US President Barack Obama (R) introduces Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim as his nominee for the next president of the World Bank, during an announcement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington March 23, 2012. (Image: Reuters)
The nomination of the Dartmouth College president and development expert is a surprise as he was not mentioned as a contender over the past weeks.
A US citizen has led the Bank since it was founded in 1944, but developing nations say it is time for change.
The World Bank confirmed that there are three candidates - with the other two coming from Nigeria and Colombia.
After the deadline for nominations to replace the current president, Robert Zoellick, passed, the World Bank that Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo, a former Colombian finance minister, have made the shortlist along with Dr Kim.
Dr Kim is a leading figure in global health. As well as his work at the WHO, he co-founded the health organisation Partners in Health in 1987.
Three African countries - Angola, Nigeria and South Africa - have endorsed the nomination of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala.
The nomination of Mr Ocampo was backed by Brazil and not his own country.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were created at the conference at Bretton Woods in 1944 as a means to regulate trade between nations in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II.
A US national traditionally heads the World Bank while a European runs the IMF - currently France’s Christine Lagarde.
The current president, Robert Zoellick, is to step down from his role at the institution when his five-year term comes to an end on 30 June.
Mr Zoellick, 58, was nominated for the role in 2007 by George W Bush.