Republic

A republic (Latin: res publica) is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a monarch.[1][2][3]

In American English, the definition of a republic refers specifically to a form of government in which elected individuals represent the citizen body[2] and exercise power according to the rule of law under a constitution, including separation of powers with an elected head of state, referred to as a constitutional republic[4][5][6][7] or representative democracy.[8]

As of 2017, 159 of the world’s 206 sovereign states use the word “republic” as part of their official names – not all of these are republics in the sense of having elected governments, nor is the word “republic” used in the names of all nations with elected governments. While heads of state often tend to claim that they rule only by the “consent of the governed”, elections in some countries have been found to be held more for the purpose of “show” than for the actual purpose of in reality providing citizens with any genuine ability to choose their own leaders.[9]

The word republic comes from the Latin term res publica, which literally means “public thing,” “public matter,” or “public affair” and was used to refer to the state as a whole. The term developed its modern meaning in reference to the constitution of the ancient Roman Republic, lasting from the overthrow of the kings in 509 B.C. to the establishment of the Empire in 27 B.C. This constitution was characterized by a Senate composed of wealthy aristocrats and wielding significant influence; several popular assemblies of all free citizens, possessing the power to elect magistrates and pass laws; and a series of magistracies with varying types of civil and political authority.

Most often a republic is a single sovereign state, but there are also sub-sovereign state entities that are referred to as republics, or that have governments that are described as “republican” in nature. For instance, Article IV of the United States Constitution "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government".[10] In contrast, the former Soviet Union, which described itself as being a group of “Republics” and also as a “federal multinational state composed of 15 republics”, was widely viewed as being a totalitarian form of government and not a genuine republic, since its electoral system was structured so as to automatically guarantee the election of government-sponsored candidates.[11]

Etymology

The term originates as the Latin translation of Greek word politeia. Cicero, among other Latin writers, translated politeia as res publica and it was in turn translated by Renaissance scholars as "republic" (or similar terms in various western European languages).

The term politeia can be translated as form of government, polity, or regime and is therefore not always a word for a specific type of regime as the modern word republic is. One of Plato's major works on political science was titled Politeia and in English it is thus known as The Republic. However, apart from the title, in modern translations of The Republic, alternative translations of politeia are also used.[12]

However, in Book III of his Politics (1279) Aristotle was apparently the first classical writer to state that the term politeia can be used to refer more specifically to one type of politeia: "When the citizens at large govern for the public good, it is called by the name common to all governments (to koinon onoma pasōn tōn politeiōn), government (politeia)". Also amongst classical Latin, the term "republic" can be used in a general way to refer to any regime, or in a specific way to refer to governments which work for the public good.[13]

In medieval Northern Italy, a number of city states had commune or signoria based governments. In the late Middle Ages, writers such as Giovanni Villani began writing about the nature of these states and the differences from other types of regime. They used terms such as libertas populi, a free people, to describe the states. The terminology changed in the 15th century as the renewed interest in the writings of Ancient Rome caused writers to prefer using classical terminology. To describe non-monarchical states writers, most importantly Leonardo Bruni, adopted the Latin phrase res publica.[14]

While Bruni and Machiavelli used the term to describe the states of Northern Italy, which were not monarchies, the term res publica has a set of interrelated meanings in the original Latin. The term can quite literally be translated as "public matter".[15] It was most often used by Roman writers to refer to the state and government, even during the period of the Roman Empire.[16]

In subsequent centuries, the English word "commonwealth" came to be used as a translation of res publica, and its use in English was comparable to how the Romans used the term res publica.[17] Notably, during The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell the word commonwealth was the most common term to call the new monarchless state, but the word republic was also in common use.[18] Likewise, in Polish the term was translated as rzeczpospolita, although the translation is now only used with respect to Poland.

Presently, the term "republic" commonly means a system of government which derives its power from the people rather than from another basis, such as heredity or divine right.[19]

History

While the philosophical terminology developed in classical Greece and Rome, as already noted by Aristotle there was already a long history of city states with a wide variety of constitutions, not only in Greece but also in the Middle East. After the classical period, during the Middle Ages, many free cities developed again, such as Venice.

Classical republics

Republica Romana
A map of the Roman Republic

The modern type of "republic" itself is different from any type of state found in the classical world.[20][21] Nevertheless, there are a number of states of the classical era that are today still called republics. This includes ancient Athens and the Roman Republic. While the structure and governance of these states was very different from that of any modern republic, there is debate about the extent to which classical, medieval, and modern republics form a historical continuum. J. G. A. Pocock has argued that a distinct republican tradition stretches from the classical world to the present.[15][22] Other scholars disagree.[15] Paul Rahe, for instance, argues that the classical republics had a form of government with few links to those in any modern country.[23]

The political philosophy of the classical republics has in any case had an influence on republican thought throughout the subsequent centuries. Philosophers and politicians advocating republics, such as Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Adams, and Madison, relied heavily on classical Greek and Roman sources which described various types of regimes.

Aristotle's Politics discusses various forms of government. One form Aristotle named politeia, which consisted of a mixture of the other forms. He argued that this was one of the ideal forms of government. Polybius expanded on many of these ideas, again focusing on the idea of mixed government. The most important Roman work in this tradition is Cicero's De re publica.

Over time, the classical republics were either conquered by empires or became ones themselves. Most of the Greek republics were annexed to the Macedonian Empire of Alexander. The Roman Republic expanded dramatically conquering the other states of the Mediterranean that could be considered republics, such as Carthage. The Roman Republic itself then became the Roman Empire.

Other ancient republics

The term "republic" is not commonly used to refer to pre-classical city states, especially if outside Europe and the area which was under Graeco-Roman influence.[15] However some early states outside Europe had governments that are sometimes today considered similar to republics.

In the ancient Near East, a number of cities of the Eastern Mediterranean achieved collective rule. Arwad has been cited as one of the earliest known examples of a republic, in which the people, rather than a monarch, are described as sovereign.[24] The Israelite confederation of the era before the United Monarchy has also been considered a type of republic.[15][25] In Africa the Axum Empire was organized as a confederation ruled similarly to a royal republic.[26] Similarly the Igbo nation of what is now Nigeria.[27]

Indian subcontinent

Anandastupa
Ananda Stupa, built by the Licchavis at Vaishali, which served as the capital of Vajjian Confederacy, one of the world's earliest republics (Gaṇa sangha).[28]

The ancient Indian subcontinent had a number of early republics among Mahajanapadas.[29] Early republican institutions comes from the independent "republics" of India, sanghas and ganas, which existed as early as the 6th century B.C. and persisted in some areas until the 4th century. The evidence for this is scattered, however, and no pure historical source exists for that period. In addition, Diodorus—a Greek historian who wrote two centuries after the time of Alexander the Great's invasion of India—mentions, without offering any detail, that independent and democratic states existed in India.[30] Modern scholars note the word democracy at the time of the 3rd century B.C. and later suffered from degradation and could mean any autonomous state, no matter how oligarchic in nature.[31][32]

Mahajanapadas (c. 500 BCE)
The Mahajanapadas were the sixteen most powerful and vast kingdoms and republics of the era, there were also a number of smaller kingdoms stretching the length and breadth of Ancient India. Among the Mahajanapadas and smaller states, the Shakyas, Koliyas, Mallas, and Licchavis followed republican government.

Key characteristics of the gana seem to include a monarch, usually known by the name raja, and a deliberative assembly. The assembly met regularly. It discussed all major state decisions. At least in some states, attendance was open to all free men. This body also had full financial, administrative, and judicial authority. Other officers, who rarely receive any mention, obeyed the decisions of the assembly. Elected by the gana, the monarch apparently always belonged to a family of the noble class of Kshatriya Varna. The monarch coordinated his activities with the assembly; in some states, he did so with a council of other nobles.[33] The Licchavis had a primary governing body of 7,077 rajas, the heads of the most important families. On the other hand, the Shakyas, Koliyas, Mallas, and Licchavis, during the period around Gautama Buddha, had the assembly open to all men, rich and poor.[34] Early "republics" or Gaṇa sangha,[28] such as Mallas, centered in the city of Kusinagara, and the Vajji (or Vriji) confederation, centered in the city of Vaishali, existed as early as the 6th century BCE and persisted in some areas until the 4th century CE.[35] The most famous clan amongst the ruling confederate clans of the Vajji Mahajanapada were the Licchavis.[36] The Magadha kingdom included republican communities such as the community of Rajakumara. Villages had their own assemblies under their local chiefs called Gramakas. Their administrations were divided into executive, judicial, and military functions.

