German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named TIME Person of the Year on Wednesday, with a cover made from an oil portrait by award-winning artist Colin Davidson. If you don’t know her yet and what led to her winning this esteemed title, you have landed at the right place. Before we get back to why she won the title, let’s first know who she is.

Who is Angela Merkel?

Angela Dorothea Kasner was born to Herlind Kasner, an English and Latin teacher, and Horst Kasner, a theologian and Lutheran minister on July 17, 1954.

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The making of Merkel, BBC

A few weeks after she was born, their family moved to Templin, in East Germany. She excelled in academics especially maths, science and languages. In her teenage years, her parents encouraged her to join the Communist youth organization, the Freie Deutsche Jugend, or Free German Youth, to develop skills for a career in politics. Later, she decided to pursue a degree from the University of Leipzig in Physics.

She married Ulrich Merkel in 1977 and graduated the following year with a degree in physics and physical chemistry.

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The Making of Merkel, BBC

She continued her academic career and went on to study at the elite German Academy of Sciences, in Berlin, and earned a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry, in 1986. Merkel and her husband divorced in 1982. She later married Joachim Sauer, a chemistry professor.

In 1989, Merkel made a move toward a career in politics and joined the center-right activists of the Democratic Awakening party. As a female with a doctorate in quantum chemistry, Merkel immediately stood out in the political realm. And this is why she stood tall against all to win TIME Person of the year.

This is why she won the title!

  • She emerged in 2014 when she and French President François Hollande negotiated a ceasefire deal with Russia, and she followed this up by repeatedly attacking Russia publicly for not fully implementing the deal.
  • She always had a soft side for refugees and she played an important part in  making Germany a moral leader on the issue and taking in more asylees and refugees than any other country in Europe. Although she introduced border controls again in September, she has established herself as the biggest defender of migrants.
  • She was the major EU leader in negotiations with Greece and held the line against concessions that would have eased up the country’s debt.
  • Just a few days ago, Merkel committed German military forces to the Western anti-ISIS coalition after France requested support in the wake of the Paris attacks; in a country with a strong pacifist tradition since World War II, this is one of the most symbolically dramatic military actions to date.

Merkel has played an important role in most of the activities Europe has been involved in, be it the Greek crisis or anti-ISIS airstrikes. She has been playing an important role in establishing Germany as the leader among all other European countries and she deserves to be awarded for this.

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