The cover of TIME Magazine featuring U.S. President Barack Obama.
The cover of TIME Magazine featuring U.S. President Barack Obama.
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U.S. President Barack Obama was named Time's Person of the Year for 2012, citing his historic re-election last month as symbolic of the nation's changing demographics amid the backdrop of high unemployment and other challenges.

The selection was announced Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show by Time editor Rick Stengel.

"He's basically the beneficiary and the author of a kind new America - a new demographic, a new cultural America that he is now the symbol of," he said.

"He won re-election despite a higher unemployment rate than anybody's had to face in basically 70 years. He's the first Democrat to actually win two consecutive terms with over 50 percent of the vote. That's something we haven't seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt," Stengel said, citing the president who served during the Great Depression and World War Two.

Obama edged out Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls' education, for the honor, Stengel said.

Other finalists included Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti, he added.

Obama also received the honor in 2008, when he was President-elect.

Last year, in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising across the Middle East, "The Protester" got the honor.

Time's Person of the Year is the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and the news during the past year for good or for ill. In 2010, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg received the honor.

Other previous winners have included Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Bono and President George W. Bush.