Field Listing

Government type

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.

  • Afghanistan

    presidential Islamic republic

  • Albania

    parliamentary republic

  • Algeria

    presidential republic

  • American Samoa

    unincorporated, unorganized Territory of the US with local self-government; republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches;

  • Andorra

    parliamentary democracy (since March 1993) that retains its chiefs of state in the form of a co-principality; the two princes are the President of France and Bishop of Seu d'Urgell, Spain

  • Angola

    presidential republic

  • Anguilla

    parliamentary democracy (House of Assembly); self-governing overseas territory of the UK

  • 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. Measures, Decisions, and Resolutions adopted at Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, 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 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings operate by consensus (not by vote) of all consultative parties at annual Treaty meetings; by January 2016, there were 53 treaty member nations: 29 consultative and 24 non-consultative; consultative (decision-making) members include the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory (some claims overlap) and 22 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; measures adopted at 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), Czech Republic (1962/2014), 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 (1961/1977), Russia, South Africa, Spain (1982/1988), Sweden (1984/1988), Ukraine (1992/2004), Uruguay (1980/1985), and the US; non-consultative members, with year of accession in parentheses, are - Austria (1987), Belarus (2006), Canada (1988), Colombia (1989), Cuba (1984), Denmark (1965), Estonia (2001), Greece (1987), Guatemala (1991), Hungary (1984), Iceland (2015), Kazakhstan (2015), North Korea (1987), Malaysia (2011), Monaco (2008), Mongolia (2015), Pakistan (2012), Papua New Guinea (1981), Portugal (2010), Romania (1971), Slovakia (1962/1993), Switzerland (1990), Turkey (1996), and Venezuela (1999); note - Czechoslovakia acceded to the Treaty in 1962 and separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993; 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 measures adopted at treaty consultative meetings and approved by governments; 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 and includes five annexes that have entered into force: 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; a sixth annex addressing liability arising from environmental emergencies has yet to enter into force; the Protocol 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

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Argentina

    presidential republic

  • Armenia

    parliamentary democracy; note - constitutional changes adopted in December 2015 transformed the government to a parliamentary system

  • Aruba

    parliamentary democracy; part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

  • Australia

    federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Austria

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Azerbaijan

    presidential republic

  • Bahamas, The

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Bahrain

    constitutional monarchy

  • Bangladesh

    parliamentary republic

  • Barbados

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Belarus

    presidential republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship

  • Belgium

    federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

  • Belize

    parliamentary democracy (National Assembly) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Benin

    presidential republic

  • Bermuda

    Overseas Territory of the UK with limited self-government; parliamentary democracy

  • Bhutan

    constitutional monarchy

  • Bolivia

    presidential republic

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

    parliamentary republic

  • Botswana

    parliamentary republic

  • Brazil

    federal presidential republic

  • British Virgin Islands

    Overseas Territory of the UK with limited self-government; parliamentary democracy

  • Brunei

    absolute monarchy or sultanate

  • Bulgaria

    parliamentary republic

  • Burkina Faso

    presidential republic

  • Burma

    parliamentary republic

  • Burundi

    presidential republic

  • Cabo Verde

    parliamentary republic

  • Cambodia

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Cameroon

    presidential republic

  • Canada

    federal parliamentary democracy (Parliament of Canada) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm; federal and state authorities and responsibilities regulated in constitution

  • Cayman Islands

    parliamentary democracy; self-governing overseas territory of the UK

  • Central African Republic

    presidential republic

  • Chad

    presidential republic

  • Chile

    presidential republic

  • China

    communist party-led state

  • Christmas Island

    non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia

  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands

    non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia

  • Colombia

    presidential republic

  • Comoros

    federal presidential republic

  • Congo, Democratic Republic of the

    semi-presidential republic

  • Congo, Republic of the

    presidential republic

  • Cook Islands

    parliamentary democracy

  • Costa Rica

    presidential republic

  • Cote d'Ivoire

    presidential republic

  • Croatia

    parliamentary republic

  • Cuba

    communist state

  • Curacao

    parliamentary democracy

  • Cyprus

    Republic of Cyprus - presidential republic; "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (self-declared) - parliamentary republic with enhanced presidency

    note: a separation of the two main ethnic communities inhabiting the island began following the outbreak of communal strife in 1963; this separation was further solidified when a Greek military-junta-supported coup attempt prompted the Turkish military intervention in July 1974 that gave the Turkish Cypriots de facto control in the north; Greek Cypriots control the only internationally recognized government on the island; on 15 November 1983, then Turkish Cypriot "President" Rauf DENKTAS declared independence and the formation of the "TRNC,” which is recognized only by Turkey

