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This entry gives the basic form of government. Definitions of the major governmental terms are as follows. (Note that for some countries more than one definition applies.):
Absolute monarchy - a form of government where the monarch rules unhindered, i.e., without any laws, constitution, or legally organized opposition.
Anarchy - a condition of lawlessness or political disorder brought about by the absence of governmental authority.
Authoritarian - a form of government in which state authority is imposed onto many aspects of citizens' lives.
Commonwealth - a nation, state, or other political entity founded on law and united by a compact of the people for the common good.
Communist - a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single - often authoritarian - party holds power; state controls are imposed with the elimination of private ownership of property or capital while claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (i.e., a classless society).
Confederacy (Confederation) - a union by compact or treaty between states, provinces, or territories, that creates a central government with limited powers; the constituent entities retain supreme authority over all matters except those delegated to the central government.
Constitutional - a government by or operating under an authoritative document (constitution) that sets forth the system of fundamental laws and principles that determines the nature, functions, and limits of that government.
Constitutional democracy - a form of government in which the sovereign power of the people is spelled out in a governing constitution.
Constitutional monarchy - a system of government in which a monarch is guided by a constitution whereby his/her rights, duties, and responsibilities are spelled out in written law or by custom.
Democracy - a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but which is usually exercised indirectly through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed.
Democratic republic - a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.
Dictatorship - a form of government in which a ruler or small clique wield absolute power (not restricted by a constitution or laws).
Ecclesiastical - a government administrated by a church.
Emirate - similar to a monarchy or sultanate, but a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of an emir (the ruler of a Muslim state); the emir may be an absolute overlord or a sovereign with constitutionally limited authority.
Federal (Federation) - a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided - usually by means of a constitution - between a central authority and a number of constituent regions (states, colonies, or provinces) so that each region retains some management of its internal affairs; differs from a confederacy in that the central government exerts influence directly upon both individuals as well as upon the regional units.
Federal republic - a state in which the powers of the central government are restricted and in which the component parts (states, colonies, or provinces) retain a degree of self-government; ultimate sovereign power rests with the voters who chose their governmental representatives.
Islamic republic - a particular form of government adopted by some Muslim states; although such a state is, in theory, a theocracy, it remains a republic, but its laws are required to be compatible with the laws of Islam.
Maoism - the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism developed in China by Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), which states that a continuous revolution is necessary if the leaders of a communist state are to keep in touch with the people.
Marxism - the political, economic, and social principles espoused by 19th century economist Karl Marx; he viewed the struggle of workers as a progression of historical forces that would proceed from a class struggle of the proletariat (workers) exploited by capitalists (business owners), to a socialist "dictatorship of the proletariat," to, finally, a classless society - Communism.
Marxism-Leninism - an expanded form of communism developed by Lenin from doctrines of Karl Marx; Lenin saw imperialism as the final stage of capitalism and shifted the focus of workers' struggle from developed to underdeveloped countries.
Monarchy - a government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right; the monarch may be either a sole absolute ruler or a sovereign - such as a king, queen, or prince - with constitutionally limited authority.
Oligarchy - a government in which control is exercised by a small group of individuals whose authority generally is based on wealth or power.
Parliamentary democracy - a political system in which the legislature (parliament) selects the government - a prime minister, premier, or chancellor along with the cabinet ministers - according to party strength as expressed in elections; by this system, the government acquires a dual responsibility: to the people as well as to the parliament.
Parliamentary government (Cabinet-Parliamentary government) - a government in which members of an executive branch (the cabinet and its leader - a prime minister, premier, or chancellor) are nominated to their positions by a legislature or parliament, and are directly responsible to it; this type of government can be dissolved at will by the parliament (legislature) by means of a no confidence vote or the leader of the cabinet may dissolve the parliament if it can no longer function.
Parliamentary monarchy - a state headed by a monarch who is not actively involved in policy formation or implementation (i.e., the exercise of sovereign powers by a monarch in a ceremonial capacity); true governmental leadership is carried out by a cabinet and its head - a prime minister, premier, or chancellor - who are drawn from a legislature (parliament).
Presidential - a system of government where the executive branch exists separately from a legislature (to which it is generally not accountable).
