Special Report

50 Most Powerful Leaders of All Time

Source: Alessandro Bassano / Wikimedia Commons

31. Victoria
> Nation/Territory: United Kingdom
> Title: Queen
> Time in power/Reign: 1837-1901

Queen Victoria had one of the longest reigns — 63 years — of any European monarch. She presided over one of the greatest periods for the British Empire, giving her name to an era.

During her time as queen, the empire stayed out of major conflicts, a period called Pax Britannica. Great Britain embarked on grand projects such as the construction of the London Underground, a national railway network, a modern sewer system, as well as the introduction of technological advances such as electricity and the telegraph into public life.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

32. Otto von Bismarck
> Nation/Territory: Germany
> Title: Chancellor
> Time in power/Reign: 1871-1890

Otto Von Bismarck was the prime minister of Prussia and founder and first chancellor of the German Empire prior to being forced out in 1890. He is remembered as a master strategist whose military actions led to a unified Germany. Bismarck’s diplomatic dealings led to 20 years of peace in the European continent. However, his authoritarian domestic approach is blamed for the eventual downfall of the empire.

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

33. Wilhelm II
> Nation/Territory: Germany
> Title: Kaiser
> Time in power/Reign: 1888-1918

Wilhelm II was kaiser of the German Empire for 30 years. His ambitions and militaristic attitudes contributed to the start of WWI. Though he was a grandson of Queen Victoria, he helped put Germany on a path to conflict with Great Britain by expanding the size of the German navy in a direct challenge to the Royal Navy, as well as by growing Germany’s colonial presence in Africa and Asia. Wilhelm pushed Germany’s ally, Austria-Hungary, to severely punish Serbia after Austria-Hungary’s heir-apparent, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Serbia, setting in motion the events that would lead to WWI.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

34. Theodore Roosevelt
> Nation/Territory: United States
> Title: President
> Time in power/Reign: 1901-1909

Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th president of the United States following the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. He used the office to accomplish many tasks, including trust-busting, establishing about 200 million acres of nationally protected land, and initiating construction on the Panama Canal.

Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending the Russo-Japanese War, and his face was later added to Mount Rushmore.

Source: Elliott & Fry / Getty Images

35. Mohandas Gandhi
> Nation/Territory: India
> Title: Mahatma
> Time in power/Reign: 1915-1948

Mohandas Gandhi never held elective office or commanded an army, but he exercised enormous power by using nonviolent resistance to help liberate India from Great Britain after WWII. Gandhi’s strategy of nonviolent opposition to oppression began when he was a young lawyer opposing racism in South Africa in the late 19th and early 20th century. He preached the nonviolent philosophy when he returned to India, supporting boycotts and enduring beatings and arrests until India became independent in 1947.