100 most influential people in the world

100 most influential This is a list chosen by Michael H. Hart, from the book ‘100 most influential people in the world’. He chose people on a ranking of who had done the most to influence the world. I recommend reading the book as it offers an interesting insight into the influence of different individuals. As the author notes, ‘Influential’ does not include a judgement on whether they influenced the world for the better or worse.

Top 100 List

  1. Muhammad (570 – 632 AD) Prophet of Islam.
  2. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) – British mathematician and scientist.
  3. Jesus of Nazareth (c.5BC – 30 AD) Spiritual teacher and central figure of Christianity.
  4. Buddha (c 563 – 483 BC) Spiritual Teacher and founder of Buddhism.
  5. Confucius (551 – 479 BC) – Chinese philosopher.
  6. St. Paul (5 – AD 67) – Christian missionary and one of the main writers of the New Testament.
  7. Ts’ai Lun (AD 50 – 121) Inventor of paper.
  8. Johann Gutenberg (1395 – 1468) – Inventor of the printing press.
  9. Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506) – Italian explorer landed in America.
  10. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) German/ US scientist discovered Theory of Relativity.
  11. Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) French biologist. Developed a cure for rabies and other infectious diseases.
  12. Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642) Italian scientist – confirmed the heliocentric view of the universe.
  13. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) – Greek philosopher and polymath
  14. Euclid (c. 325 – 265 BC) – Greek mathematician
  15. Moses (c 1391 – 1271 BC) A key figure of Jewish / Christian history gave 10 Commandments of Old Testament
  16. Charles Darwin (1809 -– 1882) –Scientist who proposed and popularised theory of evolution.
  17. Shih Huang Ti (259 – 210 BC) – King of the state of Qin who conquered and united different regions of China in 221 BC.
  18. Augustus Caesar (63 BC-AD 14) – First Emperor of Rome
  19. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who believed Sun was the centre of the Universe – rather than earth.
  20. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743 – 1794) French chemist and biologist who had a leading impact on the chemical revolution.
  21. Constantine the Great (272 AD – 337) Roman Emperor who accepted Christian religion.
  22. James Watt (1736 – 1819) Scottish engineer. Watt improved the Newcome steam engine creating an efficient steam engine
  23. Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867) – English scientist who contributed in fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.
  24. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) Scottish physicist. Maxwell made a significant contribution to understanding electromagnetism
  25. Martin Luther (1483-1546) Sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church – starting the Protestant Reformation.
  26. George Washington (1732 – 1799) – Leader of US forces during American Revolution and 1st President of US.
  27. Karl Marx (1818 -– 1883) – German Communist philosopher.
  28. Orville and Wilbur Wright Orville (1871 – 1948) – Wilbur (1867 – 1912) – Created and flew the first aeroplane.
  29. Genghis Kahn (1162 – 1227) – Military and political leader of the Mongols.
  30. Adam Smith (1723-1790) Scottish social philosopher and pioneer of classical economics.
  31. William Shakespeare (1564- 1616) English poet and playwright.
  32. John Dalton (1766 – 1844) English chemist and physicist. Made contributions to atomic theory.
  33. Alexander the Great (356 -– 323 BC) – King of Macedonia and military leader.
  34. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 –- 1821) – French military and political leader.
  35. Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) – Inventor and businessman helped introduce electricity and electric light bulbs.
  36. Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) Dutch chemist – founder of microbiology.
  37. William T.G. Morton (1819 – 1868) American dentist who pioneered the use of anaesthetic.
  38. Guglielmo Marconi (1874 – 1937) Italian engineer who helped develop radio transmission.
  39. Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) – Dictator of Nazi Germany.
  40. Plato (424 –- 348 BC) – Greek philosopher.
  41. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) – Leader of Parliamentarians in English civil war.
  42. Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922) – Scottish inventor of the telephone.
  43. Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) Scottish biologist who discovered penicillin.
  44. John Locke (1632-1704) English political philosopher. Locke promoted a theory of liberal democracy and a social contract.
  45. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) German composer of the classical and romantic period.
  46. Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976) German theoretical physicist – one of the pioneers of Quantum mechanics
  47. Louis Daguerre (1787–1851) French artist and photographer, who is credited with the invention of the camera.
  48. Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830) – Liberator of Latin American countries
  49. Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) French philosopher and mathematician. “I think, therefore I am.”
  50. Michelangelo (1475 – 1564) Renaissance sculptor, painter and architect
  51. Pope Urban II (1042 – 29 July 1099) Influential Pope who ordered the first Crusade to the Holy Land and set up the Papal Court
  52. Umar ibn al-Khattab (584 CE –  644 CE) Powerful Muslim Caliphate and senior companion of Muhammad. An influential figure in Sunni Islam.
