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Who was the most inspirational leader featured in 2008?

By Mike Steere
For CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Who do you feel has been the most inspirational leader featured on The Spirit Of in 2008?

Who is your pick? Is Kofi Annan your inspirational leader of 2008?

Who is your pick? Is Kofi Annan your inspirational leader of 2008?

We have produced a short-list of some of the world's most inspiring leaders featured this year and we want to know who you think is the best candidate.

The leaders have a range of talents and we have outlined some of their major achievements for you.

Read through the list below and cast your vote at the Quick Vote box at the bottom of The Spirit Of section page.

We would also like you to predict who will be the great leaders of 2009. Do you see someone rising to power and popularity? Click here to tell us who you think will be the best leaders of 2009 and we'll publish the best comments and suggestions on our site.

Candidates for the most inspirational leader featured in 2008:

Wangari Maathai
The activist

Nobel prize-winning Kenyan, Wangari Maathai is an environmental and political activist. She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree when she received her Ph.D. from the University of Nairobi in 1971. Since then, she has served on the National Council of Women, been presiding officer of the African Union's Economic, Social and Cultural Council and served as Kenya's assistant environment minister.

John Hume
The statesman

Politician and Irish civil rights leader, Hume, was the leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP), which he co-founded for over 20 years. In the 1970s, he was instrumental in negotiations leading to a power-sharing agreement that gave the Catholic minority proportional representation in parliament. Hume is also credited with the vision that lay behind the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which was aimed at restoring self-governance in Northern Ireland.

Kofi Annan
The peacekeeper

Annan was secretary general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He joined the U.N. in 1962 and served with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping before assuming the top job. Currently, he is chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, which helps small-scale farmers; and also played a crucial role in resolving the Kenyan elections crisis in 2007.

Stephen Hawking
The philosopher

Theoretical physicist and author, Stephen Hawking is possibly the world's greatest living scientist. One of his great achievements, together with mathematician Roger Penrose, has been to prove that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity means space and time has a beginning in the "Big Bang" and ends in black holes. In 1998, he published "A Brief History of Time," a layman's guide to the origins of the universe, which has since become a modern classic.

Queen Rania
The philanthropist

Beautiful and intelligent, and balancing a modern outlook with a deep concern for her people, Jordan's Queen Rania seems in many ways to represent the optimistic face of the Middle East's future. Since she entered the spotlight after she married then Prince Abdullah in 1993, she has become known for her philanthropic work, pushing for better educational facilities for Jordan's school children and supporting efforts to empower women.

Johan Cruyff
The team player

European soccer legend, Cruyff was one of the greatest football players the world has ever seen. He was the heartbeat of the Dutch national side during the 1970s and was named European Player of the Century in 1999. He retired from the game and transferred his skills and philosophy into management in Holland and Spain. Today, he heads The Johan Cruyff Foundation which helps children of all ages and abilities take part in sport.

James Lovelock
The visionary

In the 1960s, environmentalist and "planetary doctor," Lovelock came up with the revolutionary theory that all living things have a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment, working together as one complete "superorganism" to sustain life. At first embraced only by the New Age and environmental movements, the scientific mainstream has since accepted the essential truth of Lovelock's visionary "Gaia hypothesis."

Paulo Coelho
The storyteller

Brazilian writer Coelho most influential authors writing today; he is also one of the most widely read having sold more than 100 million books which have been translated into 56 languages. He has lived an eventful life with stints in a mental institution and the Brazilian army under a dictatorship which has infused his writings with a deeply spiritual aspect.

Gustavo Dudamel
The prodigy

Venezuelan conductor, Dudamel, described by The New York Times as, "one of the hottest -- and youngest -- conducting properties around," is a graduate of El Sistema, the country's education system famous for its role in transforming the lives of impoverished youths. He went on to conduct the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra which introduces poorer children to classical music. He is currently leading the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Once you have made your choice you can place your vote here and see the results.

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