What are the most powerful countries in the world?

This article focuses on the most powerful countries in the world, depending on a range of criteria which create different sets of rankings.

A country may be powerful simply because of its military might, while another may have a strong economy but relatively smaller defense budgets, as is the case with Germany and Japan.

For much of the 20th century and since the year 2000, the U.K. has been able to punch above its belt because of its geographical position, its language and powerful allies.

Although China’s military spending is not that different to the UK’s or France’s, its army has more than ten million more soldiers.

There are a number of different factors that determine what the most powerful countries are, including: military power, economic power, foreign affairs status, and energy security.

This information article provides a ranking of the most powerful countries based on The National Power Index (NPI) and a ranking of the most powerful countries based on comprehensive national power.

National Power Index

The most powerful countries can be quantified using The National Power Index, which combines the weighted factors of GDP, population, technology, and defense spending. Click here for the full detailed methodology on how the most powerful countries in the world is calculated.

According to Nation Ranking:

“The National Power Index (NPI) is an attempt to quantify a nation’s power, i.e. its capacity to influence events and outcomes across the globe. It is a composite of five sub-indexes, each describing one of the elements which objectively contribute to a nation’s power: economy, military, diplomacy, technology and popularity.”

The United States

American flag on pole waving in breeze

  • Composite Index: 1
  • Economic Capability: 1
  • Military Capability: 1
  • Population Capability: 3
  • Technological Capability: 1
  • Energy Security: 8
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 1

Population: 317,281,000
GDP (nominal): $15.68 trillion
Area: 9,826,675 km2
Active military personnel: 1,429,995

Note: The United States is likely to remain the most powerful country in the world for at least another decade or two given that it ranks number one in 5 different NPI sub-indexes.


Chinese national flag

  • Composite Index: 2
  • Economic Capability: 2
  • Military Capability: 3
  • Population Capability: 1
  • Technological Capability: 10
  • Energy Security: 14
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 9

Population: 1,350,695,000
GDP (nominal): $8.939 trillion
Area: 9,706,961 km2
Active military personnel: 2,285,000

Note: China ranks number one as the most populous country in the world and comes in second in terms of economic power. Analysts predict that China will overtake the US before 2030, according to the International Futures model.



Flag of Russian Federation

  • Composite Index: 3
  • Economic Capability: 15
  • Military Capability: 2
  • Population Capability: 11
  • Technological Capability: 11
  • Energy Security: 4
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 4

Population: 143,600,000
GDP (nominal): $2.015 trillion
Area: 17,098,242 km2
Active Military Personnel: 766,000

Note: Russia is the world’s largest country in size (with huge energy reserves) and it is ranked number two in terms of its military power.


flag of france

  • Composite Index: 4
  • Economic Capability: 6
  • Military Capability: 4
  • Population Capability: 7
  • Technological Capability: 6
  • Energy Security: 18
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 2

Population: 65,950,000
GDP (nominal): $2.739 trillion
Area: 640,679 km2
Active Military Personnel: 228,656

Note: France is ranked as the fourth most powerful country. Despite its strong military and economic power, France is mainly the fourth most powerful country because of its foreign affairs capability and position in global diplomacy – it is a permanent member of the UN security council.


Japanese flag

  • Composite Index: 5
  • Economic Capability: 3
  • Military Capability: 9
  • Population Capability: 4
  • Technological Capability: 2
  • Energy Security: 25
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 6

Population: 126,659,683
GDP (nominal): $5.007 trillion
Area: 377,944 km2
Active Military Personnel: 247,746

Note: Despite a small land area Japan ranks fourth in population capability and it has one of the most powerful economies in the world (ranking third) and ranking second in technological capability.


The United Kingdom

Union Jack

  • Composite Index: 6
  • Economic Capability: 5
  • Military Capability: 5
  • Population Capability: 13
  • Technological Capability: 8
  • Energy Security: 16
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 3

Population: 63,181,775
GDP (nominal): $2.490 trillion
Area: 243,610 km2
Active Military Personnel: 205,330

Note: Once an empire that controlled more than a quarter of the world the UK is still one of the world’s most powerful countries. It ranks third in foreign affairs capability and it has a strong economy along with one of the most powerful militaries in the world.


german flag

  • Composite Index: 7
  • Economic Capability: 4
  • Military Capability: 8
  • Population Capability: 5
  • Technological Capability: 7
  • Energy Security: 21
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 5

Population: 80,585,700
GDP (nominal): $3.593 trillion
Area: 357,021 km2
Active Military Personnel: 182,927

Note: Germany is one of the world’s leading economies with a relatively large population and significant influence in the European Union. 