  • Czechia

    parliamentary republic

  • Denmark

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Djibouti

    presidential republic

  • Dominica

    parliamentary republic

  • Dominican Republic

    presidential republic

  • Ecuador

    presidential republic

  • Egypt

    presidential republic

  • El Salvador

    presidential republic

  • Equatorial Guinea

    presidential republic

  • Eritrea

    presidential republic

  • Estonia

    parliamentary republic

  • Eswatini

    absolute monarchy

  • Ethiopia

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

    parliamentary democracy (Legislative Assembly); self-governing overseas territory of the UK

  • Faroe Islands

    parliamentary democracy (Faroese Parliament); part of the Kingdom of Denmark

  • Fiji

    parliamentary republic

  • Finland

    parliamentary republic

  • France

    semi-presidential republic

  • French Polynesia

    parliamentary democracy (Assembly of French Polynesia); an overseas collectivity of France

  • Gabon

    presidential republic

  • Gambia, The

    presidential republic

  • Georgia

    semi-presidential republic

  • Germany

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Ghana

    presidential republic

  • Gibraltar

    parliamentary democracy (Parliament); self-governing overseas territory of the UK

  • Greece

    parliamentary republic

  • Greenland

    parliamentary democracy (Parliament of Greenland or Inatsisartut)

  • Grenada

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Guam

    republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; unincorporated organized territory of the US with local self-government

  • Guatemala

    presidential republic

  • Guernsey

    parliamentary democracy (States of Deliberation)

  • Guinea

    presidential republic

  • Guinea-Bissau

    semi-presidential republic

  • Guyana

    parliamentary republic

  • Haiti

    semi-presidential republic

  • Holy See (Vatican City)

    ecclesiastical elective monarchy; self-described as an "absolute monarchy"

  • Honduras

    presidential republic

  • Hong Kong

    presidential limited democracy; a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China

  • Hungary

    parliamentary republic

  • Iceland

    unitary parliamentary republic

  • India

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Indonesia

    presidential republic

  • Iran

    theocratic republic

  • Iraq

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Ireland

    parliamentary republic

  • Isle of Man

    parliamentary democracy (Tynwald)

  • Israel

    parliamentary democracy

  • Italy

    parliamentary republic

  • Jamaica

    parliamentary democracy (Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Japan

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Jersey

    parliamentary democracy (Assembly of the States of Jersey)

  • Jordan

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Kazakhstan

    presidential republic

  • Kenya

    presidential republic

  • Kiribati

    presidential republic

  • Korea, North

    dictatorship, single-party state; official state ideology of "Juche" or "national self-reliance"

  • Korea, South

    presidential republic

  • Kosovo

    parliamentary republic

  • Kuwait

    constitutional monarchy (emirate)

  • Kyrgyzstan

    parliamentary republic

  • Laos

    communist state

  • Latvia

    parliamentary republic

  • Lebanon

    parliamentary republic

  • Lesotho

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Liberia

    presidential republic

  • Libya

    in transition

  • Liechtenstein

    constitutional monarchy

  • Lithuania

    semi-presidential republic

  • Luxembourg

    constitutional monarchy

  • Macau

    executive-led limited democracy; a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China

  • Madagascar

    semi-presidential republic

  • Malawi

    presidential republic

  • Malaysia

    federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

    note: 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 the federal constitution; under terms of federation, Sabah and Sarawak retain certain constitutional prerogatives (e.g., right to maintain their own immigration controls)