Scholars differ over how best to describe these governments, and the vague, sporadic quality of the evidence allows for wide disagreements. Some emphasize the central role of the assemblies and thus tout them as democracies; other scholars focus on the upper-class domination of the leadership and possible control of the assembly and see an oligarchy or an aristocracy.[37][38] Despite the assembly's obvious power, it has not yet been established whether the composition and participation were truly popular. The first main obstacle is the lack of evidence describing the popular power of the assembly. This is reflected in the Arthashastra, an ancient handbook for monarchs on how to rule efficiently. It contains a chapter on how to deal with the sangas, which includes injunctions on manipulating the noble leaders, yet it does not mention how to influence the mass of the citizens—a surprising omission if democratic bodies, not the aristocratic families, actively controlled the republican governments.[39] Another issue is the persistence of the four-tiered Varna class system.[37] The duties and privileges on the members of each particular caste—rigid enough to prohibit someone sharing a meal with those of another order—might have affected the roles members were expected to play in the state, regardless of the formality of the institutions. A central tenet of democracy is the notion of shared decision-making power. The absence of any concrete notion of citizen equality across these caste system boundaries leads many scholars to claim that the true nature of ganas and sanghas is not comparable to truly democratic institutions.[38]

War over the Buddha's Relics, South Gate, Stupa no. 1, Sanchi
Mallas defending the city of Kusinagara, as depicted at Sanchi. Malla was an ancient Indian republic (Gaṇa sangha) that constituted one of the solasa (sixteen) Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) of ancient India as mentioned in the Anguttara Nikaya.[40]

Icelandic Commonwealth

The Icelandic Commonwealth was established in AD 930 by refugees from Norway who had fled the unification of that country under King Harald Fairhair. The Commonwealth consisted of a number of clans run by chieftains, and the Althing was a combination of parliament and supreme court where disputes appealed from lower courts were settled, laws were decided, and decisions of national importance were taken. One such example was the Christianisation of Iceland in 1000, where the Althing decreed, in order to prevent an invasion, that all Icelanders must be baptized, and forbade celebration of pagan rituals. Contrary to most states, the Icelandic Commonwealth had no official leader.

In the early 13th century, the Age of the Sturlungs, the Commonwealth began to suffer from long conflicts between warring clans. This, combined with pressure from the Norwegian king Haakon IV for the Icelanders to rejoin the Norwegian "family", led the Icelandic chieftains to accept Haakon IV as king by the signing of the Gamli sáttmáli ("Old Covenant") in 1262. This effectively brought the Commonwealth to an end. The Althing, however, is still Iceland's parliament, almost 800 years later.[41]

Mercantile republics

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 080
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Neptune offers the wealth of the sea to Venice, 1748–1750. This painting is an allegory of the power of the Republic of Venice.

In Europe new republics appeared in the late Middle Ages when a number of small states embraced republican systems of government. These were generally small, but wealthy, trading states, like the Italian city-states and the Hanseatic League, in which the merchant class had risen to prominence. Knud Haakonssen has noted that, by the Renaissance, Europe was divided with those states controlled by a landed elite being monarchies and those controlled by a commercial elite being republics.[17]

Across Europe a wealthy merchant class developed in the important trading cities. Despite their wealth they had little power in the feudal system dominated by the rural land owners, and across Europe began to advocate for their own privileges and powers. The more centralized states, such as France and England, granted limited city charters.

Commencement république messine Auguste Migette 1862
Beginning of the Republic of Metz. Election of the first Head-Alderman in 1289, by Auguste Migette. Metz was then a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Emperor.

In the more loosely governed Holy Roman Empire, 51 of the largest towns became free imperial cities. While still under the dominion of the Holy Roman Emperor most power was held locally and many adopted republican forms of government.[42] The same rights to imperial immediacy were secured by the major trading cities of Switzerland. The towns and villages of alpine Switzerland had, courtesy of geography, also been largely excluded from central control. Unlike Italy and Germany, much of the rural area was thus not controlled by feudal barons, but by independent farmers who also used communal forms of government. When the Habsburgs tried to reassert control over the region both rural farmers and town merchants joined the rebellion. The Swiss were victorious, and the Swiss Confederacy was proclaimed, and Switzerland has retained a republican form of government to the present.[25]

Italy was the most densely populated area of Europe, and also one with the weakest central government. Many of the towns thus gained considerable independence and adopted commune forms of government. Completely free of feudal control, the Italian city-states expanded, gaining control of the rural hinterland.[42] The two most powerful were the Republic of Venice and its rival the Republic of Genoa. Each were large trading ports, and further expanded by using naval power to control large parts of the Mediterranean. It was in Italy that an ideology advocating for republics first developed. Writers such as Bartholomew of Lucca, Brunetto Latini, Marsilius of Padua, and Leonardo Bruni saw the medieval city-states as heirs to the legacy of Greece and Rome.

Two Russian cities with powerful merchant class—Novgorod and Pskov—also adopted republican forms of government in 12th and 13th centuries, respectively, which ended when the republics were conquered by Muscovy/Russia at the end of 15th – beginning of 16th century.[43]

The dominant form of government for these early republics was control by a limited council of elite patricians. In those areas that held elections, property qualifications or guild membership limited both who could vote and who could run. In many states no direct elections were held and council members were hereditary or appointed by the existing council. This left the great majority of the population without political power, and riots and revolts by the lower classes were common. The late Middle Ages saw more than 200 such risings in the towns of the Holy Roman Empire.[44] Similar revolts occurred in Italy, notably the Ciompi Revolt in Florence.

Mercantile republics outside Europe

Following the collapse of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and establishment of the Turkish Anatolian Beyliks, the Ahiler merchant fraternities established a state centered on Ankara that is sometimes compared to the Italian mercantile republics.

Calvinist republics

While the classical writers had been the primary ideological source for the republics of Italy, in Northern Europe, the Protestant Reformation would be used as justification for establishing new republics.[45] Most important was Calvinist theology, which developed in the Swiss Confederacy, one of the largest and most powerful of the medieval republics. John Calvin did not call for the abolition of monarchy, but he advanced the doctrine that the faithful had the duty to overthrow irreligious monarchs.[46] Advocacy for republics appeared in the writings of the Huguenots during the French Wars of Religion.[47]

Calvinism played an important role in the republican revolts in England and the Netherlands. Like the city-states of Italy and the Hanseatic League, both were important trading centres, with a large merchant class prospering from the trade with the New World. Large parts of the population of both areas also embraced Calvinism. During the Dutch Revolt (beginning in 1566), the Dutch Republic emerged from rejection of Spanish Habsburg rule. However, the country did not adopt the republican form of government immediately: in the formal declaration of independence (Act of Abjuration, 1581), the throne of king Philip was only declared vacant, and the Dutch magistrates asked the Duke of Anjou, queen Elizabeth of England and prince William of Orange, one after another, to replace Philip. It took until 1588 before the Estates (the Staten, the representative assembly at the time) decided to vest the sovereignty of the country in themselves.

In 1641 the English Civil War began. Spearheaded by the Puritans and funded by the merchants of London, the revolt was a success, and King Charles I was executed. In England James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, and John Milton became some of the first writers to argue for rejecting monarchy and embracing a republican form of government. The English Commonwealth was short lived, and the monarchy soon restored. The Dutch Republic continued in name until 1795, but by the mid-18th century the stadtholder had become a de facto monarch. Calvinists were also some of the earliest settlers of the British and Dutch colonies of North America.

Liberal republics

Place de la République - Marianne
An allegory of the French Republic in Paris
Emblem of Septinsular republic
Septinsular Republic flag from the early 1800s
Upprop för republik 1848
A revolutionary Republican hand-written bill from the Stockholm riots during the Revolutions of 1848, reading: "Dethrone Oscar he is not fit to be a king: Long live the Republic! The Reform! down with the Royal house, long live Aftonbladet! death to the king / Republic Republic the People. Brunkeberg this evening". The writer's identity is unknown.

Along with these initial republican revolts, early modern Europe also saw a great increase in monarchical power. The era of absolute monarchy replaced the limited and decentralized monarchies that had existed in most of the Middle Ages. It also saw a reaction against the total control of the monarch as a series of writers created the ideology known as liberalism.

Most of these Enlightenment thinkers were far more interested in ideas of constitutional monarchy than in republics. The Cromwell regime had discredited republicanism, and most thinkers felt that republics ended in either anarchy or tyranny.[48] Thus philosophers like Voltaire opposed absolutism while at the same time being strongly pro-monarchy.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu praised republics, and looked on the city-states of Greece as a model. However, both also felt that a nation-state like France, with 20 million people, would be impossible to govern as a republic. Rousseau admired the republican experiment in Corsica (1755–1769) and described his ideal political structure of small, self-governing communes. Montesquieu felt that a city-state should ideally be a republic, but maintained that a limited monarchy was better suited to a large nation.

The American Revolution began as a rejection only of the authority of the British Parliament over the colonies, not of the monarchy. The failure of the British monarch to protect the colonies from what they considered the infringement of their rights to representative government, the monarch's branding of those requesting redress as traitors, and his support for sending combat troops to demonstrate authority resulted in widespread perception of the British monarchy as tyrannical.

With the United States Declaration of Independence the leaders of the revolt firmly rejected the monarchy and embraced republicanism. The leaders of the revolution were well versed in the writings of the French liberal thinkers, and also in history of the classical republics. John Adams had notably written a book on republics throughout history. In addition, the widely distributed and popularly read-aloud tract Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, succinctly and eloquently laid out the case for republican ideals and independence to the larger public. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, created a relatively strong federal republic to replace the relatively weak confederation under the first attempt at a national government with the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union ratified in 1781. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, called the United States Bill of Rights, guaranteed certain natural rights fundamental to republican ideals that justified the Revolution.

