The youngest national leaders in the world, ranked by age

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern.

  • Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s 42-year-old prime minister, has announced plans to step down.
  • Other countries across the world have leaders in their 30s and early 40s.
  • Chile’s Gabriel Boric, 36, and Finland’s Sanna Marin, 37, are among the world’s youngest leaders.

Kieran Corcoran and Lydia Warren contributed to an earlier version of this report.

Now 44, Leo Varadkar became Ireland’s prime minister at age 38.

Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar.

Before becoming Ireland’s youngest — and first openly gay — Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar served as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport; Minister for Health; and Minister for Social Protection. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Varadkar is the fourth openly gay head of government in world history.

Further, he is also Ireland’s first prime minister of South Asian descent. Although Varadkar was born and raised in Dublin, his father is from Mumbai. A licensed medical doctor, Varadkar spent time in Mumbai during his medical internship.

Xavier Espot Zamora, 43, is the prime minister of Andorra.

Xavier Espot Zamora.
Xavier Espot Zamora.

In May 2019, the politician and lawyer was appointed prime minister of Andorra, a tiny, independent principality in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. Andorra is the sixth-smallest European nation and has a population of approximately 77,000.

Before taking the top spot, Zamora was the Minister of Social Affairs, Justice and Interior. He completed his law degrees in Barcelona.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, 42, serves as the king of Bhutan.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Khesar is the fourth “Dragon King” of Bhutan, a Himalayan nation that borders India and China. He took power at the age of 26 when his father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, abdicated.

According to the BBC, he studied in the United States and attended Magdalen College in Oxford, England, before returning to Bhutan. He has said one of the aims of his reign is to strengthen democracy in his country.

The now-42-year-old Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the emir of Qatar almost 10 years ago.

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Qatar’s current emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, rose to power in 2013 when he was just 33 years old.

Before becoming emir, he graduated from the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst in England and later joined Qatar’s Armed Forces.

Jacinda Ardern, 42, will soon step down as New Zealand’s prime minister.

Jacinda Adern at a podium.
Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, became prime minister in October 2017 after a close-fought election.

She rose exceptionally quickly through the ranks of New Zealand politics, seizing the country’s highest office less than a year after entering parliament. Ardern was elected MP for Mount Albert, a suburb of Auckland, at a by-election in February 2017. She was elected Labour leader in August, and she entered a general election campaign shortly after.

Since taking over as leader, she has been an outspoken voice against sexism and racism, swiftly banned military-style semi automatic and assault rifles after the Christchurch shooting, and welcomed a daughter.

On January 19, 2023, Ardern announced she would be stepping down from her position, saying she “no longer had enough in the tank” for the role, Insider’s Charles R. Davis and Azmi Haroun reported. She will step down by February 7.

Speaking to a crowd, she said, “[Politicians] give all that we can for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”

Nayib Bukele, now 41, became the president of El Salvador at 38.

Nayib Bukele at a podium.
Nayib Bukele.

Nayib Bukele, a former businessman and mayor of San Salvador, easily won El Salvador’s election in February 2019 and was sworn in as president that June. The win for his GANA party (the Grand Alliance for National Unity) ended the dominance of the FMLN and ARENA parties.

Bukele, who has 4.6 million Twitter followers, is an avid social-media user who fired officials via tweets after assuming office.

Turkmenistan’s president, Serdar Berdimuhamedow, is 41 years old.

Serdar Berdimuhamedow.
Serdar Berdimuhamedow.

Before becoming Turkmenistan’s president, Serdar Berdimuhamedow’s held multiple positions in the Turkmenistanian government, which was led by his father, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. He served as his father’s deputy immediately before assuming the role of president. According to CNN, the Turkmenistan’s local media often refers him to as “the son of the nation.”

Berdimuhamedow has been criticized for limiting internet access and imposing various restrictions on women in Turkmenistan.

Vjosa Osmani, 40, currently serves as the second female president of Kosovo.

Vjosa Osmani.
Vjosa Osmani.

Since 2021, Vjosa Osmani has been Kosovo’s president. Her campaign focused heavily on anti-corruption.

According to the Anadolu Agency, she speaks English, Turkish, Spanish, and Serbian, and Albanian. After studying law at the University of Pristina in Kosovo, she earned her master’s and doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Georgia’s prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, is 40 years old.

Irakli Garibashvili.
Irakli Garibashvili.

Irakli Garibashvili has been the prime minister of Georgia since February 2021. Before assuming this role, Garibashvili was Georgia’s Minister of Defence.

Garibashvili started a program called “Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative,” which focuses on economic development in the South Caucus region, which includes Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

Malian President Assimi Goïta’s exact date of birth is unknown, but he is thought to be between 39 and 40 years old.

