We live in an increasingly international world, where it is simply not enough to know who the leader of your country is. While that is critical, of course, your president is going to be interacting with world leaders from allied nations and nations we have more tense relationships with. While the United States obviously interacts with almost every country on earth, there are world leaders that make the US news cycle more frequently than others. To help you understand these leaders and our relationship with them, here’s a breakdown of the nine world leaders you HAVE to know.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France
The newly elected president of France made waves when he won, and his handshakes with Donald Trump have been much studied, but even though Macron and Trump don’t agree on everything, the US-France alliance stretches back to the very foundations of our nation, and isn’t going anywhere. Macron is part of the “En Marche” movement in France and at only 39, a ripe young leader. The French president serves a five-year term. You can learn more about him here.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
In power since 2005, Angela Merkel has been a constant face on the world stage for over a decade. US-Germany relations are steady and solid, despite political differences among the leaders. She is the first female chancellor and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union. During her tenure in office, she has advocated for increased immigration into the country and for green energy. Merkel is up for election again this fall. You can learn more about her here.
Kim Jong-Un, Leader of North Korea
The leader of North Korea is always in the news for his missile launches, threats to the US, killing of his own citizens, et cetera, so you’ve probably heard about him. Of course, the US and North Korea aren’t allies, but we aren’t quite at war. He is a relatively young leader, only 33, but took over when his father, Kim Jong-Il died in 2010. He is widely considered a dictator and continues to live a more secretive life while keeping his country from prospering by closing it off to the world. You can learn more about him here.
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada has become something of a cover boy, thanks to his good looks and charisma. The 45-year-old leader is the head of the Liberal Party of Canada and maintains good relations with the US. Domestically, he has expressed his intent to end Canada’s involvement in Iraq, legalize marijuana, and accept increased numbers of refugees. You can learn more about him here. He will be up for election again in the fall of 2019.
Xi Jinping, President of China
China is one of those nations that the US has a friendly but tenuous relationship with. As Trump has said numerous times, he is not happy with China’s handling, or lack thereof, of North Korea and the imbalance of trade between the two nations. The Chinese president is Xi Jinpinng, the 64-year-old leader of the Communist Party in China. While he is democratically elected, communism has been a foe of the United States for decades. You can learn more about Jinping here. There is no set date for the next presidential election.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
How could we make this list and not include Putin, the leader of Russia? While Russia is a US ally on most accounts, there are increased tensions due to their role in Syria and the election meddling of 2016. Putin served as president from 2000 to 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. He has drawn criticism for his anti-gay regulations and annexation of Crimea, among other things. The US-Russia relationship is always evolving, as sanctions were recently voted on in Congress against the nation. You can learn more about Vladimir Putin here. The next Russian presidential election will take place in March of 2018 and Putin can run again. Learn more about Putin here
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey
Turkey is a US ally, though tensions among Turkey and other countries have been causing potential strains on the relationship. President Erdogan has been in his position since 2014, and his tenure has included surviving a coup and attempts to silence the opposition in the press. He previously served as the Prime Minister of Turkey and is said to be a very religious man. The next Turkish presidential election is in 2019. You can learn more about him here.
Theresa May, Prime Minister of Britain
The first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May was elected to help lead Brexit and deal with increased terrorism in Britain. With the Revolutionary War behind us, the US and Britain are allies, but Trump has yet to make an official state visit to May and Queen Elizabeth II. She is the leader of the Conservative Party, supports Brexit, is hard on terrorism, and supports same-sex marriage. It is unclear when the next election will be, as May called an early general election this past June. You can learn more about May here.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel