Forbes magazine's 25th year of tracking global wealth was one to remember. The 2011 Billionaires List broke two records: total number listed (1,210) and combined wealth ($4.5 trillion). Brazil, Russia, India and China produced 108 of the 214 new names. These four nations are home to one in four members, up from one in 10 five years ago. Before this year only the U.S. had ever produced more than 100 billionaires. China now has 115 and Russia 101.
Atop the heap is Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu, who added $20.5 billion to his fortune, more than any other billionaire. The telecom mogul, who gets 62 percent of his fortune from America Movil, is now worth $74 billion and has pulled far ahead of his two closest rivals. Bill Gates, No. 2, and Warren Buffett, No. 3, both added a more modest $3 billion to their piles and are now worth $56 billion and $50 billion, respectively.
While nearly all emerging markets showed solid gains, wealth creation is moving at an especially breakneck speed in Asia-Pacific. The region now has a record 332 billionaires, up from 234 a year ago and 130 at the depth of the financial crisis in 2009.
One in three billionaires is an American, down from nearly one out of two a decade ago. It has 10 more than last year but 56 fewer than its 2008 peak.