Power rankings exist for everything, whether a brand, sports team, company, celebrity, or country. Knowing power rankings might seem frivolous, but actually, it is quite helpful to understand a country’s power relative to its peers. Wondering why? A country well-versed in its power rank can better make strategic decisions for different fields and strive hard for its long-term well-being than a country unaware of its power rank. Moreover, being global leaders, powerful countries shape foreign policies and economic patterns whose effects reverberate worldwide. Gone are the days when countries’ power rankings were based only on their military power. Now, the powerful global leaders are the ones that have remarkable global influence over other countries, dominate news headlines, have strong military powers, preoccupy policymakers, and have ample resources for supporting their allies. If you are curious to know the world’s powerful countries and how to measure the power of a country, this article is for you.
Factors that measure the power of a country
There’s no denying that the more powerful a country is, the enormous global influence it has. However, it’s not simple to define a country as powerful since there’s an ongoing debate on factors measuring the power of a nation. Therefore, we have listed down some key factors that measure the power of a country.
● Powerful Military
A country with a well-equipped military with many nuclear weapons, troops, aircraft, tanks, etc., is harder to attack and can defeat other nations. This gives the country a powerful rank and enhances its global power.
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● Economic wealth
A country with a large economy provides more resources to use and fund aspects to increase its power rank. Moreover, countries with strong economies have the revenue to support global businesses and powerful militaries, making them globally influential or powerful countries.
● Large Population
A significant surge in a country’s population gives rise to economically productive people, adding to the strength of a nation. Besides, a country with a large population can contribute to its powerful armed forces, and it has more people to engage in foreign endeavors.
● International Alliances
Having solid alliances makes a country powerful. A country that works with global powers and other countries can improve national defense, build cultural ties, and boost economic integration. As a whole, the international alliance is a crucial factor in ranking a country as powerful.
And that is not all! Other factors that make a country powerful include:
- Large geographical area contributing to regional dominance
- Soft power that helps countries to forward their culture, security, economic, and strategic interests to others
- Effective global diplomatic corps to boost its relations with other countries
Top 10 World’s Powerful Countries in 2023
1. United States
Land Size: 3,796,742 sq mi
Annual GDP: $21.40 trillion
GDP per Capita: $65,280
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 2,245,500
Dominance in military powers and unmatched economic strength make the US the world’s most powerful country. This global leader has successfully maintained the position of a superpower country for decades and is a policy decider since it handles countless international issues. Many countries rely on decisions made by this superpower. Known as the melting pot, this diverse nation has attracted many immigrants from around the globe. Its cultural stamps are spanned worldwide due to its famous food joints and unmatched pop culture, including but not limited to art, television shows, and music. As one of the world’s leading exporters of advanced military equipment, computers, electrical machinery, and vehicles, the USA has great technological prowess.
Land Size: 3,705,407 sq mi
Annual GDP: $26.66 trillion
GDP per Capita: $10,217
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 1,394,015,977
Trailing behind the USA, China has the world’s second-largest economy. Its strong foothold on military powers and economy has made it the second most powerful country. Since it maintains good international relations, its global influence has been projected around the globe. Today China is home to more than 1.4 billion people and has the second-largest landmass. In the global wealth report from Credit Suisse, China has the highest number of people with a net worth of at least $110,000.
Land Size: 6,601,670 sq mi
Annual GDP: $4.328 trillion
GDP per Capita: $11,498
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 3,569,000
The Global Fire Power Index states that Russia has the world’s second-most powerful military base having the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, making it a military powerhouse.
With the world’s most extensive natural resources of oil and gas, it is known as the world’s ninth-largest economy that exports oil, gas, metals, and timber. Russia’s remarkable technological sovereignty efforts have enabled it to launch the first-ever artificial satellite into space and perform a spacewalk. Yet, there are many things that this powerful country has to improve to maintain its power rank in the world.