The French Revolution was also not republican at its outset. Only after the Flight to Varennes removed most of the remaining sympathy for the king was a republic declared and Louis XVI sent to the guillotine. The stunning success of France in the French Revolutionary Wars saw republics spread by force of arms across much of Europe as a series of client republics were set up across the continent. The rise of Napoleon saw the end of the French First Republic and her Sister Republics, each replaced by "popular monarchies". Throughout the Napoleonic period, the victors extinguished many of the oldest republics on the continent, including the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa, and the Dutch Republic. They were eventually transformed into monarchies or absorbed into neighbouring monarchies.

Outside Europe another group of republics was created as the Napoleonic Wars allowed the states of Latin America to gain their independence. Liberal ideology had only a limited impact on these new republics. The main impetus was the local European descended Creole population in conflict with the Peninsulares—governors sent from overseas. The majority of the population in most of Latin America was of either African or Amerindian descent, and the Creole elite had little interest in giving these groups power and broad-based popular sovereignty. Simón Bolívar, both the main instigator of the revolts and one of its most important theorists, was sympathetic to liberal ideals but felt that Latin America lacked the social cohesion for such a system to function and advocated autocracy as necessary.

In Mexico this autocracy briefly took the form of a monarchy in the First Mexican Empire. Due to the Peninsular War, the Portuguese court was relocated to Brazil in 1808. Brazil gained independence as a monarchy on September 7, 1822, and the Empire of Brazil lasted until 1889. In the other states various forms of autocratic republic existed until most were liberalized at the end of the 20th century.[49]

Europe 1815 monarchies versus republics Europe 1914 monarchies versus republics Europe 1930 monarchies versus republics Europe 1950 monarchies versus republics Europe 2015 monarchies versus republics
European states in 1815[50]
  Monarchies (55)
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European states in 1914[51]
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European states in 1930[52]
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European states in 1950[53]
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European states in 2015[54]
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The French Second Republic was created in 1848, but abolished by Napoleon III who proclaimed himself Emperor in 1852. The French Third Republic was established in 1870, when a civil revolutionary committee refused to accept Napoleon III's surrender during the Franco-Prussian War. Spain briefly became the First Spanish Republic in 1873–74, but the monarchy was soon restored. By the start of the 20th century France, Switzerland and San Marino remained the only republics in Europe. This changed when, after the 1908 Lisbon Regicide, the 5 October 1910 revolution established the Portuguese Republic.

Chinese republic forever
A 1920s poster that commemorates the permanent President of the Republic of China Yuan Shikai and the provisional President of the Republic Sun Yat-sen

In East Asia, China had seen considerable anti-Qing sentiment during the 19th century, and a number of protest movements developed calling for constitutional monarchy. The most important leader of these efforts was Sun Yat-sen, whose Three Principles of the People combined American, European, and Chinese ideas. Under his leadership the Republic of China was proclaimed on January 1, 1912.

Republicanism expanded significantly in the aftermath of World War I, when several of the largest European empires collapsed: the Russian Empire (1917), German Empire (1918), Austro-Hungarian Empire (1918), and Ottoman Empire (1922) were all replaced by republics. New states gained independence during this turmoil, and many of these, such as Ireland, Poland, Finland and Czechoslovakia, chose republican forms of government. Following Greece's defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22), the monarchy was briefly replaced by the Second Hellenic Republic (1924–35). In 1931, the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic (1931–39) resulted in the Spanish Civil War that would be the prelude of World War II.

Republican ideas were spreading, especially in Asia. The United States began to have considerable influence in East Asia in the later part of the 19th century, with Protestant missionaries playing a central role. The liberal and republican writers of the west also exerted influence. These combined with native Confucian inspired political philosophy that had long argued that the populace had the right to reject unjust government that had lost the Mandate of Heaven.

Two short-lived republics were proclaimed in East Asia, the Republic of Formosa and the First Philippine Republic.

Decolonization

Commonwealth republics
A map of the Commonwealth republics

In the years following World War II, most of the remaining European colonies gained their independence, and most became republics. The two largest colonial powers were France and the United Kingdom. Republican France encouraged the establishment of republics in its former colonies. The United Kingdom attempted to follow the model it had for its earlier settler colonies of creating independent Commonwealth realms still linked under the same monarchy. While most of the settler colonies and the smaller states of the Caribbean retained this system, it was rejected by the newly independent countries in Africa and Asia, which revised their constitutions and became republics.

Britain followed a different model in the Middle East; it installed local monarchies in several colonies and mandates including Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen and Libya. In subsequent decades revolutions and coups overthrew a number of monarchs and installed republics. Several monarchies remain, and the Middle East is the only part of the world where several large states are ruled by monarchs with almost complete political control.[55]

Socialist republics

In the wake of the First World War, the Russian monarchy fell during the Russian Revolution. The Russian Provisional Government was established in its place on the lines of a liberal republic, but this was overthrown by the Bolsheviks who went on to establish the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This was the first republic established under Marxist-Leninist ideology. Communism was wholly opposed to monarchy, and became an important element of many republican movements during the 20th century. The Russian Revolution spread into Mongolia, and overthrew its theocratic monarchy in 1924. In the aftermath of the Second World War the communists gradually gained control of Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Albania, ensuring that the states were reestablished as socialist republics rather than monarchies.

Communism also intermingled with other ideologies. It was embraced by many national liberation movements during decolonization. In Vietnam, communist republicans pushed aside the Nguyễn Dynasty, and monarchies in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia were overthrown by communist movements in the 1970s. Arab socialism contributed to a series of revolts and coups that saw the monarchies of Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen ousted. In Africa Marxist-Leninism and African socialism led to the end of monarchy and the proclamation of republics in states such as Burundi and Ethiopia.

Islamic republics

Islamic political philosophy has a long history of opposition to absolute monarchy, notably in the work of Al-Farabi. Sharia law took precedence over the will of the ruler, and electing rulers by means of the Shura was an important doctrine. While the early caliphate maintained the principles of an elected ruler, later states became hereditary or military dictatorships though many maintained some pretense of a consultative shura.

None of these states are typically referred to as republics. The current usage of republic in Muslim countries is borrowed from the western meaning, adopted into the language in the late 19th century.[56] The 20th century saw republicanism become an important idea in much of the Middle East, as monarchies were removed in many states of the region. Iraq became a secular state. Some nations, such as Indonesia and Azerbaijan, began as secular. In Iran, the 1979 revolution overthrew the monarchy and created an Islamic republic based on the ideas of Islamic democracy.

Head of state

Structure

With no monarch, most modern republics use the title president for the head of state. Originally used to refer to the presiding officer of a committee or governing body in Great Britain the usage was also applied to political leaders, including the leaders of some of the Thirteen Colonies (originally Virginia in 1608); in full, the "President of the Council".[57] The first republic to adopt the title was the United States of America. Keeping its usage as the head of a committee the President of the Continental Congress was the leader of the original congress. When the new constitution was written the title of President of the United States was conferred on the head of the new executive branch.

If the head of state of a republic is also the head of government, this is called a presidential system. There are a number of forms of presidential government. A full-presidential system has a president with substantial authority and a central political role.

In other states the legislature is dominant and the presidential role is almost purely ceremonial and apolitical, such as in Germany, Trinidad and Tobago and India. These states are parliamentary republics and operate similarly to constitutional monarchies with parliamentary systems where the power of the monarch is also greatly circumscribed. In parliamentary systems the head of government, most often titled prime minister, exercises the most real political power. Semi-presidential systems have a president as an active head of state, but also have a head of government with important powers.

The rules for appointing the president and the leader of the government, in some republics permit the appointment of a president and a prime minister who have opposing political convictions: in France, when the members of the ruling cabinet and the president come from opposing political factions, this situation is called cohabitation.

In some countries, like Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and San Marino, the head of state is not a single person but a committee (council) of several persons holding that office. The Roman Republic had two consuls, elected for a one-year term by the comitia centuriata, consisting of all adult, freeborn males who could prove citizenship.

Elections

In liberal democracies presidents are elected, either directly by the people or indirectly by a parliament or council. Typically in presidential and semi-presidential systems the president is directly elected by the people, or is indirectly elected as done in the United States. In that country the president is officially elected by an electoral college, chosen by the States, all of which do so by direct election of the electors. The indirect election of the president through the electoral college conforms to the concept of republic as one with a system of indirect election. In the opinion of some, direct election confers legitimacy upon the president and gives the office much of its political power.[58] However, this concept of legitimacy differs from that expressed in the United States Constitution which established the legitimacy of the United States president as resulting from the signing of the Constitution by nine states.[59] The idea that direct election is required for legitimacy also contradicts the spirit of the Great Compromise, whose actual result was manifest in the clause[60] that provides voters in smaller states with more representation in presidential selection than those in large states; for example citizens of Wyoming in 2016 had 3.6 times as much electoral vote representation as citizens of California.[61].

