More Wealthy People in Asia Than Europe, Says New Report

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Asia can now claim more millionaires than all of Europe combined, and the rapidly climbing number wealthy people in places like China is closing the gap with North America's number of millionaires and billionaires, according to the latest annual Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report.

Altogether, the number of millionaires and billionaires in the world was up 8.3 percent from 2009 to a total wealth of $42.7 trillion in the hands of the richest people in the world in 2010.

Although the average yearly income in many Asian economies is still very low -- in China it is still only $3,600 -- the number of high net worth individuals (HNWI) in the Asia-Pacific region expanded 9.7 percent to 3.3 million.

In Europe, there are 3.1 million HWNI's. North America still leads the pack of millionaires and billionaires with 3.4 million, but our growth rate is significantly lower than Asia's.

Along with those rising numbers of wealthy people comes a rising number of millionaires spending those millions.

"China's rich people have become what they are now only in the past 10 to 15 years," Chinese demolition tycoon and philanthropist Chen Guangiao, told ABC News last year.

Check out this slideshow of Chinese billionaires.

"The thing that's unusual is that 30 years ago, there really weren't people of great wealth, so what you have is first-generation fortunes," billionaire Bill Gates said at a news conference in Shanghai last September.

One of the ultimate symbols of success is a private executive jet. Not surprisingly, sales are taking off in Asia, especially in China.

The new rich "need some luxury products to validate themselves," Wang Honghao, editor in chief of the Chinese automotive magazine Trends Car, told the Associated Press. "Whether it's luxury cars or luxury luggage, or perfume, clothes, accessories, it's all the same."

Rich Chinese are already known for spending lavish sums of money on flashy apartments, designer labels such as Louis Vuitton and high-end cars such as Porsches and Rolls-Royces.

A $1.4 billion yacht port is currently under production in the Chinese city of Tianjin. The port, to become the largest in China at its completion, will hold 750 berths to accommodate luxury yachts up to 295 feet long.

However, the United States remains the world's largest yacht market with 17 million privately owned recreational boats, but that may change if the current trends in the movement of the world's wealth continue.

How would you spend your money if you were a "high net worth individual"? Let us know on the World News with Diane Sawyer Facebook page!

Akiko Fujita, Clarissa Ward and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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