President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama (Reuters)

US President Barack Obama is the world's most powerful person for the second year running, according to Forbes magazine.

According to Forbe's list of "The World's Most Powerful People" released on Wednesday, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel emerged as the second most powerful person, moving up two places from her fourth place last year. She was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Bill Gates and Pope Benedict XVI.

Rounding out the top ten are U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, General Secretary, Communist Party of China Xi Jinping and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of the top ten, coming down to 25 from last year's position at number nine.

Among the Indians featured in the list, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi made it to the top 20. Other Indians included Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Arcelor Mittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal.

The list featured 14 newcomers including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk,who is also the entrepreneur behind Paypal, Tesla Motors and the private space industry. Other newcomers included President Fran├žois Hollande of France, North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Among the drop-offs were Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is on his way out of office, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In order to compile the list featuring 71 prominent personalities, Forbes took into account four factors -  the number of people under their control, the financial resources they control, if they have any influence in more than one sphere, and the level of activity in wielding their power to change the world.