To give bank investors context, I sometimes refer in articles to the "biggest banks in the world."

What are these, you ask?

Instead of listing them each time they come up, I've created the slideshow below to answer this question.

The most striking thing I always come back to when thinking about the biggest banks in the world, is that more U.S.-based lenders don't rank at the top of the heap.

Only JPMorgan Chase, the biggest bank in America, makes the cut. And it ranks fifth!

The top of the list is dominated instead by three mega Chinese banks: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and Agricultural Bank of China.

Collectively, these bank, together with the Bank of China, which places seventh among the world's biggest banks, have more than $12 trillion in assets on their balance sheets.

It's a staggering amount when you consider that China's gross domestic product was only $10.4 trillion last year, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

Another point worth noting is the collection of European banks, many of which hold assets that nearly mirror their home country's GDP.

For example, HSBC Holdings, Britain's largest lender, holds $2.6 trillion in assets, which equates to 89% of the United Kingdom's total economic output in 2014.

This goes a long way toward explaining why so many European countries got into such deep trouble after they nationalized buckling banks in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Without further ado, in turn, I encourage you to leaf through the presentation below to get up to speed on the 10 biggest banks in the world.