  53. Asoka (c. 260 – 232 BC) Powerful Indian King who established large empire by conquest before converting to Buddhism and pursuing a peaceful approach
  54. St. Augustine (354 – 430) Influential Christian saint and writer, who shaped much of Western Christian thought.
  55. William Harvey (1578 – 3 June 1657) English physician who made contributions to understanding how blood circulated in the body.
  56. Ernest Rutherford (1871 –  1937) NZ born British physicist who made discoveries in atomic physics. His work on splitting the atom was influential for the development of atomic science.
  57. John Calvin (1509 – 27 May 1564) Christian theologian who developed a strict brand of Protestant Christianity which stressed the doctrine of predestination.
  58. Gregor Mendel (1822 –  1884) Czech/Austrian scientist and friar – who founded modern science of genetics.
  59. Max Planck (1858 – 1947) German theoretical physicist who developed a theory of Quantum physics and discovered energy quanta.
  60. Joseph Lister (1827 – 1912) British surgeon who pioneered the use of sterilisation and antiseptic surgery.
  61. Nikolaus August Otto (1832 – 1891) German engineer who developed compressed charge internal combustion engine to run on petrol
  62. Francisco Pizarro (1471 – 1541) Spanish Conquistador who claimed Inca lands for Spain.
  63. Hernando Cortes (1485 – 1547) Spanish Conquistador who conquered the Aztec lands of modern-day Mexico.
  64. Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) 3rd President of US. Principle author of the US Declaration of Independence.
  65. Queen Isabella I (1451 – 1504) Queen of Castille, who helped create a powerful and unified state of Spain whose influence spread to the Americas.
  66. Joseph Stalin (1878 – 1953) Absolute ruler of the Soviet Union from 1924 to his death. Led the Soviet Union in WWII.
  67. Julius Caesar (100 BC – 44 BC) Roman ruler who oversaw the demise of the Roman Republic to be replaced with a Roman Emperor. Militarily strengthened the power of Rome.
  68. William the Conqueror (1028 – 1087) First Norman King of England
  69. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) An Austrian neurologist who founded psychoanalysis, which involved the investigation of the subconscious, dreams and human mind.
  70. Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823) Developed the world’s first vaccine (the smallpox vaccine). Known as the father of immunology.
  71. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen  (1845 – 1923) German physicist who discovered electromagnetic waves or X-rays.
  72. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) Composer and organist who created some of the world’s most beautiful music.
  73. Lao Tzu (6th Century BC – ) Author of Tao Te Ching and founder of Taoism
  74. Voltaire (1694 –  1778). A key figure of European Enlightenment. His satirical writings played a role in the French Revolution.
  75. Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) German mathematician and astronomer who created laws of planetary motion.
  76. Enrico Fermi (1901 – 1954) Italian-American physicist who created the first nuclear reactor
  77. Leonhard Euler (1707 – 1783) Swiss mathematician who made prolific discoveries in calculus and graph theory.
  78. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) – French philosopher, author of Social Contract
  79. Nicoli Machiavelli (1469 –  1527) Italian diplomat and Renaissance writer considered the father of political science.
  80. Thomas Malthus (1766 – 1834) English scholar who raised concern over growing population.
  81. John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963) 38th President of the US. Served at the height of the Cold War and helped defuse Cuban Missile Crisis.
  82. Gregory Pincus (1903 – 1967) American biologist who created the oral contraceptive pill.
  83. Mani (216 – ) Iranian founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion which for a time was a rival to Christianity.
  84. Lenin (1870 – 1924) Leader of the Russian Revolution and new Communist regime from 1917 to 1924.
  85. Sui Wen Ti (541 –  604) Founder of China’s Sui Dynasty and reunifying China in 589
  86. Vasco da Gama (1460s –1524) Portuguese explorer, first European to reach India and establish a route for imperialism.
  87. Cyrus the Great  (600 – 530 BC) Founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Relatively enlightened ruler.
  88. Peter the Great (1721 – 1725) Russian Emperor who expanded the Tsarist Empire to make Russia European power.
  89. Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) Leader of the Communist Revolution and dictator of China from 1949-1974.
  90. Francis Bacon (1561 –  1626) Creator of the scientific method and key figure in Scientific Revolution of the Enlightenment.
  91. Henry Ford (1863 – 1947) Owner of Ford Motor Company. Revolutionised mass-production techniques
  92. Mencius (385–303BC) Chinese philosopher one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism.
  93. Zoroaster (c. 1200 BC)  Iranian prophet who founded the religion of Zoroastrianism.
  94. Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) Queen of England from 1558 to her death in 1603. Cemented England as a Protestant country, defeated Spanish Armada.
  95. Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – ) Leader of Soviet Communist Party who pursued reform – perestroika and glasnost to open Eastern Europe to democracy.
  96. Menes c. 3000 BC Egyptian pharaoh who united Upper and Lower Egypt to found the First Dynasty.
  97. Charlemagne (742 – 814) United Europe to form the Carolingian Empire. First western Emperor since the fall of Rome.
  98. Homer Greek poet who wrote Iliad and Odyssey
  99. Justinian I  (482 –   565) Emperor of Eastern Roman Empire
  100. Mahavira (6th century BC)  Principal figure of Jainism.

