Leaders of most regional powers during the 2015 G-20 Summit

In international relations, regional power, since the late 20th century has been used for a sovereign state that exercises significant power within a given geographical region.[1][2] States that 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. 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 neighbors.'[1]

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

Regional powers

In this list 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 for 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 alphabetical order.


Even though the economic weight of Africa is relatively low compared to other continents, and more than two-thirds of African countries are among the least developed states in the world, Africa's rich natural resources and diverse cultures could carry the potential to enable future development.

Although South Africa was diplomatically isolated during the latter years of the apartheid era, it is considered to have successfully reintegrated into international affairs over the last 20 years. It is recognized as the only newly industrialized country in Africa and takes a crucial role in BRICS and G20.

Nigeria is often referred to as the "Giant of Africa" due to both its population and economy being the largest in Africa and the cultural influence that it holds over other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa through its movie industry and mass media. Nigeria is also the largest oil producer in Africa.

Nigeria and South Africa are among the largest African economies; both have GDPs over $250 billion (nominal) and $700 billion (PPP) as of 2020.

Sub-Saharan Africa


Historically, Imperial China was the dominant power in East Asia. From the late 19th century, the Empire of Japan initiated far-reaching Westernizing reforms, and rapidly industrialized, to become a major power in Asia by the time of World War I, as one of the Allied powers. With economic turmoil, Japan's expulsion from the League of Nations, and its interest in expansion on the mainland, Japan became one of the three main Axis powers in World War II.[citation needed]

Since the late 20th century, regional alliances, economic progress, and contrasting military power changed the strategic and regional power balance in Asia. In recent years, a re-balancing of military and economic power among emerging powers, such as China and India, has resulted in significant changes in the geopolitics of Asia. China and Japan have also gained greater influence over regions beyond Asia. In recent decades, South Korea has emerged as a significant economic and cultural power in East Asia. Japan and South Korea are important allies for the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.

East Asia

Southeast Asia

South Asia

West Asia/Middle East


Main article: European balance of power

Russia – the dominant part of a former superpower, the Soviet Union, is now considered a potential superpower, and has historically been the primary geopolitical force in Eastern Europe. France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, collectively known as Big Four in Western Europe, as they play pivotal roles as part of the NATO Quint in the security of the Western Bloc. Most of the continent is now integrated as a consequence of the enlargement of the European Union, which is sometimes considered a great power as a whole, despite it not being a sovereign state.[20][21] Historically, dominant powers in Europe created colonial empires (such as the Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish Empires).

Eastern Europe

Central Europe

Western Europe

Southern Europe

North America

The United States is the primary geopolitical force in North America, and is considered the contemporary sole superpower globally. It dominates the region so heavily that its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, both middle powers in the region, are generally not considered regional powers. Despite having a large enough economy to be a member of the G7, Canada is not a regional power for two reasons. It is militarily secure as a result of U.S. hegemony, and has become financially comfortable by its dependence on, and deep integration with, a robust U.S. economy.[29] Mexico is an emerging power which could probably be viewed as a regional power if grouped with Latin America, or a definite regional power if considered in either Middle America or in Hispanic America due to its economic size and diverse cultural heritages.[30] However, similar to Canada, Mexican economy is highly reliant on the U.S. with about 80% of its exports shipping to the U.S. alone.[31][32]


Australia is considered to be a regional power due to its significant commercial and diplomatic relations in Asia–Pacific region since the late 1990s.[33]

South America

Since the Age of Discovery, Portugal and Spain mostly divided South America to be the foremost colonial powers in the continent, but following decolonization in the first half of the 19th century, the European powers withdrew and new nations were established, although their cultural influence and languages still remain predominant in Latin America.

Brazil is considered one of the most compelling geopolitical power in South America, as the country has the highest population and landmass in the continent, and its economic size, which possesses large stockpiles of natural resources, including valuable minerals, a tenth of the world's fresh water and it's also one of the countries that contain the Earth's largest remaining rainforest. Brazil has an important role in international relations, especially in economic and global environmental issues.[35]

See also


^ Considered a great power
^ Member of AUKUS
^ Member of OEI
^ Member of BRICS
^ Member of CIVETS
^ Member of OECD
^ Member of Pacific Alliance
^ Member of D-8
^ Member of G7
^ Member of G-14
^ Member of G-15
^ Member of G20
^ Member of MIKTA
^ Member of N-11
^ Member of OPEC
^ Member of QUAD
^ Member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
^ One of the G4 nations
^ Permanent member of the UN Security Council


