I should start by disclaiming that making a list of 10 most powerful countries in the world is a subjective task, based on their ability to shape their own territories as well as the international system. At the same time, I also took a look at the countries that are most likely to influence global politics with their choices. One of the perks of counting yourself amongst the most influential countries in the world is that you don’t have to heed global institutions if you don’t feel like it. Sounds empowering, but in the long run it can turn out to be a hassle, especially when you lose neighboring countries’ support.
1. The United States of America
I’m pretty sure this one didn’t come as a surprise. The USA has been one of the most influential countries in the world for almost a century now. What is more, with Russia and Iran having geopolitical issues and China developing economically, the USA’s top ranking position seems unflinching. With a strong army, powerful democracy and a highly influential media, it’s easy for the US to rule international liaisons and be a member of important bodies.
With the third largest economy in the world, Germany seized the opportunity of the tensions between Russian and the West to gain a decisive voice over a new European order. Thanks to its pivotal position it enjoys in the European Union, Germany has a well established position in the old continent and worldwide, a status it achieved without resourcing to nuclear weapons or overspending on defense.
Unlike the first two ranking countries, who are surrounded either by friendly states (USA) or by weak countries (Germany), China is situated among developing and ambitious neighbors. With rivals like Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia, it’s difficult for the Chinese to emerge as a powerful nation and ever surpass Germany or the United States of America.
We tend to believe Japan lives in the shadow of ever rising China, with a stagnant economy, and we dismiss it as insignificant and fading. But in reality Japan is a great power due to a smart foreign policy and foreign affairs. Thanks to its prospering economy, level of technology and global trade, these establish it as an influential country that is still on the rise.
While it’s a country in decline, Russia refuses to come to face with this reality. What can make Russia possibly dangerous is that it owns nukes, efficient intel, infowar abilities and a cautious leader. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine scattered any doubts as to what Putin is capable of doing in order to boost his country’s’ place among the most powerful and influential countries in the world.
There are many factors at work helping India to become a superpower. It has a vast population of English speakers, highly prestigious educational institutions, a flourishing tech department and a stable democracy. Under their Prime Minister’s lead they could soon tackle problems like painful red tape and tearing down the barriers for internal and external trade.
7. Saudi Arabia
This newly emerged influential country is full of surprises. In 2014 it engineered an oil price collapse which managed to upend international politics. From a regional point of view, Saudi Arabia seems much more efficient than other great powers.
8. The United Kingdom
As a part of the UN Security Council, the UK has intimidating nuclear weapons and a firm, unflinching democratic system. It is the second richest country in the world, after the United Stated of America and it houses the biggest financial trade center in the world. While it can’t match other states’ militaries, it has the advantage of a strong economy and technology level.
With a large Muslim population and a significant number of nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s attention gets distracted by military dictatorship, failing to rise to the level of superpower. One of its great advantages are the good resources, although the battles with India have crippled these to a small extent. If Pakistan could find a way to balance its political status and work on its foreign affairs, it could use its other assets to further develop its worldwide strength.
Holding the biggest pat of Portuguese speakers in the world, Brazil boasts very secure liaisons both with his neighbors and other states. Its economy is the seventh largest by GDP and as of 2014 Brazil is a regional power within Latin America, with reports and analysis hinting at it becoming a top five global power by the year 2022.