In states with a parliamentary system the president is usually elected by the parliament. This indirect election subordinates the president to the parliament, and also gives the president limited legitimacy and turns most presidential powers into reserve powers that can only be exercised under rare circumstance. There are exceptions where elected presidents have only ceremonial powers, such as in Ireland.

Ambiguities

The distinction between a republic and a monarchy is not always clear. The constitutional monarchies of the former British Empire and Western Europe today have almost all real political power vested in the elected representatives, with the monarchs only holding either theoretical powers, no powers or rarely used reserve powers. Real legitimacy for political decisions comes from the elected representatives and is derived from the will of the people. While hereditary monarchies remain in place, political power is derived from the people as in a republic. These states are thus sometimes referred to as crowned republics.[62]

Terms such as "liberal republic" are also used to describe all of the modern liberal democracies.[63]

There are also self-proclaimed republics that act similarly to monarchies with absolute power vested in the leader and passed down from father to son. North Korea and Syria are two notable examples where a son has inherited political control. Neither of these states are officially monarchies. There is no constitutional requirement that power be passed down within one family, but it has occurred in practice.

There are also elective monarchies where ultimate power is vested in a monarch, but the monarch is chosen by some manner of election. A current example of such a state is Malaysia where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected every five years by the Conference of Rulers composed of the nine hereditary rulers of the Malay states and the Vatican City-State, where the pope is selected by cardinal-electors, currently all cardinals under a specific age. While rare today, elective monarchs were common in the past. The Holy Roman Empire is an important example, where each new emperor was chosen by a group of electors. Islamic states also rarely employed primogeniture, instead relying on various forms of election to choose a monarch's successor.

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had an elective monarchy, with a wide suffrage of some 500,000 nobles. The system, known as the Golden Liberty, had developed as a method for powerful landowners to control the crown. The proponents of this system looked to classical examples, and the writings of the Italian Renaissance, and called their elective monarchy a rzeczpospolita, based on res publica.

Sub-national republics

In general being a republic also implies sovereignty as for the state to be ruled by the people it cannot be controlled by a foreign power. There are important exceptions to this, for example, republics in the Soviet Union were member states which had to meet three criteria to be named republics:

  1. be on the periphery of the Soviet Union so as to be able to take advantage of their theoretical right to secede;
  2. be economically strong enough to be self-sufficient upon secession; and
  3. be named after at least one million people of the ethnic group which should make up the majority population of said republic.

It is sometimes argued that the former Soviet Union was also a supra-national republic, based on the claim that the member states were different nations.

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a federal entity composed of six republics (Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia). Each republic had its parliament, government, institute of citizenship, constitution, etc., but certain functions were delegated to the federation (army, monetary matters). Each republic also had a right of self-determination according to the conclusions of the second session of the AVNOJ and according to the federal constitution.

States of the United States are required, like the federal government, to be republican in form, with final authority resting with the people. This was required because the states were intended to create and enforce most domestic laws, with the exception of areas delegated to the federal government and prohibited to the states. The founding fathers of the country intended most domestic laws to be handled by the states. Requiring the states to be a republic in form was seen as protecting the citizens' rights and preventing a state from becoming a dictatorship or monarchy, and reflected unwillingness on the part of the original 13 states (all independent republics) to unite with other states that were not republics. Additionally, this requirement ensured that only other republics could join the union.

In the example of the United States, the original 13 British colonies became independent states after the American Revolution, each having a republican form of government. These independent states initially formed a loose confederation called the United States and then later formed the current United States by ratifying the current U.S. Constitution, creating a union of sovereign states with the union or federal government also being a republic. Any state joining the union later was also required to be a republic.

Other meanings

Political philosophy

The term republic originated from the writers of the Renaissance as a descriptive term for states that were not monarchies. These writers, such as Machiavelli, also wrote important prescriptive works describing how such governments should function. These ideas of how a government and society should be structured is the basis for an ideology known as classical republicanism or civic humanism. This ideology is based on the Roman Republic and the city states of Ancient Greece and focuses on ideals such as civic virtue, rule of law and mixed government.[64]

This understanding of a republic as a distinct form of government from a liberal democracy is one of the main theses of the Cambridge School of historical analysis.[65] This grew out of the work of J. G. A. Pocock who in 1975 argued that a series of scholars had expressed a consistent set of republican ideals. These writers included Machiavelli, Milton, Montesquieu and the founders of the United States of America.

Pocock argued that this was an ideology with a history and principles distinct from liberalism.[66] These ideas were embraced by a number of different writers, including Quentin Skinner, Philip Pettit[67] and Cass Sunstein. These subsequent writers have further explored the history of the idea, and also outlined how a modern republic should function.

United States

A distinct set of definitions for the word republic evolved in the United States. In common parlance, a republic is a state that does not practice direct democracy but rather has a government indirectly controlled by the people. This understanding of the term was originally developed by James Madison, and notably employed in Federalist Paper No. 10. This meaning was widely adopted early in the history of the United States, including in Noah Webster's dictionary of 1828. It was a novel meaning to the term; representative democracy was not an idea mentioned by Machiavelli and did not exist in the classical republics.[68] There is also evidence that contemporaries of Madison considered the meaning of the word to reflect the definition found elsewhere, as is the case with a quotation of Benjamin Franklin taken from the notes of James McHenry where the question is put forth, "a Republic or a Monarchy?".[69]

The term republic does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, but does appear in Article IV of the Constitution which "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government." What exactly the writers of the constitution felt this should mean is uncertain. The Supreme Court, in Luther v. Borden (1849), declared that the definition of republic was a "political question" in which it would not intervene. In two later cases, it did establish a basic definition. In United States v. Cruikshank (1875), the court ruled that the "equal rights of citizens" were inherent to the idea of a republic.

However, the term republic is not synonymous with the republican form. The republican form is defined as one in which the powers of sovereignty are vested in the people and are exercised by the people, either directly, or through representatives chosen by the people, to whom those powers are specially delegated.[70][71]

Beyond these basic definitions the word republic has a number of other connotations. W. Paul Adams observes that republic is most often used in the United States as a synonym for state or government, but with more positive connotations than either of those terms.[72] Republicanism is often referred to as the founding ideology of the United States. Traditionally scholars believed this American republicanism was a derivation of the classical liberal ideologies of John Locke and others developed in Europe.

A political philosophy of republicanism that formed during the Renaissance period and initiated by Machiavelli was thought to have had little impact on the founders of the United States. In the 1960s and 1970s, a revisionist school led by the likes of Bernard Bailyn began to argue that republicanism was just as or even more important than liberalism in the creation of the United States.[73] This issue is still much disputed and scholars like Isaac Kramnick completely reject this view.[74]

See also

References

  1. ^ Bohn, H. G. (1849). The Standard Library Cyclopedia of Political, Constitutional, Statistical and Forensic Knowledge. p. 640. A republic, according to the modern usage of the word, signifies a political community which is not under monarchical government ... in which one person does not possess the entire sovereign power.
  2. ^ a b "Definition of Republic". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-02-18. a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch ... a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
  3. ^ "The definition of republic". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2017-02-18. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. ... a state in which the head of government is not a monarch or other hereditary head of state.
  4. ^ Woodburn, James Albert. The American Republic and Its Government: An Analysis of the Government of the United States, G. P. Putnam, 1903:

    the constitutional republic with its limitations on popular government is clearly involved in the United States Constitution, as seen in the election of the President, the election of the Senate and the appointment of the Supreme Court.

    pp. 58–59.
  5. ^ Scheb, John M. An Introduction to the American Legal System. Thomson Delmar Learning 2001. p. 6
  6. ^ Allan, T. R. S. (2003-01-01). Constitutional Justice: A Liberal Theory of the Rule of Law. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199267880. When the idea of the rule of law is interpreted as a principle of constitutionalism, ...
  7. ^ Peacock, Anthony Arthur (2010-01-01). Freedom and the Rule of Law. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780739136188. The rule of law is fundamental to all liberal constitutional regimes...
  8. ^ Founders Online: From Alexander Hamilton to Gouverneur Morris, 19 May 1777, 2018-01-28

    But a representative democracy, where the right of election is well secured and regulated and the exercise of the legislative, executive and judiciary authorities, is vested in select persons, chosen really and not nominally by the people, will in my opinion be most likely to be happy, regular and durable.

