Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, 55, became president on Dec. 10, 2007, after winning the general election in October. She replaced her husband, Nestor Kirchner. She is Argentina's second female president, but the first to be elected. She served as a senator for Buenos Aires province and Santa Cruz province. She was first elected to the Senate in 1995, and in 1997 to the Chamber of Deputies. In 2001 she won a seat in the Senate again. She studied law at the National University of La Plata. She and her husband have two children.
Kevin Rudd, 51, became prime minister Dec. 3, 2007, replacing John Howard. Rudd previously worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs, where he held posts in Stockholm, Sweden and China. He also held positions that included chief of staff for the premier of Queensland and director general of the office of the Queensland cabinet. Rudd first ran for office in 1996, but was not elected until 1998. He has served as shadow minister of foreign affairs and leader of the opposition. He earned a bachelor's degree in Asian studies at Australian National University in 1981, where he focused on Chinese language and history. He and his wife, Therese Rein, have three children.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 63, became president Jan. 1, 2003, after being elected in October 2002. He was re-elected in October 2006. "Lula" first ran for office in 1982 in the state of Sao Paulo, but it was not until 1986 that he was first elected to congress. He did not run for re-election in 1990. Instead, he became more involved in the Workers' Party, where he continued to run for the office of the president. He received no formal education and began working in a copper pressing factory at the age of 14. He became heavily involved in the workers unions at a young age. He is married to Marisa Let'cia and has five children.
Stephen Harper, 50, was elected prime minister in January 2006, assuming office from Paul Martin in February and leading a minority government. He won re-election in October 2008 and returned to the House of Commons with a stronger minority. He has served as a policy adviser for the Reform Party. Harper has served as leader of the opposition for a number of years before becoming prime minister. He did studied economics at the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary, later returning to the University of Calgary to earn his master's degree in economics. He and his wife, Laureen Harper, have two children.
Hu Jintao, 66, has been president since March 15, 2003. He replaced Jiang Zemin. Hu also serves as general secretary of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee and chair of the Central Military Commission. He joined the communist party in April 1964. He became vice-president of China in March 1998 and vice- chair of the Central Military Commission in 1999. In November 2002, Hu was elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. In 1965 he received his engineering degree from Tsinghua University. He is married to Lui Yongqing and they have two children.
Nicolas Sarkozy, 54, became president May 16, 2007, taking over from Jacques Chirac. From 1983 to 2002, he was mayor of Neuilly-sur- Seine. He has been president of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, France's major right-wing party, since 2004. During his time in parliament he has held a number of cabinet portfolios including minister of state of economy, finance and industry, minister of the budget and minister of the interior. In 1978, he received his law degree from the Universite de Paris. He is married to Carla Bruni and has three children from two previous marriages.
Angela Merkel, 53, became the first female chancellor on Nov. 22, 2005, replacing Gerhard Schroder. Merkel has worked as a researcher and physicist. She was elected to the Bundestag in 1990 and has held the cabinet portfolios of women and youth, environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety. …