Number of billionaires surges
Bill Gates remains top billionaire, self-made women are few and Wal-Mart makes five people smile.

NEW YORK ( - The number of billionaires surged this year, as did their collective pile of cash, according to Forbes magazine's annual billionaire list.

The magazine said the number of billionaires worldwide increased by 102 people in 2006 to 793, a record number, largely due to bullish global stock markets. Their total net worth jumped 18 percent to $2.6 trillion.

Bill Gates tops Forbes' billionaire list, yet again.
Bill Gates tops Forbes' billionaire list, yet again.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is still the world's richest man, the magazine said, marking his twelfth consecutive year in the No. 1 spot.

Famed investor Warren Buffett again takes second place, and this year the gap between the two moguls is even wider, the magazine said.

Three new people moved into the top 10: France's Bernard Arnault at No. 7, Canada's Kenneth Thomson and family, ranked ninth, and Hong Kong's Li Ka-Shing in the No. 10 spot.

With 371, the U.S. is the country with the most billionaires, followed by Germany with 55, the magazine reported.

The total worth of all U.S. billionaires combined is $1.1 trillion, while Europe's combined billionaire worth is $802 billion, it said.

New York seemed to be the hot spot for the super rich, attracting 40 billionaires, followed by Moscow with 25 and London with 23, according to the magazine.

Over half the billionaires on the list are self-made, and 78 are women. But only six of the female billionaires were self-made.

The youngest on the list was 22-year old Hind Hariri, the daughter of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the magazine said.

People in spots 17 to 21 on the list derived their fortune from the same source: Wal-Mart. Top of page

Forbes' top billionaires
Rank Name Nation US state Worth (billions) Industry/Company Age
1 William Gates III United States Washington 50.0 Microsoft 50
2 Warren Buffett United States Nebraska 42.0 Berkshire Hathaway 75
3 Carlos Slim Helu Mexico   30.0 telecom 66
4 Ingvar Kamprad Sweden   28.0 Ikea 79
5 Lakshmi Mittal India   23.5 steel 55
6 Paul Allen United States Washington 22.0 Microsoft, investments 53
7 Bernard Arnault France   21.5 LVMH 57
8 Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud Saudi Arabia   20.0 investments 49
9 Kenneth Thomson & family Canada   19.6 publishing 82
10 Li Ka-shing Hong Kong   18.8 diversified 77
11 Roman Abramovich Russia   18.2 oil 39
12 Michael Dell United States Texas 17.1 Dell 41
13 Karl Albrecht Germany   17.0 supermarkets 86
14 Sheldon Adelson United States Nevada 16.1 casinos, hotels 72
15 Liliane Bettencourt France   16.0 L'Oreal 83
15 Lawrence Ellison United States California 16.0 Oracle 61
17 Christy Walton United States Wyoming 15.9 Wal-Mart inheritance 51
17 Jim Walton United States Arkansas 15.9 Wal-Mart 58
19 S Robson Walton United States Arkansas 15.8 Wal-Mart 62
20 Alice Walton United States Texas 15.7 Wal-Mart 56
21 Helen Walton United States Arkansas 15.6 Wal-Mart 86
22 Theo Albrecht Germany   15.2 supermarkets 83
23 Amancio Ortega Spain   14.8 Zara 70
24 Steven Ballmer United States Washington 13.6 Microsoft 50
25 Azim Premji India   13.3 software 60

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