It's not just about money. And it's not just about having power over people or things. No, the real power comes from having a lot of money and a lot of influence. This gives people the ability to help shape the world. But only a small group of people really have the money and power to make changes on a global scale. In good ways and bad, their decisions affect millions of people, shake up industries, and change countries.
Business Insider put together this list of the most powerful people in the world. It includes heads of state, billionaires, CEOs, and famous people. We looked at more than 100 of the most powerful people in business, politics, and entertainment to come up with the list. We measured their power in four main areas: economic power, command, newsworthiness, and impact, which is a subjective measure of how important they are in their own fields.
Since most of these people work in more than one industry, we took the logarithm of each and mapped it to a standard scale, which let us put all of the metrics together. (Check out our full process here.)
The top spot goes to US President Barack Obama, who is in charge of the world's most powerful country. He is followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in charge of a country that poses a serious threat to the US's dominance. Read on to find out who the 50 most powerful people in the world are right now:
1. Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping is a Chinese politician who has served as the People's Republic of China's president since 2013. He has been seen as the most powerful person in the world, despite the fact that the Western world regards him as a tyrant or authoritarian leader, citing increased mass surveillance, a decrease in human rights, and censorship of news, the Internet, and events.
He was General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission before becoming President of China. In 1953, he was born in Beijing as the second son of a Chinese Communist veteran, Xi Zhongxun. Tsinghua University is where Xi studied Chemical Engineering. To maintain a solid hold on the governing party, Xi removed presidential term limits in China in 2018 through a series of constitutional modifications.
Xi has extended governmental control over the Chinese economy while also encouraging the country's private sector. He is a hardliner when it comes to Chinese security matters, as well as in international affairs, where he is growing his influence in South Africa and Europe. On the international scene, he portrays China as more forceful and patriotic.
2. Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, is the world's second most powerful person. He is a former intelligence officer who has been Russia's president since 2012. He served as Russia's Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2012.
Putin was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) and earned a law degree from Leningrad State University in 1975. Putin spent 16 years as a KGB foreign intelligence officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before entering politics.
In the midst of the current Russia-Ukraine crisis, Putin issued a surprise announcement on February 24th ordering military action in eastern Ukraine. His full-fledged assault has driven local inhabitants to run for their lives, resulting in 50 casualties, including 10 Ukrainian civilians and 40 Ukrainian militaries.
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In a broadcast speech, Putin cautioned Western countries not to interfere in its domestic affairs, or else Russian action would have “consequences they have never seen.” He emphasized that Russia's purpose is not to occupy Ukraine, but that the repercussions of conflict are the responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities.
3. Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel is a German politician who has served as Germany's chancellor since 2005, making her the world's most powerful woman. She served as opposition leader from 2002 to 2005 before becoming chancellor. From 2000 through 2018, Merkel was the head of the Christian Democratic Union. She is Germany's first female chancellor and is largely regarded as the European Union's de facto head.
Merkel was born in Hamburg, West Germany, in 1945. From 1973 to 1978, Merkel studied physics at Karl Marx University in Leipzig. She received a Ph.D. for her quantum chemistry thesis. For three years before entering politics, she worked as a researcher and authored several publications.
After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, she joined a new party called Democratic Awakening, which ultimately merged with the East German Christian Democratic Union. Merkel temporarily served as the first democratically elected East German government's deputy spokeswoman.
4. Joe Biden
Joe Biden is the current Vice President of the United States of America and one of the world's most influential politicians. In 2020, he will succeed Donald Trump as the 46th President of the United States. He was the Democratic Party's 47th vice president, serving Delaware as a senator from 1973 until 2009.
Biden was born in 1942 in Pennsylvania and received his doctorate in law from Syracuse University in 1968. He is the country's oldest elected president and the first to have a female and African/Asian-American vice president, Kamala Harris.
In his first two days as president, Biden issued 17 executive orders, most of which were geared to reversing most of Trump's foreign policies, particularly those concerning immigration and climate change.
5. Pope Francis
Pope Francis is the leader of the Catholic Church and the ruler of the Vatican City State. He is one of the most popular international leaders, with supporters all around the world. He is the first Pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus.
