The World's Greatest People

BRITAIN
GERMANY
INDIA
AUSTRALIA
SOUTH AFRICA
HOLLAND

CANADA
FINLAND
FRANCE
CZECH REPUBLIC
UNITED STATES
BELGIUM

NEW ZEALAND
ROMANIA
HUNGARY
PORTUGAL
BULGARIA
SPAIN

ARGENTINA
RUSSIA
CHILE
GREECE
UKRAINE
ISRAEL

First the countries of the world were trying to decide who their best pop star was. Now they're trying to name their best citizens.

Following the lead of Britain, who held a "Greatest Briton" survey in 2002, over a dozen countries have so far held popular votes through their national TV network to determine their greatest citizen.

This is the way it usually works. The network makes a website, where ordinary people can submit names of great individuals. After a certain cut-off point, the network tallies all the entries, and assembles a list of the top ten most popular names. Over the course of the next few weeks, ten local national celebrities (usually of a b-list nature) serve as official "advocates" for one each of the top ten greats on ten special episodes. When this is done, a second public vote is held to rank the top ten, and determine the greatest citizen of all.

Here are the country-by-country results thus far.

GUIDE TO COLORS
scientist / inventor activist athlete
politician / ruler TV personality singer / musician
military figure author / poet artist
businessman actor / director religious leader
Nobel Prize winner FB foreign born X assassinated / murdered

UNITED KINGDOM
"Greatest Britons" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Sir Winston Churchill World War II-era prime minister 1965
2
Isambard Kingdom Brunel London's leading engineer and architect of the 19th century 1859
3
Princess Diana ex-wife of Prince Charles, glamorous social activist 1997
4
Charles Darwin biologist, founder of evolution theory 1882
5
William Shakespeare legendary playwright, director 1616
6
Sir Isaac Newton scientist, pioneer of gravity, motion theories 1727
7
Queen Elizabeth the First powerful ruler during golden age of British expansion and enlightenment 1603
8
John Lennon musician, lead singer, lyricist of "the Beatles" 1980 X
9
Adm. Horatio Nelson naval commander who led British forces to victory during Napoleonic wars 1805 X
10
Oliver Cromwell republican military ruler who briefly deposed the monarchy 1658

GERMANY
"Our Best " Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Konrad Adenauer West Germany's first Chancellor 1967
2
Martin Luther leader of the reformation, father of Protestant Christianity 1546
3
Karl Marx philosopher, founder of Communist ideology 1883
4
Sophie and Hans Scholl leaders of White Rose Society, a non-violent Nazi resistance movement 1943 X
5
Willy Brandt socialist chancellor of West Germany during the 70's 1992
6
Johann Sebastian Bach classical composer 1750
7
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th century writer, author of Faust 1832
8
Johannes Gutenberg inventor of the printing press 1468
9
Otto von Bismarck founder and first chancellor of united German Empire 1898
10
Albert Einstein scientist, founder of theory of relativity 1955

INDIA
(No official website)

Mahatma Ghandi, India's leading independence leader and "father of the nation" was excluded from the voting process because he is already widely revered by most Indians, and was thus deemed to be "above" such a contest.

India is also the only country to date that held their contest through a magazine, rather than than a TV series.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Mother Teresa Catholic nun, child poverty activist 1997 FB
2
Jawaharlal Nehru India's first prime minister, independence leader 1964
3
Vallabhbhai Patel Deputy PM, independence leader, secured the inclusion of the sovereign "princely states" of colonial India into the independent Indian federation 1950
4
Indira Gandhi left-wing prime minister who ruled during the 60's and 70's 1984 X
5
J.R.D. Tata pilot, founder of Air India 1993
6
B.R. Ambedkar cabinet minister, architect of the Indian constitution, "untouchable" caste rights activist, Bhuddist revivalist 1956
7
Dhirubhai Ambani founder of Reliance industries, India's biggest corporation 2002
8
Sachin Tendulkar cricket champion  
9
J.P. Narayan independence leader, founder and leader of socialist political party 1979
10
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (then) current prime minister  

