In a world where billionaires are multiplying like rabbits, who would have guessed that the majority of the world’s richest people are Americans with net worths that outstrip the gross domestic products of entire nations? Some of these individuals have been propelled to the top of the wealthiest list by new norms of doing business on the internet or in the cloud. Still, magnates of traditional businesses such as retail and energy production have, for the moment, managed to hold notable spots on this list. GOBankingRates used Forbes’ real-time data, collected on Feb. 12, 2018, to compare net worth data with the GDP of world nations.
In terms of up-and-coming billionaires, look toward Asia, and particularly China and India, where the fever of Western capitalism is fueling the financial growth of upcoming breakout billionaires.
Click through to read about billionaires like Oprah Winfrey who grew up poor.
Jeff Bezos Net Worth: $111.6 Billion
The world’s richest person, Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos continues his mission to transform the way the world shops. Bezos is constantly expanding Amazon’s offerings — from Amazon Prime to Alexa, and most recently, Amazon Go, a check-out-free grocery store. If that weren’t enough, since 2013, Bezos has owned the Washington Post — known for bringing the Pentagon Papers and Watergate scandal to light. Being one of the richest people in the world, Bezos is wealthier than this Eastern European country …
Ukraine GDP: $95.93 Billion
Ukraine, which has a total GDP is $95.93 billion, has a storied history that made it the biggest and most powerful European country during the tumultuous 10th and 11th centuries, and it remains a political hot spot. Ukraine has a GDP lower than Bezos, a single individual. Its economic place in the sun has suffered the ravages of history. Today, all roads lead back to Russia and its desire to reclaim control of Ukraine. In 2004, the peaceful, people-powered Orange Revolution forced the overturn of a rigged presidential election, allowing reformist Viktor Yushchenko to wrest power from Viktor Yanukovych, according to the CIA. In time, the tables tipped back into the sphere of Russian influence, leading to more protests, violence and deaths, as well as worldwide condemnations and scrutiny of Yanukovych.
Bill Gates Net Worth: $89.5 Billion
No wonder Bill Gates is one of the wealthiest people on Earth — founder of Microsoft, he revolutionized the way the world interacts with the internet, and he reinvented the ways in which everyday people communicate with each other and the larger world. Born in Seattle in 1955, from an early age Gates tinkered with the software that inevitably shaped Microsoft and his global influence. Gates attributes his fortune to the power of Microsoft but uses his wealth for good. He and his wife, Melinda Gates, have become major philanthropists. They founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated computers and pledged to improve human lives in underprivileged countries. With all his wealth, Bill Gates is wealthier than an African country …
Ethiopia GDP: $78.38 Billion
Ethiopia is the oldest independent nation in Africa and one of the longest-lived societies in the world, and it has a total GDP of $78.38 billion, shy of Gates’ worth. Ethiopia is a study in modern economic contrasts: It remains one of the poorest countries in the world, but on a promising note, the Ethiopian economy continues to grow.
Warren Buffett Net Worth: $84.1 Billion
Known as the world’s greatest investor, Buffett embraced his Midwestern values of humility and simplicity while simultaneously growing one of the most powerful companies in the world. Buffett is famous for his Berkshire Hathaway investment, which grew to $10.8 billion in earnings by 2012. Buffett’s wealth surpasses that of this east African nation …
Click to read how Warren Buffett lives a frugal life to keep his billionaire status.
Kenya GDP: $75.1 Billion
Kenya has a total GDP of $75.1 billion — about $5 million short of Buffett’s worth. Once a British colony of Eastern Africa, Kenya gained its independence from Britain in 1963 after years of rebellion and failed attempts to form a government. Kenya is a notably young country, with 31 percent of the population age 14 and below. The country boasts a particularly high literacy rate among those over the age of 15 — 78 percent. Kenya’s economic growth continues to be hampered by political corruption and environmental crises such as drought.
