofer is one of the world's biggest shipping tycoons. In 2008 he was knighted in London after a $20 million contribution to Britain's National Maritime Museum.
15. The richest Kuwaiti: Nasser Al-Kharafi
Net worth: $10.4 billion
Forbes rank: 77
Background: Nasser Al-Kharafi inherited his fortune from his father's company, M.A. Kharafi & Sons. Much of the company's profit comes from construction but they are also involved in investing and manufacturing.
16. The richest Colombian: Luis Carlos Sarmiento
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.
17. The richest Cypriot: John Fredriksen
Net worth: $10.7 billion
Forbes rank: 72
Background: John Fredriksen is a oil-tanker and shipping Tycoon and owns company Frontline Ltd. He is known as a modern-day Aristotle Onassis.
18. The richest Malaysian: Robert Kuok
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 rumored that he bought the world's most expensive yacht--a $4.8 billion, gold-covered monstrosity--but those rumors were quickly debunked.
19. The richest Brit: Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor
Net worth: $13 billion
Forbes rank: 57
Background: Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor's fortune comes from his Grosvenor Property Group. His real estate group has holdings on five continents. Cavendish is also sixth Duke of Westminster.
20. The richest Nigerian: Aliko Dangote
Net worth: $13.8 billion
Forbes rank: 51
Background: The Nigerian's fortune increased 557% percent 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.
21. The richest Ukrainian: Rinat Akhmetov
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.
22. The richest Italian: Michele Ferrero
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.
23. The richest Chilean: Iris Fontbona
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.
24. The richest Saudi Arabian: Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud
Net worth: $19.6 billion
Forbes rank: 26
Background: This prince started young; he was chairman of his own company by the age of 14.
25. The richest Canadian: David Thomson
Net worth: $23 billion
Forbes rank: 17
Background: David Thomson is the chairman of Thomson Reuters. His grandfather Roy founded the company in 1934.
26. The richest Russian: Vladimir Lisin
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 aluminum industry in Russia. After Trans-World Group split up, Lisin received a 13% share, and then a controlling share.
27. The richest Swede: Stefan Persson
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.
28. The richest German: Karl Albrecht
Networth: $25.5 billion
Forbes rank: 12
Background: Karl Albrecht served in WWII for Germany's army and used lessons from war and postwar Germany to build successful company ALDI with his brother.
29. The richest Hong Konger: Li Ka-shing
Net worth: $26 billion
Forbes rank: 11
Background: Li Ka-Shing dropped out of high school at age 15 and sold plastic flowers to help support his family.
30. The richest Brazilian: Eike Batista
Networth: $30 billion
Forbes rank: 8
Background: Eike Batista built his fortune through the business of mining. Batista is a fashionable billionaire, as he says he prefers dark suits with pink ties.
31. The richest Spaniard: Amancio Ortega
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.
32. The richest Indian: Lakshmi Mittal
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.
33. The richest French: Bernard Arnault
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.
34. The richest American: Bill Gates
Net worth: $56 billion
Forbes rank: 2
Background: The wealthiest man in America did not even graduate from college. Gates dropped out of Harvard University his junior year when he had his idea for Microsoft.
35. The richest Mexican: Carlos Slim Helu
Net worth: $74 billion
Forbes rank: 1
Background: Carlos Slim came from humble beginnings. His father was an immigrant shoe maker and Slim built his fortune from almost nothing. And although he has billions now, friends say he wears cheap suits and prefers pen and paper to fancy computers.