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30 Well-known world leaders your students ought to be familiar with

Many world leaders were a source of inspiration to people with their high ideals and sense of commitment. But sometimes famous world leaders have been quite controversial and infamous because of their deeds. But it’s important for children to know about world leaders to understand our history and present better.

  1. Hammurabi of the Babylonian dynasty was famous for a set of laws known as the Code of Hammurabi which has the earliest example of an accused being considered innocent until proven guilty.

  2. Cyrus the Great founded the first Persian Empire which was the largest in the world and he respected the religions and cultures of the areas he conquered.

  3. Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia and his empire was one of the largest in history. He was never defeated in battle and military academies till date teach his tactics.

  4. Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of unified China and was a ruthless ruler. He’s remembered for uniting the Chinese states, establishing a standardised writing style and currency and for starting the construction on the Great Wall of China.

  5. Julius Caesar was a Roman dictator who built Rome into a mighty empire and brought Gaul under Roman rule. He initiated land reforms and granted citizenship to people of distant regions of the empire. He was assassinated by the ruling elite as they didn’t trust him.

  6. Charlemagne was one of the great leaders of the world and united most of Western and Central Europe during the Middle Ages. Known as the ‘Father of Europe’, he was illiterate but strongly in favour of education and set up many schools across Europe.

  7. Genghis Khan united the nomadic people of North-east Asia and formed the Mongol Empire. He was a ruthless conqueror and slaughtered whole cities who opposed him. But, he was respected for sharing his wealth and his other contributions to Mongol society.

  8. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of France who led an army against the English to victory during the Hundred Years War. She was captured and accused of witchcraft and burnt at the stake at the age of 19.

  9. Henry VIII was the king of England, best known for having six wives as he wanted a male heir. He divorced his first wife which led to a split with the Catholic Church and he became the first leader of the Protestant Church of England.

  10. Suleiman the Magnificent was the longest ruling Sultan of the Ottoman empire and dreamed of taking over Europe. His siege of Vienna failed and started a feud that lasted for centuries. He spread the empire in the Middle East and North Africa, reformed the legal system and became a great patron of the arts.

  11. Elizabeth I was the queen of England and Henry VIII’s daughter. She took over from her half-sister Mary who tried to return the country to Catholicism by force. Elizabeth I vowed to make England Protestant again but was quite tolerant and brought stability to the country.

  12. George Washington was the first President of the USA and led the American colonies to victory in the Revolutionary War.

  13. Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the USA and the author of the Declaration of Independence. He completed the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.

  14. Tecumseh was a powerful Shawnee Chief who formed the Native American Confederacy to prevent the expansion of the US into native lands. He joined the British in the War of 181, and died in battle.

  15. Napoleon Bonaparte was a brilliant military commander who became the emperor of France. He was captured and exiled to Elba by the Russians from where he escaped and finally met his end at the Battle of Waterloo.

  16. Simón Bolívar was the leader in the South American Independence Movement and freed  Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia from Spain. He is a great national hero throughout South America.

  17. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th U.S. President who freed the American slaves in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. He led the nation through the Civil War and was assassinated just after it ended.

  18. Sitting Bull was the Supreme Chief of the Lakota Sioux nation and led his people to victory over U.S. troops at the Battle of Little Bighorn. They were eventually defeated but till date he is regarded as a symbol of Native American resistance movements.

  19. Tsar Nicholas II was the last tsar of the Russian Empire. He refused to give more power to the new Russian parliament which lost him the support of the people. In 1918, he was executed along with his family and soon after, Russia became the Soviet Union.

  20. Mahatma Gandhi was a civil rights leader who led the movement for India’s independence from British rule. His non-violent methods inspired other world leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. in their freedom fights.

  21. Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia leading to the formation of the Soviet Union. His government brought in Communist reforms and many consider him a champion of socialism and the poor. But others feel he was a dictator that led to political oppression.

  22. Joseph Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union and took over from Lenin. Stalin was a brutal leader who killed millions and his policies led to the start of the Cold War after WWII ended.

  23. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the longest serving US President who helped the country recover from the Great Depression. He led the country through World War II and won a fourth term in 1944.

  24. Benito Mussolini was the founder of the National Fascist Party in Italy. He ruled as a dictator and joined Germany in World War II. Mussolini was captured by the Allies and executed.

  25. Adolf Hitler was a dictator of Germany who started World War II and sent more than 6 million Jewish people to die in concentration camps. Hitler committed suicide while hiding from Allied troops.

  26. Mao Zedong was a Communist revolutionary and the founder of the People’s Republic of China. He brought in extreme reforms like the Great Leap Forward which caused many deaths. He later started a Cultural Revolution that destroyed many artefacts and historical buildings. Despite his tyrannical regime, Mao made China a world power.

  27. Nelson Mandela was the first Black President of South Africa and a civil rights leader. Fearing his influence,he was imprisoned by the government for 27 years. He remained an inspiration and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

  28. Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan is an education activist and was just a high school student when she was targeted and shot by the Taliban. She condemned the Taliban regime and currently lives in exile in England from where she has continued her activism. She spoke at the UNO on her 16th birthday and was named one of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’ by Time magazine.

  29. Jacinda Ardern became the youngest female Prime Minister of New Zealand and the world at the age of 37 years. She faced major issues like the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic during her time in office.

  30. Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected the President of Ukraine in 2019 and faced many issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. Russia launched an ongoing invasion in February 2022 in which Zelenskyy has earned international praise for his leadership.

If you are looking for more information on the most famous leaders in the world, do check the EuroKids website.

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