Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
Angela Merkel arrives for a TV debate while supporters wave Angie signs.

Angela Merkel: her bio in brief

She grew up in a small town in the former East Germany. She's an avid soccer fan. And she's married to a chemistry professor who's sometimes called the 'Phantom of the Opera.' 

• Born: Angela Dorothea Kasner, July 17, 1954, in Hamburg, West Germany

• Raised: Templin, East Germany, a town of 17,000 one hour from Berlin

• Father: Horst Kasner, a theologian and Lutheran minister

• Mother: Herlind Kasner, an English and Latin teacher

• Marriages: Ulrich Merkel (1977-82, divorced); Joachim Sauer, a chemistry professor (1998-present)

• Children: None. Her husband has two sons from a previous marriage.

• Education: Graduated from University of Leipzig in 1978 with a degree in physics and physical chemistry; earned a PhD in quantum chemistry from the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin in 1986

Religion: Lutheran

• Science career: 1978-90 – studied and worked as a researcher at the German Academy of Sciences

• Political career: 1989 – became active in politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall; 1990 – named press officer for the political party Democratic Awakening and briefly served as a spokeswoman for a caretaker pre-reunification East German government; elected to the Bundestag in first election after reunification; 1991 – Chancellor Helmut Kohl appoints her to his cabinet as Minister of Women and Young People; 1994 – named Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; 1998 – becomes general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union; 2005 – becomes first woman chancellor of Germany, the first chancellor born after World War II, and the first from the former East Germany; 2009 – is reelected chancellor of Germany

• Miscellany: Is an avid soccer fan. Says she needs only a few hours of sleep a night, provided she can catch up on the weekend. Once flunked a physics class – and later chose the field as her first career. Has a wry sense of humor and likes to mimic world leaders she's met with, including Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush. Often referred to as "Mutti," or "Mummy" by Germans. Husband is sometimes called the "Phantom of the Opera" because he so rarely goes out in public, other than for an annual Wagner festival.

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