Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has topped the Forbes magazine list of the world's richest billionaires.
The list, released on Wednesday, valued Slim's fortune at $53.5 billion, $500 million ahead of long-time list topper Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. Legendary investor Warren Buffet was third with $47 billion.
Like most of the other billionaires, the top three saw their fortunes rise in 2009, a sign of the improvement of the world economy, said Forbes.
Overall, the 10 richest people had $342 billion, or $88 billion more than last year.
The number of billionaires also increased to 1,011. That's much higher than the 793 super-rich who made in onto the list last year, but lower than the record number of 1,125 in 2008.
The world's richest woman, according to Forbes, was Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton, whose $22.5-billion fortune put her in twelfth place. Only 89 women made it in to the billionaires club, and most inherited their wealth. Of the 14 self-made female billionaires, seven came from China.
The 24th Forbes list included people from 55 countries, with first entries from Finland and Pakistan.
The US led the list with 403 billionaires. But China came second for the first time with 64 super-rich, followed by Russia with 62 billionaires. Of the world's 97 new billionaires, 62 were from Asia.
Two Indians made it to the top 10 - oil magnate Mukesh Ambani in fourth with $29 billion and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal in fifth with $28.7 billion. The other members of the top 10 were Oracle founder Larry Ellison, ($28 billion), fashion tycoon Bernard Arnault ($27.5 billion), Brazilian commodities king Eike Batista ($27 billion), Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega ($25 billion) and German supermarket tycoon Karl Albrecht ($23.5 billion).
The city with the greatest billionaire density was New York with 60 super-rich, followed by Moscow (50) and London (32).