There are lots of ways to make money. Some people go to college, get an education, intern while in college, and get hired by the companies they’ve interned with. Some people come up with a great idea, get a patent for the idea, develop a product around the idea, promote the product and make a fortune. Some people have a dream of being a creative professional like an actor, singer or model, and wait tables until they are discovered.
Then there are people who own land. When you really think about it, this is a great way to make a profit if you do it right. After all, when someone wants to open a company, school or restaurant, they need land. When a family wants to have a customized home built, they need land. It’s always smart to go into business selling a product that the public can’t do without.
There’s a good chance you’ve probably never heard of the people who own land. They don’t often hold press releases or make sure they’re seen on the red carpet. That’s because they’re too busy making billions of dollars to seek attention from the masses. According to Business Insider, there are 36.8 billion acres of land to be inhabited, and 21 percent of these acres are owned by just a few people. Here are 12 of the biggest land owners in the world.
12. The Hughes Family
The Hughes family business, officially named Dan A. Hughes Co., is an oil and gas exploration and production company. The family owns 390,000 acres of land. In the 1960s, the Hughes family realized the value of land and started investing in it. They purchased land in Texas, mainly for recreational purposes, and used the acres for cattle ranching and commercial hunting. In 2014, the Hughes family increased their holdings by 17,000 acres. Dan A. Hughes has, despite his wealth and success, gotten some negative attention from environmentalists who are opposed to oil drilling, and has recently asserted that his company uses environmentally safe methods and will no longer be a presence in Naples, Florida, where the company was doing business.
11. The Wilks Brothers
The Wilks Brothers made the cut as the top 25 land owners in the United States recently. They are the biggest land owners in the entire state of Montana, and have increased their fortune by purchasing 36,000 acres of land in Idaho. The two brothers are known for being in the oil business, and made a fortune when they sold their oil fracking company. There were reports that their acquisition of land was for gas and oil exploration, but the Wilks Brothers have denied this. They have stated that they plan to use the land they’ve purchased for ranching purposes.
10. The Nunley Brothers
Richard and Bob Nunley are the owners of Nunley Brothers, a lucrative cattle company that was started by their father and grandfather in the early 1970s, when Bob and Richard were just teenagers. The siblings’ grandfather partnered with Dolph Briscoe, Jr. (who belongs to another family of wealthy land owners), and Bob and Richard took over the company in the 1990s. The Nunley family currently owns 301,500 acres of land, primarily used to raise quality cattle. The ranching business has been in the family for more than 7 decades, and the Nunley Brothers specialize in raising cattle of the Santa Gertrudis breed. The family owns holdings in New Mexico and Texas.
9. Jeff Bezos
If you’ve ever searched online for affordable baby supplies, electronics or books by your favorite author, you’ve likely visited the Amazon website. Amazon.com has revolutionized the way people shop online, and you may even be able to find items on the website that are no longer sold in stores. Jeff Bezos is the owner of Amazon, and is known for his business savvy. Bezos is also a land owner. He owns a ranch in Texas that is 290,000 acres, and made the purchase in 2004. The land is used by Blue Origin to test vehicles that could go into space. Blue Origin is also Jeff Bezos’ aerospace firm.
8. King Abdullah II of Jordan
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is 35, 637 miles, and King Abdullah II owns all of it. The country has the distinction of being one of the few members of both the World Trade Organization and The Arab League. King Abdullah took the throne after it was passed down to him from his father, King Hussein. King Hussein was popular both in his country and in Hollywood, and was an extra in the movie Star Trek: The Next Generation. King Abdullah II is also known for being one of the United States’ strongest allies from the Jordan region and is currently trying to face the realities of unrest in the Middle East while trying to rule as peacefully as possible.
7. King Letsie 111 of Lesotho
King Letsie is Lesotho’s reigning king, and succeeded his father in power. He owns all 11,718 miles that make up Lesotho. This is actually his second stint as king. His father was previously exiled, and upon his return to the country, King Letsie was deposed of his position. Less than a year after this, King Letsie’s father passed away, and he was again crowned king of the country. In Lesotho, the crowning of the king is most ceremonial. However, King Letsie is the rightful owner of the country’s land because of his position. He is currently married to Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso, and has five children.
6. Emir of Kuwait
The Emir of Kuwait is the owner of 4.4 million of the (roughly) 7 million acres that make up the country of Kuwait. The current Emir, whose name is Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, is the inheritor of Kuwait’s throne, and has achieved the difficult task of maintaining the country’s land with occasional assistance from the United States. One of the parts of land that the Emir does not control is the land on which the American military base is built. The American base is one of the largest in this part of the world. The current Emir is known for his willingness to meet with world leaders in an effort to end terrorism.
5. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar
For the most part, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa owns Qatar (all 4,415 miles of the country). He was the king of the country, and took the throne in 1995, before making his son the new king in 2013. Sheikh Khalifa is known for his modern take on government and international interactions, and has had favorable relationships with the West since taking the throne. He is part of the royal House of Thani, and when he was born in 1952, he was already wealthy because he was born into royalty. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar is also credited with making Qatar the richest country in the world, which is pretty impressive.
4. Ted Turner
If you live in or near the Atlanta area, you likely know the name Ted Turner well. Turner owns more than 2,000,000 acres of land. He got the inspiration to start acquiring land during a 1995 visit to Yellowstone National Park, and two years later, he launched the Turner Endangered Species Fund to help endangered species survive and to bring more awareness to the benefit of owning private land. He’s provided a safe home for plants, mammals, fish, birds and amphibians, and continues to educate other landowners about preserving animal and plant species. He’s also the Ted Turner behind Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) and that baseball stadium where the Atlanta Braves play is named Turner Field.
3. King Mswati of Swaziland
King Mswati is the current reigning king of Swaziland, and he is the head of the Swazi Royal Family. He owns all 6,704 miles of the country. He is credited as being one of the last absolute monarchs in the entire world, and King Mswati legally owns the country, because there are no titles or deeds to say otherwise. In Swaziland, whoever is on the throne owns the land. Swazliland is located between South Africa and Mozambique. King Mswati is the second son out of his father King Sobhuza II’s 67 sons, and the only child of his mother, Queen Ntombi Tfwala.
2. The Irving Brothers
Brothers James, Arthur and John Irving have been called the most powerful family in New Brunswick. They own nearly 4 million acres of land in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine, and are the largest land owners in those areas. The brothers are heirs of the J.D. Irving empire, and are Canadian natives. The siblings also inherited thousands of square miles of land in the forest. The J.D. Irving company utilizes this land to make paper and pulp materials, and that’s just one part of the family’s very diversified financial portfolio. James is in charge of J.D. Irving, Arthur is in charge of Irving Oil and John is in charge of construction, engineering and steel fabrication for the family business.
1. The Reed Family
Number one on this list is the Reed family. They are the largest land owners with 1.4 million acres of land. Now, they didn’t purchase all this land at once. It took years to accumulate this amount of acres, in fact it took generations to get this amount of land. They have been purchasing land since the late 1800’s. The land was mainly purchased over the years to grow their lumber empire in the Northwest. In 2014 came their largest purchase of 600,000 acres of prime timberland in Oregon. This was one of the largest land purchases in the U.S since John Malone, who purchased 1 million acres in Maine in 2011.