Assimi Goïta.
Assimi Goïta.

The child of a military officer, Assimi Goita grew up expressing interest in following in his father’s footsteps, according to Black Past. After climbing the ranks in the Malian military, Goita led a successful coup that led him to power in June 2021.

Goita is a survivor of attempted assassination. In July 2021, soon after he assumed power, a man tried to stab Goita at a mosque in Bamako.

At 39, Mahamat Déby is the transitional president of Chad.

Mahamat Déby in a military uniform.
Mahamat Déby.

The son of Idriss Déby — Chad’s former president — Mahamat Déby rose to power at just 38, following his father’s death. According to Black Past, the council that appointed Mahamat Déby to take his father’s position ensured the people of Chad that fair and free elections will be held within 18 months of Déby’s leadership.

A highly trained soldier with experience fighting against rebel groups, Mahamat Déby climbed the military’s ranks and is a four-star general in Chad’s army.

Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be 39, has held the position of supreme leader of North Korea since 2011.

Kim Jong Un speaking at a podium.
Kim Jong Un.

The supreme leader of North Korea has been groomed for power for most of his life, and he took control of the hermit kingdom in 2011.

A diehard basketball fan who was educated at a private school in Switzerland, Kim has had a life unlike any other world leader. His nuclear ambitions and bellicose rhetoric also mean he occupies a place on the world stage completely out of proportion with his nation’s power.

There has been some debate over his age: As Insider’s Ellen Cranley previously reported, 1982 is his official birth year — which would make him 41 — but it may have been changed from another year for symbolic reasons. When the US Treasury Department sanctioned him in 2016 for “notorious abuses of human rights,” his official birthdate was listed as January 8, 1984, making him 39 today.

You can read more about his wild ascent to power here.

Mohammed bin Salman, 37, is the crown prince and prime minister of Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed bin Salman.
Mohammed bin Salman.

Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to as “MBS,” is the son of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz. Before his political career, Prince Mohammed bin Salman worked in the private sector, specifically in corporate leadership and finance.

He has been a controversial figure on the world stage, particularly since the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA concluded Khashoggi was killed on the prince’s orders. Prince Mohammed was also accused of hacking the phone of then-Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos in 2018. UN investigators backed the claims, which the Saudi government called “absurd.”

He is also known for his lavish spending.

Sanna Marin, now 37, became the youngest-ever prime minister of Finland at 34.

Sanna Marin.
Sanna Marin.

Now 37 years old, Marin made history as the country’s youngest-ever prime minister, and she is the nation’s third female prime minister.

Marin, formerly Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications, was elected to take over by the Social Democratic party after former Prime Minister Antti Rinne resigned.

Last year, video clips, first published by the Finnish tabloid Iltalehti, showed her dancing enthusiastically during a night partying with friends. The leaked clips sparked backlash from some of her political opponents, and one demanded she take a drug test, even though no drug use was seen in the clips, Insider’s Sophie Ankel reported.

“I have free time that I spend with my friends,” Marin said in response to the outcry, the Guardian reported in August. “I’m pretty sure that’s the same as many people my age.”

Dritan Abazović, Montenegro’s prime minister, is 37 years old.

Dritan Abazovic at a press conference.
Dritan Abazovic.

Abazović’s work experience prior to becoming prime minister of Montenegro is vast. Among his many accomplishments were his establishment of the youth group offshoot of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights; the publication of his book, “Cosmopolitan Culture and Global Justice;” and his work as a high school teacher.

When it comes to political involvement, Abazović served in Montenegro’s government for eight years — first as a parliament member and as then the deputy prime minister — before becoming prime minister in April 2022.

Gabriel Boric, 36, is Chile’s current president.

Gabriel Boric.
Gabriel Boric.

Boric was politically active as a college student, and he has remained involved in politics ever since. At 35, he won Chile’s presidential election. Upon his election, he announced to a roaring crowd, “I guarantee that I will be a president who cares for Democracy … and attends to the needs of the people daily.”

During his presidency, Boric has attempted to push Chile leftward. In September 2022, he pushed for a progressive constitutional referendum that was ultimately rejected by the Chilean population.

Ibrahim Traoré, 35, is the world’s youngest national leader.

Ibrahim Traoré surrounded by soldiers.
Ibrahim Traoré (center).

Before becoming junta chief of Burkina Faso, Traoré was a student of geology, and he later attended Georges Namonao Military School.

The then-34-year-old rose to power after a coup d’etat in September 2022 that forced former leader Paul-Henri Damiba out of power. Supporters of the coup cited Damiba’s inability to deal with jihadist forces as the motivation for his removal. Surrounded by soldiers, Traoré announced he would be assuming leadership.

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