In his youth, he worked as a bouncer and cleaner in Argentina. Later, he received pharmaceutical training to become a chemist and worked as a technician in a food science laboratory.
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After recuperating from a serious illness, he was inspired to join the Society of Jesus and became a priest 11 years later. He was then appointed Archbishop and eventually became a cardinal. When he was Pope, Francis supported the Catholic Church's traditional positions on clerical celibacy, female ordination, and abortion.
6. Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos is the first American entrepreneur to appear on the list of the world's most influential people in 2022. He is the founder and CEO of the international technology business Amazon. According to Forbes, as of June 2021, his estimated net worth is more than $200 billion, making him the world's richest and most powerful person.
Mr. Bezos, who was born in 1964, studied electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton University. He spent nearly eight years on Wall Street before founding Amazon in 1994.
Amazon, which began as an online bookshop, today offers a wide range of e-commerce products and services such as cloud computing, video/audio streaming, and artificial intelligence. It is currently the world's largest online sales corporation, with $400 billion in revenue. Because of his passion for space travel, Bezos launched the suborbital spaceflight services firm Blue Origin in the year 2000.
7. Bill Gates
Bill Gates is a computer programmer and entrepreneur from the United States. He co-founded Microsoft Corporation, the world's largest personal computer software firm. Bill Gates, the American business billionaire, has numerous interests outside of computers. He is also an author, landowner, and philanthropist, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's biggest private charity, carrying out various charitable activities.
As of 2021, Gates' estimated net worth is $145.3 billion. He wrote his first computer software application when he was 13 years old. He was a Harvard University dropout who held several roles in the corporation, including the chairman, CEO, president, and chief software architect.
In 1994, Gates and his wife Melinda established the William H. Gates Foundation, which was renamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999 to finance worldwide health efforts. Gates and Warren Buffett established The Giving Pledge in 2010, in which they and other billionaires pledged to devote at least half of their fortune to charity.
8. Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi is the 14th and current Prime Minister of India, the world's biggest democracy. This makes him the world's most popular prime minister. From 2001 until 2014, he served as Gujarat's chief minister. He is a member of the Uttar Pradesh legislature representing the Varanasi seat.
He belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the world's largest political party in terms of primary membership. He is a registered member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and a member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) (RSS). Modi was born in the tiny hamlet of Vadnagar in northeastern Gujarat in 1950. He spent two years traveling over India after finishing high school, visiting various religious sites.
Modi joined the RSS when he was eight years old. In 1971, he began working for the RSS. In 1985, the RSS sent him to the BJP, where he rose through the ranks to become general secretary.
Modi was the party's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 general election, winning a landslide victory with 282 seats and a large majority in Lok Sabha, India's lower house of parliament. Modi secured a second term with 303 seats in 2019.
9. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud
Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known as MBS, is a Saudi Arabian politician who serves as the country's deputy prime minister as well as the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. He is also the Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, the Chairman of the Council for Political and Security Affairs, and the Minister of Defense.
MBS is frequently referred to as the power behind his father, King Salman's, throne. In 2017, King Salman put MBS in his stead by dismissing his nephew Muhammad bin Nayef from the post of the crown prince. MBS was successful in adopting legislation to limit religious police powers, lifting the prohibition on female drivers, and undermining the male-guardianship system.
Bin Salman rules an authoritarian regime in Saudi Arabia, and his tenure has been marred by numerous controversies, including an increase in alleged cases of torture of human rights activists, his relationship with Donald Trump, the escalation of the Qatar diplomatic crisis, the phone hack against Jeff Bezos, and the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of MBS.
10. Jerome Powell
Jerome Powell is the current chairman of the Federal Reserve and an American economist and lawyer. Powell was named the world's top central banker in 2018 after then-President Trump refused to extend Janet Yellen's tenure.
He is the guy in control of the strong federal reserve, which oversees the printing press, as well as US monetary policy, which affects not just the United States, the world's largest economy, but practically every developed and developing country.
Our list of the World's Most Powerful People is meticulously curated using data from current events, economic policies, and other variables. The list, however, should not be regarded as official.