World Leaders
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
BROWSE SUBCATEGORIES
Presidents & Heads of StatesFirst LadiesVice PresidentsPrime Ministers​Kings​Queens​Emperors & Empresses​Sultans​Pharaohs​Dictators​Governors​Senators​Other Politicians
FEATURED ARTICLES
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States (1961–63), who faced a number of foreign crises, especially in Cuba and Berlin, but managed to secure such achievements as the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. He was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. The...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
William Manchester
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle, French soldier, writer, statesman, and architect of France’s Fifth Republic. De Gaulle was the second son of a Roman Catholic, patriotic, and nationalist upper-middle-class family. The family had produced historians and writers, and his father taught philosophy and literature;...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Dorothy M. Pickles
Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini, Italian prime minister (1922–43) and the first of 20th-century Europe’s fascist dictators. Mussolini was the first child of the local blacksmith. In later years he expressed pride in his humble origins and often spoke of himself as a “man of the people.” The Mussolini family was,...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
John Foot | See all
Peter I
Peter I, tsar of Russia who reigned jointly with his half-brother Ivan V (1682–96) and alone thereafter (1696–1725) and who in 1721 was proclaimed emperor (imperator). He was one of his country’s greatest statesmen, organizers, and reformers. Peter was the son of Tsar Alexis by his second wife,...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Leonid Alekseyevich Nikiforov
George W. Bush
George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States (2001–09), who led his country’s response to the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and initiated the Iraq War in 2003. Narrowly winning the electoral college vote in 2000 over Vice Pres. Al Gore in one of the closest and most-controversial...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Brian Duignan
Philip II
Philip II, 18th king of Macedonia (359–336 bce), who restored internal peace to his country and by 339 had gained domination over all of Greece by military and diplomatic means, thus laying the foundations for its expansion under his son Alexander III the Great. Philip was a son of Amyntas III. In...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Guy Thompson Griffith
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill, British statesman, orator, and author who as prime minister (1940–45, 1951–55) rallied the British people during World War II and led his country from the brink of defeat to victory. After a sensational rise to prominence in national politics before World War I, Churchill...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Herbert G. Nicholas
Frederick II
Frederick II, king of Prussia (1740–86), a brilliant military campaigner who, in a series of diplomatic stratagems and wars against Austria and other powers, greatly enlarged Prussia’s territories and made Prussia the foremost military power in Europe. An enlightened absolute monarch, he favoured...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Matthew Smith Anderson
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States (1933–45). The only president elected to the office four times, Roosevelt led the United States through two of the greatest crises of the 20th century: the Great Depression and World War II. In so doing, he greatly expanded the powers of...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Frank Freidel
Kemal Atatürk
Kemal Atatürk, (Turkish: “Kemal, Father of Turks”) soldier, statesman, and reformer who was the founder and first president (1923–38) of the Republic of Turkey. He modernized the country’s legal and educational systems and encouraged the adoption of a European way of life, with Turkish written in...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Norman Itzkowitz
Government
Government, the political system by which a country or community is administered and regulated. Most of the key words commonly used to describe governments—words such as monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy—are of Greek or Roman origin. They have been current for more than 2,000 years and have not...
ENCYCLOPEDIA / WORLD LEADERS
WRITTEN BY
Hugh Brogan
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1953–64) and premier of the Soviet Union (1958–64) whose policy of de-Stalinization had widespread repercussions throughout the communist world. In foreign affairs he pursued a policy of “peaceful coexistence” with the...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Frank B. Gibney
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan, Mongolian warrior-ruler, one of the most famous conquerors of history, who consolidated tribes into a unified Mongolia and then extended his empire across Asia to the Adriatic Sea. Genghis Khan was a warrior and ruler of genius who, starting from obscure and insignificant beginnings,...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Charles R. Bawden
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton, New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1787), major author of the Federalist papers, and first secretary of the treasury of the United States (1789–95), who was the foremost champion of a strong central government for the new United States. He was killed in a duel...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Alexander DeConde
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party (from 1920/21) and chancellor (Kanzler) and Führer of Germany (1933–45). He was chancellor from January 30, 1933, and, after President Paul von Hindenburg’s death, assumed the twin titles of Führer and chancellor (August 2, 1934). Hitler’s father, Alois (born...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Wilfrid F. Knapp | See all
Augustus
Augustus, first Roman emperor, following the republic, which had been finally destroyed by the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and adoptive father. His autocratic regime is known as the principate because he was the princeps, the first citizen, at the head of that array of outwardly...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Michael Grant
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States (1825–29) and eldest son of President John Adams. In his prepresidential years he was one of America’s greatest diplomats (formulating, among other things, what came to be called the Monroe Doctrine), and in his postpresidential years (as a...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Samuel Flagg Bemis
Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States (1969–74), who, faced with almost certain impeachment for his role in the Watergate scandal, became the first American president to resign from office. He was also vice president (1953–61) under Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Richard Nixon was the...
