The World’s Biggest Landowners

The World’s 15 Biggest Landowners (Business Insider, Mar, 18, 2011):

The world’s total land mass consists of 36.8 billion acres of inhabitable land.

An incredible 21 percent of this land is owned by a short list of landowners, according to The New Statesman.

Of course that includes the Queen of England, who nominally owns places like Canada and Australia. The list also includes American billionaires like Ted Turner and the Irving family.

#15 Ted Turner

Land: Acreage totaling over 2 million. In The United States, he owns thousands of square miles of hunting grounds in Georgia and Montana. He also has roughly 11,000 acres of land in the Patagonia region of Argentina.

Background: Turner, an iconic America entrepreneur founded the Turner Broadcasting System that launched CNN and several others before being sold to Time Warner for yet another Turner fortune. The eccentric Turner is an avowed outdoorsman and has acquired land to use in his passion for fishing and hunting.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#14 Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa of Qatar

Land: Basically… Qatar. The King owns the country and all 4,415 miles of it.
Background: Bin Khalifa has a been a modernizing voice and Western-friendly face in the Middle East since taking the throne in 1995.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#13 James, Arthur and John Irving

Land: The approximately 3.6 million acres of land held in Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia make the Irvings the largest landowners in those states and provinces.
Background: As heirs to the J.D. Irving Group of Companies fortune, the three Canadian brothers also inherited thousands of square miles of forest land that the company uses as paper and pulp materials in one part of their very diversified business portfolio.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#12 King Mswati of Swaziland

Land: All 6,704 square miles of Swaziland.
Background: One of the last “Absolute Monarchs” in the world, King Mswati quite literally owns all of his Southern African nation. There are no land titles or deeds as the national law dictates that the throne is the sole landowner.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#11 Emir of Kuwait

Land: 4.4 million of the roughly 7 million of acres that make up the nation of Kuwait.
Background: The Emir is an inheritor to the throne of Kuwait and has managed to hold onto the country, and his own land with periodic help from U.S. intervention. Part of the land that the Emir does not control is American military property that serves as the largest American base in the region.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#10 King Letsie 111 of Lesotho

Land: All 11,718 square miles of Lesotho, including the country’s diamond mines.
Background: King Letsie is his second stint as Lesotho’s monarch after being replaced by his exiled father and then being deposed upon his return, then taking the throne again after his old man’s death less than a year later. And while the monarchy in Lesotho is mostly ceremonial, Letsie retains legal title over the nation’s lands.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#9 King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan

Land: All 15,000 agriculturally lush and unique square miles of his Kingdom of Bhutan.
Background: The former student of Philips Andover Academy was coronated in 2008 and has been the force behind Bhutan nascent democratization.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#8 King Abdullah II of Jordan

Land: All 35,637 square miles of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, one of the very few members of both The Arab League and The World Trade Organization.
Background: The heir to his father, the wildly popular King Hussein, and onetime extra on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is one of The United States’ most loyal allies in the region and is currently facing his own realities of the upheavals throughout the Middle East.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#7 King Gyanendra of Nepal

Land: The 57,000 miles that make up Nepal, meaning that he also, technically owns Mount Everest.
Background: Despite the country’s move to a Maoist Republic political structure in the 1990’s, the royal family retains nominal ownership of all Nepal. Gyandera is a titular head of state but antithetically friendly with the socialist government.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#6 Sultan Qaboos of Oman

Land: The mostly desert nation of Oman, which also includes the ports along the Coast of Sur, a major point of entry for trade in the region. Also, that awesome chair.
Background: Qaboos is the ruler of Oman and the head of its military. He is a fairly Westernized leader in the context of his neighbors, even allowing women to serve in his cabinet, referred to as the “Diwan.”

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#5 King Bhumibhol of Thailand

Land: All, approximately, 128 million acres of Thailand including its tourist-friendly coast line and economically strong cities.
Background: Bhumibhol has been King since 1950, 11 years after the country changed its name from Siam to Thailand.

He is the longest serving monarch in Asia and so popular is he in Thailand that a rumor of decline to his health caused a shock to the nation’s financial markets in 2009.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

# 4 King Mohammed VI of Morocco

Land: The 175.6 million acres of Morocco, the historically key point of trading between Europe and Africa, which has retained a rather healthy economy throughout the turbulent 20th and early 21st Centuries.
Background: Mohammed is the first major proponent of democracy in the the history of a monarchy that dates back to the year 1036. His ownership of Morocco’s lands and his inherited fortune have led to estimates of his entire wealth being estimated at around $2 billion.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#3 Pope Benedict

Land: The 110 acres of The Holy See that constitute Vatican City. Also, roughly 177 million more acreage of various lands owned by the Catholic Church throughout the globe, including the hundreds of Vatican embassies that are legally titled to The Holy See as an independent nation.
Background: He’s The Pope…

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#2 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Land: Absolute royal control over the oil-rich 830,000 square miles of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a total GDP that was estimated at roughly $618 billion for last year.
Background: The heir to the throne of his father, King Fahd, Abdullah has continued his father’s dance of diplomacy with the U.S. over rights to Saudi oil. His recent dealings with a popular uprising at home have thrown oil prices into turmoil.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

#1 Queen Elizabeth II

Land: 6.6 billion acres of land worldwide including Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia and a few other spots here and there. Also, the all-important Falkland Islands.
Background: England’s third (and most likely soon to be second) longest serving monarch, Elizabeth II retains royal title over The British Commonwealth and as such manages to keep her face on money throughout the globe.

With her 6.6 billion acres, Elizabeth II is far and away the world’s largest landowner, with the closest runner-up (King Abdullah) holding control over a mere 547 million, or about 12% of the lands owned by Her Majesty, The Queen.

Acreage estimates provided by The New Statesman.

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