Regional power

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In international relations, a regional power is a state that has power within a geographic region.[1][2] States which wield unrivalled power and influence within a region of the world possess regional hegemony.

Participants at the 2015 G20 Summit in Turkey
Leaders of most regional powers during the 2015 G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey


Regional powers shape the polarity of a regional area. Typically, regional powers have capabilities which are important in the region but do not have capabilities at a global scale. Slightly contrasting definitions differ as to what makes a regional power. The European Consortium for Political Research defines a regional power as: "A state belonging to a geographically defined region, dominating this region in economic and military terms, able to exercise hegemonic influence in the region and considerable influence on the world scale, willing to make use of power resources and recognized or even accepted as the regional leader by its neighbours".[1]

The German Institute of Global and Area Studies states that a regional power must:[2]

  • form part of a definable region with its own identity
  • claim to be a regional power (self-image of a regional power)
  • exert decisive influence on the geographic extension of the region as well as on its ideological construction
  • dispose over comparatively high military, economic, demographic, political and ideological capabilities
  • be well integrated into the region
  • define the regional security agenda to a high degree
  • be appreciated as a regional power by other powers in the region and beyond, especially by other regional powers
  • be well connected with regional and global fora

Current regional powers

Major Powers by regions
  Major Regional Powers in Northern America (United States)
  Major Regional Powers in Latin America and the Caribbean (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico)
  Major Regional Powers in Europe (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom)
  Major Regional Powers in Africa (Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)
  Major Regional Powers in North Asia and Eastern Europe (Russia)
  Major Regional Powers in Western Asia and Southeast Europe (Turkey)
  Major Regional Powers in Western Asia and North Africa (Egypt, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia)
  Major Regional Powers in East Asia (China, Japan and South Korea)
  Major Regional Powers in Southeast Asia (Indonesia)
  Major Regional Powers in South Asia (India and Pakistan)
  Major Regional Powers in Oceania (Australia)

Below are states that have been described as regional powers by international relations and political science academics, analysts, or other experts. These states to some extent meet the criteria to have regional power status, as described above. Different experts have differing views on exactly which states are regional powers. States are arranged by their region, and in alphabetic order. Primary, or major, regional powers (also known as pivotal powers) are placed in the major regions as identified by analysts. Secondary, or minor, regional powers are listed within their subregions. Major regional powers in bold and minor regional powers in normal font.



Latin America and the Caribbean

In the past, Spain and Portugal were the dominant powers in the region but following the decolonization in the 1800s the major powers became Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

Northern America


Historically, China was the dominant power in East Asia. However at the beginning of the early 20th century the Empire of Japan first became an important player in World War I as one of the Allied powers, then economic turmoil, its expulsion from the League of Nations, and interest in expansion of mainland caused Japan to become a major player in World War II as one of the Axis powers while China became a key player in World War II as one of the Allied powers. In recent years, a re-balancing of military and economic might towards countries such as China and India has made significant changes in the geopolitics of Asia. China and Japan have also earned greater influence over regions outside Asia. Also, beginning from the 1980s, South Korea has emerged as a regional power through the Miracle of the Han River. With close economic and military ties with the United States, South Korea and Japan are seen as major regional powers "containing" the communist regimes of China and North Korea. Historically, Korea's Goguryeo stood as a substantial power in the region, with territories containing more than a quarter of China and even reaching parts of Russia.

East Asia

South Asia

Southeast Asia

Western Asia


France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom are regarded as the Big Four of Europe.[48][49] Historically, dominant powers in this region created large colonial empires worldwide (such as the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Dutch empires). Most of the continent is now integrated as a consequence of the enlargement of the European Union.


Transcontinental regional powers

Transcontinental countries like Russia are able to exert regional influence in large areas of the world.

See also


^ Considered a great power
^ Member of G20


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