BIOGRAPHY
Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck, prime minister of Prussia (1862–73, 1873–90) and founder and first chancellor (1871–90) of the German Empire. Once the empire was established, he actively and skillfully pursued pacific policies in foreign affairs, succeeding in preserving the peace in Europe for about two...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Kenneth Barkin
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th president of the United States (1963–69). A moderate Democrat and vigorous leader in the United States Senate, Johnson was elected vice president in 1960 and acceded to the presidency in 1963 upon the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy. During his administration he...
BIOGRAPHY
Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I, queen of England (1558–1603) during a period, often called the Elizabethan Age, when England asserted itself vigorously as a major European power in politics, commerce, and the arts. Although her small kingdom was threatened by grave internal divisions, Elizabeth’s blend of shrewdness,...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Stephen J. Greenblatt | See all
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia (336–323 bce), who overthrew the Persian empire, carried Macedonian arms to India, and laid the foundations for the Hellenistic world of territorial kingdoms. Already in his lifetime the subject of fabulous stories, he later became the hero of a full-scale...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Frank W. Walbank
presidency of the United States of America
presidency of the United States of America, chief executive office of the United States. In contrast to many countries with parliamentary forms of government, where the office of president, or head of state, is mainly ceremonial, in the United States the president is vested with great authority and...
ENCYCLOPEDIA / WORLD LEADERS
WRITTEN BY
Forrest McDonald | See all
David Cameron
David Cameron, British Conservative Party leader who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom (2010–16). Cameron, a descendant of King William IV, was born into a family with both wealth and an aristocratic pedigree. He attended Eton College and Brasenose College, Oxford, from which he...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Peter Kellner
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States (1981–89), noted for his conservative Republicanism, his fervent anticommunism, and his appealing personal style, characterized by a jaunty affability and folksy charm. The only movie actor ever to become president, he had a remarkable skill as an...
BIOGRAPHY
Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States (1913–21), an American scholar and statesman best remembered for his legislative accomplishments and his high-minded idealism. Wilson led his country into World War I and became the creator and leading advocate of the League of Nations, for which...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
John Milton Cooper
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer and politician who served as president (1999–2008, 2012– ) of Russia and also was the country’s prime minister (1999, 2008–12). Putin studied law at Leningrad State University, where his tutor was Anatoly Sobchak, later one of the leading reform...
BIOGRAPHY
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, principal Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier, and statesman who led his country’s communist revolution. Mao was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1935 until his death, and he was chairman (chief of state) of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1959 and chairman...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Stuart Reynolds Schram
Napoleon I
Napoleon I, French general, first consul (1799–1804), and emperor of the French (1804–1814/15), one of the most celebrated personages in the history of the West. He revolutionized military organization and training; sponsored the Napoleonic Code, the prototype of later civil-law codes; reorganized...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Jacques Godechot
First lady
First lady, wife of the president of the United States. Although the first lady’s role has never been codified or officially defined, she figures prominently in the political and social life of the nation. Representative of her husband on official and ceremonial occasions both at home and abroad,...
ENCYCLOPEDIA / WORLD LEADERS
WRITTEN BY
Betty Boyd Caroli
Charlemagne
Charlemagne, king of the Franks (768–814), king of the Lombards (774–814), and first emperor (800–814) of the Romans and of what was later called the Holy Roman Empire. Around the time of the birth of Charlemagne—conventionally held to be 742 but likely to be 747 or 748—his father, Pippin III (the...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Richard E. Sullivan
India
India, country that occupies the greater part of South Asia. Its capital is New Delhi, built in the 20th century just south of the historic hub of Old Delhi to serve as India’s administrative centre. Its government is a constitutional republic that represents a highly diverse population consisting...
ENCYCLOPEDIA / WORLD LEADERS
WRITTEN BY
Muzaffar Alam | See all
Gustavus Adolphus
Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden (1611–32) who laid the foundations of the modern Swedish state and made it a major European power. Gustavus was the eldest son of Charles IX and his second wife, Christina of Holstein. He was still some weeks short of his 17th birthday when he succeeded his father...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Michael Roberts
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru, first prime minister of independent India (1947–64), who established parliamentary government and became noted for his neutralist (nonaligned) policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the 1930s and ’40s. Nehru was...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Frank R. Moraes
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), inspirer and leader of the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), and the architect, builder, and first head (1917–24) of the Soviet state. He was the founder of the organization known as Comintern (Communist International) and the...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Albert Resis
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States (1953–61), who had been supreme commander of the Allied forces in western Europe during World War II. Eisenhower was the third of seven sons of David Jacob and Ida Elizabeth (Stover) Eisenhower. In the spring of 1891 the Eisenhowers left...
