Regional power

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Leaders of most regional powers during the 2015 G20 at Antalya,Turkey

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.


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][dead link]

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 Regional Power in Northern America (USA)
  Major Regional Powers in Latin America (Mexico, Brazil and Argentina)
  Major Regional Powers in Europe (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom)
  Major Regional Power in Northern Asia and Eastern Europe (Russia)
  Major Regional Power in the Middle East and Southeast Europe (Turkey)
  Major Regional Power in Africa and the Middle East (Egypt)
  Major Regional Powers in Africa (Nigeria and South Africa)
  Major Regional Powers in the Middle East (Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia)
  Major Regional Power in Southeastern Asia (Indonesia)
  Major Regional Powers in Eastern Asia (China, Japan and South Korea)
  Major Regional Powers in South Asia (India and Pakistan)
  Major Regional Power 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 sub regions. Major regional powers in bold, and minor regional powers in normal font.


Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa are generally regarded as the major regional powers in the African continent.

Horn of Africa

East Africa

North Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

Northern America

Latin America


Historically, China was the dominant power in eastern Asia. 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 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, South Korea and Japan have also earned greater influence over regions outside Asia.

East Asia

South Asia

Southeast Asia

West Asia


France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are regarded as the Big Four of Europe.[58][59] Historically, dominant powers in this region created large colonial empires worldwide (such as the British Empire or the French Empire). Most of the continent is now integrated as a consequence of the enlargement of the European Union.

Western Europe

Eastern Europe


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
a Regional powers in the Mediterranean Sea


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
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  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.
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  14. "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.
  15. Zones of Peace in the Third World: South America and West Africa in ...By Arie Marcelo page 144 Kacowicz
  16. "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.
  17. "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.
  19. "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.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "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.
  21. "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.
  22. "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.
  23. "[...] 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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  25. ""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.
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  58. Major European powers
  59. Major European nations
  62. "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.
  63. "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.
  64. ...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.
  67. "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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