Unveiling the Dominant 8: Countries That Ruled the World in Past Century

In the past century, eight countries ruled the world; the united states, china, japan, germany, russia, italy, united kingdom, and france. These nations wielded significant political power, military might, and economic influence over the rest of the world, from the early 1900s to the late 1990s.

The united states emerged as the most dominant superpower after world war ii, while china became a prominent player in the latter half of the century. Japan, germany, and russia sought to recover and rebuild after being defeated, with varying degrees of success, while the united kingdom, france, and italy gradually lost their preeminent status.

This article will explore the history of these eight countries and the impact they had on global affairs.

Unveiling the Dominant 8: Countries That Ruled the World in Past Century

Credit: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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The Dominant 8: Who They Are And Why They Matter

Throughout the past hundred years, certain countries have exerted an outsize influence on global affairs. These countries gained their prominence through a combination of military might, economic strength, and political power. Here’s a detailed overview of the eight countries that dominated global affairs in the past century.

United States

  • The united states has the largest economy in the world
  • An unrivaled military, with military bases situated throughout the world
  • A powerful political system that has remained stable for over two centuries

Soviet Union

  • A communist state that emerged after the october revolution of 1917, with goals of establishing a socialist government throughout the world
  • A superpower with a formidable military force that controlled a large part of europe and asia
  • A leader in technological advancements such as space exploration, nuclear weapons, and cybernetics

United Kingdom

  • Dominant imperial power in the 19th and early 20th centuries, controlling territories around the world
  • Inventor of capitalism and industrial revolution, which led to rapid economic expansion
  • A strong military force, with a navy that ruled the seas for centuries


  • A leading military power during wwii that gained huge territories and resources
  • Perpetrator of the holocaust, a crime against humanity
  • One of the leading economies in the world and the largest economy in europe


  • A powerful economic force with companies dominating several sectors throughout the world
  • The aspired leader of asia with a formidable military force that controlled many asian territories during world war ii
  • A leader in technological advancements, especially in electronics and automobile manufacturing


  • A colonial empire with influence and control over territories around the world
  • A strong military force, especially during the napoleonic wars
  • Contributed significantly to artistic and cultural advancements throughout the world


  • A rapidly growing economy, currently the second-largest in the world
  • A massive population and the world’s most populous country
  • A leader in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and e-commerce


  • A longstanding superpower with significant military might and nuclear capabilities
  • A treasured possession of vast territories, making it the largest country in the world
  • A unique political system with a centralized government that spans many years

Each of these countries has had a significant influence on global events in the past century. They have all contributed to shaping the world as we know it and have set the stage for the geopolitical landscape of the future.

America: The Unquestioned Superpower

America has been a global superpower for over a century and is undoubtedly the most influential country in shaping the world’s political landscape. Here we will discuss the three primary areas in which america’s influence can be felt: military, economic, and cultural.

The Role Of The United States In Shaping The Global Political Landscape

Over the past century, the united states has played a significant role in shaping the global political landscape. Key points include:

  • The establishment of the united nations and nato after world war ii. The us was the driving force behind the creation of these organizations, which played a crucial role in maintaining global peace and stability.
  • The us has intervened in international conflicts numerous times, seeking to promote its interests and protect its allies. These interventions have included the korean war, vietnam war, gulf war, and more recently, the wars in iraq and afghanistan.
  • The us government has always maintained close ties with other world powers and played a key role in the cold war against the soviet union.

The Country’S Military, Economic, And Cultural Influence On The World Stage

America’s global influence is not only due to its military and political power but also because of its economy and culture. These are some of the key points:

  • The united states has the largest economy in the world. It is a major player in the global financial market, and the us dollar is the world’s most widely used currency.
  • Hollywood and american music have been popular globally, influencing popular culture worldwide. The impact of american pop culture has been significant, making it the most widely consumed in the world.
  • The united states’ military is the most potent on the planet. It has the largest military budget in the world, and its technological superiority is unparalleled.

