Matteo Renzi — known as the “Italian Fonz” — holds a record among the 28 members of the European community: at 39, he is the youngest-serving European prime minister. He is also the youngest premier in Italian history, beating Giovanni Goria, who was elected in 1996 at the age of 43.
Just a year older than Renzi is Joseph Muscat, Malta’s PM, who turned 40 last month. Other baby-faced leaders include Luxemburg’s PM Xavier Bettel, 41, and Romanian leader Victor Ponta, 42. The big kid in the class is United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, now 47, who became PM at the age 43.
But Renzi is not even among the top five youngest state leaders in the world.
Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is the leader of the pack. Kim, recently accused by the UN for violation of human rights, is currently the youngest serving leader at the age of 31. He was 28 when he became de facto leader after his father’s death in 2011.
Close behind is Irakli Garibashvili (pictured), Prime Minister of Georgia. Garibashvili, who now wants to join the EU and NATO and shake off Russia’s shackles, was born in 1982 and became premier in 2013.
In third place is Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The Sanhurst-educated-33-year-old is the head of the richest country in the world.
Princes, sheikhs and royals in general are most likely to win power at a young age. That’s the case for Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan since 2006 and now 34 but only 26 when he first sat on the throne.
The world’s fifth-youngest leader is Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga, 38, who is the only women in the list. Jahjaga became president of the Republic of Kosovo on April 7, 2011, after a long career in the police force.
Just outside the EU boarders, in Iceland, there is Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who gets the sixth position. He is only three months younger than the Italian Democratic Party leader. Gunnlaugsson was born on March 12, 1975, so he will turn 39 next month.
Renzi is not the youngest-ever European prime minister — that honour goes to William Pitt the Younger, who became UK prime minister in 1783 at the age of 24 — but he is the youngest since the formation of the European Union in 1993.
Then there’s the ancient teenage leaders: Bhutanese king Jigme Singye Wangchuck assumed power in 1972 at the tender age of 16; twenty years before, at the same age, Hussein I was proclaimed king of Jordan.
How young is too young to lead a country? The United States has a law prohibiting anyone under 35 from becoming president. Theodore Roosevelt remains the youngest president — 42 at his inauguration — followed by John F. Kennedy (43) and Bill Clinton (46).