- Nearly a quarter of world’s billionaires are women, with combined wealth of $930 billion
- Wealth-X has compiled a list of the wealthiest women in each region
- Topping the list in North America — and globally — is Christy Walton worth $37.9 billion
Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time — remarkable professionals who have made it to the top in all areas of business, the arts, sport, culture, science and more.
(CNN)There are 2,325 billionaires in the world, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014, and just over 12% of them are women.
With a combined wealth of $930 billion, the world’s richest females are making their mark on the global economy — and their fortunes are only expected to improve in 2015.
Of the 286 female billionaires identified, only 17% have self-made fortunes.
The U.S. is currently home to the highest number of self-made female billionaires — but future billionaires creating their own fortunes are predicted to come primarily from emerging markets.
These wealthy women have an average age of 61 years and over 65% of them inherited their wealth from multinational corporations, including retail store Walmart and cosmetics giant L’Oreal.
Below, CNN reveals reveals the women at the pinnacle of the rich list in each of the world’s regions.
The wealthiest woman in North America is Christy Walton. As the widow of John Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, Christy Walton inherited a portion of the retail fortune following her husband’s death in 2005. With an estimated worth of $37.9 billion she is the world’s richest woman.
In recent years, Walton has stepped into the world of film production, bankrolling 2013 movie “Bless Me, Ultima,” based on the controversial novel by Rudolfo Anaya.
Globally, the U.S. is the country with the highest number of billionaire residents — both male and female. It boasts 609 of the world’s richest people.
The oldest female on the list is L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who turned 92 last year.
Aged just 15, Bettencourt joined her father’s cosmetics company as an apprentice and today her $31.3 billion fortune makes her the richest woman in Europe, and the second richest female in the world.
Europe is home to more billionaires than any other region, with 775 of the world’s monied elite living there.
Australasia’s wealthiest woman is mining heiress Gina Rinehart. Described byForbes as the “queen of the global iron-ore trade,” the 60-year-old controlsHancock Prospecting and is worth an estimated $14.8 billion.
Rinehart has now expanded her portfolio beyond mining with significant shares in Australian media organizations Fairfax Media and Ten Network Holdings.
Vanessa, Maria and Johanna Slim are daughters of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and are the richest women in South America.
The sisters have reportedly been receiving increments of their father’s fortune since 2003 and today are thought to individually have a worth of $6.3 billion, giving them a combined total of almost $19 billion.
The sisters have been active in their father’s philanthropy foundations, but not the family business, according to Institutional Investor.
At 33-years-old, Yang Huiyan is the youngest female on the list as well as being the richest woman in Asia. Having reportedly received 70% of the shares for Chinese real estate firm Country Garden from her father in 2007, Huiyan is now worth an estimated $6.3 billion.
Yang is vice chairman of the board’s governance committee and helped raise $410 million selling new shares last year, according to Forbes.
U.S.-born Israeli Shari Arison is the wealthiest woman in the Middle East after inheriting a fortune from father Ted Arison, founder of the Carnival Corporation cruise company. She now owns Arison investments, the controlling shareholder of Israeli bank Hapoalim.
Arison has also invested in water company Miya, which aims to maximize the efficiency of water distribution in urban areas.
Forty of the world’s billionaires live in Africa. The richest woman on the continent is Nigerian oil, fashion, and printing tycoon Folorunsho Alakija.
The self-made billionaire, whose entrepreneurial career started tailoring, now owns Famfa Oil and is worth an estimated $1.2 billion.