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These Countries Have Produced the Greatest Number of Leaders Recognized as Person of the Year

5 minute read

In the nearly nine decades during which TIME has selected a Person of the Year, a lot has changed, but the standards by which the selection is made have remained steady: the Person of the Year is the individual (or group or concept, more recently) who has had the most influence on the world, for good or ill. Unsurprisingly, that person is often the leader of a nation.

American political leaders have had an outsized presence on that list. A president of the United States has been named Person of the Year 22 times, including shared titles and repeats. That’s a wide lead, as the runner-up is a nation that has produced a Person of the Year leader in seven different years, the total if you combine leaders from Russia and the USSR. Today’s announcement moves Germany into third place, with four years with the most influential leader. The U.K. and China tie with three years—though one of China’s covers included two different leaders — and then Iran and France with two years each.

Here’s a quick run-down of about a century of world history, as told by the passing of the Person of the Year title from one capital to the next:

The Great Depression: Premier Pierre Laval of France had been popular with citizens even amid economic crisis in 1931, shortly before Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his administration began to control the Depression narrative.

World War II: As the specter of fascism emerged around the world, the earliest World War II leaders to take the title were those who defended their nations against the early onslaughts of Axis power. Haile Selassie got the world’s sympathy during the conflict between his Ethiopia and Mussolini’s Italy, in 1935. Two years later, China’s leading couple—Chiang Kai-shek and Soong Mei-ling, known as Mme. Chiang—did the same in the face of Japanese hostility.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the villain held the reins: Adolf Hitler of Germany had controlled the path of world affairs that year. During the fighting, TIME placed the center of influence, when it wasn’t in the U.S., along Europe’s fronts. Joseph Stalin’s USSR took the title in 1939 and 1942; Winston Churchill and Great Britain had the power in 1940. In the post-war period, the U.K. repeated the feat with Churchill again in 1949 and the new Queen, Elizabeth II, in 1952.

High Cold War: Ironically, the introduction of the Cold War into the Person of the Year decision came from a nation only indirectly involved in that ideological battle. The Premier of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, was named for 1951, a year during which the Cold War East-West divide “encouraged [the] state of mind” of opposition to the West in non-Communist nations too, thus encouraging Iranian ambitions in the Middle East. A similar Cold War-era push for independence in Algeria brought France’s Premiere Charles de Gaulle the title in 1958. Other than that, the Cold War players were more predictable: West Germany’s Konrad Adenauer in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev of the USSR in 1957 and Willy Brandt of West Germany in 1970.

The Turbulent 1970s: As the Arab world became more unified in its goals, and as the rest of the world hungered for the oil it controlled, leaders from the Middle East led the way in terms of influence. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia took the title in 1974, for his power to drive world events by controlling the world’s oil. Anwar Sadat from Egypt was 1977’s Man of the Year, for his efforts to promote peace in the region. And Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran took 1979, the year of the hostage crisis.

The Cold War Thaws: In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, those who held the power to end the Cold War were the ones who had the most influence. Sometimes they were outsiders pushing for change, like Lech Walesa of Poland, in 1981. Sometimes they were leaders whose positions evolved, as was the case with Deng Xiaoping of China, who was selected in both 1978 and 1985 as he modernized his nation and opened it to the world. As for the USSR, the selection of Yuri Andropov in 1983, alongside Ronald Reagan, highlighted the confrontation between the two Cold Warriors. By the end of the decade, Mikhail Gorbachev’s push for change brought him the title in 1987 and 1989. Even the seeming outlier here, Corazon Aquino of the Philippines in 1986, was framed as a force against a Communism in her country.

Post-Cold War: The end of the Cold War brought a period of U.S. political and economic power, with presidents and businessmen dominating the POY rolls. That changed in 2001.

Though New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani was named for the year of the Sept. 11 attacks—among the few local politicians to hold the title in the franchise’s history—the period that followed spread the power more equally throughout the world. Presidents Bush and Obama were unquestionably influential, but groups—protesters, Internet users, philanthropists—led the world just as often.

And the world leaders with whom Bush and Obama shared the stage were, increasingly, there as well: In 2007, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and now, for 2015, Angela Merkel’s Germany.

