Angela Merkel was sworn in as Chancellor on November 22, 2005 and elected for a fourth term in 2017, serving until 2021. She was the first woman and the first East German to hold this office.
Angela Merkel was born in Hamburg in 1954. She studied physics at the University of Leipzig, earning a doctorate in 1978, and later worked as a chemist at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry, Academy of Sciences from 1978 to 1990. Merkel entered politics after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
In 1990, Merkel joined the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and was elected to the German Bundestag. Over the next decade, Merkel became the Deputy Chairwoman of the CDU (1991-1998) and the Chairwoman of a regional CDU branch (1993-2000). During this time, Merkel was also appointed the Federal Minister for Women and Youth (1991-1994) and the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conversation and Nuclear Safety (1994-1998).
In 1998, Merkel accepted the position of General Secretary of the CDU Germany and later the Chairwoman of the CDU Germany. By the time she left office, on December 8, 2021, Merkel had become Germany’s second longest-serving chancellor; her 16-year term was less than two weeks shorter than that of her mentor, Helmut Kohl.
Merkel occupied the position of the President of the European Council in 2007 and played a key role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. In 2009, Merkel became the senior G7 leader, succeeding U.S. President George W. Bush. In 2011 Merkel was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. Merkel topped Forbes' list of the most powerful women in the world for the seventh consecutive year in 2017, and for the 12th time overall.
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel received Germany’s highest federal decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit for special achievement, an honor bestowed on only two other former leaders.