List of heads of state by diplomatic precedence
Protocol holds that a head of state takes precedence over all other officials, and that heads of state rank in the order that they took office. The following list contains the heads of state for all United Nations member states and non-member observer states.
Commonwealth realms, other than the United Kingdom, each have a local governor-general appointed to represent the monarch in the realm's government. Governors-general are frequently accorded the status and privileges of a head of state at diplomatic events when considered as representing their absentee monarch, but not as themselves heads of state. The princes of Andorra each have a representative as well. Hereditary Prince Alois is permanent representative for exercising the sovereign powers due to Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II. They are included in the list and are highlighted in blue.
However, in many cases it is not this neutral principle but national rules of protocol that are acted upon, usually by an international event's host nation, as in many bilateral and even certain multilateral occasions. Various international organisations have a system for internal use. Even in the presence of one or more Heads of State, certain occasions are governed by specific protocol, e.g. military. Thus in many cases precedence is given to monarchs over republican heads of state, mostly in monarchies; in some nations, the Pope (himself a monarchical head of state) ranks above secular heads of state, especially in Roman Catholic countries.
States recognised by the United Nations
States with limited recognition
|President||Mustafa Akıncı||30 April 2015||Northern Cyprus|
|President||Hashim Thaçi||7 April 2016||Kosovo|
|President||Tsai Ing-wen||20 May 2016||Republic of China (Taiwan)|
|President||Brahim Ghali||12 July 2016||Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic|
|President||Vadim Krasnoselsky||16 December 2016||Transnistria|
|President||Anatoly Bibilov||21 April 2017||South Ossetia|
|President||Muse Bihi Abdi||13 December 2017||Somaliland|
|President||Aslan Bzhania||23 April 2020||Abkhazia|
|President||Arayik Harutyunyan||21 May 2020||Republic of Artsakh|
|President||Riad Seif||6 May 2017||Syria|
|President of the Supreme Political Council||Mahdi al-Mashat||25 April 2018||Yemen|
- Hereditary Prince Alois Archived 21 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was titled President of the Supreme Military Council until 25 August 1979.
- Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the nephew of the previous president, Francisco Macías Nguema.
- Paul Biya was previously Prime Minister between 30 June 1975 – 6 November 1982.
- Hassanal Bolkiah has been Sultan of Brunei since 4 October 1967, but Brunei was a protectorate of the United Kingdom until 1 January 1984.
- Yoweri Museveni was titled Chairman of the National Resistance Council until 29 January 1986
- The country was the Kingdom of Swaziland before 2018.
- Ali Khamenei was previously President of Iran from 2 October 1981 – 4 June 1989.
- In Iran, the Supreme Leader is the head of state and the President is the head of government.
- Hans-Adam II was previously Regent from 26 August 1984 – 13 November 1989.
- Hereditary Prince Alois has been Regent for Hans-Adam II since 15 August 2004.
- Idriss Déby was titled President of the Council of State until 4 March 1991.
- Harald V was previously Prince-Regent from 1 June 1990 – 17 January 1991.
- Haakon was Prince-Regent from 25 November 2003 – 13 April 2004 and 29 March 2005 – 7 June 2005.
- Isaias Afwerki has been the leader of Eritrea (initially titled Secretary-general of the Provisional Government) from 29 May 1991, but the country only became independent on 24 May 1993.
- Letsie III was previously King of Lesotho between 12 November 1990 – 25 January 1995.
- Denis Sassou Nguesso was previously President of the People's Republic of the Congo (as the country was named then) between 8 February 1979 – 31 August 1992.
- The monarch was titled Emir until 14 February 2002.
- The country was the State of Bahrain before 2002.
- Ismaïl Omar Guelleh is the nephew of the previous president, Hassan Gouled Aptidon.
- Paul Kagame was Acting President until 22 April 2000.
- Bashar al-Assad is the son of the previous president, Hafez al-Assad.
- Henri was previously Regent from 3 March 1998 – 7 October 2000.
- Ilham Aliyev was previously Prime Minister between 4 August 2003 – 4 November 2003.
- Ilham Aliyev is the son of the previous president, Heydar Aliyev.
- Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the son of the previous president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
- Albert II was previously Regent from 31 March 2005 – 6 April 2005.
- Faure Gnassingbé was previously President between 5 February 2005 – 25 February 2005.
- Faure Gnassingbé is the son of the previous president, Gnassingbé Eyadéma.
- Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was previously Prime Minister between 13 July 2003 – 30 January 2006.
- Daniel Ortega was previously President between 10 January 1985 – 25 April 1990.
- Ali Bongo Ondimba is the son of the previous president, Omar Bongo.
- Mahamadou Issoufou was previously Prime Minister between 17 April 1993 – 28 September 1994.
- Alassane Ouattara was previously Prime Minister between 7 November 1990 – 9 December 1993.
- Tupou VI – then titled Prince 'Ulukalala Lavaka Ata – was previously Prime Minister between 3 January 2000 – 11 February 2006.
- Macky Sall was previously Prime Minister between 21 April 2004 – 19 June 2007.