Republic - a representative democracy in which the people's elected deputies (representatives), not the people themselves, vote on legislation.
Socialism - a government in which the means of planning, producing, and distributing goods is controlled by a central government that theoretically seeks a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor; in actuality, most socialist governments have ended up being no more than dictatorships over workers by a ruling elite.
Sultanate - similar to a monarchy, but a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of a sultan (the head of a Muslim state); the sultan may be an absolute ruler or a sovereign with constitutionally limited authority.
Theocracy - a form of government in which a Deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, but the Deity's laws are interpreted by ecclesiastical authorities (bishops, mullahs, etc.); a government subject to religious authority.
Totalitarian - a government that seeks to subordinate the individual to the state by controlling not only all political and economic matters, but also the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population.
Country
Government type
Afghanistan Islamic republic
Albania parliamentary democracy
Algeria republic
American Samoa NA
Andorra parliamentary democracy (since March 1993) that retains as its chiefs of state a co-principality; the two princes are the President of France and Bishop of Urgell, whose diocese is located in neighboring Spain; both co-princes maintain offices and representatives in Andorra
Angola republic; multiparty presidential regime
Anguilla NA
Antarctica Antarctic Treaty Summary - the Antarctic region is governed by a system known as the Antarctic Treaty System; the system includes: 1. the Antarctic Treaty, signed on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961, which establishes the legal framework for the management of Antarctica, 2. Recommendations and Measures adopted at meetings of Antarctic Treaty countries, 3. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972), 4. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980), and 5. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991); the 33rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting was held in Punta del Este, Uruguay in May 2010; at these periodic meetings, decisions are made by consensus (not by vote) of all consultative member nations; by April 2010, there were 48 treaty member nations: 28 consultative and 20 non-consultative; consultative (decision-making) members include the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory (some claims overlap) and 21 non-claimant nations; the US and Russia have reserved the right to make claims; the US does not recognize the claims of others; Antarctica is administered through meetings of the consultative member nations; decisions from these meetings are carried out by these member nations (with respect to their own nationals and operations) in accordance with their own national laws; the years in parentheses indicate when a consultative member-nation acceded to the Treaty and when it was accepted as a consultative member, while no date indicates the country was an original 1959 treaty signatory; claimant nations are - Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, NZ, Norway, and the UK; nonclaimant consultative nations are - Belgium, Brazil (1975/1983), Bulgaria (1978/1998), China (1983/1985), Ecuador (1987/1990), Finland (1984/1989), Germany (1979/1981), India (1983/1983), Italy (1981/1987), Japan, South Korea (1986/1989), Netherlands (1967/1990), Peru (1981/1989), Poland (196
Article 1 - area to be used for peaceful purposes only; military activity, such as weapons testing, is prohibited, but military personnel and equipment may be used for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose; Article 2 - freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation shall continue; Article 3 - free exchange of information and personnel, cooperation with the UN and other international agencies; Article 4 - does not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial claims and no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force; Article 5 - prohibits nuclear explosions or disposal of radioactive wastes; Article 6 - includes under the treaty all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees 00 minutes south and reserves high seas rights; Article 7 - treaty-state observers have free access, including aerial observation, to any area and may inspect all stations, installations, and equipment; advance notice of all expeditions and of the introduction of military personnel must be given; Article 8 - allows for jurisdiction over observers and scientists by their own states; Article 9 - frequent consultative meetings take place among member nations; Article 10 - treaty states will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty; Article 11 - disputes to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned or, ultimately, by the ICJ; Articles 12, 13, 14 - deal with upholding, interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations; other agreements - some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative meetings and ratified by governments; a mineral resources agreement was signed in 1988 but remains unratified; the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed 4 October 1991 and entered into force 14 January 1998; this agreement provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment through six specific annexes: 1) environmental impact assessment, 2) conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora, 3) waste disposal and waste management, 4) prevention of marine pollution, 5) area protection and management and 6) liability arising from environmental emergencies; it prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources except scientific research; a permanent Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Antigua and Barbuda constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and a Commonwealth realm