The Impact Of The United States’ Foreign Policy Decisions On World Events

The united states’ foreign policy decisions have had a significant impact on international relations, including:

  • The us-led invasion of iraq in 2003, which was based on claims that saddam hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, remains controversial to this day. The aftermath of the invasion led to political instability and civil conflict in the country, contributing to the rise of isis.
  • The us’s decision to withdraw from the paris agreement and the iran nuclear deal generated significant reactions from the international community. These decisions had far-reaching economic, political, and environmental implications for both the us and the world.
  • The us’s ongoing trade dispute with china has had a significant impact on the global economy. The two countries have imposed tariffs on each other’s goods, creating an economic slowdown worldwide.

The united states has been the world’s only superpower for over a century due to its political, economic, and cultural influence. The impact of its military, foreign, and economic policies has a far-reaching impact both globally and domestically. The us’s position as a superpower is unlikely to change anytime soon, and its influence on the world stage remains unchallenged.

China: From Revolution To Global Dominance

China, the world’s most populous country, has been one of the most influential nations in the past century. From the early years of the revolution to today’s global dominance, china’s economic, military, and political trajectory has been nothing short of remarkable.

Let’s take a closer look at how china became a superpower, its place in the international community, and its impact on global trade, diplomacy, and human rights.

The Emergence Of China As A Global Superpower

China’s emergence as a global superpower can be traced back to the communist revolution in 1949. Under the leadership of mao zedong, china isolated itself from the rest of the world and focused on building a self-sufficient economy. However, in the late 1970s, chinese leader deng xiaoping began opening up the country to the rest of the world, leading to significant economic growth.

Today, china is the world’s second-largest economy and has the world’s largest standing army.

  • Since the opening up policy, china has been growing at an average rate of 6% per year.
  • China is the largest trading nation in the world and is a major creditor to many countries.
  • In 2020, china overtook the us as the world’s leading destination for new foreign direct investment.

The Country’S Economic, Military, And Political Trajectory In The Past Century

China’s economic, military, and political trajectory has been nothing short of remarkable. China’s economic rise has been driven by its massive population, which has provided a huge labor force and a potential market for domestic and foreign investors. Meanwhile, the country’s military strength has been bolstered by its increasing economic power, allowing it to invest in modernizing its armed forces.

China’s political power is evident in its permanent seat on the united nations security council and its ability to influence global affairs.

  • The chinese military has the world’s largest standing army and is rapidly modernizing its weapons systems.
  • The chinese population is highly educated and tech-savvy, with over 1 billion internet users.
  • The government has invested heavily in infrastructure, including the development of high-speed rail and new airports.

China’S Impact On Global Trade, Diplomacy, And Human Rights

China’s growing economic, military, and political influence has not been without controversy. The country’s impact on global trade has been significant, with chinese investment in developing countries raising concerns about debt traps and unequal bargaining power. In the realm of diplomacy, china’s growing assertiveness has led to territorial disputes with its neighbors, particularly in the south china sea.

Finally, china’s poor human rights record, including its treatment of ethnic minorities and crackdown on political dissent, has drawn widespread criticism.

  • China’s belt and road initiative, a massive infrastructure development project, has faced criticism for its lack of transparency and perceived attempts to extend chinese influence.
  • China has faced criticism from the international community for its treatment of the uighur minority in xinjiang.
  • As china’s economic and military power grows, its relationships with other global powers, particularly the us, will continue to be a crucial area of focus for global diplomacy.

China’s emergence as a global superpower has been one of the most significant geopolitical shifts of the past century. Its remarkable economic growth and increasing military and political power have changed the balance of power in the world. However, with these changes come significant challenges, including questions about china’s impact on global trade, diplomacy, and human rights.

As china continues to rise on the world stage, it will face increasing scrutiny and pressure to live up to its responsibilities as a global leader.

Russia: The Soviet Legacy And Beyond

With its expansive land and tremendous power, russia has indeed played a major role in shaping the world. In the past century, the country has gone through many changes, including the rise and fall of soviet power. Here are some key points about russia’s involvement in global affairs.

The Rise And Fall Of Soviet Power And Its Impact On Global Affairs

  • The soviet union emerged as a dominant world power after world war ii.
  • The ussr’s global influence was due to its massive military presence, ideological stance, and alliances with other communist countries.
  • The cold war between the us and the ussr shaped international politics for decades and was defined by the arms race, military interventions, and espionage.
  • The collapse of the soviet union in 1991 marked one of the most significant events of the 20th century, leading to the end of the cold war and major restructuring of the global political order.