AUSTRALIA
(No official website)

The Australians were apparently in a big rush because their version of the show was greatly condensed. They did the entire special in just one day, with the celebrity advocates choosing the top seven, followed by a citizen "jury" ranking their picks (though only the "number one" rank was ultimately revealed). As such, this list may be dismissed as being the least legitimate "greatest" pick.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Lord Howard Florey inventor of penicillin 1968
?
Henry Parkes founder of Australian federation 1896 FB
?
Lt. Thomas Derrick heroic World War II soldier who was killed in action 1945
?
Rupert Murdoch media mogul, owner of FOX network and many other outlets  
?
Evonne Goolagong Cawley tennis champion  
?
Michael Leunig political cartoonist, comic strip artist  
?
Barry Humphries actor and comedian best-known for "Dame Edna" role  

SOUTH AFRICA
"Great South Africans" Official Website

The "Greatest South African" special was canceled mid-series due to controversy over some of the members of the top 100. As a result, the top 10 were never ranked. Nelson Mandela was given the number one spot automatically.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Nelson Mandela South Africa's first black president, anti-apartheid activist
?
Dr. Christiaan Barnard surgeon, performed first open heart transplantation 2001
?
F.W. de Klerk last white president, dismantled apartheid system
?
Mahatma Gandhi Indian independence leader, also active in lobbying for rights of Indian-South Africans 1948 FB X
?
Nkosi Johnson young AIDS activist 2002
?
Winnie Mandela radical political activist, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela
?
Thabo Mbeki current president
?
Gary Player PGA golf champion
?
Jan Smuts World War II-era prime minister 1950
?
Desmond Tutu Anglican archbishop, anti-apartheid activist

HOLLAND
"The Greatest Dutchperson" Official Website

Though Pim Fortuyn is ranked in first place, the Dutch television station which ran the contest has since admitted that a large number of call-in votes could not be counted due to time restraints. After the contested ended, it was revealed that had the vote counting deadline been extended, Prince William would have actually placed first and Fortuyn second.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Pim Fortuyn leader of conservative political party 2002 X
2
Prince William of Orange Dutch independence leader, Holland's first independent Head of State 1584 X
3
Willem Drees post-World War II socialist prime minister 1988
4
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek biologist, pioneer of microscope technology 1723
5
Desiderius Erasmus Humanist philosopher 1536
6
Johan Cruijff soccer player / coach
7
Adm. Michiel de Ruyter naval commander who led Dutch forces to victory in Dutch-Anglo wars 1679
8
Ann Frank Jewish girl who kept a diary as she hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam 1945 FB
9
Rembrandt Renaissance-era painter 1669
10
Vincent van Gogh impressionist painter 1890

CANADA
"The Greatest Canadian" Official Website
You can view the whole top 100 here.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Tommy Douglas socialist party leader, founder of Canadian health care system 1986 FB
2
Terry Fox Cancer activist who died during an attempted cross-country marathon 1981
3
Pierre Trudeau left-wing prime minister during 70's and 80's 2000
4
Dr. Frederick Banting inventor of Insulin 1941
5
David Suzuki host of nature television show, environmentalist
6
Lester Pearson prime minister, UN diplomat, founder of modern peacekeeping 1972
7
Don Cherry television hockey commentator
8
Sir John A. MacDonald Canada's first prime minister 1891 FB
9
Alexander Graham Bell purported inventor of the telephone 1922 FB
10
Wayne Gretzky hockey player

