Eight correspondents from eight nations look back — including Pascal Thibaut of France, US journalist Patrick Donahue and Jun Nojima of Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, who considers Angela Merkel a guardian of Western democracy.

Others warn against exaggerating Merkel's influence. What they all have in common is that they have followed the chancellor for years, even to the produce section of her local supermarket.

The fact that, as one of the world's most powerful women, Merkel sometimes does the shopping herself, probably says a lot about her personality. A report by Robert Richter.