Bernard Arnault Net Worth: $72 Billion
French magnate Bernard Arnault is the CEO and chairman of LVMH, Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, the world’s top luxury product company. LVMF has 70 renowned companies across five different business sectors, comprised of wine and spirits, fashion and leather, perfume and cosmetics, watches and jewelry and selective retailing, according to its website. Some widely recognized companies under the LVMF umbrella include Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Sephora and Benefit Cosmetics. Arnault’s wealth surpasses that of this southeast Asian nation …
Myanmar GDP: $72.37 Billion
Myanmar, with a GDP totaling $72.37 billion, is just shy of Arnault’s worth. Formerly called Burma, the name was changed to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in 1989. Today, Myanmar remains a country of global scrutiny and controversy, as the Muslim Rohingya flee from religious genocide within the country, taking refuge in Pakistan. A military coup took control of the country in 2007, bringing with it its own economic agenda. Corporations around the world that have done business with the military junta continue to face onslaughts of reproach.
Mark Zuckerberg Net Worth: $71.1 Billion
Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth and young age make him one of the youngest and wealthiest people in the world, thanks to his creation, Facebook. Now a high-profile CEO, this Harvard dropout founded Facebook in 2004. Facebook reported 2.13 billion monthly active users as of Dec. 31, 2017. Zuckerberg’s wealth surpasses that of this Latin American country …
Guatemala GDP: $70.94 Billion
Guatemala, with an overall GDP of $70.94 billion, is just below the worth of Zuckerberg. Once one of the prosperous Mesoamerican homes of the Mayan civilization, Guatemala is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Guatemala’s economy continues to be impacted by political upheaval, and while the country has the dubious distinction of having one of the planet’s highest murder rates, its conviction rates for these crimes remains low. Economic growth in Central America’s most populous country continues to be hampered by an exorbitant rate of income inequality, with 59 percent of the population living below the poverty line.
Amancio Ortega Net Worth: $70.1 Billion
Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, founder of the clothing company Zara, frequently duels with the best of the best for a top spot as one of the richest people in the world.
Zara, one of eight distinct brands under the umbrella company Inditex, utilizes a powerful business model that revolves around stocking stores with less merchandise while updating its offerings frequently, providing customers with runway-style fashion that is ethically sourced and offered at affordable prices. This Spanish tycoon is wealthier than the eastern European country of …
Belarus GDP: $54.69 Billion
Belarus, which has a GDP equaling about $54.69 billion, is nearly $16 billion behind Ortega. For seven decades, Belarus was a republic of the USSR. In 1991, Belarus gained its independence, but it still upholds close relationships with Russia. Belarus’ complicated economy continues to grow slowly while facing steady inflation rates. Since 1995, the country’s market-socialist economy has worked to stabilize prices and currency exchange rates. In 2005, a number of the companies operating within the country have faced re-nationalization.
Carlos Slim Helú Net Worth: $67.8 Billion
Carlos Slim Helú is a Mexican businessman, a serial entrepreneur and humanitarian. Some of his most notable companies are Telmex and América Móvil, which made him one of the wealthiest people in the world. His entrepreneurial and charitable endeavors began at the age of 25, when he started the Foundations of Grupo Carso, which aids in improving quality of life, providing relief in natural disasters and promoting social justice. Helú’s business makes him wealthier than …
Libya GDP: $54.41 Billion
Libya, which has a total GDP of $54.41 billion, is worth less than Helú. Africa’s fourth-largest nation is covered primarily by the Libyan desert and borders the Mediterranean Sea. Libya has a history of civil unrest, even as recently 2011 spawning a civil war emanating from Muammar Gaddafi’s crackdowns. By mid-2011, Gaddafi’s regime was dismantled and a transitional government was put into place. Libya’s economy continues to rely upon oil production.
Larry Ellison Net Worth: $58.4 Billion
A child with humble beginnings, Lawrence Ellison went on to found the Oracle Corporation in 1977. Oracle is a global supplier of cloud computing for businesses of all sizes. Its cloud computing services are used by the top aerospace companies, airlines, banks and governments in the world. Ellison is wealthier than …
Bulgaria GDP: $52.29 Billion
Bulgaria, which has a GDP of $52.29 billion, is behind Ellison in worth but about $6 billion. Located in southeastern Europe, Bulgaria’s population is eight million, which is about the population of the state of Virginia. Bulgaria borders the Black Sea, a historically strategic and lucrative maritime asset. Since falling out of the Soviet Union’s political orbit, the country has shown steady economic growth under the direction of its democratically elected parliamentary government.