Flag of India

  • Composite Index: 8
  • Economic Capability: 8
  • Military Capability: 7
  • Population Capability: 2
  • Technological Capability: 17
  • Energy Security: 20
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 11

Population: 1,210,193,422
GDP (nominal): $1.758 trillion
Area: 3,287,590 km2
Active Military Personnel: 1,325,000

Note: India is the second most populous country in the world and the eighth largest military spender. India is also highly ranked in its economic and military capability.


Canadian Flag

  • Composite Index: 9
  • Economic Capability: 10
  • Military Capability: 15
  • Population Capability: 9
  • Technological Capability: 9
  • Energy Security: 3
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 10

Population: 35,158,300
GDP (nominal): $1.825 trillion
Area: 9,984,670 km2
Active Military Personnel: 65,000

Note: Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of size and it is abundant in natural resources. The country has a strong economy and very strong ties with the US and UK.


Israel flag

  • Composite Index: 10
  • Economic Capability: 25
  • Military Capability: 6
  • Population Capability: 17
  • Technological Capability: 4
  • Energy Security: 26
  • Foreign Affairs Capability: 19

Population: 8,051,200
GDP (nominal): $272.737 billion
Area: 22,072 km2
Active Military Personnel: 176,500

Note: Israel has a huge influence in the Middle East region with the strongest military in the area. It is also among one of the world’s most technologically and scientifically progressed countries.


Comprehensive National Power:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Russia
  4. France
  5. Germany
  6. China
  7. Japan
  8. Canada
  9. South Korea
  10. India

Source: Reports on International Politics and Security in the Yellow Book of International Politics by the Social Sciences Center.

The most powerful countries now and in the future:

powerful countries
Power as percentage of global power in 2010.
powerful countries 2025
Power as percentage of global power in 2025.


Looking to 2060: A Global Vision of Long-term Growth:

Over the next century the balance of economic power is predicted to drastically shift. Fast-growing emerging market economies are accounting for an ever-increasing percent of global output, according to research by the OECD.

  1. Exo says

    The size of the territory has nothing to do with power. For exemple, Canada is larger than France or UK in superficie, but less powerful… Russia, Russia… Russia in 2015 is a country with economic decline, a technological overdue, a navy dependent to foreign helicopters carriers (the former Mistral deal, isn’t it embarrassing to buy such a big ships to a western country for the “powerful” red army?)
    Russia is glofied since WW2, but WW2 is the tree that hides a decimated forest. Russia has lost many wars against Napoleon (The French Revolutionary Wars and the firsts Napoleonic Wars, he even took Moscow after his victory at Borodino), Russia has also lost the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War, and WW1 in 1917. A ratio of more defeats than victories, it’s less glorious suddenly…

  2. Exo says

    Italy and Germany are not permanent members of the UN Security Council, they haven’t veto power like the big five (USA, France, UK, Russia, China). Italy and Germany are even not nuclear weapon states, and their military capabilities are less powerful than others EU countries like France or Britain. Only the big five can decide everything for everyone on earth, they also have the power to destroy everyone with their nuclear weapons. That’s why Germany, despite its strong economy, is only #7, and Italy outside the top 10.