Russia’S Role In Shaping The Post-Soviet World

  • After the fall of the soviet union, russia’s economy shifted from a planned economy to a market-based economy, albeit with some struggles along the way.
  • Russia’s continuous territorial expansion and expatriate policies impacted former soviet territories like ukraine and georgia, causing strained relations with russia’s neighboring countries and the west.
  • The annexation of crimea in 2014 by russia has intensified geopolitical tensions with the west and led to numerous sanctions against russia.
  • Russia’s continued military intervention in syria has created significant military, diplomatic, and humanitarian complications, further impacting global politics.

The Country’S Military And Political Activities In The Past Century And Their Impact On World Events

  • Throughout the 20th century, russia has made significant contributions to scientific development, space exploration, and arms technology, which has significantly impacted global power relations.
  • The country’s participation in world war i and ii played a decisive role in the outcome of both wars.
  • Russia’s involvement in proxy wars in africa and central america further affected global power dynamics.
  • Russia’s military intervention in neighboring countries and global affairs often receives intense scrutiny and criticism from the international community.

Russia’s military and political activities in the past century have significantly impacted global power dynamics. From the soviet era to modern times, russia continues to play a critical role in shaping world events and international relations.

Japan: From Militarism To Economic Powerhouse

Japan is one of the few countries in the world that transformed itself from a militaristic power to an economic giant within a short span of time. In the past century, japan’s rise as a global economic powerhouse has been nothing short of miraculous.

The country has significantly impacted the world’s trade, technology, and culture, and its influence has been felt in regional and global politics too. Let’s take a closer look at japan’s transformation and its impact on the world under the following subheadings:

An Overview Of Japan’S Transformation From A Militaristic Power To A Global Economic Powerhouse

  • After world war ii, japan’s economy lay in ruins, and it had to rebuild itself. The country underwent a series of structural reforms, including land reform, which laid the foundation for its post-war economic recovery.
  • In the 1960s, japan began to expand its exports and emerged as a leading global exporter of electronic goods and automobiles. Japan’s export-driven economy played a significant role in its journey to becoming a global economic powerhouse.
  • By the 1980s, japan had achieved significant economic growth and had become the world’s second-largest economy, surpassing countries like germany and the united kingdom.
  • Today, japan remains the third-largest economy globally, after the united states and china.

The Country’S Impact On Global Trade, Technology, And Culture

  • Japan has significantly impacted global trade, given that it is a leading exporter of electronic goods, automobiles, and other products.
  • Japanese advancements in technology, such as in robotics and consumer electronics, have had a significant impact globally.
  • In the world of entertainment, japanese popular culture, such as anime, manga, and j-pop, has gained significant popularity worldwide.
  • Japan has also become an important player in the global beauty industry, with many of its skincare and makeup brands gaining an international following.

Japan’S Role In Shaping Regional And Global Politics In The Past Century

  • Japan has played a vital role in the regional politics of east asia, given its proximity to china and the korean peninsula.
  • The country has been an ally of the united states since the end of world war ii, and this relationship has had a significant impact on the global political landscape.
  • Japan has been a member of the united nations since 1956 and has played an active role in international peacekeeping operations.
  • Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution, which renounces war as a means of settling international disputes, has also had a significant impact on regional and global politics.

Japan’s transformation from a militaristic power to a global economic powerhouse has been remarkable. Its impact on the world’s trade, technology, and culture has been immense. Additionally, its role in shaping regional and global politics cannot be ignored. Japan has remained a vital player in international affairs and will likely continue to do so.

Germany: From World War To Economic Titan

Germany is a european country known for its rich history, culture, and innovation. It has experienced significant changes throughout the past century that have impacted the world in various ways. From its involvement in world war i and ii to its transformation as an economic powerhouse in the post-war era, germany’s influence is undeniable.

In this post, we’ll explore germany’s role in shaping global affairs and how it became a significant player in the world economy.