  9. ^ North Korea Elections: A Sham Worth Studying Time magazine. By Emily Rauhala. Mar 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "Transcript of the Constitution of the United States – Official Text".
  11. ^ Democracy and Democratization: Processes and Prospects in a Changing World Pg 15. By Georg Sorensen. 2008. Westview Press.
  12. ^ Bloom, Allan. The Republic. Basic Books, 1991. pp. 439–40
  13. ^ "Republic | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  14. ^ Rubinstein, Nicolai. "Machiavelli and Florentine Republican Experience" in Machiavelli and Republicanism Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Republic"j, New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Ed. Maryanne Cline Horowitz. Vol. 5. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005. p. 2099
  16. ^ Lewis, Charlton T.; Charles Short (1879). "res, II.K". A Latin Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Haakonssen, Knud. "Republicanism." A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy. Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit. eds. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995.
  18. ^ Everdell (2000) p. xxiii.
  19. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica".
  20. ^ Nippel, Wilfried. "Ancient and Modern Republicanism." The Invention of the Modern Republic ed. Biancamaria Fontana. Cambridge University Press, 1994 p. 6
  21. ^ Reno, Jeffrey. "republic." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences p. 184
  22. ^ Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975; new ed. 2003)
  23. ^ Paul A. Rahe, Republics, Ancient and Modern, three volumes, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1994.
  24. ^ Martin Bernal, Black Athena Writes Back (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), p. 359.
  25. ^ a b Everdell (2000)
  26. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Aksum".
  27. ^ "Concepts of Democracy and Democratization in Africa Revisited". Paper presented at the Fourth Annual Kent State University Symposium on Democracy. by Apollos O. Nwauwa
  28. ^ a b Thapar, Romila (2002). "Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300". Google Books. University of California. pp. 146–150. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  29. ^ 16 Mahajanapadas – Sixteen Mahajanapadas, 16 Maha Janapadas India, Maha Janapada Ancient India. Iloveindia.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  30. ^ Diodorus 2.39
  31. ^ Larsen, 1973, pp. 45–46
  32. ^ de Sainte, 2006, pp. 321–3
  33. ^ Robinson, 1997, p. 22
  34. ^ Robinson, 1997, p. 23
  35. ^ Raychaudhuri Hemchandra (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, p.107
  36. ^ Republics in ancient India. Brill Archive. pp. 93–. GGKEY:HYY6LT5CFT0.
  37. ^ a b Bongard-Levin, 1996, pp. 61–106
  38. ^ a b Sharma 1968, pp. 109–22
  39. ^ Trautmann T. R., Kautilya and the Arthashastra, Leiden 1971
  40. ^ Asiatic Mythology by J. Hackin p.83ff
  41. ^ Chu, Henry (April 2, 2011). "Iceland seeks to become sanctuary for free speech". Los Angeles Times.
  42. ^ a b Finer, Samuel. The History of Government from the Earliest Times Oxford University Press, 1999. pp. 950–55.
  43. ^ Ferdinand Joseph Maria Feldbrugge. Law in Medieval Russia, IDC Publishers, 2009
  44. ^ Finer, pp. 955–956.
  45. ^ Finer, Samuel. The History of Government from the Earliest Times. Oxford University Press, 1999. p. 1020.
  46. ^ "Republicanism." Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment p. 435
  47. ^ "Introduction." Republicanism: a Shared European Heritage. By Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner. Cambridge University Press, 2002 p. 1
  48. ^ "Republicanism." Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment p. 431
  49. ^ "Latin American Republicanism" New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Ed. Maryanne Cline Horowitz. Vol. 5. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005.
  50. ^ The Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire are counted amongst Europe. Counted as republics are the Swiss Confederation, the Free Cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck and Frankfurt, the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, the Republic of Cospaia, the Septinsular Republic and the German Confederation; however, member states of the German Confederation are also separately counted (35 monarchies).
  51. ^ The Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire are counted amongst Europe.
  52. ^ The Republic of Turkey is counted amongst Europe, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a single republic, the Irish Free State as an independent monarchy (see also Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949), Vatican City as an elective monarchy, the Kingdom of Hungary as a nominal monarchy.
  53. ^ The Republic of Turkey is counted amongst Europe, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a single republic, the Free Territory of Trieste as an independent republic, Vatican City as an elective monarchy, the Spanish State as a nominal monarchy.
  54. ^ The Republic of Turkey is counted amongst Europe, the Russian Federation as a single republic, the Republic of Kosovo (recognised by most other European states) as an independent republic, Vatican City as an elective monarchy. The Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan are not shown on this map and excluded from the count. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognised only by Turkey) and all other unrecognised states are excluded from the count.
  55. ^ Anderson, Lisa. "Absolutism and the Resilience of Monarchy in the Middle East." Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 1–15
  56. ^ Bernard Lewis. "The Concept of an Islamic Republic" Die Welt des Islams, New Series, Vol. 4, Issue 1 (1955), pp. 1–9
  57. ^ OED, s. v.
  58. ^ "Presidential Systems" Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. Ed. C. Neal Tate. Vol. 4. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006. pp. 7–11.
  59. ^ Article VII, Constitution of the United States
  60. ^ Article II, Para 2, Constitution of the United States
  61. ^ Petrocelli, William (10 November 2016). "Voters In Wyoming Have 3.6 Times The Voting Power That I Have. It's Time To End The Electoral College". huffingtonpost.com.
  62. ^ The novelist and essayist H. G. Wells regularly used the term crowned republic to describe the United Kingdom, for instance in his work A Short History of the World. Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem Idylls of the King.
  63. ^ Dunn, John. "The Identity of the Bourgeois Liberal Republic." The Invention of the Modern Republic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  64. ^ "Republicanism" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Jun 19, 2006
  65. ^ McCormick, John P. "Machiavelli against Republicanism: On the Cambridge School's 'Guicciardinian Moments'" Political Theory, Vol. 31, No. 5 (Oct., 2003), pp. 615–43
  66. ^ Pocock, J. G. A The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition Princeton: 1975, 2003
  67. ^ Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, NY: Oxford U.P., 1997, ISBN 0-19-829083-7; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.
  68. ^ Everdell (2000) p. 6
  69. ^ "1593. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790). Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989".
  70. ^ In re Duncan, 139 U.S. 449, 11 S.Ct. 573, 35 L.Ed. 219; Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162, 22 L.Ed. 627.
  71. ^ GOVERNMENT (Republican Form of Government) – One in which the powers of sovereignty are vested in the people and are exercised by the people ... directly ... Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 695
  72. ^ W. Paul Adams "Republicanism in Political Rhetoric Before 1776." Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Sep., 1970), pp. 397–421
  73. ^ Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967.
  74. ^ Kramnick, Isaac. Republicanism and Bourgeois Radicalism: Political Ideology in Late Eighteenth-Century England and America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Further reading

Thomas Corwin, Senate Speech Against the Mexican War-Congressional Globe-ed. WRE-Apr11.pdf
Speech of U.S. Senator against the Mexican–American War characterizing it as imperialist and presidential.
  • Martin van Gelderen & Quentin Skinner, eds., Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, v. 1, Republicanism and Constitutionalism in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., 2002
  • Martin van Gelderen & Quentin Skinner, eds., Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, v. 2, The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2002
  • Willi Paul Adams, “Republicanism in Political Rhetoric before 1776,” Political Science Quarterly 85(1970), pp. 397–421.
  • Joyce Appleby, “Republicanism in Old and New Contexts,” in William & Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 43 (January, 1986), pp. 3–34.
  • Joyce Appleby, ed., “Republicanism” issue of American Quarterly 37 (Fall, 1985).
  • Sarah Barber, Regicide and Republicanism: Politics and Ethics in the English Republic, 1646–1649, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998.
  • Gisela Bock, Quentin Skinner & Maurizio Viroli, eds., Machiavelli and Republicanism, Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1990.
  • Everdell, William R. (2000), The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans (2nd ed.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Eric Gojosso, Le concept de république en France (XVIe – XVIIIe siècle), Aix/Marseille, 1998, pp. 205–45.
  • James Hankins, "Exclusivist Republicanism and the Non-Monarchical Republic," Political Theory 38.4 (August 2010), 452–82.
  • Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel – Paris: L.G.D.J., 2004 Fnac, LGDJ.fr
  • Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997, pp. x and 304.
  • J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975
  • J. G. A. Pocock, “Between Gog and Magog: The Republican Thesis and the Ideologia Americana,” Journal of the History of Ideas 48 (1987), p. 341
  • J. G. A. Pocock, "The Machiavellian Moment Revisited: A Study in History and Ideology” Journal of Modern History 53 (1981)
  • Paul A. Rahe, Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, 3 v., Chapel Hill: U. of North Carolina Press 1992, 1994.
  • Jagdish P. Sharma, Republics in ancient India, c. 1500 B.C.–500 B.C., 1968
  • David Wootton, ed., Republicanism, Liberty, and Commercial Society, 1649–1776 (The Making of Modern Freedom series), Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.

• Thomas Corwin, Senate Speech Against the Mexican War-Congressional Globe 1847.

External links

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan ( (listen) AZ-ər-by-JAHN; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan [ɑːzæɾbɑjˈd͡ʒɑn]), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Respublikası [ɑːzæɾbɑjˈd͡ʒɑn ɾespublikɑˈsɯ]), is a landlocked country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bound by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, and has an 11 km long border with Turkey in the northwest.