  1. ^ a b Joachim Betz, Ian Taylor, "The Rise of (New) Regional Powers in Asia, Africa, Latin America..."[dead link], German Overseas Institute & University of St. Andrews, May 2007
  2. ^ a b Martin Beck, The Concept of Regional Power: The Middle East as a Deviant Case?, German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, 11–12 December 2006.
  3. ^ Flemes, Daniel (2010). Regional Leadership in the Global System: Ideas, Interests and Strategies of Regional Powers. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9780754679127.
  4. ^ a b c Buzan, Barry (2004). The United States and the Great Powers. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7456-3375-6.
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  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Holliday, IAN (2006). "Japan and the Myanmar Stalemate: Regional Power and Resolution of a Regional Problem| Japanese Journal of Political Science | Cambridge Core". Japanese Journal of Political Science. 6 (3): 393. doi:10.1017/S1468109905001969. S2CID 154946583.
  8. ^ "South Korea: A Major Regional Power" (PDF). Journal of Sociology. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  9. ^ Emmers, Ralf. "Regional hegemonies and the exercise of power in Southeast Asia: A study of Indonesia and Vietnam" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Le Centre Sheraton Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 17 March 2004. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b Buzan & Wæver, Regions and Powers (2003, p. 55)
  11. ^ Perkovich, George. "Is India a Major Power?" (PDF). The Washington Quarterly (27.1 Winter 2003–04). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  12. ^ Encarta - Great Powers Archived 31 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Dilip Mohite (Spring 1993). "Swords and Ploughshares- India: The Fourth Great Power?". Vol. 7, No. 3. Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS). Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  14. ^ "Iran is a strong regional power, in a far better shape than Pakistan because of 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.
  15. ^ Butenschøn, Nils A. (1992). "Israel as a Regional Great Power: Paradoxes of Regional Alienation". Regional Great Powers in International Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, London. pp. 95–119. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-12661-3_5. ISBN 9781349126637.
  16. ^ Ehteshami, Anoush (2018). "Saudi Arabia as a Resurgent Regional Power". The International Spectator. 53 (Volume 53, 2018 - Issue 4): 75–94. doi:10.1080/03932729.2018.1507722. S2CID 158177906. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  17. ^ Kenan Aksu (2013). Turkey: A Regional Power in the Making (PDF). Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-4870-1. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  18. ^ Deniz Devrim, Evelina Schulz. "Turkey's Rise as a Regional Power and its Role in the European Neighbourhood (ARI)". Elcano Royal Institute. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  19. ^ André Bank & Roy Karadag (2013). Before the Arab Revolts and After: Turkey's Transformed Regional Power Status in the Middle East. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 103–121. doi:10.1057/9781137484758_6. ISBN 978-1-349-50355-1. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  20. ^ Kirchner, E.J.; Sperling, J. (2007). Global Security Governance: Competing Perceptions of Security in the Twenty-First Century. Taylor & Francis. p. 265. ISBN 9781134222223. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  21. ^ Aghion, P.; Durlauf, S.N. (2005). Handbook of Economic Growth. Elsevier. p. 788. ISBN 9780444520418. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Gabriele Abbondanza, Italy as a Regional Power: the African Context from National Unification to the Present Day (Rome: Aracne, 2016)
  25. ^ The reality of Spain in 2021 is that of a relevant middle power with the potential to gain more importance in the world. https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/consejodeministros/resumenes/Documents/2021/270421-foreigh_action_strategy_2021-2024.pdf
  26. ^ Spain, as a middle power with global connections and goals. https://arctic-council.org/news/interview-with-arctic-council-observer-spain/
  27. ^ http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MelbJIL/2013/18.pdf
  28. ^ https://etd.lib.metu.edu.tr/upload/12621063/index.pdf
  29. ^ Alice Bothwell, "Can Canada Still Be Considered a Middle Power?," Master's Thesis (University of Stellenbosch), p. 34
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  31. ^ "US-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. 25 June 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2021. Mexico's per capita GDP is relatively high by global standards, and falls within the World Bank's upper-middle income category. Mexico's economy relies heavily on the United States as an export market. The value of exports equaled 39% of Mexico's GDP in 2019, as shown in Table 1, and approximately 80% of Mexico's exports were headed to the United States.
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  36. ^ "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.
  37. ^ "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.
  38. ^ "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.
  39. ^ "[...] 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.
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