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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 hegemonicinfluence 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".
The German Institute of Global and Area Studies states that a regional power must:
form part of a definable region with its own identity
claim to be a regional power (self-image as a regional power)
exert decisive influence on the geographic extension of the region as well as on its ideological construction
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 forums
Below are states that have been described as regional powers by international relations and political scienceacademics, 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.
Canada, despite being a middle power, is not a regional power because it is militarily secured by U.S. hegemony and financially comfortable by its dependence on a robust U.S. economy. The United States is the primary geopolitical force in North America, and is considered the sole superpower at the moment. In fact, its projection of power is so large that Canada and Mexico, both middle powers are generally not considered regional powers. The case of Mexico is a strange one due to this scenario, where it is not considered a regional power if grouped with North America, but is considered a probable regional power if grouped with Latin America and a definite regional power if considered in either Central America or in Spanish-speaking America.
Since the late 20th century, regional alliances, economic progress, and contrasting military power have changed the strategic and regional power balance in Asia. In recent years, a re-balancing of military and economic power among countries 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 outside Asia, with the former now contending with the United States for geopolitical clout in most major regions. With close economic and military ties to the United States, Japan was the main Asian base of operations of America's "containment" strategy during the Cold War. In recent decades, South Korea has emerged as a significant economic and cultural force in East Asia, while Indonesia has solidified its place as the economic heavyweight of Southeast Asia.
Australia is considered to be a regional power due to its power relative to the nations around it. For instance, despite having less than a tenth of Indonesia's population, Australia has a larger GDP (nominal). Despite not possessing a particularly large military in terms of manpower, Australia's military expenditure is the 11th highest in the world and is considerably higher than any other nation in the region, giving it a major military advantage. .
^"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.
^Alice Bothwell, "Can Canada Still Be Considered a Middle Power?," Master's Thesis (University of Stellenbosch), p. 34
^"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.
^ ab"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.
^"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.
^"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.
^"[...] 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.
^ abSamuel 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.
^""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.
^""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.
^Gabriele Abbondanza, Italy as a Regional Power: the African Context from National Unification to the Present Day (Rome: Aracne, 2016)
^"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.
^"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.