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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 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 differing 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

Major regional powers in teal, and minor regional powers in light teal

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.


East Africa

North Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa


The United States is regarded as the sole regional power of the Americas (i.e. North and South), and is also considered the world's only superpower. 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

South America


East Asia

South Asia

Southeast Asia

West Asia


Central Europe

Eastern Europe

Southern Europe

Western Europe


See also


^ Considered a Great Power.
a Regional powers in the Levant
b Regional powers in the Persian Gulf


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 "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. 4.0 4.1 "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. Algeria: Current Issues By Carol Migdalovitz
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Buzan, Barry (2004). The United States and the Great Powers. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press. pp. 71. ISBN 0-7456-3375-7. 
  9. Historical Dictionary of Angola By W. Martin James page 17
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 [[dead link] ]
  12. "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.
  13. Zones of Peace in the Third World: South America and West Africa in ...By Arie Marcelo page 144 Kacowicz
  14. "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.
  15. "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), p. 151.
  16. James Scott, Matthias vom Hau and David Hulme. "Beyond the BICs: Strategies of influence". The University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  17. "How to compare regional powers: analytical concepts and research topics". British International Studies Association. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  18. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
  19. 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. "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.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "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. "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.
  24. "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.
  25. "[...] 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.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 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.
  27. ""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.
  28. Arnson, Cynthia; Sotero, Paulo. "Brazil as a Regional Power: Views from the Hemisphere". Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  29. 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. 
  30. Wigell, Mikael. "Assertive Brazil, an emerging power and its implications". Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  31. Flemes, Daniel. "Brazil’s strategic options in a multiregional world order". German Institute of Global and Area Studies. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Bruce Bagley, Regional Powers in the Caribbean Basin: Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983).
  33. 33.0 33.1 "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.
  34. "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.
  35. Living With The Giants - TIME
  36. China: Global/Regional Power
  37. CNN In-Depth Specials - Visions of China - Asian Superpower: Regional 'godfather' or local bully?
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 [1] Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "alla" defined multiple times with different content
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 The United States and the great powers: world politics in the twenty-first century
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 Buzan, Barry; Wæver, Ole (2003). Regions and powers: the structure of international security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 55. ISBN 0-521-89111-6. 
  49. Perkovich, George. "Is India a Major Power?" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2004-06-02. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  50. Encarta - Great Powers
  51. Dilip Mohite (Spring 1993). "Swords and Ploughshares- India: The Fourth Great Power?". Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS). Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  52. [2]
  53. "The last fifty years have seen the rise of Thailand as a regional power in Indochina because of its economically diverse economy and the growth of foreign direct investment while its neighbors were embroiled in civil conflict between communist and capitalist forces." See Yongyut Trisurat, "The Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex," in Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution, edited by Saleem Ali (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007), p. 141.
  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.
  55. "'Vietnam has emerged as a regional power in South-East Asia': Hamid Ansari". Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  56. "U.S.-Vietnamese rapprochement and Hanoi’s Dilemma". Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  57. 57.0 57.1
  65. "There are, thirdly, a large number of secondary regional powers. And some of them are clearly very important countries, but they have to orient their attitudes and thinking in terms of their relationship with the major regional powers. These would include the United Kingdom in Europe; Poland, Ukraine, Uzbekistan in the Russian sphere; Pakistan, obviously; Japan; Argentina; various other countries." See Samuel Huntington, "The Great American Myth," in Writing Arguments, edited by John Ramage, John Bean, and June Johnson (Pearson Education, 2007), p. 532.
  67. "Turkey and Russia on the Rise". Stratfor. 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  68. "Can Turkey Be a Source of Stability in the Middle East?". 2010-12-18. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  69. The Economist: "Turkish foreign policy: Ottoman dreamer", 5 November 2011.
  70. The Economist: "Turkey in the Balkans: The good old days?", 5 November 2011.
  71. "Erdoğan's Moment", cover story in the Time magazine issue of November 21–28, 2011. (Vol. 178 No. 21.) "Erdoğan's Way" was the cover title in the editions of Europe, Asia and South Pacific.
  73. "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.
  74. "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.
  77. "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.
  79. [3] France, Germany, Britain – Responses of Traditional Regional Powers to Rising Regions and Rivals

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