FINLAND
"Great Finns" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
C.G.E. Mannerheim independence leader, military commander-in-chief, president during 40's 1951
2
Risto Ryti president who led Finland in war against Soviet Union during the 1940's 1956
3
Urho Kekkonen prime minister and president of Finland who ruled for 30 years (1950-1981) 1986
4
Adolf Ehrnrooth General who led national forces to victory in Finnish-Soviet wars 2004
5
Tarja Halonen current (and first female) president
6
Dr. Arvo Ylppö doctor who helped reduce infant mortality rates 1992
7
Mikael Agricola founder of written Finnish language, Protestant reformist cleric 1557
8
Jean Sibelius classical composer 1957
9
Aleksis Kivi author, playwright, wrote first full-length Finnish novel 1872
10
Elias Lönnrot poet, author of the Kalevala, Finland's "national epic" 1884

FRANCE
"The Greatest Frenchpeople" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Charles DeGaulle anti-Nazi resistance leader, president during 50's-60's 1970
2
Louis Pasteur microbiologist, pioneer of germ research 1895
3
Abbé Pierre catholic priest, anti-poverty activist  
4
Marie Curie radiation researcher 1934 FB
5
Coluche comedian, anti-poverty / anti-intolerance activist 1986
6
Victor Hugo author of Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables 1885
7
Bourvil comedic actor, singer 1970
8
Molière 17th century satirical author, critic 1673
9
Jacques Cousteau underwater explorer, researcher, TV show host 1997
10
Edith Piaf singer 1963

CZECH REPUBLIC
"Greatest Czechs " Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Emperor Charles the Fourth Holy Roman Emperor, leader of Bohemian renaissance, founder of Czech state 1378
2
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk Czech independence leader, first president of Czechoslovakia 1937
3
Václav Havel anti-Communist activist, first post-Communist president of Czechoslovakia
4
Jan Ámos Komenský Protestant bishop, prominent writer, intellectual, and philosopher 1670
5
Jan Žižka Pro-Hussite general during Bohemian Civil War 1424
6
Jan Werich
author, film director 1980
7
Jan Hus early Protestant reformist leader, founder of Hussite movement 1415
8
Antonín Dvorák classical composer 1904
9
Karel Capek pioneering science fiction author 1938
10
Božena Nemcová folk author 1862


UNITED STATES
"The Greatest American" Official Website

You can check out the names of the top 100 nominees here.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1 Ronald Reagan conservative president during 1980's 2004
2 Abraham Lincoln 19th century president who fought to abolish slavery in the American Civil War 1865 X
3 Martin Luther King Jr. anti-segregation activist 1968 X
4 George Washington leader of war of independence against Britain, first president of the USA 1799
5 Ben Franklin founding father, inventor 1790
6
George W. Bush current president  
7 Bill Clinton liberal president during 1990's
8 Elvis Presley rock / blues singer 1977
9 Oprah Winfrey women's talk-show host, self-help author
10 Franklin D. Roosevelt president during World War II 1945 $

BELGIUM
"The Greatest Belgian" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Father Pater Damien Catholic missionary who worked with lepers, outcasts 1889
2
Dr. Paul Janssen medical research pioneer 2003
3
Eddy Merckx champion cyclist
4
Ambiorix anti-Roman Belgic tribal leader ?
5
Adolf Daens Flemish-rights politician and union activist 1907
6
Andreas Vesalius anatomist, author of first major anatomy text 1564
7
Jacques Brel singer, actor, director 1978
8
Gerardus Mercator geographer, inventor of the modern world map 1594
9
Peter Paul Rubens Renaissance-era painter 1640
10
Hendrik Conscience author, activist for preserving the Flemish language 1883

AFRICA
"Greatest Africans of All Time" Official Website

This was another magazine poll, but I thought it was worth including.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Nelson Mandela South Africa's first black president, anti-apartheid activist
2 Kwame Nkrumah first president of independent Ghana, Africa's first de-colonized country 1972
3 Robert Mugabe radical Marxist, anti-white current president of Zimbabwe
4 Julius Nyerere first president of independent Tanzania 1999
5 Marcus Garvey Jamaican founder of "back to Africa" nationalist movement 1940
6
Patrice Lumumba Marxist prime minister of Zaire 1961 X
7 Martin Luther King Jr. anti-segregation activist in the United States 1968 X
8 Thabo Mbeki current president of South Africa
9 Malcolm X radical black-rights/Muslim activist in the United States 1965 X
10 Kofi Annan (then) current United Nations Secretary-General, originally from Ghana

