The 10 Most Powerful People in the World… And You Won’t Have Heard of Some of Them

Have you ever wondered which individuals on the planet hold the most power in their hands to influence human society? Politically. Economically. Socially. In a world of over 7.5 billion people.

This list of the top 10 most powerful people in the world is taken from Forbes’ most recent annual ranking and identifies one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most. Hundreds of people were considered and the following criteria were used: does the person have power over lots of people; does the person control a lot of financial resources; is the person influential in multiple circles and finally; do they actively use their power. Here are the results…

#10 – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg (born in 1984) is the famous founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the world’s largest social media platform: Facebook. This young man is worth nearly $60 billion, which currently places him as the fifth richest person on Earth. Not only does he have lots of money, but he is privvy to an incredible amount of social data which is extremely valuable when it comes to advertising revenue, trend spotting and influencing people.

#9 – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

Narendra Damodardas Modi (born in 1950) is the 14th Prime Minister of India and has been in office since May 2014. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, and is the Member of Parliament for Varanasi. Modi, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is a Hindu nationalist and member of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Modi’s right-wing administration has attempted to improve efficiency in the bureaucracy and raised foreign investment in the Indian economy, increased spending on infrastructure and reduced spending on healthcare and social welfare programmes. He recently began a high-profile sanitation campaign, at the same time weakening environmental and labour laws. Despite dividing opinions at home and around the world, he holds a cult-like status in India and is the most followed Asian leader on Twitter.

#8 – Larry Page, President of Alphabet

Lawrence “Larry” Edward Page (born in 1973) is best known as being co-founder of the world’s largest and most popular search engine and technology company, Google. Currently ranked as the 12th richest person in the world, Page is CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. Under his leadership, Alphabet is seeking to deliver major advancements in a variety of industries including technology, life sciences, investment capital, and research. As with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Page is privvy to a huge amount of data which is extremely valuable when it comes to advertising revenue, trend spotting and influencing people.

#7 – Bill Gates, Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

William Henry “Bill” Gates III (born in 1955) is best known as co-founder of the world’s largest and most famous software company: Microsoft. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO (until 2000) and chairman (until 2014) and was the largest individual shareholder until then. According to Forbes, he is still ranked as the number one richest person in the world and has been on the world’s rich list since 1987.

Though Gates is still involved in Microsoft as a technology adviser, he has been dedicating more of his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2006. The primary stated aims of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty globally, and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the U.S.

#6 – Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve

Janet Louise Yellen (born in 1946) is an American economist and current and first woman chair of the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve. She therefore holds the most powerful position in the largest and most influential central bank in the world.

Central banks manage a state’s currency, money supply, and interest rates via monetary policy and as the United States dollar is the most widely traded currency on the planet, this makes the chair of the Federal Reserve incredibly influential in the world’s markets.

#5 – Pope Francis, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church


Pope Francis (born in 1936), whose birth name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the 266th and current Pope of the largest Christian church in the world – the Roman Catholic Church, which has over 1.28 billion members. The Catholic church is one of the oldest religious institutions in the world and it has played a hugely prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation, influencing philosophy, science, art and culture.

The pope is considered one of the world’s most powerful people because of his diplomatic and cultural influence in what is the largest branch of the most followed religion in the world: Christianity. The Pope’s political and religious duties include meeting with heads of state and maintaining diplomatic relationships with more than 100 nations.

#4 – Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party Of China

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in a bilateral meeting with the President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23, 2016.

Xi Jinping (born in 1953) has been the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2012. That means he is the highest-ranking official within emerging superpower China, the world’s most populous country.

Generally considered to be the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao, Xi Jinping has a reputation as being ‘Mr Clean’ having refused to divulge in corruption and bribery that’s generally associated with the political system and is playing a leading role in the fight against climate change.

#3 – Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Angela Dorothea Merkel (née Kasner; born in 1954) is a German politician who is currently Chancellor of Germany and is often described at various times as the de facto leader of the European Union (EU) and the most powerful woman in the world.

She is a former research scientist with a doctorate in physical chemistry (similar to the UK’s ex-prime minister Margaret Thatcher) and entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, which marked the end of communist rule in eastern and central Europe. Her involvement in the development of the EU project and her stance on open door immigration have been points of major controversy. She is the longest-serving head of government in the EU and in November 2016, announced she would seek re-election to a fourth term.

#2 – Donald Trump, President of the U.S.

Donald John Trump (born in 1946) is the 45th and current President of the largest economy and most powerful nation in the world: the United States. Prior to entering politics he was a well-known businessman and television personality and few U.S. presidents have been as controversial and widely talked about as Donald Trump due to his outspoken nature and somewhat populist, protectionist, and nationalist political standpoints.

Since assuming office in January 2017, he has signed a number of executive orders including repealing Obamacare, withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, re-instated the Mexico City Policy, reopened the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline construction projects and temporarily suspended admission of citizens from many Middle-Eastern countries amid terrorism concerns.

His Motto? “Put America First.”

#1 – Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born 7 October 1952) has been the President of the Russian Federation since May 2012 and was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, President from 2000 to 2008, and again Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. This means he’s been at the top of Russian politics for nearly two decades.

Putin began his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer in 1975 and quickly rose to the top ranks of the Russian government after joining President Boris Yeltsin’s administration in 1998. During Putin’s first presidency, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, thanks mainly to oil and other commodity price booms, which came to an end with the global financial crisis of 2008.

Putins personal wealth has been the subject of controversy, some people claiming he has abused his position of power for personal gain. It has been reported that several close associates of the president have large stakes in offshore companies worth over $2 billion and that he has other foreign investments taken out in friend’s names. Even if this is wholly or partially true, a personal wealth of $2 billion would place him well outside the top 100 richest individuals in the world.

So if he’s not one of the richest people in the world (at least officially) and is president of only the 11th largest economy in the world in terms of GDP, why is Vladimir Putin regarded as the most powerful person in the world? Because he has almost unilateral, unconstrained decision making capacity in a country that has huge military power and natural resources.

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