The Forbes list of Most Powerful Women in the world for 2011 was released on Wednesday, Aug. 24.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped the Forbes list of the world's most powerful women, which is dominated by politicians, businesswomen and leaders in media and entertainment.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who came close to defeating President Obama when he sought the Democratic nomination in 2008, was second, followed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Our list reflects the diverse and dynamic paths to power for women today, whether leading a nation or setting the agenda on critical issues of our time, said Moira Forbes, president & publisher of ForbesWoman, said in a statement.

Across their multiple spheres of influence, these women have achieved power through connectivity, the ability to build a community around the organizations they oversee, the countries they lead, the causes they champion and their personal brands, Forbes added.

Rounding out the top five were the CEO of PepsiCo U.S. Indra Nooyi, who oversees the $60 billion food and beverage empire, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who was credited with preparing the booming social network's IPO that could bring in as much as $100 billion.

India's Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi was ranked at No. 7.

Forbes said women on the list achieved power not only through money and might, but, thanks to social media, through reach and influence.

Start the slideshow to see the names of the woman who topped the world ranking of the most powerful women in the world, and a glance at who they are.