BIOGRAPHY
WRITTEN BY
Thomas C. Reeves
World Leaders Subcategories
Presidents & Heads of States
President, in government, the officer in whom the chief executive power of a nation is vested. The president of a republic is the head of state, but the actual power of the president varies from country to country; in the United States, Africa, and Latin America the presidential office is charged with great powers and responsibilities, but the office is relatively weak and largely ceremonial in Europe and in many countries where the prime minister, or premier, functions as the chief executive officer.
ARTICLES
Abraham Lincoln
president of United States
John Adams
president of United States
Head of state
First Ladies
Although the first lady’s role has never been codified or officially defined, she figures prominently in the political and social life of the nation. Representative of her husband on official and ceremonial occasions both at home and abroad, the first lady is closely watched for some hint of her husband’s thinking and for a clue to his future actions.
ARTICLES
Louisa Adams
American first lady
Ida McKinley
American first lady
Barbara Bush
American first lady
Vice Presidents
ARTICLES
George H.W. Bush
president of United States
Calvin Coolidge
president of United States
Lyndon B. Johnson
president of United States
Prime Ministers
Prime minister, also called premier, the head of government in a country with a parliamentary or semipresidential political system. In such systems, the prime minister—literally the “first,” or most important, minister—must be able to command a continuous majority in the legislature (usually the lower house in a bicameral system) to remain in office.
ARTICLES
Vladimir Putin
president of Russia
Otto von Bismarck
German chancellor and prime minister
Robert Walpole, 1st earl of Orford
prime minister of Great Britain
Kings
King a supreme ruler, sovereign over a nation or a territory, of higher rank than any other secular ruler except an emperor, to whom a king may be subject. Kingship, a worldwide phenomenon, can be elective, as in medieval Germany, but is usually hereditary
ARTICLES
Henry VIII
king of England
Charlemagne
Holy Roman emperor [747?–814]
Henry IV
king of France
Queens
ARTICLES
Mary
queen of Scotland
Matilda
daughter of Henry I
Anne
queen of Great Britain and Ireland
Emperors & Empresses
Emperor, feminine empress, title designating the sovereigns of the ancient Roman Empire and, by derivation, various later European rulers; it is also applied loosely to certain non-European monarchs.
ARTICLES
Napoleon I
emperor of France
Charlemagne
Holy Roman emperor [747?–814]
Justinian I
Byzantine emperor
Sultans
Sultan, originally, according to the Qurʾān, moral or spiritual authority; the term later came to denote political or governmental power and from the 11th century was used as a title by Muslim sovereigns.
ARTICLES
Agung
sultan of Mataram
Muḥammad ibn Tughluq
sultan of Delhi
Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah
sultan of Brunei
Pharaohs
Pharaoh, originally, the royal palace in ancient Egypt. The word came to be used metonymically for the Egyptian king under the New Kingdom (starting in the 18th dynasty, 1539–1292 BCE), and by the 22nd dynasty (c. 945–c. 730 BCE) it had been adopted as an epithet of respect.
ARTICLES
Tutankhamun
king of Egypt
Ramses II
king of Egypt
pharaoh
Egyptian king
Dictators
Dictatorship, form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. The term dictatorship comes from the Latin title dictator, which in the Roman Republic designated a temporary magistrate who was granted extraordinary powers in order to deal with state crises.
ARTICLES
Sukarno
president of Indonesia
Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester
French noble
Fulgencio Batista
Cuban dictator
Governors
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
ARTICLES
Warren Hastings
British colonial administrator
Lord William Bentinck
British government official
Trajan
Roman emperor
Senators
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
ARTICLES
Mitt Romney
United States senator
Prescott S. Bush
American businessman and politician
Dianne Feinstein
United States senator
Other Politicians
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
ARTICLES
James Cockburn
Canadian politician and lawyer
Kemal Atatürk
president of Turkey
Jeremy Corbyn
British politician
Britannica Premium Subscription
Did you know you’re not getting the full Britannica experience? Sign up for Premium to get access to all of our trusted content and exclusive originals. Subscribe today!
Home
Politics, Law & Government
World Leaders
Inspire your inbox – Sign up for daily fun facts about this day in history, updates, and special offers.
By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Click here to view our Privacy Notice. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.

About Us & Legal Info
Partner Program
Contact Us
Privacy Notice
Terms of Use
©2021 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
HomePolitics, Law & Government