International Affairs & History:

What is a superpower?

A superpower is a country that has tremendous swaying power on the world stage. It is militarily and economically powerful and its cooperation is necessary in solving the world’s problems.

A superpower perceives its own interests as having a direct impact on the world and, inversely, it sees the world’s developments and political trends as having an influence on its own plans for the preservation of power, which means that a superpower’s actions tend to change the course of world events.

Advanced military capabilities are at the core of a superpower’s potency. Therefore, real nuclear capability and a readiness to project military might in any part of the world are both necessary for a country to be able to alter the direction of the world’s political future.

A superpower also uses its economic status and arsenal of diplomatic tools, or soft power, to influence political affairs.

The number of superpowers determines the balance of power and the polarity of power (the way power is distributed in the world).

According to Hans Morgenthau — the German-born American political scientist and historian who formulated the classic realist approach to international politics — and Kenneth Waltz, the American political scientist and originator of the non-realist (or structural realist) school of thought in world affairs, the presence of two or more superpowers, which makes for a bipolar, or multipolar world, with each power being able to neutralise the influence of the other, determines the chances of war or peace in the world.

What are the top ten superpowers in 2021?

The following data is from the 2021 Best Countries Report, a ranking and analysis project by U.S. News & World Report; BAV Group, a unit of global marketing communications company VMLY&R; and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Access the original data here.

United States of America, abbreviated U.S. or U.S.A., byname America, is a federal republic of 50 states including the 48 conterminous states that occupy the middle latitudes of the continent, the state of Alaska, at the northwestern extreme of North America, and the island state of Hawaii, in the mid-Pacific Ocean. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)

CAPITAL: Washington, DC

REGION: North America


GDP: $21.4 trillion

POPULATION: 328,239,523

AREA: 9,833,517 SQ.KM

China. Chinese (Pinyin) Zhonghua or (Wade-Giles romanization) Chung-hua, also spelled (Pinyin) Zhongguo or (Wade-Giles romanization) Chung-kuo, officially People’s Republic of China or Chinese (Pinyin) Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo or (Wade-Giles romanization) Chung-hua Jen-min Kung-ho-kuo, is a country of East Asia. It is the largest of all Asian countries and has the largest population of any country in the world. Occupying nearly the entire East Asian landmass, it covers approximately one-fourteenth of the land area of Earth. Among the major countries of the world, China is surpassed in area by only Russia and Canada, and it is almost as large as the whole of Europe. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)

CAPITAL: Beijing



GDP: $14.3 trillion

POPULATION: 1,397,715,000

AREA: 9,596,960 SQ.KM

Russia. A country that stretches over a vast expanse of eastern Europe and northern Asia. Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Russia is by far the world’s largest country, covering nearly twice the territory of Canada, the second largest. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and the eastern third of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)




GDP$1.70 trillion


AREA17,098,242 SQ.KM

Germany. Officially Federal Republic of Germany, German Deutschland or Bundesrepublik Deutschland, country of north-central Europe, traversing the continent’s main physical divisions, from the outer ranges of the Alps northward across the varied landscape of the Central German Uplands and then across the North German Plain. One of Europe’s largest countries, Germany encompasses a wide variety of landscapes: the tall, sheer mountains of the south; the sandy, rolling plains of the north; the forested hills of the urbanized west; and the plains of the agricultural east. At the spiritual heart of the country is the magnificent east-central city of Berlin. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)


REGION: Europe


GDP: $3.86 trillion

POPULATION: 83,132,799

AREA: 357,022 SQ.KM

United Kingdom — The United Kingdom comprises the whole of the island of Great Britain — which contains England, Wales, and Scotland — as well as the northern portion of the island of Ireland. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)


REGION: Europe


GDP: $2.83 trillion

POPULATION: 66,834,405

AREA: 243,610 SQ.KM

Japan. An island country lying off the east coast of Asia. It consists of a great string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 km) through the western North Pacific Ocean. Nearly the entire land area is taken up by the country’s four main islands; from north to south these are Hokkaido (Hokkaidō), Honshu (Honshū), Shikoku, and Kyushu (Kyūshū). Honshu is the largest of the four, followed in size by Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)




GDP: $5.08 trillion

POPULATION: 126,264,931

AREA: 377,915 SQ.KM

France. Officially French Republic, French France or République Française, country of northwestern Europe. Historically and culturally among the most important nations in the Western world, France has also played a highly significant role in international affairs, with former colonies in every corner of the globe. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the Alps and the Pyrenees, France has long provided a geographic, economic, and linguistic bridge joining northern and southern Europe. It is Europe’s most important agricultural producer and one of the world’s leading industrial powers. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)


REGION: Europe


GDP: $2.72 trillion

POPULATION: 67,059,887

AREA: 643,801 SQ.KM

South Korea. A country in East Asia. It occupies the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. The country is bordered by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to the north, the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east, the East China Sea to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west; to the southeast it is separated from the Japanese island of Tsushima by the Korea Strait. South Korea makes up about 45 percent of the peninsula’s land area. The capital is Seoul (Sŏul). (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)




GDP: $1.65 trillion

POPULATION: 51,709,098

AREA: 99,720 SQ.KM

Saudi Arabia. An arid, sparsely populated kingdom of the Middle East. Extending across most of the northern and central Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is a young country that is heir to a rich history. In its western highlands, along the Red Sea, lies the Hejaz, which is the cradle of Islam and the site of that religion’s holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. In the country’s geographic heartland is a region known as Najd (“Highland”), a vast arid zone that until recent times was populated by nomadic tribes. To the east, along the Persian Gulf, are the country’s abundant oil fields. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)


REGION: Middle East


GDP: $793 billion

POPULATION: 34,268,528

AREA: 2,149,690 SQ.KM

United Arab Emirates. A federation of seven emirates along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The largest of these emirates, Abu Dhabi (Abū Ẓaby), which comprises more than three-fourths of the federation’s total land area, is the centre of its oil industry and borders Saudi Arabia on the federation’s southern and eastern borders. The port city of Dubai, located at the base of the mountainous Musandam Peninsula, is the capital of the emirate of Dubai (Dubayy) and is one of the region’s most vital commercial and financial centres, housing hundreds of multinational corporations in a forest of skyscrapers. (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)

CAPITAL: Abu Dhabi

REGION: Middle East


GDP: $421 billion

POPULATION: 9,770,529

AREA: 83,600 SQ.KM

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Richard Philip

Richard Philip

Researcher, author, media professional, content developer

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