Angela Merkel is stepping down as German chancellor after 16 years in power, bringing an end to a political career which has spanned more than three decades.

It is a career documented in pictures at every turn: from visiting fishermen during her earliest campaigns, to talks at the White House, and everything in between.

Here, we have collected just a few from the thousands capturing the woman who has been at the helm of Germany for so many years.

image source, DPA/Alamyimage caption23 September 2021: Mrs Merkel's tenure has been one of highs and lows but she will be remembered for her pragmatic approach and ability to forge consensusimage source, AFPimage captionSummer 1989: Mrs Merkel (pictured far right) with Malgorzata Jeziorska and future husband Joachim Sauer at a university summer school for chemistry in Polandimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionNovember 1990: By the next year, she was campaigning in the first German federal election to be held since the country was reunifiedimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionJanuary 1994: Mrs Merkel was made minister for the environment – which appears to have meant showing off how you recycle wrapping paperimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionMarch 1995: Mrs Merkel laughs with fellow minister Horst Seehofer, during a cabinet meetingimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionMarch 2000: Mrs Merkel was chosen to lead the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in 2000image source, Getty Imagesimage captionJuly 2005: Five years later, she was back on the campaign trail (pictured) – which would lead to her election as Germany's first female chancellorimage source, AFPimage captionJune 2007: Despite it being the 21st Century, politics is still dominated by men, so Mrs Merkel – here with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, US President George W Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair – was often the lone female faceimage source, Reutersimage captionApril 2009: Mrs Merkel became a symbol of fiscal austerity in the years which followed the financial crashimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionApril 2011: Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, and Mrs Merkel in Berlinimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionJune 2015: Mrs Merkel with then-President Barack Obama, after a G7 summit session in southern Germany. "You have been a trusted partner throughout my entire presidency – longer than any world leader," the US leader told her a year laterimage source, AFPimage captionSeptember 2015: The chancellor's decision to open Germany's borders to refugees in 2015 divided the country. Pictured: Refugees making their way through Hungaryimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionApril 2018: It also put her on a collision course with US President Donald Trumpimage source, Getty Imagesimage captionJune 2018: Migration was not the only issue on which they would clash. North Korea, Iran and trade were also contentious and led to moments like this at the G7 in Canadaimage source, BBC Sportimage caption2020/21: As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world, Mrs Merkel won praise for her early handling of the outbreak; some said her science background helped

All pictures, unless specified, are AFP or Getty Images