All World Leaders Are Tall – A Commonly Held Misconception

When I’ve looked at pictures of world leaders like Barack Obama and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, I’ve often been struck by how tall they appear in comparison to those around them. The same goes for Premier Stephen Harper of Canada who at 6’3″ is the world’s tallest leader.

Obama and Harper. Over 12′ of leader…

Thinking about British Prime Ministers going back forty years or so, with the exception of Mrs. Thatcher [5’5″] and Harold Wilson [5’8″] all the rest of them have been between 5’11” and 6’1″. Here’s the list:

James Callaghan 6’1″

Alec Douglas Hume 6’1″

David Cameron 6’0″

Edward Heath 6″0″

John Major 5’11”

Tony Blair 5’11”

Gordon Brown 5’11”

The giant of British political life was however Lord Salisbury, Prime Minister between 1895 and 1902 who was 6’4”.

Lord Salisbury

In the West, we tend to assume a relationship between power and height and it seems inconceivable these days that a short President or Prime Minister could ever be elected to power. I am though heartened to note that world leaders come in all sizes as the following chart shows.

Relative Heights of World Leaders

At one end you have:

Barack Obama 6’1″ [USA]

Barack and Michelle Obama with the Queen

Stephen Harper [Canada] 6’3″

Stephen Harper – back row, second from the left

At the other end of the scale however are:

Yasuo Fukuda of Japan 5’6″, Silvio Berlusconi [Italy] 5’5, “Nicolas Sarkozy [France] 5’5″, \ and Dmitry Medvedev [Russia] 5’4”.
Presidents Obama and Medvedev

Even this carefully composed shot can’t disguise their difference in height but amongst present day leaders, the prize for short-man goes to Kim Jong Ill at 5’3″.

Kim Il Jong in a relaxed pose

Kim Jong Ill was however, tall compared with other world leaders from History…

David Ben Gurion the first Prime Minister of Israel was only 5′ 0”

David Ben Gurion

Engelbert Dollfuss, Austrian Chancellor from 1932-34, stood 4ft 11in in his socks.

But the shortest world leader on record was Benito Juarez, five times president of Mexico between 1867 and 1872, at 4ft 6in.

Benito Juarez

So, if you are seeking the highest office in the land, don’t be put off by the fact that you are below average height. As the leader of a nation, you will be in good company.

About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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3 Responses to All World Leaders Are Tall – A Commonly Held Misconception

  1. Hugh Paxton says:

    Kim Il Jong wears high heeled shoes (four inches). Not a lot of North Korean people know that. And those that do are probably doing hard time in a labour camp.

    I’d be interested to know the fattest world leaders. Also a ranking of the most physically repulsive (I think Kim Il Jong is a contender).

    Get cracking, Mr. H! Your public has the right to know!

  2. Well done, Steve. Another very interesting and entertaining article.

  3. Kasia says:

    fantastic. it puts a smile on my face to know that I am 4cm taller than Sarkozy. 🙂

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