Regional power

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Leaders of some regional powers during the G20 meeting.

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


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. There are slightly contrasting definitions of what makes a regional power. The European Consortium for Political Research defines a regional power: "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][dead link]

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

  • be 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.[2]

Current regional powers[edit]

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 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.


Horn of Africa[edit]

Southeast Africa[edit]

North Africa[edit]

Southern Africa[edit]

West Africa[edit]


The United States is regarded as the sole regional power of North America. In Latin America alone, Brazil and Mexico are considered as being the only major regional powers. However, some states within the smaller sub-regions of Latin America, such as the Caribbean and the Southern Cone, are also considered by political analysts as powers in their respective zones.

North America[edit]

South America[edit]


Historically, China, and Japan have often dominated eastern Asia (but note the Mongolian and Tibetan empires); Japan became a key player in World War II as one of the Axis powers and China became a key player in World War II as one of the Allies 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, South Korea and Japan have also earned greater influence over regions outside Asia.

East Asia[edit]

South Asia[edit]

Southeast Asia[edit]

West Asia[edit]




See also[edit]


^ Considered a Great Power.
^ Considered G20.
a Regional powers in the Mediterranean


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ a b "And in the Horn of Africa, there is Ethiopia as the regional power." See Godfrey Mwakikagile, Africa is in a Mess (Pretoria: New Africa Press, 2006), p. 31.
  4. ^ a b "Regional powers, typically Nigeria and South Africa, but also including Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Senegal, that are perceived as crucial to the maintenance of regional stability and therefore as "regional anchors" of counterterrorism effors." See U.S. Naval War College, American Foreign Policy: Regional Perspectives (Newport, USA: Ruger Workshop: 2009), p. 263.
  5. ^ Frank N. Magill (1999). The 20th Century Go-N: Dictionary of World Biography. Routledge. pp. 2775–. ISBN 978-1-317-74060-5. 
  6. ^ Ladislas Bizimana (1999). Conflict in the African Great Lakes Region: A critical analysis of regional and international involvement. Universidad de Deusto. pp. 55–. ISBN 978-84-9830-536-4. 
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  13. ^ "Southern Africa is home to the other of sub-Saharan Africa's regional powers: South Africa. South Africa is more than just a regional power; it is by far the most developed and economically powerful country in Africa, and now it is able to use that influence in Africa more than during the days of apartheid (white rule), when it was ostracized." See David Lynch, Trade and Globalization (Lanham, USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010), p. 51.
  14. ^ Zones of Peace in the Third World: South America and West Africa in ...By Arie Marcelo page 144 Kacowicz
  15. ^ "West Africa, with its strong French influence, is home to one of Africa's two regional giants, Nigeria, and the region has seen the scene of much political and ethnic unrest." See David Lynch, Trade and Globalization (Lanham, USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010), p. 51.
  16. ^ "South Africa is not the sole regional power on the continent, though; Nigeria is the other widely acknowledge centre of power in Africa and likewise a sub-regional superpower in West Africa." See Deon Geldenhuys, "South Africa: The Idea-driven Foreign Policy of a Regional Power," in Regional Leadership in the Global System, edited by Daniel Flemes (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010),senegal is a recognised as a power p. 151.
  17. ^ James Scott, Matthias vom Hau and David Hulme. "Beyond the BICs: Strategies of influence". The University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "How to compare regional powers: analytical concepts and research topics". British International Studies Association. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
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  20. ^ Dadush, Uri. "China’s Rise and Latin America: A Global, Long-Term Perspective". Inter-American Dialogue. Retrieved 17 April 2012. Moreover, the rise of regional powers Brazil and Mexico, and their burgeoning middle classes, could be a boon for other Latin American economies. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Argentina has been the leading military and economic power in the Southern Cone in the Twentieth Century." See Michael Morris, "The Srait of Magellan," in International Straits of the World, edited by Gerard Mangone (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishes, 1988), p. 63.
  23. ^ a b "Secondary regional powers in Huntington's view include Great Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Argentina." See Tom Nierop, "The Clash of Civilisations," in The Territorial Factor, edited by Gertjan Dijkink and Hans Knippenberg (Amsterdam: Vossiuspers UvA, 2001), p. 61.
