The World's Most Powerful People 2013

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Who’s more powerful: the autocratic leader of a former superpower or the handcuffed commander in chief of the most dominant country in the world? This year the votes for the World’s Most Powerful went to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He climbs one spot ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama, who held the title in 2012.

Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president — latest example: the government shutdown mess. Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics.

The Most Powerful People in the World list is an annual snapshot of the heads of state, CEOs and financiers, philanthropists and NGO chiefs, billionaires, and entrepreneurs who truly rule the world. It represents the collective wisdom of top FORBES editors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s top 72 power-brokers – one for every 100 million people on Earth — based on their scope of influence and their financial resources relative to their peers. (See full methodology here).

This year’s list features 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of some $48 trillion — including the three most powerful people, Putin, Obama and Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China. The 27 CEOs and chairs control over $3 trillion in annual revenues, and 12 are entrepreneurs, including new billionaires on the list, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote (No. 64), founder of Dangote Group, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison(No. 58). Speaking of, this year’s class has 28 billionaires valued in excess of $564 billion.

Here, a quick peek at the Most Powerful People in the World 2013:

Newcomers: Among the 13 newcomers are Pope Francis (No. 4), Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee(No. 41), Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn (No. 49), South Korean President Park Geun-hye (No. 52), IBM CEO Virginia Rometty (No. 56), and Janet Yellen (No. 72), nominated by President Obama as the next leader of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Rosneft CEO and Putin confidant Igor Sechin (No. 60) and Jill Abramson (No. 68), the executive editor of the New York Times, make a return appearance after dropping of the list in years past.

He’s Not No. 1: This is the first year that Putin carries the crown. Obama has been on the top of the list for every year with the exception of 2010, when Hu Jintao, the former political and military leader of China, was No. 1.

Women Moving Up In Numbers: This year there are nine women on the list, representing 12% of the world’s most powerful — in stark contrast to being 50% of the world’s population. Both 2011 and 2012 featured six women leaders, and the inaugural list from 2009 included only 3 — or just 4.4%. Recently elected Park of South Korea joins the other female heads of state German Chancellor Angela Merkel No.5), Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff (No. 20)and de facto head of India Sonia Gandhi (No. 21). Two of the world’s most important NGO’s are run by women: Christine Lagarde (No. 35) leads the IMF and Margaret Chan (No. 59) steers the World Health Organization.

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