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first democratic Muslim state. In 1920 the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year. In September 1991, the Armenian majority of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region seceded to form the Republic of Artsakh. The region and seven adjacent districts outside it became de facto independent with the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994. These regions are internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan pending a solution to the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh through negotiations facilitated by the OSCE.Azerbaijan is a unitary semi-presidential republic. It is a member state of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. It is one of six independent Turkic states and an active member of the Turkic Council and the TÜRKSOY community. Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It is one of the founding members of GUAM, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A member of the United Nations since 1992, Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 May 2006. Its term of office began on 19 June 2006. Azerbaijan is also a member state of the Non-Aligned Movement and holds observer status in the World Trade Organization.While more than 89% of the population is Shia Muslim, the Constitution of Azerbaijan does not declare an official religion and all major political forces in the country are secularist. Azerbaijan has a high level of human development that ranks on par with most Eastern European countries. It has a high rate of economic development and literacy, as well as a low rate of unemployment. However, the ruling party, the New Azerbaijan Party, has been accused of authoritarianism and human rights abuses.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh (; Bengali: বাংলাদেশ Bangladesh [ˈbaŋladeʃ] (listen), lit. "The country of Bengal"), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônoprojatontri Bangladesh), is a country in South Asia. It shares land borders with India and Myanmar (Burma). The country's maritime territory in the Bay of Bengal is roughly equal to the size of its land area. Bangladesh is the world's eighth most populous country as well as its most densely-populated, to the exclusion of small island nations and city-states. Dhaka is its capital and largest city, followed by Chittagong, which has the country's largest port. Bangladesh forms the largest and easternmost part of the Bengal region. Bangladeshis include people from a range of ethnic groups and religions. Bengalis, who speak the official Bengali language, make up 98% of the population. The politically dominant Bengali Muslims make the nation the world's third largest Muslim-majority country. Islam is the official religion of Bangladesh.Most of Bangladesh is covered by the Bengal Delta, the largest delta on Earth. The country has 700 rivers and 8,046 km (5,000 mi) of inland waterways. Highlands with evergreen forests are found in the northeastern and southeastern regions of the country. Bangladesh has many islands and a coral reef. The second longest unbroken sea beach of the world, Cox's Bazar Beach, is located in the southeast. It is home to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. The country's biodiversity includes a vast array of plant and wildlife, including endangered Bengal tigers, the national animal.

The Greeks and Romans identified the region as Gangaridai, a powerful kingdom of the historical Indian subcontinent, in the 3rd century BCE. Archaeological research has unearthed several ancient cities in Bangladesh, which enjoyed international trade links for millennia. The Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Bengal transformed the region into a cosmopolitan Islamic imperial power between the 14th and 18th centuries. The region was home to many principalities that made use of their inland naval prowess. It was also a notable center of the global muslin and silk trade. As part of British India, the region was influenced by the Bengali renaissance and played an important role in anti-colonial movements. The Partition of British India made East Bengal a part of the Dominion of Pakistan; and renamed it as East Pakistan. The region witnessed the Bengali Language Movement in 1952 and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. After independence was achieved, a parliamentary republic was established. A presidential government was in place between 1975 and 1990, followed by a return to parliamentary democracy. The country continues to face challenges in the areas of poverty, education, healthcare, and corruption.

Bangladesh is a middle power and a developing nation. Listed as one of the Next Eleven, its economy ranks 43rd in terms of nominal gross domestic product and 29th in terms of purchasing power parity. It is one of the largest textile exporters in the world. Its major trading partners are the European Union, the United States, China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. With its strategically vital location between South, East and Southeast Asia, Bangladesh is an important promoter of regional connectivity and cooperation. It is a founding member of SAARC, BIMSTEC, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation and the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Initiative. It is also a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Commonwealth of Nations, the Developing 8 Countries, the OIC, the Indian-Ocean Rim Association, the Non Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and the World Trade Organization. Bangladesh is one of the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping forces.

Belarus

Belarus (; Belarusian: Беларусь, IPA: [bʲɛlaˈrusʲ]), officially the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian: Рэспубліка Беларусь, Russian: Республика Беларусь), formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia (Russian: Белоруссия), is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk (11th to 14th centuries), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.

In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, which was conquered by Soviet Russia. The Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR). Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR.The parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been widely criticized as unfair; and according to many countries and organizations, political opposition has been violently suppressed. Belarus is also the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating is the lowest in Europe, the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, and is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations.In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following; nevertheless, Belarus celebrates both Orthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter as national holidays. Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but nevertheless maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, and likewise participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative.

China

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, China has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin reunited core China and established the first Chinese empire. The succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements. The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song (960–1127) completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread widely in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution, when a republic replaced the Qing dynasty. The Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China, a unitary one-party sovereign state on Mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The political status of Taiwan remains disputed.

Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates consistently above 6 percent. As of 2016, it is the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget. The PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as it replaced the ROC in 1971, as well as an active global partner of ASEAN Plus mechanism. China is also a leading member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), WTO, APEC, BRICS, the BCIM, and the G20. In recent times, China has been widely characterized as a global superpower.

Cyprus

Cyprus ( (listen); Greek: Κύπρος [ˈcipros]; Turkish: Kıbrıs [ˈkɯbɾɯs]), officially the Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία; Turkish: Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti), is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece.

The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Classical and Eastern Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 (de jure until 1914).Cyprus was placed under the UK's administration based on the Cyprus Convention in 1878 and was formally annexed by Britain in 1914. While Turkish Cypriots made up 18% of the population, the partition of Cyprus and creation of a Turkish state in the north became a policy of Turkish Cypriot leaders and Turkey in the 1950s. Turkish leaders for a period advocated the annexation of Cyprus to Turkey as Cyprus was considered an "extension of Anatolia" by them; while, since the 19th century, the majority Greek Cypriot population and its Orthodox church had been pursuing union with Greece, which became a Greek national policy in the 1950s. Following nationalist violence in the 1950s, Cyprus was granted independence in 1960. In 1963, the 11-year intercommunal violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots started, which displaced more than 25,000 Turkish Cypriots and brought the end of Turkish Cypriot representation in the republic. On 15 July 1974, a coup d'état was staged by Greek Cypriot nationalists and elements of the Greek military junta in an attempt at enosis, the incorporation of Cyprus into Greece. This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July, which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus in the following month, after a ceasefire collapsed, and the displacement of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots. A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983; the move was widely condemned by the international community, with Turkey alone recognizing the new state. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of a continuing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the entire island, including its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, with the exception of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which remain under the UK's control according to the London and Zürich Agreements. However, the Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west, and comprising about 59% of the island's area; and the north, administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island's area. Another nearly 4% of the island's area is covered by the UN buffer zone. The international community considers the northern part of the island as territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces. The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law, amounting to illegal occupation of EU territory since Cyprus became a member of the European Union.Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean. With an advanced, high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index, the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the Commonwealth since 1961 and was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2008, the Republic of Cyprus joined the eurozone.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic ( (listen); Czech: Česká republika [ˈtʃɛskaː ˈrɛpublɪka] (listen)), also known by its short-form name, Czechia ( (listen); Czech: Česko [ˈtʃɛsko] (listen)), is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres (30,450 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental climate and oceanic climate. It is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants; its capital and largest city is Prague, with 1.3 million residents. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc and Pilsen. The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union (EU), NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

It is a developed country with an advanced, high income export-oriented social market economy based in services, manufacturing and innovation. The UNDP ranks the country 14th in inequality-adjusted human development. The Czech Republic is a welfare state with a "continental" European social model, a universal health care system, tuition-free university education and is ranked 14th in the Human Capital Index. It ranks as the 6th safest or most peaceful country and is one of the most non-religious countries in the world, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance.

The Czech Republic includes the historical territories of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia. The Czech state was formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as an Imperial State of the Holy Roman Empire along with the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Beside Bohemia itself, the King of Bohemia ruled the lands of the Bohemian Crown, holding a vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor; and Prague was the imperial seat in periods between the 14th and 17th century. In the Hussite Wars of the 15th century driven by the Protestant Bohemian Reformation, the kingdom faced economic embargoes and defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed by the leaders of the Catholic Church.

Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Protestant Bohemian Revolt (1618–20) against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years' War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, eradicated Protestantism and reimposed Catholicism, and also adopted a policy of gradual Germanization. This contributed to the anti-Habsburg sentiment. A long history of resentment of the Catholic Church followed and still continues. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian Kingdom became part of the Austrian Empire and the Czech language experienced a revival as a consequence of widespread romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and were subsequently the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, which was formed in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.

Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in this part of Europe in the interwar period. However, the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, while the Slovak region became the Slovak Republic; Czechoslovakia was liberated in 1945 by the armies of the Soviet Union and the United States. Most of the three millions of the German-speaking minority were expelled following the war. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections and after the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence. In 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and market economy was reintroduced. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (pronunciation French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa (after Algeria), and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world.

Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, and from 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo.

