Forbes: 10 Most Powerful People in the World

By Nicole Perlroth and Michael Noer,

There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. These are the 68 who matter.

We are fascinated by power. We stand in awe of those who apply it adroitly -- and in fear of those who abuse it. We lust for power. Everyone would rather be a hammer than a nail.

The people on this list were chosen because, in various ways, they bend the world to their will. They are heads of state, major religious figures, entrepreneurs and outlaws. Comparing the relative power of such a diverse group is slippery business. To do it, we defined power in four dimensions. First, we asked if a person has influence over a lot of people? For heads-of-state we looked at population, for religious figures we measured the size of their flocks, for CEOs we counted their employees and for media figures we considered the size of their audience.

Second, we checked to see if they have significant financial resources relative to their peers. This meant comparing GDP for political leaders, net worth for billionaires and their ranking on the Forbes Global 2000 for CEOs. The Global 2000 lists the largest companies in the world based on a composite of market capitalization, assets, sales and profits.