Dictators

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A dictator is a leader who holds absolute authority and an extraordinary degree of personal power. They have the power to make laws, suspend elections, proclaim a state of emergency and repress political opponents without following any lawful procedures. The form of government with a dictator as the leader is known as dictatorship and there are no effective constitutional remedies to limit his power. Adolf Hitler, one of the most notorious dictators to have ever walked the earth was someone who is almost synonymous with the word. But there have been several others too who were as cruel, if not more, than him. Pol Pot, the self-proclaimed leader of the communist movement in Cambodia was another infamous dictator who is alleged to have wiped off a fifth of the Cambodian population. As the third president of Uganda, Idi Amin ruthlessly abused his powers and his rule was characterized by rampant abuse of human rights, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, and wide spread corruption. Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe is another dictator who is often compared to Adolf Hitler for the immeasurable cruelty he inflicted on the people. Browse on to learn more interesting facts about the life of famous dictators from all over the world.

Rank the most Brutal Dictators
 1 
Joseph Stalin
(Soviet Political Leader & Dictator Who Led the Soviet Union from 1922 Until His Death in 1953)
Joseph Stalin
104
Birthdate: December 18, 1878
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gori, Georgia
Died: March 5, 1953

Controversial Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, ruled the Soviet Union for around 25 years from 1929 to 1953 and is credited for making it a prominent industrial and military power of the world. During the Second World War, his army defeated the Nazis too. However, his regime was also one of terror and brutality where numerous Soviet citizens lost their lives.

 2 
Mao Zedong
(Communist Leader of China)
Mao Zedong
64
Birthdate: December 26, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shaoshan, Xiangtan, China
Died: September 9, 1976

One of the most significant and controversial leaders of the 20th century, Mao Zedong was a communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People's Republic of China which he governed as the chairman of Chinese Communist Party. He is appreciated for numerous development work but is criticised for his authoritarian regime and policies which resulted in millions of deaths .

 3 
Saddam Hussein
(5th President of Iraq (1979-2003))
Saddam Hussein
105
Birthdate: April 28, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Al Awja, Iraq
Died: December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq as its president from 1979 to 2003. Described as one of the last of the great dictators of the 20th century, his regime caused the deaths of at least 250,000 Iraqis. Saddam was deposed in 2003 when a U.S led coalition invaded Iraq. Accused of crimes against humanity, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death in 2006.

 4 
Francisco Franco
(Former Caudillo of Spain)
Francisco Franco
35
Birthdate: December 4, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ferrol, Spain
Died: November 20, 1975

Francisco Franco overthrew the Second Spanish Republic by leading the Nationalist forces as their general during the Spanish Civil War. Subsequently, Franco ruled over Spain as a dictator from 1939 to 1975. He had such an impact as a dictator that the period between the Nationalist victory and Franco's death is known as Francoist Spain in the history of Spain.

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 5 
Bashar al-Assad
(President of Syria)
Bashar al-Assad
33
Birthdate: September 11, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Damascus

Bashar al-Assad is the current president of Syria and has been serving in this position since 17 July 2000. Over the years, he has also had a major impact on Syria as the commander-in-chief of the country's Armed Forces. In 2011, his decision to impose military sieges on protesters participating in the Arab Spring resulted in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

 6 
Benito Mussolini
(Dictator of Italy and Principal Founder of Fascism Who Was Prime Minister of Italy from 1922 to 1943.)
Benito Mussolini
96
Birthdate: July 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Predappio, Italy
Died: April 28, 1945

The dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1945, Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in 1919. It opposed class discrimination and supported nationalism. But when in power, Mussolini crushed rival political parties, trade unions, free press and free speech. He was overthrown by his former colleagues in the Fascist government in July 1943 and ultimately shot dead in April 1945.

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 7 
Nicolae Ceaușescu
(Former President of Romania)
Nicolae Ceaușescu
21
Birthdate: January 26, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Scornicești
Died: December 25, 1989

Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian politician who served as the first president of the country. Ceaușescu's communist government was totalitarian and was responsible for human rights abuses and severe repression. An anti-government protest (the Romanian Revolution) broke out in 1989 and his government was overthrown subsequently. Ceaușescu and his wife were convicted of genocide and executed by firing squad.

 8 
Idi Amin
(Ugandan Dictator Who Is Considered One of the Most Brutal Despots in World History)
Idi Amin
36
Birthdate: 1925 AD
Birthplace: Koboko, Uganda
Died: August 16, 2003
Idi Amin started his career as a cook with the British colonial army of Uganda and became an army commander later. After deposing the Ugandan president, he declared himself the president. The “Butcher of Uganda” was known for his despotic rule and was responsible for almost 500,000 deaths.
 9 
Fulgencio Batista
(Former President of Cuba)
Fulgencio Batista
13
Birthdate: January 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Banes, Cuba
Died: August 6, 1973

Fulgencio Batista was the elected president of Cuba from 1940 to 1944. He formed the constitution of Cuba. He later became a dictator through a coup. He was finally ousted by Che Guevara at the Battle of Santa Clara, as part of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement.