Read More: TIME’s 2015 Person of the Year Is Angela Merkel

See Every Person Of The Year Cover Ever

Photograph by Mark Mahaney for TIME
Portrait by Jason Seiler for TIME
Greta Thunberg Time Person of the Year Cover
Photograph by Evgenia Arbugaeva for TIME
2018: The GuardiansPhotographs by Moises Saman-Magnum Photos for TIME
TIME Person of the Year 2017: The Silence BreakersBilly & Hells for TIME
2016: Donald Trump person of the year
2016: Donald TrumpTIME
TIME person of the year angela merkel 2015
2015: Angela MerkelTIME
TIME Person of the Year 2014 Magazine Cover: The Ebola Fighters 141222
2014: The Ebola FightersTIME
2013: Pope Francis
2013: Pope FrancisTIME
2012: Barack Obama
2012: President Barack ObamaTIME
2011: The Protester
2011: The ProtesterTIME
2010: Mark Zuckerberg
2010: Mark Zuckerberg TIME
2009: Ben Bernanke TIME
2008: Barack Obama
2008: President Barack ObamaTIME
2007: Vladimir Putin
2007: Vladimir PutinTIME
2006: YouTIME
2005: The Good Samaritans: Bill Gates, Bono, Melinda Gates
2005: The Good Samaritans: Bill Gates, Bono, Melinda GatesTIME
2004: President George W. Bush
2004: President George W. BushTIME
2003: The American Soldier
2003: The American SoldierTIME
2002: The Whistleblowers
2002: The Whistleblowers: Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley and Sherron Watkins TIME
2001: Rudy Giuliani
2001: Rudy Giuliani TIME
2000: President George W. Bush
2000: President George W. BushTIME
1999: Jeff Bezos
1999: Jeff BezosTIME
1998: Kenneth Starr ad Bill Clinton
1998: Kenneth Starr and Bill ClintonTIME
1997: Andrew Grove
1997: Andrew GroveTIME
1996: Dr. David HoTIME
1995: Newt GingrichTIME
1994: Pope John Paul II
1994: Pope John Paul IITIME
1993: The Peacemakers: Yitzhak Rabin, Nelson Mandela, F.W. De Klerk, Yasser ArafatTIME
1992: President Bill ClintonTIME
1991: Ted Turner
1991: Ted TurnerTIME
1990: President George H.W. BushTIME
1989: Mikhail Gorbachev
1989: Mikhail GorbachevTIME
1988: Endangered EarthTIME
1987: Mikhail Gorbachev
1987: Mikhail GorbachevTIME
1986: Corazon Aquino
1986: Corazon AquinoTIME
1985: Deng Xiaoping
1985: Deng XiaopingTIME
1984: Peter Ueberroth
1984: Peter UeberrothTIME
1983: President Ronald Reagan and Yuri Andropov
1983: President Ronald Reagan and Yuri AndropovTIME
1982: The ComputerTIME
1981: Lech Wałęsa
1981: Lech Wałęsa TIME
1980: President Ronald Reagan
1980: President Ronald ReaganTIME
1979: Ayatollah Khomeini
1979: Ayatollah KhomeiniTIME
1978: Deng Xiaoping
1978: Deng XiaopingTIME
1977: Anwar Sadat
1977: Anwar SadatTIME
1976: President Jimmy CarterTIME
1975: American Women
1975: American WomenTIME
1974: King FaisalTIME
1973: John Sirica
1973: John SiricaTIME
1972: President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger
1972: President Richard Nixon and Henry KissingerTIME
1971: President Richard Nixon
1971: President Richard NixonTIME
1970: Willy Brandt
1970: Willy BrandtTIME
1969: The Middle Americans
1969: The Middle AmericansTIME
1968: The Apollo 8 astronauts
1968: The Apollo 8 AstronautsTIME
1967: President Lyndon B. Johnson
1967: President Lyndon B. JohnsonTIME
1966: Men and Women 25 and UnderTIME
1965: William Westmoreland
1965: William WestmorelandTIME
1964: Lyndon B. Johnson
1964: Lyndon B. JohnsonTIME
1963: Martin Luther King, Jr.
1963: Martin Luther King, Jr.TIME
1962: Pope John XXIII
1962: Pope John XXIIITIME
1961: President John F. Kennedy
1961: President John F. KennedyTIME
1960: U.S. Scientists
1960: U.S. ScientistsTIME
1959: President Dwight D. Eisenhower
1959: President Dwight D. EisenhowerTIME
1958: Charles de Gaulle
1958: Charles de GaulleTIME
1957: Nikita Khrushchev
1957: Nikita KhrushchevTIME
1956: The Hungarian Freedom FighterTIME
1955: Harlow Curtice
1955: Harlow CurticeTIME
1954: John Foster Dulles
1954: John Foster DullesTIME
1953: Konrad Adenauer
1953: Konrad AdenauerTIME
1952: Queen Elizabeth II
1952: Queen Elizabeth IITIME
1951: Mohammad Mossadegh
1951: Mohammad MossadeghTIME
1950: The American Fighting Man
1950: The American Fighting Man TIME
1949: Winston Churchill
1949: Winston ChurchillTIME
1948: President Harry S. Truman
1948: President Harry S. TrumanTIME
1947: George MarshallTIME
1946: James F. Byrnes
1946: James F. ByrnesTIME
1945: President Harry S. Truman
1945: President Harry S. TrumanTIME
1944: Dwight D. Eisenhower
1944: Dwight D. EisenhowerTIME
1943: George Marshall
1943: George MarshallTIME
1942: Joseph Stalin
1942: Joseph StalinTIME
1941: President Franklin D. Roosevelt
1941: President Franklin D. RooseveltTIME
1940: Winston Churchill
1940: Winston ChurchillTIME
1939: Joseph Stalin
1939: Joseph StalinTIME
1938: Adolf Hitler
1938: Adolf HitlerTIME
1937: Chiang Kai-shek and Soong May-ling
1937: Chiang Kai-shek and Soong May-lingTIME
1936: Wallis Simpson
1936: Wallis SimpsonTIME
1935: Haile Selassie
1935: Haile SelassieTIME
1934: President Franklin D. Roosevelt
1934: President Franklin D. RooseveltTIME
1933: Hugh S. Johnson
1933: Hugh S. JohnsonTIME
1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt
1932: Franklin D. RooseveltTIME
1931: Pierre Laval
1931: Pierre LavalTIME
1930: Mahatma Gandhi
1930: Mahatma GandhiTIME
1929: Owen D. Young
1929: Owen D. YoungTIME
1928: Walter Chrysler
1928: Walter ChryslerTIME
TIME Man of the Year 1927: Charles Lindbergh
1927: Charles LindberghTIME

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com