Argentina republic
Armenia republic
Aruba parliamentary democracy
Australia federal parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Austria federal republic
Azerbaijan republic
Bahamas, The constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Bahrain constitutional monarchy
Bangladesh parliamentary democracy
Barbados parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Belarus republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship
Belgium federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy
Belize parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Benin republic
Bermuda parliamentary; self-governing territory
Bhutan constitutional monarchy
Bolivia republic; note - the new constitution defines Bolivia as a "Social Unitarian State"
Bosnia and Herzegovina emerging federal democratic republic
Botswana parliamentary republic
Brazil federal republic
British Virgin Islands NA
Brunei constitutional sultanate (locally known as Malay Islamic Monarchy)
Bulgaria parliamentary democracy
Burkina Faso parliamentary republic
Burma parliamentary government took power in March 2011
Burundi republic
Cabo Verde republic
Cambodia multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy
Cameroon republic; multiparty presidential regime
Canada a parliamentary democracy, a federation, and a constitutional monarchy
Cayman Islands parliamentary democracy
Central African Republic republic
Chad republic
Chile republic
China Communist state
Christmas Island NA
Cocos (Keeling) Islands NA
Colombia republic; executive branch dominates government structure
Comoros republic
Congo, Democratic Republic of the republic
Congo, Republic of the republic
Cook Islands self-governing parliamentary democracy
Costa Rica democratic republic
Cote d'Ivoire republic; multiparty presidential regime established 1960
Croatia parliamentary democracy
Cuba Communist state
Curacao parliamentary
Cyprus republic
note: a separation of the two ethnic communities inhabiting the island began following the outbreak of communal strife in 1963; this separation was further solidified after the Turkish intervention in July 1974, following a Greek military-junta-supported coup attempt that gave the Turkish Cypriots de facto control in the north; Greek Cypriots control the only internationally recognized government; on 15 November 1983 Turkish Cypriot "President" Rauf DENKTAS declared independence and the formation of a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"), which is recognized only by Turkey
Czech Republic parliamentary democracy
Denmark constitutional monarchy
Djibouti republic
Dominica parliamentary democracy
Dominican Republic democratic republic
Ecuador republic
Egypt republic
El Salvador republic
Equatorial Guinea republic
Eritrea transitional government
note: following a successful referendum on independence for the Autonomous Region of Eritrea on 23-25 April 1993, a National Assembly, composed entirely of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, was established as a transitional legislature and a Constitutional Commission was established to draft a constitution; ISAIAS Afworki was named president by the transitional legislature; the constitution, ratified in May 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; parliamentary elections were scheduled in December 2001 but were postponed indefinitely; currently the PFDJ is the sole legal party and controls all national, regional, and local political offices
Estonia parliamentary republic
Ethiopia federal republic
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) NA
Faroe Islands NA
Fiji republic
Finland republic
France republic
French Polynesia parliamentary representative democratic French overseas collectivity
Gabon republic; multiparty presidential regime
Gambia, The republic
Georgia republic
Germany federal republic
Ghana constitutional democracy
Gibraltar NA
Greece parliamentary republic
Greenland parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy
Grenada parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Guam NA
Guatemala constitutional democratic republic
Guernsey parliamentary democracy
Guinea republic
Guinea-Bissau republic
Guyana republic
Haiti republic
Holy See (Vatican City) ecclesiastical
Honduras democratic constitutional republic
Hong Kong limited democracy
Hungary parliamentary democracy
Iceland constitutional republic
India federal republic
Indonesia republic
Iran theocratic republic
Iraq parliamentary democracy
Ireland republic, parliamentary democracy
Isle of Man parliamentary democracy
Israel parliamentary democracy
Italy republic
Jamaica constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Japan a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy
Jersey parliamentary democracy
Jordan constitutional monarchy
Kazakhstan republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Kenya republic
Kiribati republic
Korea, North Communist state one-man dictatorship
Korea, South republic
Kosovo republic
Kuwait constitutional emirate
Kyrgyzstan republic
Laos Communist state
Latvia parliamentary democracy
Lebanon republic
Lesotho parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Liberia republic