 10 
Omar al-Bashir
(Former President of Sudan)
Omar al-Bashir
17
Birthdate: January 1, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hosh Bannaga, Sudan

Omar al-Bashir is a Sudanese politician who served as the seventh president of Sudan. A former military officer, he is the founder of the National Congress Party that remained the dominant political party in the country until 2019. He was deposed in a coup d'état the same year and subsequently arrested and convicted on multiple corruption charges.

Pervez Musharraf
18
Birthdate: August 11, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Daryaganj, New Delhi

Pervez Musharraf is a former Pakistani President and army chief who overthrew his country’s elected government in a coup to assume power as its chief executive. Kargil infiltration, confrontation with India and a steep rise in Pakistan’s GDP marked the presidency of the now-retired four-star general. He was awarded capital punishment for treason, but the court order was annulled later.

 12 
António de Oliveira Salazar
(Former Acting President of Portugal)
António de Oliveira Salazar
12
Birthdate: April 28, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vimieiro (Santa Comba Dão), Portugal
Died: July 27, 1970
Portuguese economist António de Oliveira Salazar had been the prime minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. He had also been the minister of defense and finance, among others. He led to the Estado Novo, or New State, in Portugal. He opposed Nazism and fascism, and demilitarized his country.
 13 
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina
(Former President of the Dominican Republic)
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina
7
Birthdate: October 24, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Cristóbal Province, Dominican Republic
Died: May 30, 1961

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina was a Dominican dictator. He ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961, serving as president for 18 years and as an unelected military strongman for the rest of the time. While he was in power, the Dominican Republic witnessed large-scale violence and his 31-year-rule is regarded as one of the bloodiest eras in the Americas.

 14 
Muammar Gaddafi
(Prime Minister of Libya (1970-72))
Muammar Gaddafi
54
Birthdate: June 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Qasr Abu Hadi, Libya
Died: October 20, 2011
A revolutionary, politician and political theorist, Muammar Gaddafi seized power in Libya from King Idris in a bloodless coup in 1969 and became its authoritarian dictator for more than 40 years. He initially gained popularity and support; however, later, his increased dominance, support for international terrorism, and human rights violation turned people against him. He was eventually overthrown.
 15 
Pol Pot
(Prime Minister of Cambodia (1976-79))
Pol Pot
63
Birthdate: May 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prek Sbov, Cambodia
Died: April 15, 1998

Pol Pot was a Cambodian politician who served as the prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1975 and 1979. Widely considered a totalitarian dictator, Pol Pot was responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which resulted in the death of 1.5 to 2 million people. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and placed under house arrest until his death.

 16 
Juvénal Habyarimana
(2nd President of Rwanda (1973 - 1994))
Juvénal Habyarimana
7
Birthdate: March 8, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gisenyi, Ruanda-Urundi
Died: April 6, 1994

Juvénal Habyarimana was a Rwandan politician whose presidency, which spanned from 1973 until his death in 1994, was responsible for pushing Rwanda into extreme poverty. His assassination on 6 April 1994 helped spark the Rwandan genocide, which had lasting effects on Rwanda. The genocide resulted in the death of nearly 1 million Rwandans.

 17 
Manuel Noriega
(Former Panamanian Dictator)
Manuel Noriega
24
Birthdate: February 11, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Panama City
Died: May 29, 2017

Panamanian politician and military officer, Manuel Noriega, was the de facto ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989. As an army man, he overthrew President Arnulfo Arias in a coup in 1968 and became the de facto ruler of Panama a few years later. He was a controversial leader and his rule has been described as a dictatorship.

 18 
Lon Nol
(Cambodian Politician)
Lon Nol
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Prey Veng Province
Died: November 17, 1985

Lon Nol was a Cambodian general and politician. He served as the prime minister of Cambodia from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1969 to 1971. A nationalist, Nol played a decisive role during the 1970 Cambodian coup d'état where he led the military coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The coup led to the abolition of the monarchy of Cambodia.

 19 
Efraín Ríos Montt
7
Birthdate: June 16, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Huehuetenango

Efraín Ríos Montt was a Guatemalan politician and military officer. From 1982 to 1983, he served as the 26th president of Guatemala. His brief tenure as the de facto president was one of the bloodiest periods during the then-ongoing Guatemalan Civil War. In 2013, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison for crimes against humanity and genocide.