The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis. The provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, and South Kasai attempted to secede. After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U.S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire. The country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. Ultimately, nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. The two wars devastated the country. President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days later as President by his son Joseph.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has had political instability, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Besides the capital Kinshasa, the two next largest cities Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi are both mining communities. DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012. In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index. As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union and COMESA.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic (; Spanish: República Dominicana Spanish pronunciation: [reˈpuβliˌka ðoˌminiˈkana]) is a country located in the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10 million people, of which approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.Christopher Columbus landed on the island on December 5, 1492, which the native Taíno people had inhabited since the 7th century. The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, the oldest continuously inhabited city, and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821. The leader of the independence movement José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia, but no longer under Spain's custody the newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Independence came 22 years later after victory in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844. Over the next 72 years the Dominican Republic experienced mostly internal conflicts and a brief return to colonial status before permanently ousting Spanish rule during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865. A United States occupation lasted eight years between 1916 and 1924, and a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez was followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo until 1961. A civil war in 1965, the country's last, was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978 & 1986–1996), the rules of Antonio Guzmán (1972–1978) & Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982–1986). Since 1996, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time since 1996. Danilo Medina, the Dominican Republic's current president, succeeded Fernandez in 2012, winning 51% of the electoral vote over his opponent ex-president Hipólito Mejía.The Dominican Republic has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Over the last two decades, the Dominican Republic has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014. GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In the first half of 2016 the Dominican economy grew 7.4% continuing its trend of rapid economic growth. Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing, tourism, and mining. The country is the site of the second largest gold mine in the world, the Pueblo Viejo mine. Private consumption has been strong, as a result of low inflation (under 1% on average in 2015), job creation, as well as a high level of remittances.

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. The year-round golf courses are major attractions. A geographically diverse nation, the Dominican Republic is home to both the Caribbean's tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, and the Caribbean's largest lake and point of lowest elevation, Lake Enriquillo. The island has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great climatic and biological diversity. The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas, located in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone, a World Heritage Site. Music and sport are of great importance in the Dominican culture, with Merengue and Bachata as the national dance and music, and baseball as the favorite sport.

Egypt

Egypt ( (listen) EE-jipt; Arabic: مِصر‎ Miṣr, Egyptian Arabic: مَصر‎ Maṣr, Coptic: Ⲭⲏⲙⲓ Khēmi), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman Turkish, and Nubian. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.

From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, and many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, and declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, and occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967. In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, officially withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has been described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian.

Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, and a middle power worldwide. Egypt's economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt overtook South Africa and became Africa's second largest economy (after Nigeria). Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

India

India (IAST: Bhārat), also known as the Republic of India (IAST: Bhārat Gaṇarājya), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

The Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Social stratification, based on caste, emerged in the first millennium BCE, and Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Maurya and Gupta empires; later peninsular Middle Kingdoms influenced cultures as far as Southeast Asia. In the medieval era, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived, and Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region's diverse culture. Much of the north fell to the Delhi Sultanate; the south was united under the Vijayanagara Empire. The economy expanded in the 17th century in the Mughal Empire. In the mid-18th century, the subcontinent came under British East India Company rule, and in the mid-19th under British crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which later, under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947.

In 2017, the Indian economy was the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories. A pluralistic, multilingual and multi-ethnic society, it is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.

Indonesia

Indonesia ( (listen) IN-də-NEE-zhə, -⁠zee-ə; Indonesian: [ɪndoˈnesia]), officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia [reˈpublik ɪndoˈnesia]), is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres (735,358 square miles), the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, contains more than half of the country's population.

The sovereign state is a presidential, constitutional republic with an elected parliament. It has 34 provinces, of which five have special status. Jakarta, the country's capital, is the second most populous urban area in the world. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. Other neighbouring countries include Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support a high level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources like oil and natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Agriculture mainly produces rice, palm oil, tea, coffee, cacao, medicinal plants, spices and rubber. Indonesia's major trading partners are China, United States, Japan, Singapore and India.History of the Indonesian archipelago has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. It has been an important region for trade since at least the 7th century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with entities from mainland China and the Indian subcontinent. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Muslim traders and Sufi scholars brought Islam, while European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolise trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Although sometimes interrupted by the Portuguese, French and British, the Dutch were the foremost European power for much of its 350-year presence in the archipelago. In early 20th century, the concept of "Indonesia" as a nation state emerged, and independence movements began to take shape. During the decolonisation of Asia after World War II, Indonesia achieved independence in 1949 following an armed and diplomatic conflict with the Netherlands.

Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups, with the largest—and politically dominant—ethnic group being the Javanese. A shared identity has developed, defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a Muslim-majority population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Indonesia's economy is the world's 16th largest by nominal GDP and the 7th largest by GDP at PPP. Indonesia is a member of several multilateral organisations, including the UN, WTO, IMF and G20. It is also a founding member of Non-Aligned Movement, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, East Asia Summit, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Iran

Iran (Persian: ایران‎ Irān [ʔiːˈɾɒːn] (listen)), also called Persia () and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ایران‎ Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān (listen)), is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE. It was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BCE, reaching its greatest territorial size in the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, which stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming one of the largest empires in history. The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion culminated in the establishment of the Parthian Empire, which was succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE. The Islamization of Iran led to the decline of Zoroastrianism, which was by then the country's dominant religion, and Iran's major contributions to art and science spread within the Muslim rule during the Islamic Golden Age. After two centuries, a period of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were later conquered by the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols. The rise of the Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity, with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history.Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century, though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses. The Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislature. The 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocracy of the Shah (monarch) and growing Western political influence. A far-reaching series of reforms known as the White Revolution was launched by the Shah in 1963; it included industrial growth, land reforms, and increased women's rights. Subsequent widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the pro-Western authoritarian monarchy led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic – an anti-Western totalitarian theocracy governed by a "Supreme Leader". During the 1980s, the country was engaged in a war with Iraq, which lasted for almost eight years and resulted in a high number of casualties and economic losses for both sides.

The sovereign state of Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power, and its large reserves of fossil fuels—which include the world's largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves—exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy.

The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world. It is a multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being Persians (61%), Azeris (16%), Kurds (10%), and Lurs (6%). Iran is consistently ranked among the world's bottom countries in terms of women's rights.

Latvia

Latvia ( or (listen); Latvian: Latvija [ˈlatvija]), officially the Republic of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Republika), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.After centuries of Swedish, Polish-Lithuanian and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I. However, by the 1930s the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis. The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 (Courland Pocket in 1945) to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years.

The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the Communist regime's illegal takeover. It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991. Latvia is a democratic sovereign state, parliamentary republic and a very highly developed country according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and nine are cities. Latvians and Livonians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages.

Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, Latvia is home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia), some of whom (14.1% of Latvian residents) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all. Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews. Latvia is historically predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic. The Russian population are largely Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. For 2014, the country was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country on 1 July 2014. A full member of the Eurozone, it uses the euro as its currency since 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats.

List of sovereign states

The following is a list providing an overview of sovereign states around the world, with information on their status and recognition of their sovereignty.

The 206 listed states can be divided into three categories based on membership within the United Nations system: 193 member states, two observer states and 11 other states. The sovereignty dispute column indicates states whose sovereignty is undisputed (190 states) and states whose sovereignty is disputed (16 states, of which there are six member states, one observer state and nine other states).

Compiling a list such as this can be a difficult and controversial process, as there is no definition that is binding on all the members of the community of nations concerning the criteria for statehood. For more information on the criteria used to determine the contents of this list, please see the criteria for inclusion section below. The list is intended to include entities that have been recognised as having de facto status as sovereign states, and inclusion should not be seen as an endorsement of any specific claim to statehood in legal terms.

Maldives

The Maldives (, US: (listen); Dhivehi: ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ Dhivehi Raa'jey), officially the Republic of Maldives, is an Asian country, located in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian Sea. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from the Asian continent. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to the Addu City in the south. Comprising a territory spanning roughly 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed sovereign states as well as the smallest Asian country by land area and population, with around 427,756 inhabitants. Malé is the capital and most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" for its central location.

The Maldives archipelago is located on the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos Archipelago and Lakshadweep. With an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the world's lowest country, with even its highest natural point being the lowest in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in). Due to the consequent risks posed by rising sea levels, the government pledged in 2009 to make the Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019.Islam was introduced to the Maldivian archipelago in the 12th century which was consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa. From the mid 16th-century, the region came under the increasing influence of European colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887. Independence from the United Kingdom was achieved in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis. The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform, and environmental challenges posed by climate change.The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non Aligned Movement. The World Bank classifies the Maldives as having an upper middle income economy. Fishing has historically been the dominant economic activity, and remains the largest sector by far, followed by the rapidly growing tourism industry. Maldives is rated "high" on the Human Development Index, with its per capita income significantly higher than other SAARC nations.The Maldives was a Commonwealth republic from July 1982 until its withdrawal from the Commonwealth in October 2016 in protest of international criticism of its records in relation to corruption and human rights.

