Nov 14, 2013

The World's Most Powerful People's Biographies

Who’s more powerful: the autocratic leader of a former superpower or the handcuffed commander in chief of the most dominant country in the world? This year the votes for the World’s Most Powerful went to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He climbs one spot ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama, who held the title in 2012.

Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president — latest example: the government shutdown mess. Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics.

The Most Powerful People in the World list is an annual snapshot of the heads of state, CEOs and financiers, philanthropists and NGO chiefs, billionaires, and entrepreneurs who truly rule the world. It represents the collective wisdom of top FORBES editors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s top 72 power-brokers – one for every 100 million people on Earth — based on their scope of influence and their financial resources relative to their peers. (See full methodology here).

This year’s list features 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of some $48 trillion — including the three most powerful people, Putin, Obama and Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China. The 27 CEOs and chairs control over $3 trillion in annual revenues, and 12 are entrepreneurs, including new billionaires on the list, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote (No. 64), founder of Dangote Group, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison (No. 58). Speaking of, this year’s class has 28 billionaires valued in excess of $564 billion.

 No. 1: Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin Biography

President of Russia
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is the fourth and current President of Russia, incumbent since 7 May 2012. He previously served as the second President from 2000 to 2008, and as Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.
Born: October 7, 1952 (age 61), Saint Petersburg, Russia
Height: 1.70 m
Spouse: Lyudmila Putina (m. 1983–2013)
Office: President of Russia since 2012
Children: Yekaterina Putina, Mariya Putina
Martial arts: Sambo, Judo

Russian President Vladimir Putin fishes during a mini-break in the Siberian Tyva region (also referred to as Tuva), Russia.

No. 2. Barack Obama

Barack Obama Biography

44th U.S. President
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States, the first African American to hold the office.
Born: August 4, 1961 (age 52), Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Full name: Barack Hussein Obama II
Parents: Ann Dunham, Barack Obama Sr.
Siblings: Malik Abongo Obama, Maya Soetoro-Ng, More
Education: Harvard Law School (1988–1991), More
Children: Natasha Obama, Malia Ann Obama

US President Barack Obama walks into the White House in Washington on June 9, 2013 upon his return from California where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

No. 3. Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping Biography

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
Xi Jinping is the current paramount leader of China and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.
Born: June 15, 1953 (age 60), Beijing, China
Height: 1.80 m
Office: President of the People's Republic of China since 2013
Spouse: Peng Liyuan (m. 1987), Ke Lingling
Parents: Qi Xin, Xi Zhongxun
Education: Tsinghua University (1998–2002), Tsinghua University (1975–1979), Beijing 101 Middle School

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 27: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside the Great Hall of The People on September 27, 2013 in Beijing, China. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is on an official state visit to China from September 25 to 28.

No. 4. Pope Francis

Pope Francis Biography

Francis is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church having been elected Bishop of Rome. He is thereby also the Sovereign of Vatican City.
Born: December 17, 1936 (age 76), Buenos Aires, Argentina
Full name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Nationality: Argentine
Books: On Heaven and Earth
Siblings: María Elena Bergoglio, Alberto Bergoglio
Parents: Mario Jose Bergoglio, Regina Maria Sivori

Pope Francis waves to the faithfull after leading his weekly open-air general audience in St.Peter's square on October 9, 2013 at the Vatican

No. 5. Angela Merkel

 Angela Merkel Biography

Chancellor of Germany
Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician and former research scientist who has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005, and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000. She is the first woman to hold either office.
Born: July 17, 1954 (age 59), Hamburg, Germany
Office: Chancellor of Germany since 2005
Spouse: Joachim Sauer (m. 1998), Ulrich Merkel (m. 1977–1982)
Parents: Horst Kasner, Herlind Kasner
Education: German Academy of Sciences at Berlin (1986), University of Leipzig (1973–1978)
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom, Charlemagne Prize, More

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 16: German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel arrives for a meeting of the CDU board at CDU party headquarters on September 16, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Germany faces federal elections on September 22 and so far the CDU has a strong lead in polls over the opposition.

No. 6. Bill Gates

Bill Gates Biography

William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, investor, programmer, inventor and philanthropist.
Born: October 28, 1955 (age 58), Seattle, Washington, United States
Spouse: Melinda Gates (m. 1994)
Children: Jennifer Katharine Gates, Phoebe Adele Gates, Rory John Gates
Education: Harvard College (1973–1975), Lakeside School (1968–1973)
Awards: Silver Buffalo Award, More

Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation arrives at the Lodge to have talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Canberra on May 28, 2013

No. 7. Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke Biography
Ben Shalom Bernanke is an American economist and currently chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States.
Born: December 13, 1953 (age 59), Augusta, Georgia, United States
Nationality: American
Spouse: Anna Friedmann (m. 1978)
Education: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard College, Dillon High School
Movies: Frontline: Inside the Meltdown, American Casino

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference in Washington. Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a banking conference in Chicago on Friday, May 10, 2013.

No. 8. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Biography

King of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is the King of Saudi Arabia. He ascended to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd.
Born: August 1, 1924 (age 89), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Office: King of Saudi Arabia since 2005
Parents: Ibn Saud, Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim
Siblings: Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Sultan bin Abdulaziz, More
Spouse: Jawahir bint Ali Hussein, More
Awards: Royal Victorian Chain

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud talks with French President Francois Hollande (unseen) during their meeting at the Saudi Royal palace, in Jeddah, on November 4, 2012. Hollande is visiting Saudi Arabia before attending an Asia-Europe summit in Laos to talk trade at a time of economic crisis.

No. 9. Mario Draghi

Mario Draghi Biography
Mario Draghi is an Italian banker and economist who succeeded Jean-Claude Trichet as the President of the European Central Bank on 1 November 2011. He was previously the governor of the Bank of Italy from January 2006 until October 2011.
Born: September 3, 1947 (age 66), Rome, Italy
Spouse: Serena Draghi
Children: Giacomo Draghi, Federica Draghi
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1976), More

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), pauses during the ECB's interest rate news conference held at the Banque de France headquarters in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Draghi said he's ready to take any necessary measures to keep money-market rates in check as he tries to steer Europe's banks through the early stages of an economic recovery.

No. 10. Michael Duke

 Mike Duke
Michael Terry Duke is an American businessman. He serves as the fourth chief executive officer of Walmart.
Born: December 7, 1949 (age 63)
Education: Georgia Institute of Technology

Michael T. Duke, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., departs from the West Wing of the White House after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Obama met with a dozen corporate leaders at the White House today in his latest overture to the business community as he works to build support for a debt deal that includes new taxes on wealthy Americans.