According to a 2010 survey, the Dalai Lama may just be the most popular religious leader in the world.
Leader of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is believed to be the latest incarnation of a succession of tulkus–enlightened Buddhist lamas said to be able to reincarnate themselves to continue their vows–descended from Avalokiteśvara, the embodiment of the compassion of the Buddhas.
The Dalai Lama has, in the past, been the leader of the Tibetan government. In the current day, he is responsible for the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibet’s government-in-exile.
The Dalai Lama placed second, by only two percentage points, behind Barack Obama as the world’s most popular leader. The survey was conducted in six countries between March 31st and April 12th, 2010, by Harris Interactive for France24 and Radio France-Internationale.