North Korea

North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or DPR Korea) (Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk), is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok (known as the Yalu in Chinese) and Tumen rivers; it is bordered to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. Both North Korea and South Korea became members of the United Nations in 1991.In 1910, Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan. After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south occupied by the United States. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–1953). The Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was signed.North Korea officially describes itself as a "self-reliant" socialist state, and formally holds elections, though said elections have been described by outside observers as sham elections. Various media outlets have called it Stalinist, particularly noting the elaborate cult of personality around Kim Il-sung and his family. The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), led by a member of the ruling family, holds power in the state and leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland of which all political officers are required to be members. Juche, an ideology of national self-reliance, was introduced into the constitution in 1972. The means of production are owned by the state through state-run enterprises and collectivized farms. Most services such as healthcare, education, housing and food production are subsidized or state-funded. From 1994 to 1998, North Korea suffered a famine that resulted in the deaths of between 240,000 and 420,000 people, and the population continues to suffer malnutrition. North Korea follows Songun, or "military-first" policy. It is the country with the highest number of military and paramilitary personnel, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve and paramilitary personnel, or approximately 37% of its population. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the fourth largest in the world, after China, the United States and India; consisting of 4.8% of its population. It possesses nuclear weapons.The UN inquiry into human rights in North Korea concluded that, "The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world". The North Korean regime strongly denies most allegations, accusing international organizations of fabricating human rights abuses as part of a smear campaign with the covert intention of undermining the state, although they admit that there are human rights issues relating to living conditions which the regime is attempting to correct.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia (Macedonian: Северна Македонија, translit. Severna Makedonija; Albanian: Maqedonia e Veriut), officially the Republic of North Macedonia (Macedonian: Република Северна Македонија, translit. Republika Severna Makedonija; Albanian: Republika e Maqedonisë së Veriut), is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in September 1991. From then until February 2019, it was officially the Republic of Macedonia and remains commonly known as Macedonia.

The country became a member of the United Nations in April 1993, but, as a result of a dispute with Greece over the use of the name Macedonia, it was admitted under the provisional description the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (abbreviated as FYR Macedonia and FYROM), a term that was also used by some other international organizations. In June 2018, Macedonia and Greece signed the Prespa agreement, which stipulates that the country must change its name to Republic of North Macedonia erga omnes. This renaming entered into force on 12 February 2019, with a several months-long transition for passports, license plates, currency, customs, border signs, and government websites, inter alia.A landlocked country, North Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the northern third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which also comprises the neighbouring parts of northern Greece and southwestern Bulgaria. The country's geography is defined primarily by mountains, valleys, and rivers. The capital and largest city, Skopje, is home to roughly a quarter of the nation's 2.06 million inhabitants. The majority of the residents are ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25 percent, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, Bosniaks, Aromanians, and Bulgarians.

The history of the region dates back to antiquity, beginning with the kingdom of Paeonia, probably a mixed Thraco-Illyrian polity. In the late sixth century BC, the area was incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire, then annexed by the kingdom of Macedonia in the fourth century BC. The Romans conquered the region in the second century BC and made it part of the much larger province of Macedonia. Τhe area remained part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, but was often raided and settled by Slavic tribes beginning in the sixth century of the Christian era. Following centuries of contention between the Bulgarian, Byzantine, and Serbian Empire, it was part of the Ottoman dominion from the mid-14th until the early 20th century, when following the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, the modern territory of North Macedonia came under Serbian rule. During the First World War (1915–1918) it was ruled by Bulgaria, but after the end of the war, it returned under Serbian rule as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Later, during the Second World War (1941–1944), it was ruled by Bulgaria again, and in 1945 it was established as a constituent social republic into the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, what kind she remained until its peaceful secession in 1991.

North Macedonia is a parliamentary republic and member of the UN and of the Council of Europe. Since 2005 it has also been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership. One of the poorest countries in Europe, North Macedonia has made significant progress in developing an open, market-based economy.

Republic of Ireland

Ireland (Irish: Éire [ˈeːɾʲə] (listen)), also known as the Republic of Ireland (Poblacht na hÉireann), is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern part of the island, and whose metropolitan area is home to around a third of the country's over 4.8 million inhabitants. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, Saint George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President (Uachtarán) who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach (Prime Minister, literally 'Chief', a title not used in English), who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

The state was created as the Irish Free State in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It had the status of Dominion until 1937 when a new constitution was adopted, in which the state was named "Ireland" and effectively became a republic, with an elected non-executive president as head of state. It was officially declared a republic in 1949, following the Republic of Ireland Act 1948. Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955. It joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the European Union, in 1973. The state had no formal relations with Northern Ireland for most of the twentieth century, but during the 1980s and 1990s the British and Irish governments worked with the Northern Ireland parties towards a resolution to "the Troubles". Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the Irish government and Northern Ireland Executive have co-operated on a number of policy areas under the North-South Ministerial Council created by the Agreement.

Ireland ranks among the top twenty-five wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, and as the tenth most prosperous country in the world according to The Legatum Prosperity Index 2015. After joining the EEC, Ireland enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in rapid economic growth. The country achieved considerable prosperity between the years of 1995 and 2007, which became known as the Celtic Tiger period. This was halted by an unprecedented financial crisis that began in 2008, in conjunction with the concurrent global economic crash. However, as the Irish economy was the fastest growing in the EU in 2015, Ireland is again quickly ascending league tables comparing wealth and prosperity internationally. For example, in 2015, Ireland was ranked as the joint sixth (with Germany) most developed country in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index. It also performs well in several national performance metrics, including freedom of the press, economic freedom and civil liberties. Ireland is a member of the European Union and is a founding member of the Council of Europe and the OECD. The Irish government has followed a policy of military neutrality through non-alignment since immediately prior to World War II and the country is consequently not a member of NATO, although it is a member of Partnership for Peace.

South Korea

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying to the east of the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone and has a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 100,363 km2 (38,750 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of around 10 million.

Archaeology indicates that the Korean Peninsula was inhabited by early humans starting from the Lower Paleolithic period (2.6 Ma–300 Ka). The history of Korea begins with the foundation of Gojoseon in 2333 BCE by the mythic king Dangun, but no archaeological evidence and writing was found from this period. The Gija Joseon was purportedly founded in 11th century BCE, and its existence and role has been controversial in the modern era. The written historical record on Gojoseon (Old Joseon) was first mentioned in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Unified Silla in CE 668, Korea was subsequently ruled by the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) and the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). It was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S. zones of occupations. A separate election was held in the U.S. zone in 1948 which led to the creation of the Republic of Korea (ROK), while the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was established in the Soviet zone. The United Nations at the time passed a resolution declaring the ROK to be the only lawful government in Korea.The Korean War began in June 1950 when forces from North Korea invaded South Korea. The war lasted three years and involved the U.S., China, the Soviet Union and several other nations. The border between the two nations remains the most heavily fortified in the world. Under long-time military leader Park Chung-hee, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country was transformed into a G-20 major economy. Military rule ended in 1987, and the country is now a presidential republic consisting of 17 administrative divisions.

South Korea is a highly developed country and a high-income economy, with a "very high" Human Development Index, ranking 22nd in the world. The country is considered a regional power and is the world's 11th largest economy by nominal GDP and the 12th largest by PPP as of 2010. South Korea is a global leader in the industrial and technological sectors, being the world's 5th largest exporter and 8th largest importer. Its export-driven economy primarily focuses production on electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics. South Korea is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, the United Nations, Uniting for Consensus, G20, the WTO and OECD and is a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit.

Taiwan

Taiwan ( (listen), UK also ), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Nearby states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. It is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations.

The island of Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, was inhabited by aborigines before the 17th century, when Dutch and Spanish colonies opened the island to mass Han immigration. After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China. The Qing ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War. While Taiwan was under Japanese rule, the Republic of China (ROC) was established on the mainland in 1912 after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Following the Japanese surrender to the Allies in 1945, the ROC took control of Taiwan. However, the resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the ROC's loss of the mainland to the Communists, and the flight of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949. Although the ROC continued to claim to be the legitimate government of China, its effective jurisdiction had, since the loss of Hainan in 1950, been limited to Taiwan and several small islands, with the main island making up 99% of its de facto territory. As a founding member of the United Nations, the ROC represented China at the UN until 1971, when it lost its seat to the PRC.

In the early 1960s, Taiwan entered a period of rapid economic growth, forming a stable industrial economy. In the 1980s and early 1990s, it changed from a one-party military dictatorship dominated by the Kuomintang to a multi-party democracy with a semi-presidential system. Taiwan is the 22nd-largest economy in the world, and its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy. It is ranked highly in terms of freedom of the press, healthcare, public education, economic freedom, and human development. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most highly educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree.The PRC has consistently claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and asserted the ROC is no longer in legitimate existence. Under its One-China policy the PRC refuses diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes the ROC. Today, 17 countries maintain official ties with the ROC but many other states maintain unofficial ties through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. Although Taiwan is fully self-governing, most international organizations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only as a non-state actor. Internally, the major division in politics is between the aspirations of eventual Chinese unification or Taiwanese independence, though both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal. The PRC has threatened the use of military force in response to any formal declaration of independence by Taiwan or if PRC leaders decide that peaceful unification is no longer possible. The PRC and ROC standoff dates from the Chinese Civil War and has extended through the first, second and third Taiwan Strait crises to the present day.

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