NEW ZEALAND
"New Zealand History Makers" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Dr. Ernest Rutherford founder of nuclear physics 1937
2 Kate Sheppard female suffrage activist (NZ was the first country to grant female suffrage) 1934
3 Sir Edmund Hillary explorer, first man to climb Mt. Everest
4 Charles Upham heroic World War II soldier 1994
5 Billy T. James comedian 1991
6
David Lange liberal prime minister during 1980's 2005
7 Apirana Ngata Maori rights activist, cabinet minister, member of parliament 1950
8 Dr. Colin Murdoch inventor of the disposable syringe
9 Roger Douglas conservative finance minister during 1980's
10 Rua Kenana Hepetipa founder of Te Wairua Tapu Maori religion, claimed to be brother of Jesus 1937

ROMANIA
"Greatest Romanians " Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1 Prince Stephen the Third ruler of Moldavia who fought against Ottoman invaders 1504
2 King Carol the First first king of fully united, independent Romania 1914
3 Mihai Eminescu poet, conservative political writer 1889
4 Prince Michael the Brave first monarch to achieve local sovereignty and united rule over the three provinces of Romania 1601
5 Richard Wurmbrand Lutheran minister, leader of underground Christian movement during Communist era 2001
6
Ion Antonescu fascist dictator of Romania during World War II 1946
7
Mircea Eliade nationalist historian of Romanian history and religion 1986
8 Prince Alexander I. Cuza liberal, reformist ruler of Romania during 19th Century 1873
9 Constantin Brancusi abstract artist, sculptor 1957
10 Nadia Comaneci five-time gold medal-winning gymnast

HUNGARY
"Greatest Hungarians" Official Website

Note: The "Greatest Hungarians" contest is still ongoing. There is not yet a top 10. The final results will not be known until 2007 sometime.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
?
? ?  
? ? ?  
? ? ?  
? ? ?
? ? ?  
?
? ?  
? ? ?  
? ? ?  
? ? ?  
? ? ?  

PORTUGAL
"Greatest Portuguese" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1 António de Oliveira Salazar longtime right-wing dictator (1933-1968) 1970
2 Álvaro Cunhal Communist Party leader. Exiled dissident and later post-Salazar cabinet minister 2005
3 Aristides de Sousa Mendes diplomat who tried to welcome Jewish refugees into Portugal during the Holocaust 1954
4 King Alfonso the First first King of independent Portugal 1185
5
Luís de Camões epic poet 1580
6 King John the Second 15th Century king who promoted the second-wave of Portugese exploration and imperialism 1495
7
Henry the Navigator prince who was influential in financing and promoting Portuguese exploration and colonization of the "New World." 1460
8 Fernando Pessoa poet 1935
9 The Marquis of Pombal 18th Century prime minister who led government of reform and modernization 1782
10 Vasco da Gama explorer, first man to sail directly from Europe to India 1524

BULGARIA
"Greatest Bulgarians" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1 Vasil Levski leader of the armed uprisings against the Ottoman Empire that eventually secured modern Bulgarian independence 1873 X
2 Peter Deunov philosopher and theologian, founder of the "Esoteric Christianity" movement 1944
3
Czar Asparukh First ruler of the united Bulgarian Empire c. 700
4 Czar Simon the First powerful ruler during golden age of Bulgarian expansion and enlightenment 927
5 Hristo Botev revolutionary general who died in the battle for independence 1876
6 Czar Boris the First Bulgaria's first Christian monarch, influential in Christianizing the nation 907
7 Saint Cyril & Saint Methodius Catholic missionaries / saints influential in spreading Christianity across the Slavic nations 869, 885
8 Stefan Stambolov nationalist prime minister who led government of growth and modernization in the face of Russian/Ottoman threats 1895 X
9 Ivan Vazov nationalist poet and novelist 1921
10
Saint Paisius of Hilendar Renaissance-era patriotic cleric, epic author, and historian 1773

