The project

There’s one billionaire at the moment who’s been monopolising the news as part of his bid for the US presidency so we decided to look at the climate of the ultra-rich over the last 20 years, and some of the results are surprising.

Since 1996, the number of billionaires has more than quadrupled. Apart from the obvious increase, there are other interesting changes in the demographic of billionaires that act as indicators for the global financial situation.

In 1996, China had no billionaires. In 2016, they have the second largest number of billionaires in the world. With the majority making their money through founding technology companies, real estate and resources, they’ve shot ahead of other countries with a total of 213 billionaires.

Perhaps it’s not particularly surprising that China now has such a high number of billionaires: the advanced nature of its markets and the large population mean that it’s more than likely to have a higher number than other smaller countries. To account for this, we looked at wealth per capita (number of billionaires per million people) and it gave some unexpected insights. Well out in front was Hong Kong with 7.7 billionaires per capita followed by Cyprus with 4.4. With a relatively small population of less than 2 million, this is a staggering proportion of billionaires in Cyprus.

Explore the graphic for yourself below to find out more about where they live, how they got rich and how the Billionaires club has changed over the last 20 years.