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Where the World's Millionaires Live

Staff Reporter 6/02/2013 | |
The rich are getting a lot richer, according to a report just released by The Boston Consulting Group. The report, “Maintaining Momentum in a Complex World: Global Wealth 2013,” shows that global household wealth grew by 7.8 percent in 2012, to $135.5 trillion. That's a big jump from 2011, when it rose 3.6 percent in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Behind the rise was a strong rebound in world equity markets, which contributed more than usual to the rise in private wealth and increased rates of saving. The greatest growth was in the Asia-Pacific region (ex-Japan), where private wealth rose 13.8 percent in 2012, to $28 trillion. After Asia, wealth in Latin America grew 10.5 percent, to $3.9 trillion. The Middle East and Africa rose 9.1 percent, to $4.8 trillion. Growth was less spectacular in Western Europe (5.2 percent, to $35.8 trillion) and North America (7.8 percent, to $43 trillion).

Here are snapshots of the top 15 countries for millionaires, ranked by households with a million dollars or more in assets as a percentage of all households in the country.

15. The Netherlands
Herengracht Canal (Greg Gibb)Population: 16.8 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 2.6%

The recession continues in the Netherlands. Tax revenue fell nearly 9 percent in 2012 and the budget deficit grew. Still, there were plenty of millionaires last year, with 191,000 millionaire households, according to The Boston Consulting Group. The trade surplus and the country’s role as a European transportation hub helped keep many of them afloat. The richest Dutch citizen, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is beer heiress Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, who oversees a fortune of more than $10 billion.

14. Japan
Bank of Japan head office in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)Population: 127.3 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 2.6%

In 2012, Japan was the fourth-largest national economy in the world, based on purchasing power parity, after the U.S., China and India. The country’s new government is focused on “Abenomics,” after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- restructuring the economy and reducing the government debt, which exceeds 200 percent of gross domestic product. All this gave stocks a lift in 2012 and into 2013, though stocks entered a correction with the Tokyo Price Stock Index falling 11 percent between May 22 and May 30. Still, the Index is up over 31 percent this year alone, through May 30. Tough economic circumstances have taken a toll: The number of millionaire households fell to 1.46 million last year, from 1.58 million in 2011, according to The Boston Consulting Group. Japan's richest person is Tadashi Yanai, founder of clothing retailer Uniqlo, who is worth $19 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

13. Canada  
(Thinkstock)Population: 34.5 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 2.8%

Canada thrives off its neighbor to the south. It's the U.S.’s largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, uranium and electric power. When the financial crisis hit, Canadian banks were among the least-affected; when the banking system came out of crisis, Canada's banks were among the strongest in the world. The country had 373,000 millionaire households in 2012. Its wealthiest citizen is David Thomson, patriarch of Canada’s wealthiest family. He controls a 55 percent stake in Thomson Reuters and is worth $25.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

12. Belgium  
Guilhalls in Gildekamersstraat (Jorg Greuel)Population: 10.4 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 3.2%

Investors often worry that Belgium is highly vulnerable to the spillover from the euro zone crisis. They have good reason: Public debt hovers around 100 percent of gross domestic product. The economy isn’t doing that well, either: In May, the International Monetary Fund noted that Belgium faces close to zero growth in 2013 and that the country needs to step up exports. There were 149,000 millionaire households here in 2012. Belgium's richest citizen is Albert Baron Frère, owner of the closely held conglomerate Compagnie Nationale a Portefeuille, whose diversified holdings stretch from oil to media.

11. Oman
Muscat, Oman (RRR/Getty Images)Population: 3.1 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 3.3%

The sultanate of Oman had 17,000 households worth more than $1 million in 2012. With oil reserves declining, it may be difficult for those millionaires to hang on to their wealth. So far, oil surpluses have allowed the government to maintain growth in social subsidies and in public sector jobs, although the sultan has said this isn't sustainable. The monarch of Oman, Qaboos bin Said al Said, and his family are believed to be the nation's richest individuals.

10. Israel
(Thinkstock)Population: 7.7 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 3.8%

Israel had about 84,000 millionaire households in 2012, and there are plenty of thriving businesses here to keep them afloat, from booming technology companies to exploiters of natural gas fields. The country is also a big exporter of diamonds and agricultural products. The Israeli economy has been going strong, though there are signs that things are changing. Many Israelis believe the cost of living needs to come down and are unhappy that the government plans to raise taxes. That may be one reason why Idan Ofer, considered the wealthiest person in Israel (though his brother, Eyal, is believed to be equally wealthy) is moving to the U.K., which is tax-friendly to wealthy foreigners. The two brothers inherited their father's shipping fortune and art collection following Sammy Ofer's death in June 2011.

