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The Top 12 Most Influential People
Whether they were scientists, politicians, artists, or religious leaders, these influential people all had something in common. Each of them had a vision and a deep desire to transform the world around them!
Are you ready to find out who made it on the list? Let’s start!
12. William Shakespeare
Date of Birth: 23 April 1564 (died at 52 years old)
Place of Birth: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Greatest contributions: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth
Famous for his poetry and plays, William Shakespeare is often hailed as the greatest English writer in all of history! In his lifetime, he wrote about love, envy, and death – tugging at the heartstrings of millions. He highlighted the beauty and pain of human emotion which has left a lasting impression even generations later.
11. Isaac Newton
Date of Birth: 4 January 1643 (died at 84 years old)
Place of Birth: Woolsthorpe Manor House, UK
Greatest contributions: Laws of Motion, Calculus, Theory of gravity
If you’re wondering why Calculus exists in your school curriculum, it’s thanks to Sir Isaac Newton! He was a renowned physicist and mathematician who made some of the most groundbreaking scientific discoveries in history! Fun fact: although he was a prolific inventor, rumour has it that he actually died a virgin.
10. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Date of Birth: 27 January 1756 (died at 35 years old)
Place of Birth: Salzburg, Austria
Greatest contributions: ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, ‘The Magic Flute, Symphony No. 41’, and more
Even at 6 years old, he was considered a child prodigy. Mozart composed some of the most beautiful and iconic melodies to ever grace human ears. To this day, some parents believe that playing Mozart to their children during certain developmental periods will actually make their kids smarter.
Date of Birth: 19 June 384 BC (died at 61 years old)
Place of Birth: Stagira, Greece
Greatest contributions: Formal logic, ethics, rhetoric, philosophy
Aristotle gained his knowledge from Plato, who was a student of the famous Socrates. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist who placed a lot of emphasis on observing the world around him. Unlike earlier thinkers, he was the first to develop a philosophy around objectivity, which then laid the groundwork for the method of scientific inquiry that we use today.
8. Nikola Tesla
Date of Birth: 10 July 1856 (died at 86 years old)
Place of Birth: Smiljan, Croatia
Greatest contributions: Alternate current motor, Tesla coil
Let there be light… with the use of alternating current! Tesla is the engineer responsible for creating a way to distribute electricity efficiently. You might chalk this achievement up to Thomas Edison, but he only got the glory because he was better at selling his ideas to the public. Thank god for the internet and memes for filling us in on what the textbooks left out! Nikola Tesla deserves the recognition for literally lighting up our world.
7. Maya Angelou
Date of Birth: 4 April 1928 (died at 86 years old)
Place of Birth: St. Louis, Missouri, US
Greatest contributions: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Still I Rise
This phenomenal woman was a poet, writer, activist, and one of the most influential women of her time! Despite being a bright light in the world, Maya had a dark childhood: she was raped by her mother's boyfriend at just 7 years old, and because of the trauma, she refused to speak until she was about 12 years old. During those dark years, she would express herself through her writing, which led her to develop incredible literary skills. Her writing has inspired millions of people all over the world, especially women and survivors of abuse.
6. Steve Jobs
Date of Birth: 24 February 1955 (died at 56 years old)
Place of Birth: San Francisco, California, US
Greatest contributions: Apple Inc., iPhones, Mac Computers, iPods, iPads
From college dropout to co-founder of Apple, Inc, Steve Jobs was a visionary who revolutionised modern technology. With his black turtleneck and blue jeans, he had a knack for making us feel like every new iPhone was a necessity! To this day, people literally line up for hours outside Apple stores just to get their hands on the latest product. Steve Jobs may have passed away in 2011 but the company he built continues to innovate and inspire the world.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Date of Birth: 30 July 1947 (currently 72 years old)
Place of Birth: Thal, Austria
Greatest contributions: Bodybuilder, environmental activist, California governor, Hollywood action movies
From bodybuilder to Hollywood actor to politician. Arnold’s strength and determination pushed him to excel every career-path he pursued. As a bodybuilder and actor, he challenged the current standards and broke barriers in both industries. As a governor, he took climate change very seriously, and he received plenty of support in the hopes of reducing global warming.
4. Mahatma Gandhi
Date of Birth: 2 October 1869 (died at 78 years old)
Place of Birth: Porbandar, India
Greatest contribution: India’s Independence Movement
This man forced British invaders leave his country through sheer will-power alone. If that doesn’t make him one of the most influential personalities of all time, we don’t know what will! Gandhi was a social activist and lawyer who changed the world with his peaceful protests and hunger strikes. He believed that, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world” and he certainly lived up to that standard!
3. Jesus Christ
Date of Birth: 4 BC (died at 33-36 years old)
Place of Birth: Judea, Roman Empire
Greatest contribution: Christianity
With over 2 billion followers, Christianity is the most prominent religion in the entire world! His teachings about forgiveness, salvation, and love are preached to this day in masses and bible study groups.
2. Albert Einstein
Date of Birth: 14 March 1879 (died at 76 years old)
Place of Birth: Ulm, Germany
Greatest contributions: Theoretical physics, Quantum theory, the most famous equation: e = mc2
What do paper towels, solar power, and stock market forecasts all have in common? Well, they all wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Albert Einstein! Though he didn’t create any of these directly, Einstein’s knowledge and scientific findings laid the foundation for our understanding of the modern world. If Einstein was never born, we’d be living in a vastly different world.
1. Martin Luther King Jr.
Date of Birth: 15 January 1929 (died at 39 years old)
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Greatest contributions: American civil rights movement, peaceful anti-racism protests
He had a dream for his country and he fought for it. Martin Luther King Jr. is, without a doubt, one of the most inspirational people ever! He is a historical leader famous for his nonviolent protests against racism in support of the African-American community. MLK dedicated his entire life to serving the people. One of the best quotes he left us with was, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”.
There you have it! Those were the 12 most influential people that changed the world forever. But before we cap off the list, there are a few others that are worth mentioning! Here they are:
- Siddhartha Gautama: The Buddha - founded Buddhism and introduced The Path to Enlightenment.
- Abraham Lincoln - the president who helped end slavery in America.
- Charles Darwin - regarded as the most influential biologist for studying natural selection and the theory of evolution.
- Marie Curie - the first woman to win a Nobel Prize! She also discovered radioactivity and developed x-rays.
- Leonardo Da Vinci - his designs led to the creation of tanks and helicopters. He also made insightful contributions to our understanding of human anatomy.