The most powerful people in the world


Presidents of China and USPA

Most of us feel relatively powerless for most of our lives. Whether it's the boss, our family, or our other half, we spend our lives being pushed from pillar to post doing someone else's bidding. Wouldn't it be great to wake up one day as King of the World?

Somewhere out there are the people who do just that. So who are these all-powerful people, and is it all sunshine and roses?

The Forbes annual list of the most powerful people in the world takes into account the number of people they have power over, their wealth, the number of spheres of life where they have influence, and how they wield their power. So who tops the list?

Barack Obama
After briefly giving up the title of Most Powerful Man in the World to Chinese president Hu Jintao last year, he's back on top again. The magazine has calculated that Hu Jintao's power is waning as he passes over a number of his roles to his successor as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping.

Vladimir Putin
He is a shoe-in for president again this year on the departure of loyal Dmitry Medvedev. If he gets the job and keeps it for as long as he is allowed, he will be in power until 2024. He is also pushing for a new Eurasian economic union of Russia and a handful of former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. He wants this in place by 2015, which would help him extend his power still further.

Hu Jintao
He is losing influence next year when he gives up as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. However, he will still have plenty of weight to throw around. The financial muscle of the country means it is increasingly seen as the only way of bailing out the failing West, completing the road to world dominance for China.

Angela Merkel
As head of the most powerful economy in the EU she tends to be seen as the leader, wielding the power of a united Europe.

Bill Gates
There's no knocking his huge charitable contribution to the world, or the massive success of Microsoft. But it can't have been easy spending most of his working life being generally knocked by the Microsoft-haters and locked in a battle as the uglier and less fashionable (albeit more successful) competitor to Apple.

The rest of the top 20:

6 Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia
7 Pope Benedict XVI
8 Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
9 Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook
10 David Cameron, Prime Minister
11 Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress
12 Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank
13 Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France
14 Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic of China
15 Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People's Bank of China
16 Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State in the US
17 Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York and owner of Bloomberg media
18Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury in the US
19 Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
20 Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

The most powerful people in the world

The most powerful people in the world