To become powerful, you must wield enormous influence over a very large number of people. The most powerful people in the world are normally heads of state, CEOs, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who truly run the world. Their decisions impact the lives of millions of people each day.
Take for instance heads of states, with militaries at their disposal and even nuclear weapons, a miscalculation or wrong decision could mean a conflagration that engulfs all of civilization. Or even CEOs of big corporations, whose decisions can alter the course of our lives. Our lives are literally at the hands of the world’s most powerful people.
Here are the top 20 most powerful people in the world.
- 1. Xi Jinping
- 2. Vladimir Putin
- 3. Donald Trump
- 4. Angela Merkel
- 5. Jeff Bezos
- 6. Pope Francis
- 7. Bill Gates
- 8. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud
- 9. Narendra Modi
- 10. Larry Page
- 11. Jerome H. Powell
- 12. Emmanuel Macron
- 13. Mark Zuckerberg
- 14. Boris Johnson
- 15. Li Keqiang
- 16. Warren Buffett
- 17. Ali Hoseini-Khamenei
- 18. Christine Lagarde
- 19. Jamie Dimon
- 20. Carlos Slim Helú
1. Xi Jinping
President of China
Xi Jinping is a Chinese politician serving as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Xi has been the paramount leader, the highest-ranking official in China, since 2012 and he officially received the title of “leadership core” from the CPC in 2016.
2. Vladimir Putin
President of Russia
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian politician who has served as the President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 1999 until 2008. He was also the Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.
3. Donald Trump
President of the United States
Donald John Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality. Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated 16 other candidates in the primaries. His political positions have been described as populist, protectionist, and nationalist.
4. Angela Merkel
Chancellor of Germany
Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician serving as the chancellor of Germany since 2005. She served as the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 2000 to 2018. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and by some commentators as the “leader of the free world”.
5. Jeff Bezos
CEO of Amazon
Jeffrey Preston Bezos is an American businessman, media proprietor, and investor. He is best known as the founder, CEO, and president of the online retail company Amazon. The first centi-billionaire on the Forbes wealth index, Bezos has been the world’s richest person since 2017 and was named the “richest man in modern history” after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018.
6. Pope Francis
Head of the Catholic Church
Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
7. Bill Gates
American business magnate
William Henry Gates III is an American business magnate, software developer, investor, and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), president and chief software architect, while also being the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. He is one of the best-known entrepreneurs and pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.
8. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, colloquially known as MbS, is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He is currently serving as the country’s deputy prime minister (the title of prime minister being held by the king) and is also Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, Chairman of the Council of Political and Security Affairs, and Minister of Defence – the world’s youngest at the time of his appointment. He has been described as the power behind the throne of his father, King Salman. He was appointed crown prince in June 2017 following King Salman’s decision to remove Muhammad bin Nayef from all positions, making Mohammed bin Salman heir-designate to the throne.
9. Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
Narendra Damodardas Modi is an Indian politician serving as the 14th and current Prime Minister of India since 2014. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 and is the Member of Parliament for Varanasi. Modi is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation. He is the first prime minister outside of the Indian National Congress to win two consecutive terms with a full majority and the second to complete five years in office after Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
10. Larry Page
American computer scientist
Lawrence Edward Page is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur. He is best known as one of the co-founders of Google along with Sergey Brin. He was the CEO of Google until July 2015 when he stepped aside to become CEO of Alphabet. On December 4, 2019, Page stepped down from his CEO position from Alphabet. Both Page and Sergey Brin remain at Alphabet as co-founders, board members, employees, and controlling shareholders. Page is the co-inventor of PageRank, a well-known search ranking algorithm for Google, which he wrote with Brin.
11. Jerome H. Powell
Chair of the US Federal Reserve
Jerome Hayden “Jay” Powell is the 16th Chair of the Federal Reserve, serving in that office since February 2018. He was nominated to the Fed Chair position by President Donald Trump, and confirmed by the United States Senate.
12. Emmanuel Macron
President of France
Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron is a French politician who has been President of France and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra since 14 May 2017. He previously served as Minister of the Economy and Industry from August 2014 until August 2016, when he resigned to launch his campaign for the 2017 presidential election. At the age of 39, Macron became the youngest president in French history.
13. Mark Zuckerberg
CEO of Facebook
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American internet entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is known for co-founding Facebook, Inc. and serves as its chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder. He also co-founded and is a board member of the solar sail spacecraft development project Breakthrough Starshot.
14. Boris Johnson
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British politician, writer, and former journalist, who has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since 2019. He was Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018 and Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016. Johnson was Member of Parliament for Henley from 2001 to 2008 and has been MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. Ideologically, he identifies as a one-nation conservative.
15. Li Keqiang
Premier of China
Li Keqiang is a Chinese politician who is the current Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. An economist by trade, Li is China’s head of government as well as one of the leading figures behind China’s Financial and Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs, National Security and Deepening Reforms. He is also the second-ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, the de facto top decision-making body of the country. Li is a major part of the “fifth generation of Chinese leadership” along with General Secretary Xi Jinping.
16. Warren Buffett
CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, who is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is considered one of the most successful investors in the world. Buffett has been the chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway since 1970. He has been referred to as the “Oracle” or “Sage” of Omaha by global media outlets. Buffett is a notable philanthropist, having pledged to give away 99 percent of his fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He founded The Giving Pledge in 2009 with Bill Gates, whereby billionaires pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes.
17. Ali Hoseini-Khamenei
Supreme Leader of Iran
Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei is a Twelver Shia Marja’ and the second and current Supreme Leader of Iran, in office since 1989. He was previously President of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Khamenei is the longest serving head of state in the Middle East, as well as the second-longest serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. He has been head of the servants of Astan Quds Razavi since 14 April 1979. As Supreme Leader, Khamenei is the head of state of Iran and the commander-in-chief of its armed forces. For this reason, he is considered the most powerful political authority in the country.
18. Christine Lagarde
President of the European Central Bank
Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde is a French politician and lawyer serving as President of the European Central Bank since November 2019. Between July 2011 and November 2019, she served as chair and managing director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Lagarde previously held various senior ministerial posts in the Government of France.
Lagarde was the first woman to become finance minister of a G8 economy (and the only woman as of 2020) and is the first woman to head each the ECB and IMF. A noted antitrust and labour lawyer, Lagarde was the first female chair of major international law firm Baker & McKenzie, between 1999 and 2004.
19. Jamie Dimon
CEO of JPMorgan Chase
Jamie Dimon is an American billionaire business executive. He is chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the big four American banks, and was previously on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Dimon is one of the few bank chief executives to become a billionaire.
20. Carlos Slim Helú
Mexican business magnate
Carlos Slim Helú is a Mexican business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He derived his fortune from his extensive holdings in a considerable number of Mexican companies through his conglomerate, Grupo Carso. He is the richest person in Latin America. He is the largest single shareholder of The New York Times Company.
His conglomerate includes education, health care, industrial manufacturing, transportation, real estate, media, energy, hospitality, entertainment, high-technology, retail, sports and financial services. He accounts for 40% of the listings on the Mexican Stock Exchange, while his net worth is equivalent to about 6 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product.