German Chancellor and Chairwoman of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel speaks to delegates at the 30th CDU party congress on February 26, in Berlin, Germany. Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005, and is currently serving in her fourth term.
Merkel was born in Hamburg, West Germany, in 1954, but she grew up in East Germany. Her father, Horst Kasner, was a Lutheran minister and her mother, Herlind, was an English teacher.
Merkel, left, attends a New Year’s Eve party with friends in Berlin in 1972. In 1977, at the age of 23, she married her first husband, Ulrich Merkel. They divorced in 1982, but she kept the name.
Merkel poses with her siblings, Marcus and Irene Kasner.
Merkel visits a children’s home during her campaign to become a member of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, in 1990. Before turning to politics, Merkel had trained as a physicist. She was also a spokeswoman for the “Democratic Awakening,” East Germany’s opposition movement before reunification.
A month after being elected to the Bundestag, Merkel was appointed to Germany’s Cabinet in January 1991. Chancellor Helmut Kohl named her Minister for Women and Youth.
Merkel looks at Kohl during a conference of the Christian Democratic Union, their political party, in 1991. At the time, Merkel was a deputy chairwoman for the party.
Merkel changed Cabinet positions in 1994, becoming Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Here, she visits a water-control station in Bad Honnef, Germany, in 1995.
Merkel, as the country’s leader on environmental issues, irons wrapping paper to show how it can be recycled.
Merkel and Health Minister Horst Seehofer attend a Cabinet meeting in 1995.
Merkel sits in a “strandkorb,” or beach basket, in an undated photo. In 2000, Merkel became the Christian Democratic Union’s first female chairperson. It was the opposition party at the time.
Merkel, left, attends the opening of the Wagner Festival, an annual music festival in Bayreuth, Germany, in 2001.
Merkel spends part of her summer in Langballig, Germany, in 2002.
Merkel meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2002, one of many meetings they would have over the years. Merkel speaks Russian fluently, while Putin speaks German.
Merkel speaks in Nuremberg, Germany, ahead of federal elections in 2005.
Merkel is sworn in as Germany’s first female chancellor in November 2005.
Merkel visits the White House in January 2006. A few days later she also visited the Kremlin in Russia.
US President George W. Bush shows off a barrel of pickled herrings he was presented after arriving in Stralsund, Germany, in July 2006.
Merkel visits troops stationed in Turkey in February 2013. Later that year she was re-elected for a third term.
Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, walk with US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama before a dinner in Berlin in June 2013. Merkel and Sauer have been married since 1998.
Merkel speaks to Obama on the sidelines of a G7 summit near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in June 2015.
Merkel was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2015. Time Editor-at-Large Karl Vick described her as “the de facto leader of the European Union” by virtue of being leader of the EU’s largest and most economically powerful member state. Twice that year, he said, the EU had faced “existential crises” that Merkel had taken the lead in navigating — first the Greek debt crisis faced by the eurozone, and then the ongoing migrant crisis.
Merkel and Obama test a virtual-reality headset at a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, in April 2016.
Merkel and US President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference at the White House in March 2017.
Merkel raises her glass during a toast at the Trudering Festival in Munich, Germany, in May 2017.
Angela Merkel records her annual televised New Year’s address on December 20, 2017 in Berlin.
In this handout photo provided by the German Government Press Office, Merkel meets a newborn calf during a visit to the Trede family dairy farm in Nienborstel, Germany, on July 19.