Land size: 3.287 million km²
Annual GDP: $3.8 trillion
GDP per Capita: $2,101
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 5.1M
Rapidly growing economic influence, massive population, and emerging military powers of India have secured the position of the fourth most powerful country in the world for India. Moreover, being the world’s largest democratic Republic, it has built strong relations with other democratic countries, boosting its image in Western nations. Besides economic and military power, India’s power drives from its diverse culture, historical spots, and booming tourism industry.
Land Size: 377,975 km2 (145,937 sq mi)
Annual GDP: $5.586 trillion
GDP per Capita: $40,113
Since Japan has the world’s third-largest economy, its power has primarily been derived from economic and technological sectors. However, its military and political power remain relatively limited. This one of the world’s most literate and urbanized countries has made incredible technological advancements, becoming a fully-fledged scientific and technical world power. Moreover, its cultural influence is exerted around the globe due to its cutting-edge comics, redefined traditional arts, animations, manga, and TV series.
Land Size: 137,847 sq mi
Annual GDP: $4.743 trillion
GDP per Capita: $46,468
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 80,159,662
In Germany, high levels of innovation, low corruption, and highly skilled labor have helped spur economic growth, and its strong economy has made it the world’s sixth most powerful country. Today, Germany occupies a prominent economic and political position in Europe. Since the country’s unification, the international market has gained a stronger sense of the country’s activity, especially in exports and imports. Culture-wise, Germany is known for producing many world’s leading figures in the arts as well as social and natural sciences.
7. United Kingdom
Land Size: 93,628 sq mi
Annual GDP: $3.276 trillion
GDP per Capita: $42,354
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 275,000
In Europe, the United Kingdom ranks second behind Germany as the seventh-largest economy. On the global stage, the UK remains a solid middle power thanks to its strong economy, technological prowess, and significant cultural influence. Since the British Empire, the UK has had a great economic and political influence. Being the closest ally of the US, its role in international relations is remarkable. Furthermore, this highly developed country is an exporter of technology and a part of commercial alliances.
Land Size: 640,679 km2
Annual GDP: $3.232 trillion
GDP per Capita: $40,380
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 450,000
A world leader in exclusive economic zones, France is the most powerful country in Europe and around the world. This high-income nation is one of the largest weapons exporters and has a tremendous global influence, thanks to its supreme political power in the European Union. Known for its cultural diversity, France has reached the worldwide market, spreading its culture around the globe. Today, the country is influential in many areas, from culture to politics, strong alliances to economics, and science to arts.
9. South Korea
Land Size: 100,363 km2
Annual GDP: $2.436 trillion
GDP per Capita: $31,846
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 6,710,000
Located in the Far East, South Korea is the leading industrialized OECD member country with a strong military, high-income economy, and robust security. Over the past few decades, South Korea has grown to become the most powerful nation in the world because of its dynamic economy and high-tech industries. Besides, with its modernized civilization, television shows, and music, this country is driving the whole world crazy.
10. Saudi Arabia
Land Size: 2,149,690 km2
Annual GDP: $1.924 trillion
GDP per Capita: $23,140
Estimated Total Military Personnel: 505,000
Saudi Arabia possesses the world’s most enormous hydrocarbon resources, so its global economic influence is significant. Since it is a top exporter of oil and gas, its economic growth is substantial. Likewise, after becoming a World Trade Organization member, Saudi Arabia welcomes foreign investments and fosters its relations with other countries. Being an Islamic kingdom, it is home to Muslim’s holiest sites, and millions of Muslims visit Makkah every year to take part in a pilgrimage. This way, the state enjoys cultural influence around the world.
The above countries are the global powers based on several factors that significantly determine their power ranks in their international pecking order. Overall, the US has secured the top power rank, followed by China and Russia. It should be noted that some countries can lead in one parameter and lag in another, thus not entering the above list. Hopefully, this article has shifted your viewpoint that military power is not the sole factor to mark a country powerful.