SPAIN
"Greatest Spaniards" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1 King Juan Carlos the First present king, helped lead Spain from dictatorship to democracy.
2 Miguel Cervantes author and playwright. Wrote Don Quixote. 1616
3
Christopher Columbus explorer, first European to discover North America 1506
4 Queen Sofia current queen, wife of Juan Carlos. Philanthropist
5 Adolfo Suarez first post-Franco president of Spain (1976-1981)
6 Dr. Ramon y Cajal founder of modern neuroscience 1934
7 Crown Prince Felipe current crown prince, son of Sofia and Juan Carlos
8 Pablo Picasso abstract artist 1973
9 Saint Teresa Patron saint of Spain, Catholic theologian 1582
10
Felipe Gonzalez socialist president (1982-1996)

ARGENTINA
"Greatest Argentines" Official Website


Note: The "Greatest Argentines" list was not ranked 1 to 10, but rather just pitted the final 10 candidates against each other tournament-style to establish a top five, then allowing voters to chose who should be number one.

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
José de San Martín leader of war of independence against Spain 1850
top 5 Juan Manuel Fangio Forumal 1 racer 1995
top 5 Dr. Rene Favaloro creator of bypass surgery, first surgeon to perform the operation 2000
top 5 Che Guevara Communist revolutionary and architect of Cuban coup. Government minister in Castro regime 1967 X
top 5 Alberto Olmedo comedian / actor 1988
? Jorge Luis Borges poet and author 1986
? Eva Peron activist first lady and "power behind the throne" of president Juan Peron (1946-1955) 1952
?
Manuel Belgrano founding father, independence leader, diplomat 1820
? Roberto Fontanarrosa cartoonist 2007
? Diego Maradona World Cup soccer star  

RUSSIA
"Greatest Russians" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1 Prince Alexander Nevsky Russian ruler during Middle Ages 1263
2 Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin prime minister during early 20th Century, presided over period of post-feudal modernization 1911 X
3 Josef Stalin longtime Communist dictator (1924-1953) during World War II and post-war modernization 1953
4 Alexander Pushkin poet and author 1837
5 Czar Peter the Great 18th Century Czar, credited with establishing Russia as a major world power 1725
6 Vladimir Lenin Communist revolutionary and intellectual, founder and first head of state of the Soviet Union 1924
7 Fyodor Dostoyevsky author 1811
8 Alexander Vasilievich Suvorov 18th Century general who helped secure Russian military dominance of the region 1800
9 Dmitrij Ivanovich Mendeleyev inventor of the Periodic Table of Elements 1968
10
Ivan the Terrible 16th century ruler, first Czar of united Russian Empire 1907

CHILE
"Greatest Chileans" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Salvador Allende socialist president during 1970s, overthrown by Augusto Pinochet 1973 X(?)
2
Capt. Arturo Prat hero of the 19th Century Pacific War against Bolivia and Peru 1879
3
Saint Alberto Hurtado Jesuit priest 1952
4
Victor Jara folk singer, tortured and killed under military regime 1973 X
5
Manuel Rodriguez independence leader 1818
6
Jose Miguel Carrera independence leader 1821
7
Lautaro aboriginal leader 1603
8
Gabriela Mistral poet 1957
9
Pablo Neruda poet 1973
10
Violeta Parra singer 1967