- Vladimir Putin was previously President between 31 December 1999 – 7 May 2008, and Prime Minister between 9 August 1999 – 7 May 2000 and 8 May 2008 – 7 May 2012.
- Borut Pahor was previously Prime Minister between 21 November 2008 – 10 February 2012.
- Tommy Remengesau was previously President between 1 January 2001 – 15 January 2009.
- Tommy Remengesau is the son of a former president, Thomas Remengesau Sr.
- Maduro was Acting President until 19 April 2013.
- Miloš Zeman was previously Prime Minister between 22 July 1998 – 15 July 2002.
- It is the Holy See and not the Vatican City state that maintains diplomatic relations with states and participates in international organisations. The Holy See and the Vatican City state are two separate and distinct entities. Foreign embassies are accredited to the Holy See, not to the Vatican City state, and it is the Holy See that establishes treaties and concordats with other sovereign entities. Also it is the Holy See that has United Nations Observer status not the Vatican City state.
- Hamid was Acting President until 24 April 2013.
- Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of a former president, Jomo Kenyatta.
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was previously Prime Minister between 14 March 2003 – 28 August 2014.
- Hage Geingob was previously Prime Minister between 4 December 2012 – 20 March 2015.
- Muhammadu Buhari was previously head of state (titled Head of the Federal Military Government) between 31 December 1983 – 27 August 1985.
- Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was previously Prime Minister between 22 March 1994 – 6 February 1996.
- Faustin-Archange Touadéra was previously Prime Minister between 22 January 2008 – 17 January 2013.
- Bounnhang Vorachith was previously Prime Minister between 27 March 2001 – 8 June 2006.
- Azali Assoumani was previously President between 26 May 2001 – 26 May 2006.
- Kim Jong-un is the son and grandson of the two previous supreme leaders, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung.
- The Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea share head of state powers while the deceased Kim Il-sung is recognised in the Constitution as the Eternal President
- Evaristo Carvalho was previously Prime Minister between 7 July 1994 – 25 October 1994 and 26 September 2001 – 28 March 2002.
- Shavkat Mirziyoyevwas Interim President until 14 December 2016 and was previously Prime Minister between 12 December 2003 – 14 December 2016.
- Prem Tinsulanonda was Regent of Thailand from 13 October 2016 – 1 December 2016.
- Michel Aoun was previously disputed acting President and Prime Minister between 22 September 1988 – 13 October 1990.
- Nana Akufo-Addo is the son of a former president, Edward Akufo-Addo.
- Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was previously Prime Minister between 1 November 2010 – 19 June 2011.
- Aleksandar Vučić was previously Prime Minister between 27 April 2014 – 30 May 2017.
- Ilir Meta was previously Prime Minister between 29 October 1999 – 22 February 2002.
- The country was the People's Republic of Angola before 1992.
- Sooronbay Jeenbekov was previously Prime Minister between 13 April 2016 – 22 August 2017.
- Sandra Mason was previously acting Governor-General between 30 May and 1 June 2012.
- Sir Neville Cenac is the brother of former Prime Minister Winston Cenac.
- Sebastián Piñera was previously President between 11 March 2010 – 11 March 2014.
- Julis Maada Bio was Head of State of Sierra Leone (as Leader of the Supreme Council of State) from 16 January 1996 – 29 March 1996.
- Armen Sarkissian was previously Prime Minister between 4 November 1996 – 20 March 1997.
- Milo Đukanović was President between 15 January 1998 – 25 November 2002 (before independence), and Prime Minister between 15 February 1991 – 5 February 1998 (before independence) and again between 8 January 2003 – 10 November 2006 (before independence), and again between 29 February 2008 – 29 December 2010 and again between 4 December 2012 – 28 November 2016.
- Andry Rajoelina was Head of State of Madagascar as President of the High Transitional Authority from 17 March 2009 - 25 January 2014.
- Félix Tshisekedi is the son of former Prime Minister Étienne Tshisekedi
- Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the brother of a former prime minister and president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
- Abdelmadjid Tebboune was Prime Minister of Algeria from 25 May 2017 – 15 August 2017.
- The seven-member Swiss Federal Council is the head of state collectively, with the presidency rotating every year.
- Haitham bin Tariq is the cousin of the former Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
- David Kabua is the son of former President Amata Kabua.
- Zoran Milanović was Prime Minister of Croatia from 23 December 2011 – 22 January 2016.
- Umaro Sissoco Embaló was Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau from 18 November 2016 – 30 January 2018.
- Luis Lacalle Pou is the son of former President Luis Alberto Lacalle.
- The three-member Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the head of state collectively, with the chairmanship rotating every eight months.
- Alessandro Mancini was a Captain Regent of San Marino from 1 April 2007 – 1 October 2007.
- Grazia Zafferani is the granddaughter of an earlier Captain Regent, Luigi Zafferani.
- Hashim Thaçi was Prime Minister between 2 April 1999 – 1 February 2000 and 9 January 2008 – 9 December 2014.
- Arayik Harutyunyan was Prime Minister from 14 September 2007 – 25 September 2017. The country was called the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh until 10 March 2017.