Find out how you can fly to Bulgaria on the cheap.
Charles and David Koch Net Worth: $60.2 Billion Each
If the net worths of Koch Brothers, Charles and David, were combined, they’d top the list of the world’s richest people. The Koch brothers are recognizable names in American politics. They notably use their wealth to influence political decisions and fund U.S. campaigns. Their fortune accrued thanks to the success of their energy corporation, Koch Industries, Inc., which converts petroleum into lighter oils and gasoline. They’ve funded and created think tanks, nonprofits and foundations to support their libertarian and conservative initiatives.The Koch brothers’ wealth easily surpasses that of the country of …
Click to find out how wealthy billionaires stay rich.
Slovenia GDP: $43.5 Billion
Slovenia is a small Balkan nation with a population of just over 2 million people and a total GDP of $43.5 billion. Slovenia became a republic of Yugoslavia following World War II but gained its independence in 1991.
Michael Bloomberg Net Worth: $50.6 Billion
Being the 108th mayor of New York City is not Michael Bloomberg’s only accomplishment. His entrepreneurial spirit and creation of Bloomberg LP remains the pinnacle of his financial success. Bloomberg LP spans 176 locations across the globe and employees over 19,000. Bloomberg uses his wealth to improve public health, combat climate change, innovate governments and technology, promote non-partisan advocacy and support the arts and education. Not only has Bloomberg governed more people than the total population of this country, but his wealth also greatly exceeds that of …
Lithuania GDP: $42.83 Billion
Lithuania, the largest of the three Baltic countries, has a total GDP of $42.83 billion and a population of 2.8 million people — compare that to New York City’s population of around 8.5 million. Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Republic in 1990 and joined NATO and the European Union in 2004.
Larry Page Net Worth: $48.8 Billion
Larry Page, along with his partner Sergey Brin, co-founded web search giant Google. Founded in 1998 in the duo’s garage, the company’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Page is Google’s CEO, and in 2004, when it became a public corporation, he promised — in a letter — to “have a strong commitment to our users worldwide, their communities, the websites in our network, our advertisers, our investors, and of course, our employees.” He elaborated, “[We] will do our best to make Google a long-term success and the world a better place.” Thanks to Google’s success, Page is wealthier than …
The Democratic Republic of the Congo GDP: $41.1 Billion
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has a total GDP of $41.1 billion, is worth less than the wealthier half of Google’s co-founder duo. The Congo is Africa’s second-largest nation, with 71.2 million people. It is one of the poorest countries in the world based on a GDP per capita of $800, ranking it 227 out of 229 countries, according to the CIA.
Click to find out what wealthy people do every single day.
Sergey Brin Net Worth: $47.5 Billion
Born in Moscow, Sergey Brin immigrated to the U.S. with his parents when he was six years old. Brin is the co-founder of Google and president of Alphabet, Inc. Brin and co-founder Page created Alphabet, Inc. as a conglomerate for all their business interests, including Google. Android, Chrome and YouTube, among others, fall under this umbrella. As a result, Google itself has slimmed down and Alphabet, Inc. has adopted more of the grunt work of the Page-Brin empire. Brin’s success has led him to be wealthier than …
Jordan GDP: $40.51 Billion
Jordan, which has a total GDP of $40.51 billion, is worth less than Brin. The Arabian Desert covers most of this small country. Jordan’s civilization stretches back to the before the Neolithic era. By the Bronze and Iron ages, it had developed powerful city-states and connections with neighboring societies.
Jim Walton Net Worth: $46.4 Billion
Jim Walton is the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Most of his wealth comes from his family’s stake in Walmart. He bolstered Walmart’s real estate division for four years before leaving to work in Walton Enterprises. He’s currently the chairman of the board and CEO of Arvest Bank Group, Inc. Walton’s total wealth rivals that of …
Bolivia GDP: $39.27 Billion
Bolivia, which has a total GDP of $39.27 billion, is worth less than just one of the Walmart heirs. Despite promising natural gas reserves, Bolivia remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, still in search of political stability and 21st-century economic development. The 1980s through the early 2000s have represented an economic roller coaster for the country, with a financial crisis dominating the 1980s and much needed economic reforms slashing the poverty rates in the 1990s. Controversy over the exportation of natural gas reserves continues to hold back Bolivia’s development.
