Chancellor Angela Merkel won a second term in office on Sunday, telling Germans: "I'm very happy tonight."
Below are some facts about Merkel:
-- Born Angela Kasner in Hamburg in 1954, she moved with her family to East Germany when she was only a toddler after her father, a Protestant pastor, was offered a job in the state of Brandenburg, north of Berlin. She grew up in the town of Templin, in the Uckermark region with its lakes and rolling hills.
-- Merkel studied physics at the University of Leipzig, earning a doctorate, and became politically active after the Berlin Wall fell, joining the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in 1990. Only a year later she became the youngest member of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's cabinet as minister for women and youth. In 1994, she became German environment minister and in 2000 she was elected CDU leader after the party and Kohl were rocked by a scandal over illegal funding.
-- Merkel became Germany's first woman chancellor and the country's first leader to have grown up in the former communist East Germany in 2005, when her conservatives narrowly defeated Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD). She has topped a Forbes magazine ranking of the world's most powerful women for the past four years.
-- As head of Germany's first right-left "grand coalition" since the 1960s, Merkel has steered a centrist course at home and earned a reputation as a talented mediator at the international level. She brokered an elusive deal on the EU budget shortly after taking office and in 2007 went on to forge compromises on climate change at both the EU and G8 levels as well as a deal on the European bloc's reform treaty, earning the nickname "Summit Queen." Her cautious leadership style has put an end to the comparisons with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that surfaced before the 2005 election.
-- Merkel divorced her first husband Ulrich Merkel in 1982 and has been married to publicity-shy chemistry professor Joachim Sauer since 1998. She has no children. She is a fan of classical music, regularly attending the annual Bayreuth opera festival, and enjoys hiking in the Alps in her free time.
(Writing by Noah Barkin, editing by Mark Trevelyan)