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The global super-rich became even wealthier over the past 12 months, with figures from the latest Forbes billionaires list revealing that the total net wealth of the 2,043-strong members of the elite club rose to $7.7tn in 2017.

In 2016, there were 1,810 billionaires worth a total of $6.5tn, with an average wealth of $3.6bn. The 2017 list are richer, Forbes revealed, with the average billionaire now worth $3.8bn.

Bill Gates tops the list for the fourth consecutive year with an estimated $86bn fortune – an increase of $11bn since last year.

Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, the online retailer, is the fastest gainer. His wealth increased by $27.6bn over the year to a total net wealth of $72.8bn.

Two hundred and twenty-seven women make the 2017 list, up from 202 a year earlier. Zhou Qunfei, founder of Lens Technology, the touchscreen manufacturer, is the wealthiest self-made woman, and Alexandra Andresen, 20, and her sister Katharina Andresen, 21, from Norway, are the youngest on the list, both worth $1.2bn.

The US has the most billionaires, with its 565 topping Europe’s 530. China individually now has 319, and the Asia-Pacific region can now claim to be home to the most super-rich, with 720 billionaires in total.

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