9. United Arab Emirates    
Luxury Apartments fill the sky in Dubai Marina (Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images)Population: 5.47 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 4.0%

Of the Gulf state's seven members, no emirate was hit harder by global financial turmoil than Dubai, the financial and transport hub of the Middle East. It was on the brink of default in 2009 because of its heavy exposure to the imploding real estate market. Central bank intervention helped Dubai survive. The country counted 60,000 millionaire households last year, according to The Boston Consulting Group's recent report. Among the richest inhabitants are members of the al Ghurair family, who, through their namesake group, hold stakes in banking, malls and manufacturing.

8. Taiwan  
Taipei (Rob Koenen/Getty Images)Population: 23.3 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 4%

Taiwan was home to 312,000 millionaire households in 2012. The island, whose economy relies heavily on the export of electronics, machinery and petrochemicals, has largely recovered from the recession even though its GDP rose by just 1.3 percent in 2012. The richest Taiwanese citizen is Tsai Wan-Tsai, who owns publicly listed Fubon Financial Holding.



7. Bahrain

Bahrain World Trade Center (Gulfimages)Population: 1.28 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 4.9%

After economic setbacks over the past two years, Bahrain’s economy is beginning to recover. While there is still tension between Bahrain's Shiite majority and the wealthier Sunni governing elite, the Formula One race took place again this year after it was canceled in 2011. Cruise lines that had suspended service because of political turmoil are considering returning to the island kingdom. Bahrain had 11,000 millionaire households in 2012. The country's richest inhabitants are the royal family, headed by King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa.

6. United States    
Empire State Building (AP Photo/Richard Drew)Population: 316.6 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 4.9%

The U.S. counted the greatest number of millionaire households in 2012: 5.87 million, up from 5.1 million in 2011. In December 2012, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would prop up the economy by purchasing $85 billion per month of mortgage-backed and Treasury securities to hold down long-term interest rates and keep short-term rates near zero. America's -- and the world's -- richest person is Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, with a current fortune of about $72.5 billion, up from $60 billion in May 2012.

5. Singapore    
Infinity pool at the SkyPark atop Marina Bay Sands in Singapore (Sam Kang Li/Bloomberg)Population: 5.46 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 8.2%

The small city-state of Singapore counted 98,000 millionaire households in 2012, a significant number for a country with a population of just over 5 million. Singapore, perhaps not too differently from the U.S., may be a little obsessed with millionaires; at Changi airport, the “Be a Changi Millionaire” promotion has taken place every year since 2010. Go there to shop and you may win a prize of S$1 million (about $791,000). Much of the wealth generated in Singapore comes from the country's role as one of the largest centers for offshore banking and its growing prominence as a high-tech hub.

4. Hong Kong  
Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)Population: 7.2 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 9.4%

This former British colony is, along with Singapore, one of East Asia's international hubs for finance, trade, real estate and transportation. Hong Kong's economic growth slowed to less than 2 percent in 2012 after growing 5 percent in 2011. Inflation rose by 4.1 percent. Even so, Hong Kong is home to the largest number of billionaires, as well as 231,000 millionaire households. Hong Kong's -- and Asia's -- wealthiest person is Li Ka-Shing, who is worth almost $28 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He oversees the diversified conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and real estate company Cheung Kong Holdings.

3. Kuwait  
Stock Exchange in Kuwait City (Laura Boushnak/Getty Images)Population: 2.7 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 11.5%

Kuwait holds about 7 percent of world oil reserves, and oil exports account for about 95 percent of export revenue. The government announced in 2010 that it would spend $130 billion over the next five years to move the economy away from oil dependency and diversify its private sector. At the same time, the country has budgeted for an increase in revenue of 20 percent, which has led to higher expenditures such as wage hikes for public sector employees. Kuwait was home to 63,000 millionaire households in 2012. Among the richest in Kuwait are the Alghanim and al Kharafi families.

2. Switzerland    
Tim Macpherson/Getty ImagesPopulation: 8 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 11.6%

The European fiscal crisis is affecting the Alpine nation: GDP growth slowed to 0.8 percent in 2012, from 1.9 percent in 2011. Switzerland also faces pressure from the European Union and the U.S. to reform its banking secrecy laws, and the Swiss government is considering imposing taxes on bank deposits held by foreigners. There were 395,000 millionaire households here last year. Switzerland's richest person, with a fortune valued at $14.6 billion, is Italian-born Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, who owns the Alinghi sailing team and has interests in real estate and hedge funds (Kedge Capital) and health care (Ares Life Sciences).

1. Qatar  
The Villagio Mall, Doha, Qatar (Aurore Belkin/Getty Images)Population: 2 million
Percentage of millionaire households: 14.3%

Oil and gas account for more than 50 percent of GDP and have given Qatar the world’s highest per capita income and made it the country with the lowest unemployment. Qatar is opening a new airport this year, with an annual passenger capacity of 24 million, and will host soccer's FIFA World Cup in 2022 -- events that will help accelerate infrastructure projects such as the metro system. There were 50,000 millionaire households here in 2012, according to The Boston Consulting Group. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, Qatar's ruler, is its richest inhabitant.

Source: Bloomberg

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