Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim has topped Forbes magazine's billionaire list - the first time since 1994 that an American has not been ranked first.

Mr Slim's fortune rose by $18.5 billion last year to more than $53 billion. That beat Microsoft founder Bill Gates, also at $53 billion, into second place. US investor Warren Buffett is in third place with a fortune of $43 billion.

Last year, 332 names left the list, but the total number of billionaires on this year's list rose from 793 to 1,011. And in a sign that the global economy could be seeing signs of improvement, the average net worth of the world's richest is now $3.5 billion, up $500m from last year.

There are two Indians in the top five, and the European business people who top the list are in luxury goods and retail.

The top 20 are:
1. Carlos Slim Helu and family. Mexico. Telecoms. $53.5 billion

2. Bill Gates. US. Microsoft. $53 billion

3. Warren Buffett. US. Berkshire Hathaway. $47 billion

4. Mukesh Ambani. India. Oil, gas. $29 billion

5. Lakshmi Mittal. India. Steel. $28.7 billion

6. Lawrence Ellison. US. Oracle. $28 billion

7. Bernard Arnault. France. LVMH luxury goods. $27.5 billion

8. Eike Batista. Brazil. Mining, oil. $27 billion

9. Amancio Ortega. Spain. Clothing retail. $25 billion

10. Karl Albrecht. Germany. Supermarkets. $23.5 billion

11. Ingvar Kamprad and family. Sweden. Ikea. $23 billion

12. Christy Walton and family. US. Walmart. $22.5 billion

13. Stefan Persson. Sweden. Hennes and Mauritz. $22.4 billion

14. Li Ka-shing. Hong Kong. Diversified. $21 billion

15. Jim Walton. US. Walmart. $20.7 billion

16. Alice Walton. US. Walmart. $20.6 billion

17. Liliane Bettencourt. France. L'Oreal. $20 billion

18. S. Robson Walton. Walmart. $19.8 billion

19. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud. Saudi Arabia. Investments. $19.4 billion

20. David Thomson and family. Canada. Inheritance. $19 billion