Bolt, Obama and Gangnam Style: What (and whom) has Merkel outlasted?

Who is Angela Merkel?
Who is Angela Merkel?


    Who is Angela Merkel?


Who is Angela Merkel? 01:44

(CNN)On Wednesday, Angela Merkel will begin a historic fourth term as Chancellor of Germany, making her one of the longest-serving leaders in modern German history.

Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, entered parliament in 1990 as the Soviet Empire crumbled, rising quickly through the ranks in the newly unified German government led by the late Helmut Kohl.
But Kohl's "Mädchen" (or "girl") would ultimately seal his political fate, writing a newspaper column in 1999 in which she criticized his leadership and urged the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to move ahead without him.
    A younger Angela Merkel and then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at a party convention in Dresden in 1991.
    She became leader of the party the following year -- and Chancellor five years later. Twelve years on -- and despite a poor election result in September that left Merkel scrambling to form a government -- she is still standing, unlike many of the leaders who stepped into the spotlight beside her.
    Take a look at who -- and what -- Merkel has outlasted since she first came to power.


    Twenty-nine leaders of G20 countries have come and gone since Merkel took office, including six Japanese and five Italian prime ministers.
    Merkel is seen here at the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ontario in 2010, with Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, Dmitry Medvedev and Stephan Harper - all of whom have come and gone during her tenure.
    The list also includes US President Barack Obama, French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, and British Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
    And the world has been far from conflict-free during Merkel's reign. We've seen the Arab Spring, civil war in Libya, revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Ukraine and war between Russia and Georgia. We've seen the growth of ISIS and the terror group's capture -- and loss -- of huge swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. [


    Three years into her first term, Merkel faced the world's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression -- and helped steer Germany to economic recovery.
    Fast forward a few years and Europe was embroiled in its own debt crisis that almost saw Greece leave the Eurozone and caused unemployment to skyrocket in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece too.
    Many Germans disapproved of the way Merkel handled the crisis, while the view from abroad -- Greece excepted -- was more positive.
    Merkel has been at the center of Europe's response to the so-called refugee crisis.
    Hard on the heels of that emergency came the so-called refugee crisis, which saw around 1.5 million people arrive in Europe by sea. Many of them ended up in Germany.
    And since 2005, several deadly epidemics have swept the globe, from the H1N1 influenza virus (or "swine flu") in 2009 to outbreaks of Ebola and Zika.


    When Merkel first went into politics, the iPhone was a thing of the future.
    Twelve models of the ubiquitous smartphone have since passed by -- along with eight different (mostly feline-related) Mac operating systems, including Leopard, Mountain Lion and Yosemite.
    We've also seen the rise -- and fall -- of countless gadgets, including Google Glass, Google's ill-conceived instant messaging system ("Google Wave"), and the Twitter Peek, a not-so-popular handheld tweeting device.
    The combustible Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has come and gone -- as has the equally flammable hoverboard.
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006 and reached Pluto in 2015.
    Space travel has seen more success -- the space probe New Horizons was launched just a few months after Merkel became Chancellor and traveled three billion miles to reach Pluto in 2015.


    "Usain who?" Few people had heard of the Jamaican sprinter in 2005. Bolt has since become an athletics legend -- and headed gracefully into retirement -- all within the span of Merkel's years at the top.
    Jamaica's Usain Bolt shot to fame in Merkel's first term and retired from athletics in 2017.
    Europe's top football clubs have seen multiple handovers at the top since 2005 -- Bayern Munich has had five different managers and Spanish rivals Real Madrid eight.
    And the world of sport has been rocked by several doping scandals, which have seen the former stars Lance Armstrong, Tyson Gay and Maria Sharapova fall from grace.


    Merkel's tenure has spanned countless viral video sensations -- from a baby biting his brother's finger to Psy's Gangnam Style.
    "Gangnam Style" by South Korean rapper Park Jae Sang went viral in 2012.
    We've had the ice bucket and mannequin challenges, and seen the rise and fall of British boyband One Direction.
    Some of the most famous TV series of all time hadn't yet hit our screens in 2005 -- and have since aired their final shows -- from Breaking Bad and True Blood to Downton Abbey.
    And countless Hollywood couples have put their signatures to both marriage and divorce certificates during the years that Merkel has been leader -- Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, and Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, to name just two.