S. Robson Walton Net Worth: $46.1 Billion
“Rob” Walton, another son of Walmart’s founder Sam Walton, has contributed extensively to the inner workings of Walmart, taking the meaning of a “family business” to new heights. Since 1969, Rob has served as senior vice president, corporate secretary, general counsel, vice chairman and chairman of the board of directors for Walmart, according to the company’s website. His reach extends to nonprofits and educational organizations like Conservation International and the College of Wooster. Rob Walton is wealthier than this country …
Azerbaijan GDP: $38.58 Billion
Azerbaijan, which has a GDP of $38.58 billion, also has incredibly high interest rates. It has seen notable economic growth due to a rise in oil exportation during 2006 and 2007. The country’s continued economic growth depends upon its ability to loosen Russian economic ties while managing its oil resources and selling them to a largely European market. Beyond this, the country has an ongoing effort to clean up political corruption and attract foreign investment into non-energy business endeavors.
Click to discover why Azerbaijan has one of the highest interest rates in the whole world.
Alice Walton Net Worth: $46 Billion
Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, is the heiress to the Walmart fortune. She is a board member of the Walton Family Foundation, a benefactor of the arts and an active philanthropist. Through the Walton Family Foundation, she founded the Crystal Briggs Museum of American Art, earning her accolades like the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Medal. Her individual Walmart wealth makes her wealthier than …
Cameroon GDP: $29.55 Billion
Cameroon, which has moderately-sized oil reserves that promise economic growth for this undeveloped sub-Saharan country, has a GDP lower than that of a single Walmart heiress. Its total GDP equals about $29.55 billion. Also a major exporter of cocoa, the country is subject to international market fluctuations affecting these two primary exports. International Monetary Fund and World Bank initiatives that have been in place since the 1990s continue to explore ways to further business development and budget transparency. The country also remains in need of major poverty reduction programs and business privatization interests.
Ma Huateng Net Worth: $45.5 Billion
Chinese entrepreneur Ma Huateng, is co-founder and CEO of Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Chinese internet provider established in 1998. The company’s goal is to improve human life through its internet services by allowing millions of people to communicate via the web with its platforms QQ Instant Messenger, Weixin and WeChat, QQ.com, QQ Games, Qzone and Tenpay. QQ Instant Messenger has 861 million monthly active users, and Tencent’s goal is to grow into the most respected Internet enterprise on the planet. Tencent has driven Huateng’s wealth to surpass that of …
El Salvador GDP: $27.55 Billion
El Salvador, with a GDP of $27.55 billion, falls short of Huateng’s worth. Its economy represents a promising work in progress with considerable economic contrasts and challenges. Geographically, it is the smallest country in Central America, yet its economy ranks fourth in the region. In 2001, the U.S. dollar became the nation’s official currency, complicating the country’s long-term independent economic future.
Mukesh Ambani Net Worth: $40.8 Billion
Mukesh Ambani’s wealth comes from his ownership of 40 percent of Reliance Industries, an oil and gas company based in India. The company was founded by Ambani’s late father, Dhirubhai Ambani, in 1966. Ambani is wealthier than …
Cambodia GDP: $20.96 Billion
Cambodia, which has a GDP of $20.96 billion, falls short of Ambani’s worth. Demographically, Cambodia is a young country, with about half of its population under 24 years old. Due to a thriving textile industry, the early 2000s saw an economic upturn and improved working conditions for garment production employees. Although Cambodia’s economic future remains challenging, international interest in mineral and gem mining provides another potential outlet for growth as interest in gold and iron reserves grows.
There’s no denying the immense power that comes with being a billionaire — power that many countries don’t even possess but greatly desire.
About the Author
Laurel Jacketti Funk is an entrepreneur and freelance writer originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania now living outside NYC. Laurel graduated at the top of her business class from the Pennsylvania State University, earning a B.S. in business administration, focusing on marketing and management.