Libya operates under a transitional government
Liechtenstein hereditary constitutional monarchy
Lithuania parliamentary democracy
Luxembourg constitutional monarchy
Macau limited democracy
Macedonia parliamentary democracy
Madagascar republic
Malawi multiparty democracy
Malaysia constitutional monarchy
note: nominally headed by paramount ruler (commonly referred to as the king) and a bicameral Parliament consisting of a nonelected upper house and an elected lower house; all Peninsular Malaysian states have hereditary rulers (commonly referred to as sultans) except Melaka (Malacca) and Pulau Pinang (Penang); those two states along with Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia have governors appointed by government; powers of state governments are limited by federal constitution; under terms of federation, Sabah and Sarawak retain certain constitutional prerogatives (e.g., right to maintain their own immigration controls)
Maldives republic
Mali republic
Malta republic
Marshall Islands constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 21 October 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004
Mauritania military junta
Mauritius parliamentary democracy
Mexico federal republic
Micronesia, Federated States of constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 3 November 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004
Moldova republic
Monaco constitutional monarchy
Mongolia parliamentary
Montenegro republic
Montserrat NA
Morocco constitutional monarchy
Mozambique republic
Namibia republic
Nauru republic
Nepal federal democratic republic
Netherlands constitutional monarchy
New Caledonia parliamentary representative democracy
New Zealand parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Nicaragua republic
Niger republic
Nigeria federal republic
Niue self-governing parliamentary democracy
Norfolk Island NA
Northern Mariana Islands commonwealth; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature
Norway constitutional monarchy
Oman monarchy
Pakistan federal republic
Palau constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 1 October 1994
Panama constitutional democracy
Papua New Guinea constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Paraguay constitutional republic
Peru constitutional republic
Philippines republic
Pitcairn Islands NA
Poland republic
Portugal republic; parliamentary democracy
Puerto Rico commonwealth
Qatar emirate
Romania republic
Russia federation
Rwanda republic; presidential, multiparty system
Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha NA
Saint Kitts and Nevis parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Saint Lucia parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Saint Pierre and Miquelon parliamentary representative democracy
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Samoa parliamentary democracy
San Marino republic
Sao Tome and Principe republic
Saudi Arabia monarchy
Senegal republic
Serbia republic
Seychelles republic
Sierra Leone constitutional democracy
Singapore parliamentary republic
Sint Maarten parliamentary
Slovakia parliamentary democracy
Slovenia parliamentary republic
Solomon Islands parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Somalia in the process of building a federal parliamentary republic
South Africa republic
South Sudan republic
Spain parliamentary monarchy
Sri Lanka republic
Sudan Federal republic ruled by the National Congress Party the (NCP), which came to power by military coup in 1989; the CPA-mandated Government of National Unity, which between 2005 and 2011 provided a percentage of leadership posts to the southern Sudan-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), was disbanded following the secession of South Sudan.
Suriname constitutional democracy
Svalbard NA
Swaziland monarchy
Sweden constitutional monarchy
Switzerland formally a confederation but similar in structure to a federal republic
Syria republic under an authoritarian regime
Taiwan multiparty democracy
Tajikistan republic
Tanzania republic
Thailand constitutional monarchy
Timor-Leste republic
Togo republic under transition to multiparty democratic rule
Tokelau NA
Tonga constitutional monarchy
Trinidad and Tobago parliamentary democracy
Tunisia republic
Turkey republican parliamentary democracy
Turkmenistan defines itself as a secular democracy and a presidential republic; in actuality displays authoritarian presidential rule, with power concentrated within the presidential administration
Turks and Caicos Islands NA
Tuvalu parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Uganda republic
Ukraine republic
United Arab Emirates federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates
United Kingdom constitutional monarchy and Commonwealth realm
United States Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Uruguay constitutional republic
Uzbekistan republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Vanuatu parliamentary republic
Venezuela federal republic
Vietnam Communist state
Virgin Islands NA
Wallis and Futuna parliamentary representive democratic French overseas collectivity
Western Sahara legal status of territory and issue of sovereignty unresolved; territory contested by Morocco and Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro), which in February 1976 formally proclaimed a government-in-exile, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), based out of refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, led by President Mohamed ABDELAZIZ
Yemen republic
Zambia republic
Zimbabwe parliamentary democracy
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