GREECE
"Greatest Greeks" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Alexander the Great king of Macedonia, freed Greeks from Persian rule 323
2
Dr. George Papanikolaou inventor of the "Pap" test for cervical cancer 1962
3
Theodoros Kolokotronis rebel general in the fight for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire 1843
4
Konstantinos Karamanlis, Sr. longtime prime minister and president (1950s through 1990s) 1998
5
Socrates philosopher 399 BC
6
Aristotle philosopher 322 BC
7
Eleftherios Venizelos prime minister during 1910s through 1930s 1936
8
Kapodistrias  first president of independent (post Ottoman) Greece 1831 X
9
Plato philosopher 347 BC
10
Pericles reformist leader of Athens 429 BC

UKRAINE
"Greatest Ukrainians" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Prince Yaroslav the Wise 11th Century leader of the Russian Empire 1054
2
Mykola Amosov pioneering heart surgeon 2002
3
Stepan Bandera leader of anti-Nazi, anti-Soviet resistance group 1959 X
4
Taras Shevchenko artist, poet 1861
5
Bohdan Khmelnytsky Cossack leader who helped liberate the Ukraine from Polish rule 1657
6
Valeri Lobanovsky USSR national team soccer coach 2002
7
Vyacheslav Chornovil anti-Communist politician, died mysteriously 1999
8
Hryhorii Skovoroda poet and composer 1794
9
Lesya Ukrainka poet and playwright 1913
10
Ivan Franko poet and author 1916

ISRAEL
"Greatest Israelis" Official Website

rank Name Profession / reputation Died
1
Yitzhak Rabin prime minister who championed peace with the Palestinians 1995 FB X
2
David Ben-Gurion first prime minister of independent Israel 1973 FB
3
Ehud Manor singer, playwright 2005
4
Menachem Begin conservative prime minister during 70's and 80's 1992 FB
5
Ilan Ramon first Israeli astronaut, died in Columbia explosion 2003
6
Naomi Shemer songwriter, composer 2004
7
Rehavam Ze'evi far-right ultra-zionist politician 2001 X
8
Ariel Sharon general, conservative prime minister during 2000's  
9
Ezer Weizman air force general, president (1993-2000) 2004
10
Ninet Tayeb pop star  

OVERALL STATS

"Politician" is by far the most commonly occurring profession on the lists. The United States and Portuguese lists feature the most politicians- seven out of 10. Second is India with six out of 10.

South Africa has the most Nobel Prize winners, with three- all of whom won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Canada and Israel have the most foreign-born, with three.

Bulgaria's list is the most "historical," featuring eight people who died before the year 1900, including four who died before 1000 AD. Greece's features seven who died before 1900, and six who died before 1000 AD.

The least historic is South Africa. Six of their 10 are still alive, with two more having only died within the last three years of the contest.

* * *

EPILOGUE

In 1992 American historian Michael H. Hart wrote a book entitled The 100, which purported to provide "a ranking of the most influential persons in history." I thought it might be interesting to note his top ten picks. Only a couple names appear on the previous lists we've looked at.

Beside each name I've noted the modern-day country we can say these people "came from."

rank Name Profession / reputation Country Died
1
Muhammad prophet and founder of the Islamic faith Saudi Arabia c.632
2 Sir Isaac Newton scientist, pioneer of gravity, motion theories Britain 1727
3 Jesus Christ prophet and founder of Christianity Palestine c. 29 X
4 Gautama Buddha founder of Buddhism Nepal c. 483 BC
5 Confucius founder of Confucianism China c. 479 BC
6
St. Paul of Tarsus Christian theologian influential in spreading Christianity outside of the Middle East Turkey c. 67
7 Tsai Lun inventor of paper China 121
8 Johannes Gutenberg inventor of the printing press Germany 1468
9 Christopher Columbus explorer, first European to discover North America Italy/Spain 1506
10 Albert Einstein scientist, founder of theory of relativity Germany 1955

The three countries we've looked at (Spain, England, and Germany) all include "their" people in their respective national tallies.

 

Email me at jjmccullough@gmail.com