An Overview Of Germany’S Role In World War I And Ii And Its Impact On Global Affairs:

  • Germany’s involvement in world war i led to the deaths of millions of people and significant destruction across europe. The war ended with the treaty of versailles in 1919, which required germany to accept responsibility for the war, disarm, pay heavy reparations, and lose its territories. This led to a political and economic crisis in germany, which gave rise to the nazi party.
  • Under the leadership of adolf hitler, germany’s invasion of poland in 1939 marked the beginning of world war ii. The war lasted six years and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people and the destruction of cities and infrastructure across europe. Germany was ultimately defeated, and the war had a lasting impact on global affairs, shaping the world’s geopolitical landscape into what it is today.

The Country’S Transformation Into An Economic Powerhouse In The Post-War Era:

  • After world war ii, germany was divided into two parts, with the western part forming the federal republic of germany. The country underwent significant reconstruction efforts, with aid from the marshall plan, which helped modernize its economy and infrastructure.
  • By the 1970s, germany’s economy had grown significantly, becoming the third-largest in the world. This was due in large part to its manufacturing industry, which specialized in high-quality, technologically advanced products and services.
  • Today, germany is a thriving economic powerhouse, with one of the highest gdps in the world. Its economy is heavily reliant on its manufacturing sector, which produces products such as automobiles, machinery, and chemicals. It is also a leading exporter, with strong trade relationships with other european countries.

Germany’S Impact On European Politics And The Global Economy:

  • Germany’s leadership role in the european union has been a crucial factor in shaping the continent’s geopolitical landscape. Its strong economy and political influence have enabled it to be a key player in eu decisions and policies, especially in matters related to finance and trade.
  • Germany’s economic success has also had an impact on the global economy. As a member of the g7, germany holds significant influence over the world’s largest economies. Its products and services are in high demand globally, contributing to its strong trade and economic relationships with other countries.
  • However, germany’s economic success has also brought about challenges that have impacted its position in global affairs. For example, its large trade surplus has been criticized internationally for contributing to imbalances in global trade and contributing to economic inequality.

Germany’s trajectory over the past century has been shaped by its involvement in world war i and ii, its transformation as an economic powerhouse in the post-war era, and its impact on european politics and the global economy. Without a doubt, germany is a country worth keeping an eye on as it continues to shape the world’s geopolitical and economic landscape.

United Kingdom: From Empire To Global Influence

The Historical Trajectory Of The British Empire And Its Impact On Global Affairs

The british empire was once the largest empire in history, covering over a quarter of the world’s landmass. The history of the british empire is a story of exploration, conquest, and colonization. Here are the key points:

  • From the 16th to the 19th century, the british empire expanded rapidly, primarily through trade and colonization. Britain established its colonies in america, africa, asia, and australia.
  • The british empire played a crucial role in the industrial revolution, which transformed the global economy. By the mid-19th century, britain was the world’s leading industrial power, producing goods that were in high demand across the globe.
  • During the two world wars, the british empire played a crucial role in defeating germany and its allies. Britain’s military strength and industrial might helped it emerge as a victor in both wars.
  • The decline of the british empire began in the mid-20th century. By the 1960s, many of britain’s colonies had gained independence, leaving the country economically weakened. However, britain remains a member of the commonwealth of nations, a group of former british colonies that maintains close ties with the uk.

The United Kingdom’S Role In Shaping International Politics And Economics In The Past Century

The united kingdom (uk) has played a critical role in shaping international politics and economics in the past century. Here are some key points to consider:

  • The uk is a permanent member of the united nations security council, which gives it significant power in international affairs. The country has also exerted influence through other bodies, such as the g7 and g20.
  • London is one of the world’s leading financial centers, and the uk is the world’s second-largest exporter of services. It has been heavily involved in international trade, first through the british empire and now as a member of the european union.
  • The uk has close ties with the united states, and the two countries have long worked together on numerous political and military issues.
  • The uk was a founding member of the european union (eu), which has had a significant impact on the country’s politics and economics. However, in 2020, the uk left the eu after a referendum in 2016 in which a majority voted to leave in what is widely referred to as “brexit.”

