Currently only the United States of America fulfills the criteria of being a ‘superpower.’ The term is used in reference to a state which has the ability to project military and political power, to help other countries in political and economic crisis, and enhance a nation’s stability. It can dominate and influence the world. Military aid has been provided by the US around the world, to resolve conflicts within nations. It has fought against terrorism, and helped countries like Afghanistan, Israel, Egypt etc. with foreign aid.
The terminology originated after the World War II, when the United States and Soviet Union were considered two superpowers. These two entities dominated the world affairs, but, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States emerged as the world’s only superpower. However, in the 21st century, ‘potential superpowers’ have started being recognized, and Russia isn’t that far behind.
Let’s dive into the status quo of the most powerful countries of the world:
1. United States
With the largest economy of the world, i.e, an impressive GDP of USD 18.6 trillion, and GDP per capita (PPP) being USD 57,608 – the United States of America stands out as the most powerful country in the world. It has a population of 323.1 million, and sustains a dominating military presence. Be its cultural imprint – the lifestyle, the movies, the television – countries around the world are influenced by the USA. People migrate here with the hope of a better life. However, with Donald Trump’s recent immigration restrictions and foreign trade policies, the future of the country is being questioned around the world.
The largest country by landmass, the Russian Federation has a rapidly growing economy, with GDP being USD 1.3 trillion, sustained mostly by its abundance in natural resources like oil and natural gas. Being home to the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, Russia is considered to be the second most powerful country. Russia has about 7,000 nuclear warheads. However, numerous international sanctions were imposed on Russia by the European Union and the United States, after its annexation of Crimea, led by President Vladimir Putin, and the Ukrainian conflict.
Ruled by the Communist Party since 1949, China’s economy improved massively when economic reforms were introduced 40 years ago. These reforms dragged millions out of poverty, and it emerged as the second-largest economy in the world, generating GDP worth USD 11.2 trillion. The country also holds the position as ‘World’s Largest Exporter’. This most populous country in the world, also has the largest military in the world, entailing hundreds of commissioned ships and aircraft.
4. United Kingdom
Comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – the United Kingdom is an official nuclear-weapon state. With an economy worth USD 2.6 trillion and population equivalent to 65.6 million, the UK also sustains one of the best navies and foreign intelligence agencies. Well-known for its fashion, culture, arts, and sciences, the UK plays a significant role on a global stage.
Germany is the most populated country in the European Union, sustaining a thriving economy worth USD 3.5 million. There is a lot more to Germany than just it’s beautiful cities and rich history. Known for high standards of living, the country is involved significantly in world wide issues like terrorism, and global security. Its strong international relations with other countries has made it a potential superpower. Germany also sustains competitive government and a strong military.
Home to about 300 nuclear warheads, France has one of the largest economies in the world. With a GDP worth USD 2.5 trillion, the country is considered one of the best in the fashion industry. Chanel, Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent – all originated in this very country. It is one of the oldest countries in the world evolving from the Middle ages. It reaches a high position in foreign affairs, and its influence on international portal is vast.
Despite a small land area and comparatively lesser population, Japan manages to have an economy worth USD 4.9 trillion. It is the third largest economy in the world. Known for its technological capabilities, the country blends its ancient traditions with the Westernized life. Japan has maintained strong relations with the world powers and has deployed its armed forces for self-defense and peacekeeping purposes.
Israel is the most powerful country in the Middle East. It qualifies itself as one of the most educated countries in the world. Known for being the powerhouse in technology, Israel also sustains a well-trained Israeli Defense Forces which is capable of neutralizing various threats they receive at both domestic and international level. Generating GDP worth USD 318.7 billion, Israel also has a strong influence in global affairs.
9. Saudi Arabia
One of the largest Arab country – Saudi Arabia, has a strong political influence, having powerful relations with other countries in the nearby region, such as Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is however, quite conservative but is gradually making changes to emerge more liberal. Generating USD 646.6 billion, it also has a massive defense budget worth around USD 80 billion. Home to second largest oil reserves, the country has a potential to be a superpower, unless the oil prices crash – which doesn’t seem the case.
10. United Arab Emirates
A federation of seven emirates, UAE is an absolute monarchy. The two widely famous emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are famous tourist destinations as well. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and has an economy with GDP worth USD 348.7 billion. It’s powerful military, and the fact that the country has equipped modern weapon systems from other powerful nations, makes it one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Sources: improb.com, usnews.com