Meet the world's richest women

Walmart heiress heads the list

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Christy Walton, who inherited a chunk of the Walmart fortune after her husband's death in 2005, is the richest woman in the world, according to a Wealth-X list released this week.

The company, which researches the super-rich and their habits, estimates her net worth at US$37.9 billion, thanks to her share in the world's largest retail chain; Forbes has ranked her the world's richest woman for seven years running.

Taking second place on the list is Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of the French cosmetic giant L'Oreal. She has a personal fortune of US$31.3 billion - we're sure she's worth it - earning her the title of richest woman in Europe. She's come a long way, first joing her father's business as a 15-year-old apprentice, mixing cosmetics and labelling bottles of shampoo.

Bettencourt is not only Europe's richest woman - she's also the oldest female billionaire on the list at 92. The youngest is 33-year-old Yang Huiyan, whose father Yang Guoquiang transferred 70% of his shares in Country Garden Group, a Chinese real estate development firm, to her before the company's 2007 IPO.

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The three richest women in South America are sisters Vanessa Paola Slim Hajj, Maria Soumaya Slim de Romero, and Johanna Slim Ayub - the three daughters of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Along with their brothers, they have done nicely out of an asset transfer that Slim reportedly began in 2003. Each of the three sisters is estimated to be worth US$6.3 billion.

Mining heiress Gina Reinhart of Australia heads the list in the Pacific, with an estimated net worth of $14.8 billion.

In the Middle East, businesswoman Shari Arison of Israel has a reported net worth of $4.2 billion, while Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria has an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion, making her Africa's richest woman.

Collectively, the women on the Wealth-X list control US$114.6 billion of personal wealth.

Altogether, says Wealth-X, there are 286 female billionaires - though women form only 12.3% of the total global billionaire population of 2,325.

Their average age is 61 years old, and between them they control 12.8% of the world's total billionaire wealth of US$7.3 trillion.

Estimated Net Worth Name Region

$37.9 billion Christy Walton North America

$31.3 billion Liliane Bettencourt Europe

$ 14.8 billion Gina Reinhart Pacific

$6.3 billion each Vanessa Paola Slim Latin America
HajjMaria Soumaya Slim de Romero
Johanna Monique Slim Ayub

$6.3billion Yang Huiyan Asia

$4.2 billion Shari Arison Middle East

$1.2 billion Folorunsho Alakija Africa

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