  3. Luigi says

    Italy and Germany are part of the 5 members of NATO QUINT (the Directorie of the world: US, UK, Germany, France and Italy) Italy and Germany are one of the seven countries that give more money to the UN also for peacekeeping.

    in what world do you live? Germany and Italy are two great economic powers! .the National wealth and financial wealth are enormous numbers if you compare with the nominal Gdp, GDP :Germany 4 place: $ 3.8 trillion, Italy 8 place: $ 2,1 trillion, National wealth: Germany: $14,1 trillion, Italy: $ 12,5 trillion, Financial Wealth: Germany: € 5,1 trillion, Italy: € 3,9 trillion , that’s why they have a great power in the International Monetary Fund (top 7, Voting power : US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, China and Italy) also Germany and Italy are the second and third largest reserve of gold in the world after US.

    in what world do you live? Germany and Italy do not have atomic bombs?, The most powerful Hydrogen bomb of the USA, the new B61 tested last year, will arrive this year in Germany and Italy to change those oldest and ready for the use, for the new F35 made in Italy, Germany has also modernized its Panavia Tornado . Italy and Germany for more than 50 years who buy American atomic bombs , Italy and Germany are one of the largest manufacturers of weapons, and also Italy has its own intercontinental missiles (Alfa rocket) Britain not have the Technology for making rockets , Britain buy Americans Missiles , Italy and Germany make together the Global satellite navigation system “Galileo” for civil and military use, United kingdom does not have this, France plans to do one but only regionally., You are an ingorant.

  4. Exo says

    My god… if I am ignorant, you, you are totally stupid and frustrated, that why you invent an imaginary world. I live in the real world, not you visibly…

    Germany and Italy have Nuclear bombs because they host the american bombs on their territories ? haha, thanks for this great humoristic moment. Those bombs are americans, and only the americans can decide to use it. The host states cannot arm the bombs without american authorization, and the bombs are under constant and complete custody and control of the United States.

    Germany and Italy don’t have their own nuclear capacity, that why the official nuclear powers are USA, Russia, France, UK, China (the official nuclear weapon states), and the others nuclear nations like India, Pakistan, North Korea, and probably Israel. For americans, Italy and Germany are just a kind of warehouse for their bombs. Welcome to the real world.

    For your others misconceptions, F-35 is an american fighter jet (once again). I’m not sure it’s very honorific to be proud to buy for its army to a foreign state, especially when the plane (F-35) is a conceptual fail. France and Britain are the only two nations of the EU to have a credible projection force all over the world, with the best european navies. The biggest and only nuclear aircraft carrier is from France. And their nuclear submarines can destroy the world from everywhere.

    That why France is ranked #4 in military capability, and Britain #5. And it’s also why Germany is “only” at #8, and I don’t know where is Italy (probably outside of the top 10 once again). For Galileo, it’s a european programme of the ESA. The european agency is led by the french and the germans (economy, political decisions…), and the headquarters are in France, like the launch site (French Guiana), so no, a country like France isn’t a minor state in the Galileo program.

    NATO is a western organisation, it’s not at worldwide dimension like the United Nations. Because Russia and China are not part of NATO, they are less powerful than Italy or Germany ? lol what a joke, another one… UN is the organization where the global diplomacy does the most important decisions to worldwide scale, and only 5 nations can, with their veto power, stopped a decision. Germany and Italy doesn’t part of this Big 5.

    I never said than Germany and Italy wasn’t great powers, they are. But no, those 2 countries are not part of the “5 most powerful countries in the world”, especially when Russia and China are obviously more powerful. That why this national power index put those countries so high. Your criteria are biased, incomplete and false. The power of a nation is judged on various criteria (economy, military, technology, diplomacy, popularity, influence, etc).

    You can stay in your denial of the reality if you want, but nothing and no one can change those facts. Even if you are not agree, Germany, and most especially Italy, haven’t their place in the top 5.

    Deal with it.

  5. Luigi says

    but please in what world do you live? , Ok I explain you…

    Italy has made his own intercontinental Rocket in the 1975 “Alfa Rocket” Instead the UK has bought the American rocket “Polaris”, the Italian rocket contain inside atomic bombs and today all that material is located in La Spezia (north Italy), you think that India, Pakistan and Israel have bombs for free? LOL, if they have it ,Italy and Germany have it too!, oh yes We all know that the bombs are American, like the BritishTrident missile that is made in the USA by the Lockheed Martin . Sorry to disappoint you but in Ghedi (where are the “US Bombs”, the entire staff is Italian and the codes are in custody by ITALIANS hands, and has been so for more than 50 years, these are the facts and not gossip. The same for the Germany.