 20 
Juan Manuel de Rosas
(Dictator of Argentina)
Juan Manuel de Rosas
7
Birthdate: March 30, 1793
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Buenos Aires
Died: March 14, 1877
Remembered as the Restorer of the Laws, Argentine governor and dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas was born into a ranch-owning family and was initially a cowboy. Following his ascension to the governorship, his parapolice, Mazorca, killed scores of citizens. He spent his final years, exiled, as a farmer.
 21 
Siaka Stevens
(1st President of Sierra Leone)
Siaka Stevens
7
Birthdate: August 24, 1905
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moyamba
Died: May 29, 1988

Siaka Stevens, known for his self-indulgent and corrupt rule, was overthrown by a coup in 1967, shortly after becoming the prime minister of Sierra Leone, but he was called back from exile in Guinea after a second coup a few months later. He was also the country’s first president.

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
0
Birthdate: January 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Yaguarón
Died: September 20, 1840

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia went down in history as the first dictator of Paraguay. Although he had initially studied theology, he later deviated to law. Known as El Supremo, he banned all foreign trade in his bid to make Paraguay self-sufficient, thus eventually weaking it and curbing personal freedom.

 23 
Kim Jong-un
(Supreme Leader of North Korea (Since 2011))
Kim Jong-un
159
Birthdate: January 8, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wonsan, North Korea

The supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is considered a ruthless man and rules over his people with an iron fist. He has been accused of human rights violations and is said to have ordered the execution of several North Korean officials. 

 24 
Kim Jong-il
(Supreme Leader of North Korea (1997-2011))
Kim Jong-il
59
Birthdate: February 16, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vyatskoye, Russia
Died: December 17, 2011

Kim Jong-il was the second Supreme Leader of North Korea. He assumed this position from his father Kim Il-sung in 1994 and served in this position until his own death in 2011. His reign was repressive and totalitarian and was marked by food scarcity.

 25 
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
(Former President of Pakistan)
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
27
Birthdate: August 12, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jalandhar, Punjab, British India
Died: August 17, 1988
Pakistani military general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq became the president of Pakistan after he deposed the erstwhile prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and declared martial law in 1977. He subsequently became longest-tenured head of state, reigning from 1978 to 1988. He died in a plane crash in Bahawalpur.
 26 
Wojciech Jaruzelski
(President of the Republic of Poland 1989-1990, Prime Minister of Poland 1981-1985)
Wojciech Jaruzelski
8
Birthdate: July 6, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kurów, Poland
Died: May 25, 2014

Wojciech Jaruzelski was a Polish politician and military officer. From 1981 to 1989, he was the dictator of the Polish People's Republic. He also served as the prime minister and president of Poland during his influential political career. He also served as the Polish People's Army's last commander-in-chief; Polish People's Army became the Polish Armed Forces in 1990.

 27 
Ne Win
(Burmese Politician)
Ne Win
13
Birthdate: May 14, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paungdale
Died: December 5, 2002
Known as “the destroyer of Burma,” Myanmar’s former dictator, president, and prime minister General Ne Win practically reduced the once-prosperous nation to its mere shadow. The founder of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, he spent his final years under house arrest, and had only a dozen people at his funeral.
 28 
Juan Vicente Gómez
(Former President of Venezuela Who Served for 3-Terms Between 1908 and 1935)
Juan Vicente Gómez
12
Birthdate: July 24, 1857
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Antonio de Tachira, Venezuela
Died: December 17, 1935

Venezuelan military general and dictator Juan Vicente Gómez served as the country’s president for 3 terms. Called the Tyrant of the Andes by his opponents, he is said to have become the richest man in South America. He reduced Venezuela’s foreign debts and maintained healthy relations with the Western powers.

 29 
Moussa Traoré
(President of Mali from 1968 to 1991)
Moussa Traoré
5
Birthdate: September 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kayes, Mali
Died: September 15, 2020
 30 
Luis Somoza Debayle
(26th President of Nicaragua (1956 - 1963))
Luis Somoza Debayle
7
Birthdate: November 18, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: León, Nicaragua
Died: April 13, 1967
 31 
Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
8
Birthdate: August 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rutovu, Burundi
Died: May 4, 2016
 32 
Emilio Eduardo Massera
(Political figure)
Emilio Eduardo Massera
10
Birthdate: October 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parana, Argentina
Died: November 8, 2010
 33 
Ramón Castilla
(Caudillo)
Ramón Castilla
4
Birthdate: August 31, 1797
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tarapacá Province, Peru
Died: May 30, 1867
 34 
Artúr Görgey
(Military leader)
Artúr Görgey
11
Birthdate: January 30, 1818
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toporc, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire
Died: May 21, 1916
 35 
Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla
(4th Chairman of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy)
Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla
8
Birthdate: 1940 AD
Birthplace: La Güera