Angela MerkelChancellor of Germany / Political Leader
Born: 17 July 1954
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Best known as: The Chancellor of Germany, 2005-present
Angela Merkel became the first woman Chancellor of Germany when she was elected in 2005. She was re-elected in 2009 and again in 2013, making her one of the most powerful European leaders since World War II. Although she was born in West Germany, she was raised in East Germany. She studied physics at the University of Leipzig (1973-78), and worked as a chemist and researcher in East Berlin, earning a doctorate in 1986 from the German Academy of Sciences. Merkel spent a dozen years as a scientist, but became politically active in 1989, as the Soviet Union collapsed and post-war Germany began to ponder unification. By 1990, Merkel emerged as a spokesman for East Germany, and her media-friendly zeal led to her election to the legislative body, followed by an appointment to Chancellor Helmut Kohl's cabinet. With Kohl as her political mentor, Merkel rose in the ranks of the Christian Democratic Union party, but in the late 1990s, when Kohl faced a financial scandal, Merkel publicly distanced herself and secured her position as the party leader by 2000. Chancellor Merkel's narrow victory in 2005 forced a coalition government, but by her re-election in 2009, she'd proven herself true to her nickname, "Mutti" (Mommy) -- a steady guardian of the nation's interests and one of the most powerful forces in European politics. After successfully steering Germany through the economic rapids of 2009-2012, Merkel was handily re-elected to a third term in September of 2013.
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