  24. ^ "The US has created a foundation upon which the regional powers, especially Argentina and Brazil, can developed their own rules for further managing regional relations." See David Lake, "Regional Hierarchies," in Globalising the Regional, edited by Rick Fawn (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 55.
  25. ^ "The southern cone of South America, including Argentina and Brazil, the two regional powers, has recently become a pluralistic security community." See Emanuel Adler and Patricia Greve, "Overlapping regional mechanisms of security governance," in Globalising the Regional, edited by Rick Fawn (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 78.
  26. ^ "[...] notably by linking the Southern Cone's rival regional powers, Brazil and Argentina." See Alejandra Ruiz-Dana, Peter Goldschag, Edmundo Claro and Hernan Blanco, "Regional integration, trade and conflicts in Latin America," in Regional Trade Integration and Conflict Resolution, edited by Shaheen Rafi Khan (New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 18.
  27. ^ a b Samuel P. Huntington, "Culture, Power, and Democracy," in Globalization, Power, and Democracy, edited by Marc Plattner and Aleksander Smolar (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), p. 6.
  28. ^ ""The driving force behind the adoption of the MERCOSUR agreement was similar to that of the establishment of the EU: the hope of limiting the possibilities of traditional military hostility between the major regional powers, Brazil and Argentina." See Anestis Papadopoulos, The International Dimension of EU Competition Law and Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 283.
  29. ^ Arnson, Cynthia; Sotero, Paulo. "Brazil as a Regional Power: Views from the Hemisphere". Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  30. ^ De Lima, Maria Regina Soares; Hirst, Monica. "Brazil as an intermediate state and regional power: action, choice and responsibilities". Chatham House. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  31. ^ Wigell, Mikael. "Assertive Brazil, an emerging power and its implications". Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  32. ^ Flemes, Daniel. "Brazil’s strategic options in a multiregional world order". German Institute of Global and Area Studies. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  33. ^ a b Bruce Bagley, Regional Powers in the Caribbean Basin: Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983).
  34. ^ a b "During the Central American crisis, the so-called 'regional powers' (Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela) activated -- together with Panama -- their respective Caribbean vocations through the Contadora Group." See Antonio Gaztambide-Geigel, "The forces of regional co-operation, 1942-97," in General History of the Caribbean, edited by German Carrera and Bridget Brereton (UNESCO, 2004), p. 365.
  35. ^ "Venezuela, with a small population, can lay claim to the role of middling regional power only because of its oil. Its geostrategic position is linked to the Caribbean as a whole, and its interest lies in maintaining stability there." See Gerard Chaliand and Jean-Pierre Bageau, Strategic Atlas: A Comparative Geopolitics of the World's Powers (New York: HarperPerennial, 1992), p. 175.
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  54. ^ "We can talk meaningfully about Vietnam as the regional power in former Indochina, as one regional power among many in Southeast Asia, or as not a regional power in Asia." See Brantly Womack, China Among Unequals (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 2010), p. 77.
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  56. ^ "U.S.-Vietnamese rapprochement and Hanoi’s Dilemma". Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
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  58. ^ ""Iran is a strong regional power, in a far better shape than Pakistan because f its economic capabilities, rich mineral and energy resources, and internal stability, added to its far greater geostrategic importance." In Hooman Peimani, Nuclear Proliferation in the Indian Subcontinent (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2000), p. 30.
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  68. ^ "Operation Alba may be considered one of the most important instances in which Italy has acted as a regional power, taking the lead in executing a technically and politically coherent and determined strategy." See Federiga Bindi, Italy and the European Union (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2011), p. 171.
  69. ^ "Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. The country's European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power." See Italy: Justice System and National Police Handbook, Vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: International Business Publications, 2009), p. 9.
  70. ^ ...L'Italie est avant tout une grande puissance européenne, un État-nation au développement économique brillant, une puissance industrielle, une société civile active, une intelligentsia remarquable, l’un des principaux pôles culturels et artistiques de l’Europe.
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  73. ^ "In fact, Latin America remained now, as it had been at the start of the transition, Spain's only possibility of rising above its present position [in 2000] a...iddle-ranking regional power within Europe." Javier Tusell, Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy, 1939 to the Present (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), chapter 6.
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