World Facts

The Youngest State Leaders To Assume Office Since 1900

Although age is generally equated to experience in the world of politics, there have been instances of young leaders.

Generally, age is positively related to professional experience. This idea is particularly true in politics, where people often believe that age means more work experience and thus, more knowledge. In turn, this assumed knowledge is related to an assumed likelihood of political success. In fact, the majority of state leaders around the world are older than 40 years of age. However, in some instances, young individuals (those under 30 years of age) have taken state leadership positions. This article takes a look at some of the youngest state leaders to assume office since 1900.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

Jean-Claude Duvalier came into the presidency of Haiti at the young age of 19, making him the youngest, non-royal leader in history. He became president in 1971 after the death of his father and served until 1986, when he was overthrown during the Haitian Revolution. Under his rule, US President Nixon renewed international aid to Haiti. US-Haiti relations were not so friendly under the Carter administration, but again improved under US President Reagan. To secure this relationship, Duvalier reiterated his opinion against communism.

President Duvalier is remembered for maintaining an illegal reserve of government money, which was never tracked. After being overthrown, he sought refuge in France. He returned to Haiti in 2011 and was subsequently arrested and charged with corruption and human rights abuse. In February of 2013, he pled not-guilty to the charges and suffered a fatal heart attack in October of 2014.

Valentine Strasser

At the age of 25, Valentine Strasser became Head of State of Sierra Leone. He served in this position from 1992 until 1996, after participating in a military coup that overthrew President Joseph Saidu Momoh. Prior to becoming Head of State, Strasser served as a soldier in the war against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Tired of fighting with insufficient equipment, the soldiers marched into the state house, forcing the President to flee. When Strasser was unsuccessful at achieving peace as Head of State, members of his own party, the National Provisional Ruling Council, removed him from office. He went to the United Kingdom for 1 year, was later denied entry to Gambia, and now lives in Sierra Leone again. Here, he runs a small institution that teaches computer skills to young children.

Maria Lea Pedini-Angelini

Maria Lea Pedini-Angelini makes the list of youngest state leaders to assume office since 1900 for becoming Captain Regent of San Marino at the age of 26. In 1972, San Marino passed a law which prohibited the exclusion of women from the position. Pedini-Angelini holds not only the distinction of being the first woman Captain Regent of San Marino, but is also the youngest woman to hold a position of state leadership since 1900. The Captain Regent position is held by 2 people simultaneously for a 6-month term. She served from April of 1981 to October of 1981 and shared this position with Gastone Pasolini. After this, she went on to become the Director of the Ministry of Government and Foreign Affairs. Additionally, she has served as the non-resident Ambassador to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, and Hungary.

Two other leaders became leaders at this age as well: Michel Micombero and Dogsomyn Bodoo.

A complete list of the youngest state leaders since 1900 can be found in the chart published below.

The Youngest State Leaders To Assume Office Since 1900

RankNamePositionBornAssumed officeAge
1Jean-Claude DuvalierPresident of Haiti1951197119
2Valentine StrasserPresident of Sierra Leone1967199225
3Maria Lea Pedini-AngeliniCaptain Regent of San Marino1954198126
4Michel MicomberoPresident of Burundi1940196626
5Dogsomyn BodooPrime Minister of Mongolia1895192126
6Andrea ZafferaniCaptain Regent of San Marino1982201027
7Giovanni LonferniniCaptain Regent of San Marino1976200327
8Gloriana RanocchiniCaptain Regent of San Marino1957198427
9Abdessalam JalloudPrime Minister of Libya1944197227
10Muammar GaddafiGuide of the Revolution1942196927
11Ahmet ZoguPrime Minister of Albania1895192227
12Kim Jong-unSupreme Leader of North Korea1983201128
13Mario FrickPrime Minister of Liechtenstein1965199328
14Samuel DoePresident of Liberia1951198028
15Ieremia TabaiPresident of Kiribati1950197928
16Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al MaktoumPrime Minister of the United Arab Emirates1943197128
17Giuliano GoziCaptain Regent of San Marino1894192328
18Joseph KabilaPresident of the Democratic Republic of the Congo1971200129
19Yahya JammehPresident of the Gambia1965199429
20Souley AbdoulayePrime Minister of Niger1965199429
21Milo ĐukanovićPrime Minister of Montenegro1962199129
22Branko CrvenkovskiPrime Minister of Macedonia1962199229
23Muhammad Ali HaithamPrime Minister of South Yemen1940196929
24Gnassingbé EyadémaPresident of Togo1937196729
25Lhendup DorjiPrime Minister of Bhutan1935196429
26Jamtsangiin DamdinsürenChairman of the Presidium of Mongolia1898192729
27Roque González GarzaPresident of Mexico1885191529
28Ilir MetaPrime Minister of Albania1969199930
29Pandeli MajkoPrime Minister of Albania1967199830
30Jean-Baptiste BagazaPresident of Burundi1946197630
31Bernard DowiyogoPresident of Nauru1946197630
32Marien NgouabiPresident of the Republic of the Congo1938196930
33Sadiq al-MahdiPrime Minister of Sudan1935196630
34David DackoPresident of the Central African Republic1930196030

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