Time magazine's 100 most influential people

Pop singer Rihanna has made Time magazine's prestigious list Credit: Reuters

Time magazine has published it's list of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2012.

A small collection of the influential including actresses Tilda Swinton, Kristen Wiig and pop star Rihanna gathered in New York City on Tuesday for a gala to celebrate the honuor.

Rihanna said it was surreal.

The list is broken up into five sections: moguls, breakouts, icons, pioneers and leaders.

Time managing editor Rick Stengel said it's not a power list, but it's about the power of influence, and how people use what they believe in to change the world.

Although technology is changing the way many operate and navigate the world, Stengel said it has very little influence on who makes the cut.

The magazine selects guest contributors to write brief biographies about the honourees.

Some of the groupings included Cicely Tyson on Viola Davis and Elton John on singer Raphael Saadiq, who in turn paid tribute to Sir Elton at the gala.

Actress Mia Farrow made the list in 2008 and attended the gala with her son, who explained how his mother influences him.

There are 54 international figures from 37 countries on the list. This year 38 women made the cut which is the most in the nine year history of the list. Among the women is Spanx founder Sara Blakely, who has reshaped women around the globe with her form flattering undergarments.

Also included are several controversial figures including Syrian President Bashar Assad, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and Somali Islamic militant Sheik Moktar Ali Zubeyr.

The full list can be seen here.