Angela D Merkel

Born:July 17, 1954 (age 67)
Career:Chancellor of Germany, 2005-present
Minister for the Environment, 1994-1998
Minister for Women and Youth, 1991-1994
Party:Christian Democratic Union
Education:University of Leipzig

Angela Merkel has served as Germany's chancellor since 2005 and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since 2000, the first female to hold either position.

Merkel was born in Hamburg on July 17, 1954. That same year, her family moved to Quitzow in East Germany. In 1957, the family moved to Templin, about 50 miles north of Berlin. Merkel thus grew up in the socialist German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik).

Merkel graduated from the University of Leipzig in 1978 with a degree in physics, and later earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry and pursued research in that field. She also received an award for outstanding proficiency in Russian, a required language in the East German education system.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Merkel began her political career with her election to the East German caretaker government. Following reunification in 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag (German parliament). Later, Chancellor Helmut Kohl took Merkel under his wing and she rose rapidly in the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) party. After the CDU/Christian Social Union of Bavaria candidate (Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria) failed to defeat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the 2002 election, Merkel became the leader of the opposition in the Bundestag. In the September 2005 national election, the CDU/CSU won by a slight margin, but neither the SPD (Schröder) nor the CDU (Merkel) had a majority. In the end, after protracted negotiations, Merkel became chancellor under a "Grand Coalition" (CDU-SPD) deal. She was sworn into office on November 22, 2005, and was reelected to the post in 2009 and 2013.

On March 26, 2014, Merkel became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the E.U. She is often considered the de facto leader of the European Union and is currently the senior G7 leader. She was ranked the world's second most powerful person by Forbes magazine in 2012 and 2015, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman, and has been ranked by Forbes as the world's most powerful women a record nine times, most recently in 2015.

Photo by Armin Linnartz.