    I know very well that the F35 is American and is made by Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Alenia of Finmeccanica, Italy has just inaugurated in Cameri (Italy), the first internationally assembly of the F35, Italy is producing the F35 for all European market and will be the logistics center for the whole European market and also for those English , .Also Italy is second only to the US to produce the F35, also Italy will bring the fuel in the air for all F35 including even those Americans.

    Sorry to disappoint you, but the Galileo global satellite system is Italian and German. and will be able to spy Russians and the Chinese as it does the American GPS, Galileo is made by Italian and German companies (Telespazio, Thales Alenia Italy), also Germany and Italy are the major contributors of money to the project also the project has an Italian name the Father of Modern science”Galileo”. there will be only two control centers : Fucino in Italy and Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany , Galileo will be carry into orbit by the Fastest Rocket (The most Fastest of the World ), the Italian Vega Rocket that will be renewed in a new Vega C in 2018. France is planning to build a regional system and the country called United kingdom has nothing !, this is the truth.

    you make me laugh when you talk about the rankings, hahaha those rankings are made by British or Indian charts LOL!, Type 212 submarine are among the most ultra-modern submarines that exist in the world, they are made by Germany & Italy and with the new atomic bombs they will be able to destroy wherever they want. also

    WASS of Finmeccanica is a leading number one worldwide to produce the Torpedoes( and this is truth and no propaganda), Italy has two aircraft carriers, united kingdom 0 France 1, Italy also has the largest shipbuilders of the West the fourth in the world, Fincantieri also builds for the American market.

    Nobody says that 5 big of security council is a group not important, the QUINT NATO is also strong and important ( as you see in the pic) and to choose when it comes to deciding. You make me laugh when you say that the QUINT NATO is not important when more than 75% of the weapons of the world are built by US, UK, France, Italy and Germany(Quint NATO).

    but please do not hate Italy and Germany, Italy founded the Bank of America, the greatest music stars and cinema stars of USA have Italian and German heritage , the most important mayors and governors of US are of Italian heritage, Italian and German food are also very much appreciated in USA. please learn more!.

  6. Law says

    Most important mayors of America are not of German and Italian background. What kind of world do u live in? I agree with the food part but the government part that is a lie. Sorry I know a lot about American government and your statement isn’t true. I found the rest to be true but the American government part that makes me laugh! Luigi your patriotism got in the way of your judgement when you are ready to talk about the real world please reply. Give up the patriotism and talk without clouded judgement.

  7. Law says

    The codes In Italian hands really!? The codes on American bombs change every week. Are you just making this stuff up? The codes are only trusted with the most trusted American officials! Why are u making this stuff up? Take this from a person who studies American government and military.

  8. Abdennour Soutto says

    Hmm…very interesting. You are making it sound like the U.S. and Germany/Italy are enemies of each other. The “host states” are part of NATO, and Germany or Italy can use the bombs if it is declared a matter of international security. They don’t have to wait for American officials to tell them to use the bombs if it is an emergency. And another thing: since when was the F-35 a “conceptual fail”? China actually stole sensitive information about the plane recently. Do you think a country would steal things from a global superpower if it wasn’t worth it? The plane is state-of-the-art, and I doubt you could tell me a better aircraft type. Also, France does have nuclear submarines, but guess what? America has anti-sub torpedoes. It doesn’t matter what type of submarine you have; one well-aimed missile can easily sink it. One last thing; Germany and Italy both have stable economies, great diplomacy, and the backing of NATO forces. They are also somewhat influential on a global scale. Your points are riddled with biasing and are hopeless to try to defend; live on, brother, knowing that Italy and Germany have a considerable amount of power.

  9. Daniel Morales Ruvalcaba says

    World Power Index (WPI) is defined as the numeric expression that expresses the accumulation of national capabilities that has a State to exercise its power in the international system. The WPI is resulting from the addition of 18 indicators, which are themselves organized through three composite indexes:
    – Material Capacities Index (MCI),
    – Semi-Material Capacities Index (SMCI),
    – Immaterial Capacities Index (IMCI).
    The WPI is presented as another quantitative analysis technique, seeks help to overcome the hermeneutics underlying the subjective interpretation of power in international relations. Thus, the IPM contributes to the accurate comparison of national capacities and the study of the international structure.

  10. Joe Smith says

    wrong, fools

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