Here are the top 10 most powerful countries in the world, based on the analysis of US News & World Report. Note that this list is different from the media company’s overall ranking of the best countries in the world.
10. United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, each governed by an absolute monarchy. The emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Of the seven emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the two most well-known, with the latter being the more popular tourist destination. The fact that the country is more liberal and open compared to other Arab countries makes it more attractive to foreigners.
The UAE is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, thanks in large part to its rich oil and natural gas reserves. A member of the United Nations and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the UAE has a very strong economic influence and has solid international alliances.
However, the UAE doesn’t have a large and powerful military, although its armed forces have seen significant upgrades in recent years. But it’s worth noting that the Armed Forces of UAE – the primary armed wing of all seven emirates – is equipped with modern weapon systems, purchased from other powerful countries.
9. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and most powerful Arab countries. It is considered a pro-Western Arab country due to its strong relations with countries such as the US and the UK. It is also very open to foreign workers, with a lot of personnel in private companies and institutions hailing from other countries.
Saudi Arabia has a strong political influence in the region and is allied with other powerful Arab countries such as Pakistan, considered by many as the closest ally of Saudi Arabia. Compared to the UAE, Saudi Arabia is a lot more conservative, though the government has recently made some significant changes to make the country more liberal. For example, last September, the country announced it is finally allowing women to drive.
The Arab country is also known for its military expenditures. It is one of the largest arms importers in the world, with the UK being a major supplier. Other supplying countries include the US (obviously) and Canada. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, has received criticism for selling military equipment to the Arab country. Trudeau is an advocate of human rights – but has sold tools of war to Saudi Arabia, a country with a notorious record in regard to human rights.
Israel is one of the most powerful Middle Eastern countries. It has a large economy and has a high standard of living. Like Japan, Israel is one of the most educated countries in the world, which has played a huge part in making the country a powerhouse in regards to technology.
In terms of foreign relations, Israel is a mixed bag. On one end, it is allied with powerful countries such as the US and Russia. But on the other end, it has a strained relationship with other Middle Eastern countries. And the fact that Israel has a well-developed nuclear program only makes matters worse, though the Israel government has been pretty coy about the country’s nuclear capabilities.
On a related note, Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Though not exactly large compared to the US and Chinese armed forces, the Israeli Defense Forces are incredibly well-trained and are more than capable of neutralizing various threats, both domestic and international. Israel also has arguably the best intelligence agency in the world, Mossad.
Japan is one of the most influential countries in the world, especially in regard to technology. The East Asian country has long been considered the heart of technological innovation and is arguably more technologically advanced than the US. It has a highly skilled and well-educated population, the biggest reason for its economic prowess.
Japan has the third-largest global economy, right behind the US and China. The country is one of the world leaders when it comes to exporting products, with many of those products related to technology. A member of the United Nations, Japan also has strong relationships with other world powers, though it has had issues dealing with its neighbors, China and North Korea.
In regard to military power, Japan isn’t exactly blessed with the most powerful armed forces. Though it has one of the largest military budgets and has modern military weapon systems, the country primarily deploys its armed forces for self-defense and peacekeeping purposes. The Land of the Rising Sun proves that you don’t necessarily need a strong military presence in order to be considered a powerful nation.
Not only is France one of the top 10 most powerful countries, it is also one of the top 10 countries with the most powerful nuclear weapons, fielding a reported nuclear warhead count of about 300. It is an official nuclear-weapon state and fields one of the most capable militaries in the world.
Located in western Europe right below the UK, France has one of the largest economies in the world, trailing only a few other world powers such as the US, China, and Japan. A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, France has very strong international alliances and is regularly involved in matters concerning global security and other international issues.
Considered one of the biggest players in the fashion industry, France has had huge contributions in the fashion world and is home to a number of notable fashion houses such as Chanel, Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent. The cultural influence of France is something that can never be accurately quantified.
Germany has long been one of the most powerful nations in the world. Every time the country has been ravaged by war and internal conflict in the past, the economy has been able to recover. The German economy consistently ranks in the top 10, thanks to its extremely skilled and highly educated population.
Located in central-western Europe, Germany is a well-developed nation with a high standard of living. It is one of the largest exporters and has a very strong global economic influence. It also has a strong global political influence and has strong international relations.
Germany is a member of the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is heavily involved in issues concerning global security. Known for having a rich cultural history and for having some of the most beautiful cities in the world, Germany also has a powerful military and has a very competent government led by leaders well-versed in all manners of political and economic affairs.
4. United Kingdom
Another permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the United Kingdom – composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – is a highly developed country located in western Europe. Though it is currently surrounded by uncertainties due to the infamous Brexit, the UK still remains one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Like France, the UK is an official nuclear-weapon state and is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It has one of the best navies in the world as well as one of the most capable foreign intelligence agencies, the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6.
The UK has a very strong economic and political influence and has long been a trendsetter in various areas such as technology, fashion, culture, arts, and sciences. Known for having a high standard of living, the UK has also produced some of the most accomplished doctors in history, which is why it is included in our list of the top 10 countries with the best doctors in the world.
China is the most populous nation in the world. It holds a great deal of economic influence and has the second-largest economy in the world, just behind the US. Based on how the Chinese economy has rapidly grown within the last three decades, it is very much possible it could overtake the US economy in the near feature. The Asian country is also the world leader in exports, hence all the “Made in China” products that you see every day.
A member of the United Stations, China has a very strong political influence in the world, though many have criticized the Chinese government for employing questionable methods and for being too aggressive, most especially when it comes to flexing its military muscle.
Speaking of which, China has the largest military in the world and has a navy composed of hundreds of commissioned ships and aircrafts and over 200,000 active personnel. China also possesses nuclear weapons and has one of the biggest military budgets in the world. The country also maintains strong relations with other countries, especially with Russia, though the country has a strained relationship with its Southeast Asian neighbors.
Russia is the largest country in the world by area, entirely covering Northern Asia and the majority of Eastern Europe. It has one of the largest economies in the world, sustained by the extensive natural resources in the country. It is a world leader when it comes to oil and natural gas reserves.
A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. The country is home to the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons with about 7,000 nuclear warheads. The way the Russian government has deployed its armed forces in recent years has received international criticism, however. Most notably, Russia received a lot of flak for its role in the Ukraine conflict.
With a political influence rivaling that of the US, Russia has strong relations with many countries, most especially China. Led by President Vladimir Putin, Russia has a very competent, albeit controversial, government. Not many people may agree with how Putin runs the country. But when it comes to results, the popular world leader definitely delivers for his country.
1. United States
The United States is the most powerful country in the world. It has the largest economy in the world, thanks in large part to its massive entertainment and media industry. The economy in California alone produces about $2.5 trillion. Assuming California was a country, that number would have made the California economy one of the top six in the world. Imagine that.
In terms of political influence, the US is unparalleled. A founding member of the United Nations, the US plays a huge role in almost all international issues, especially ones regarding global security. The US remains a powerhouse in the international community.
The US has the most powerful military in the world. It has the most modernized and sophisticated military weapon systems and possesses a huge number of nuclear warheads. And the US isn’t shy about showing its military power to the world, one reason why some countries often accuse the US of meddling with international affairs too much.
There is a very good chance that this list of the top 10 most powerful countries in the world will remain the same in 2020. One or two from the bottom-five countries might get replaced with a different country. But the top five countries are likely locks to hold their current position.