  • Maldives

    presidential republic

  • Mali

    semi-presidential republic

  • Malta

    parliamentary republic

  • Marshall Islands

    mixed presidential-parliamentary system in free association with the US

  • Mauritania

    presidential republic

  • Mauritius

    parliamentary republic

  • Mexico

    federal presidential republic

  • Micronesia, Federated States of

    federal republic in free association with the US

  • Moldova

    parliamentary republic

  • Monaco

    constitutional monarchy

  • Mongolia

    semi-presidential republic

  • Montenegro

    parliamentary republic

  • Montserrat

    parliamentary democracy; self-governing overseas territory of the UK

  • Morocco

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Mozambique

    presidential republic

  • Namibia

    presidential republic

  • Nauru

    parliamentary republic

  • Nepal

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Netherlands

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy; part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

  • New Caledonia

    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Congress); an overseas collectivity of France

  • New Zealand

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Nicaragua

    presidential republic

  • Niger

    semi-presidential republic

  • Nigeria

    federal presidential republic

  • Niue

    parliamentary democracy

  • Norfolk Island

    non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia; note - the Norfolk Island Regional Council, which began operations 1 July 2016, is responsible for planning and managing a variety of public services, including those funded by the Government of Australia

  • North Macedonia

    parliamentary republic

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; a commonwealth in political union with and under the sovereignty of the US

  • Norway

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Oman

    absolute monarchy

  • Pakistan

    federal parliamentary republic

  • Palau

    presidential republic in free association with the US

  • Panama

    presidential republic

  • Papua New Guinea

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Paraguay

    presidential republic

  • Peru

    presidential republic

  • Philippines

    presidential republic

  • Pitcairn Islands

    parliamentary democracy

  • Poland

    parliamentary republic

  • Portugal

    semi-presidential republic

  • Puerto Rico

    republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; unincorporated organized territory of the US with local self-government

    Note: reference Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act, 2 March 1917, as amended by Public Law 600, 3 July 1950

  • Qatar

    absolute monarchy

  • Romania

    semi-presidential republic

  • Russia

    semi-presidential federation

  • Rwanda

    presidential republic

  • Saint Barthelemy

    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); overseas collectivity of France

  • Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha

    parliamentary democracy

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis

    federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Saint Lucia

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Saint Martin

    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); overseas collectivity of France

  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon

    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); overseas collectivity of France

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Samoa

    parliamentary republic

  • San Marino

    parliamentary republic

  • Sao Tome and Principe

    semi-presidential republic

  • Saudi Arabia

    absolute monarchy

  • Senegal

    presidential republic

  • Serbia

    parliamentary republic

  • Seychelles

    presidential republic

  • Sierra Leone

    presidential republic

  • Singapore

    parliamentary republic

  • Sint Maarten

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

  • Slovakia

    parliamentary republic

  • Slovenia

    parliamentary republic

  • Solomon Islands

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Somalia

    federal parliamentary republic

  • South Africa

    parliamentary republic

  • South Sudan

    presidential republic

  • Spain

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Sri Lanka

    presidential republic

  • Sudan

    presidential republic

  • Suriname

    presidential republic

  • Svalbard

    non-self-governing territory of Norway

  • Sweden

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy

  • Switzerland

    federal republic (formally a confederation)

  • Syria

    presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime

  • Taiwan

    semi-presidential republic

  • Tajikistan

    presidential republic

  • Tanzania

    presidential republic

  • Thailand

    constitutional monarchy

  • Timor-Leste

    semi-presidential republic

  • Togo

    presidential republic

  • Tokelau

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

  • Tonga

    constitutional monarchy

  • Trinidad and Tobago

    parliamentary republic

  • Tunisia

    parliamentary republic

  • Turkey

    presidential republic

  • Turkmenistan

    presidential republic; authoritarian

  • Turks and Caicos Islands

    parliamentary democracy

  • Tuvalu

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • Uganda

    presidential republic

  • Ukraine

    semi-presidential republic

  • United Arab Emirates

    federation of monarchies

  • United Kingdom

    parliamentary constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

  • United States

    constitutional federal republic

  • Uruguay

    presidential republic

  • Uzbekistan

    presidential republic; highly authoritarian

  • Vanuatu

    parliamentary republic

  • Venezuela

    federal presidential republic

  • Vietnam

    communist state

  • Virgin Islands

    republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; unincorporated organized territory of the US with local self-government

  • Wallis and Futuna

    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Assembly); overseas collectivity of France

  • Yemen

    in transition

  • Zambia

    presidential republic

  • Zimbabwe

    presidential republic