Book of 100 Most Influential People

100 most influential


100 Most influential people in the world by Michael H. Hart at Amazon

Hart, Michael H. 1992. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Revised and Updated for the Nineties. New York: Citadel Press Book.


Runner Ups

Influential people since 1992

Commentary on list

The list by Michael Hart is very useful for finding a list of very influential people. Like any list, everyone will have their own opinion and when it comes to ranking – there is ‘no’ right answer.

My main observation is that he has given a high weighting to scientists and writers than I might. Most notable omissions

Lincoln_Memorial Abraham Lincoln who prevented the United States splitting apart and helped to reinvigorate the democratic principles of the Declaration of Independence.

krishna Sri Krishna (principle figure in Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita has influence whole religion and culture of India, and is now spreading to rest of world. Sri Krishna brought spirituality to everyday people and not just acestics. He also was the real founder of bhakti yoga – yoga of devotion.

Guru Nanak. Founder of Sikhism

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “100 Most influential people in the world”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net. Published 30 June 2013. Updated 30 July 2019.

Related pages

Sir_Winston_S_Churchill People who changed the world – Famous people who changed the course of history including Socrates, Newton, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Einstein and Gandhi.

Mariecurie Women who changed the world – Famous women who changed the world. Features female Prime Ministers, scientists, cultural figures, authors and royalty. Includes; Cleopatra, Princess Diana, Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, and Joan of Arc.

Martin_Luther_King_Jr Inspirational people – People who made a difference in a positive way and left the world a better place. Includes Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa and Emil Zatopek.

People who fought for human/civil rights rosa parks  – People who campaigned for equality, civil rights and civil justice. Includes Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.


  • While understanding the list is worldwide and not about the US only, Lincoln and Dr Martin Luther King Jr should be there mid to upper places on this list. How in the world can you have two of biggest men in history for the fight against inequality and justice not make the list and world’s most ruthless dictator Adolf Hitler high as 39? I guess this why evil always has a chance. Too many philosophers-talkers and not enough doers. Not the best list. Oh the inventor on the wheel , the world’s greatest invention not on the list, hmmm.

  • This is a big dare to say Muhemmed (s) as most influential person in the world. some people dare to present truth before the world . Michael H. Hart is one of them.

  • Mohammad Sahab (may peace be upon him) is truly the greatest icon of all time. Since Allah has claimed him to be the most influential human than anyone in the world since inception. People other than Muslim who know him well appreciate and follow.

  • Lol very biased to say the least! Jesus influenced Muhammad! He was first and Islam is based off the Jewish Bible. Do your research. Jesus was a Jew. There are more Christians in the world than any other religion. #facts. Jesus influenced that! God bless

    • Makes sense, tell that guy that doesnt has limited knowledge, he better go back to college

  • Prophet Muhammad is number one among all those 100 great persons.His name is found on all authentic books of all major religions. Jesus asked his followers to follow him when he arrives.Jesus will become his follower after his 2 nd comming and practise Sharia given by him.prophet Muhammad said that scientist in his pursuit of facts of material things of universe is walking on the path of God.He asked to muslims to do justice to even their opponents and develop the habbit of forgiving their enemies.He gave property rights to women.He Practised what he preached/

  • No doubt, prophet Mohammad s.a.w, , was sent as the best of human to mankind. .

  • as a Christian l believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again..so l don’t see why you should rank Him as one of the people that were influential and died but as my Father who was and still is today

  • From what I know about Muhammad, I agree 100% that he is most influential person in the books of history

  • As a Muslim faith with a very good discipline teach by the book of Allah and principles of our dear prophet.am realy grateful the way he become the first of the most imflucials in the book of history.

  • How is Mohammed #1??? He did not invent anything or say anything earth shattering. Jesus has to be because even time is divided on his entry into history. BC/AD. Jesus said, “love your enemies” “pray for those who persecute you” etc etc. Mohammed said nothing to that standard. Time magazine ranked Jesus #1, and rightly so.

    • He actually has said multiple things on that level such as “Killing a life is like killing the whole of humanity and saving a life is like saving the whole of humanity” and “You do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness” and even “The best of you are the ones who are best to the women”. There are so many more if you search for it, brother.

      • Dear read out hadith then u now what beloved prophet Muhammad s.a.w said
        He given respect to women, other religion, and give many thing to today’s time
        That’s why he is called as today’s prophet

    • If Jesus said Love your Enemies Prophet Muhammad said, if you sleep with filled stomach while your neighbor is starving you are not believer, look at the existent of love and social care, Jesus said, for those enemies of mine who don’t want me to reign them kill them.
      and Prophet Muhammad pardoned his enemies,

    • Amen, I also was surprised.