Brexit And Its Impact On The Uk’S Role In Global Affairs

Brexit refers to the uk’s decision to leave the european union. Here are some of the key points to consider regarding its impact on the uk’s role in global affairs:

  • Brexit has created significant uncertainty regarding the uk’s future economic and trade relationships with other countries.
  • The uk’s decision to leave the eu has already led to some negative consequences, such as a shrinking economy and a more isolated position on the world stage.
  • However, brexit supporters argue that it provides the uk with an opportunity to forge its own path and establish stronger trade relationships with other countries outside the eu.
  • The long-term impacts of brexit on the uk’s role in global affairs are unclear. However, it is clear that the country will need to navigate a new and uncertain path as it forges its future relationships with other countries.

France: The Legacy Of Colonialism And Global Diplomacy

France, known for its impressive history and remarkable culture, also has a legacy of colonialism and global diplomacy. The country’s past has had a significant impact on its global political influence, and its role in shaping international institutions cannot be ignored.

An Overview Of France’S Colonial Past And Its Impact On The Country’S Global Political Influence

France’s colonial past dates back to the 16th century when the french empire began expanding rapidly. The empire grew under the reign of napoleon bonaparte, who conquered many european nations and expanded the french territory to overseas colonies. France’s colonies included cambodia, vietnam, laos, algeria, tunisia, and many others.

The french colonialism’s impact on the country’s global political influence has been undeniable. France’s colonial past significantly impacted its economy, and the exploitation of colonies helped the country become an economic powerhouse. However, colonialism also led to controversies and criticisms due to france’s harsh treatment of its colonies.

The Country’S Role In Shaping Global Diplomacy And International Institutions

France’s global influence extends beyond its colonial past. The country is one of the founders of the united nations and has played a crucial role in shaping international diplomacy and institutions. France has also been a prominent member of the european union, and its presence has contributed significantly to the growth and development of the union.

France has also been a pioneer in promoting human rights, democracy, and environmental protection on a global level. The country has initiated many international agreements and treaties, such as the paris climate agreement, to address global issues.

France’S Military And Economic Activities In The Past Century And Their Impact On World Events

In the last century, france has played an active role in shaping world events through its military and economic activities. The country had an active role in world war i and ii, and its military presence has been crucial in many conflicts worldwide.

France also possesses nuclear weapons and is one of the world’s leading military powers.

France has also been an economic powerhouse, contributing significantly to the global economy. The country has a diversified economy, and its sectors, such as tourism, technology, and aerospace, have strongly influenced global markets. France’s involvement in g7, g20, and other international organizations has helped in shaping the global economic policies.

France’s legacy of colonialism, global diplomacy, military, and economic activities has had a significant impact on world events. The country’s role in shaping international institutions, promoting human rights, and protecting the environment cannot be overemphasized. France remains a crucial player in the political and economic landscapes and serves as a prime example of a country that has both a remarkable history and a promising future.

Frequently Asked Questions For 8 Countries That Ruled The World In Past Century

What Are The 8 Countries That Ruled The World In The Past Century?

The eight countries that ruled the world in the past century are the united states, china, japan, the united kingdom, germany, france, russia, and india.

How Did These Countries Gain Power?

These countries gained power through various means such as colonization, industrialization, technology, and politics. Some gained power through military conquest while others through economic might.

Is It Possible For Other Countries To Challenge Them?

Yes, it is possible for other countries to challenge their power. Emerging superpowers such as brazil, south africa, and south korea pose challenges to the current power structures.

How Has The Balance Of Power Shifted?

The balance of power has shifted over time, with some countries losing their grip on power while others rise. For example, the united states has been a dominant power since world war ii, while the soviet union, which was once a superpower, has dissolved.

What Impact Did These Countries Have On The World?

The impact of these superpowers has been massive on the world, ranging from economic dominance and political influence to cultural and technological advancements. They have shaped the world order and continue to do so to this day.


It is fascinating to explore the rise and fall of empires throughout history. While each of these eight countries – great britain, usa, china, japan, russia, germany, france, and spain – enjoyed their respective golden ages, their power waned due to various reasons.

Some of the factors that led to their decline include economic instability, political corruption, and military defeats. However, the legacy left by these nations continues to shape the world we live in today. From the spread of the english language to the advances in technology and art, the influence of these countries can still be felt across the globe.

As we look to the future, it is worth considering what lessons we can learn from these past empires to ensure the sustainability and success of our own societies.

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