Federal republic

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A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government.[1] At its core, the literal meaning of the word republic when used to reference a form of government means: "a country that is governed by elected representatives and by an elected leader (such as a president) rather than by a king or queen".

In a federal republic, a division of powers exists between the federal government and the government of the individual subdivisions. While each federal republic manages this division of powers differently, common matters relating to security and defense, and monetary policy are usually handled at the federal level, while matters such as infrastructure maintenance and education policy are usually handled at the regional or local level. However, views differ on what issues should be a federal competence, and subdivisions usually have sovereignty in some matters where the federal government does not have jurisdiction. A federal republic is thus best defined in contrast to a unitary republic, whereby the central government has complete sovereignty over all aspects of political life. This more decentralized structure helps to explain the tendency for more populous countries to operate as federal republics.[2] Most federal republics codify the division of powers between orders of government in a written constitutional document.

The political differences between a federal republic and other federal states, especially federal monarchies under a parliamentary system of government, are largely a matter of legal form rather than political substance, as most federal states are democratic in structure if not practice with checks and balances. However, some federal monarchies, such as the United Arab Emirates are based upon principles other than democracy.


Country Official name and style Administrative divisions Form of government
 Argentina Argentine Republic Provinces (23) and autonomous city (1) Presidential system
 Austria[3] Republic of Austria States (9) Parliamentary republic
 Bosnia and Herzegovina[4] Bosnia and Herzegovina Entities (2) and self-governing district (1) Parliamentary republic
 Brazil[5] Federative Republic of Brazil States (26) and federal district (1) Presidential system
 Comoros Union of the Comoros Autonomous islands (3) Presidential system
 Ethiopia[6] Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Regions (10) and chartered cities (2) Parliamentary republic
 Germany[7] Federal Republic of Germany States (16) Parliamentary republic
 India[8] Republic of India States (28) and union territories (8) Parliamentary republic
 Iraq Republic of Iraq Governorates (19) Parliamentary republic
 Mexico[9] United Mexican States States (31) and autonomous entity (1) Presidential system
 Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia States (4) Presidential system
   Nepal[10] Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal Provinces (7) Parliamentary republic
 Nigeria[11] Federal Republic of Nigeria States (36) and federal territory (1) Presidential system
 Pakistan[12] Islamic Republic of Pakistan Provinces (4), autonomous territories (2) and federal territory (1) Parliamentary republic
 Russia[13] Russian Federation Federal subjects (85) Semi-presidential system
 Somalia Federal Republic of Somalia Federal member states (5) Parliamentary republic
 South Sudan Republic of South Sudan States (10), administrative areas (2) and area with special administrative status (1) Presidential system
 Sudan Republic of the Sudan States (18) Provisional government
  Switzerland[14] Swiss Confederation Cantons (26) Parliamentary republic
 United States[15] United States of America States (50) and federal district (1) Presidential system
 Venezuela[16] Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela States (23) and capital district (1) Presidential system


Country Official name and style Period of federal form of government Administrative divisions
 Dutch Republic Republic of the Seven United Netherlands 1581–1795 Provinces
Valais Republic of the Seven Tithings 1613–1798
 Gran Colombia Republic of Colombia 1819–1831
Federal Republic of Central America Federal Republic of Central America 1823–1838
Granadine Confederation Granadine Confederation 1858–1863
United States of Colombia United States of Colombia 1863–1886 States
Republic of China Republic of China 1912–1928 Provinces
Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus 1917–1922 Republics
 Weimar Republic German Reich 1919–1933 States
 East Germany German Democratic Republic 1949–1952 States
 Soviet Union[a] Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1922–1991 Republics
 Yugoslavia[17] Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (1945–1963)
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1963–1992)
1945–1992 Republics
 Serbia and Montenegro Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1992–2003 Constituent republics
 Burma Union of Burma 1948–1962 States
 Indonesia Republic of the United States of Indonesia 1949–1950[b] States
 Cameroon Federal Republic of Cameroon 1961–1972
 Czechoslovak Socialist Republic[17] Czechoslovak Republic (1948–1960)
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1960–1990)
1969–1990 Republics
Czech and Slovak Federative Republic Czech and Slovak Federative Republic 1990–1992 Republics

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Nominally a federal union of multiple national republics; in practice its government and economy were highly centralized until its final years.
  2. ^ The states lived on until a final treaty in 1956 in which Republic of South Maluku and the State of Eastern Sumatra agreed to devolve into the Republic of Indonesia.
  1. ^ "republic".
  2. ^ Forum of Federations: [1], Schram, Sanford. Handbook of Federal Countries: United States, pg 373–391, 2005.
  3. ^ CIA World Factbook: Austria, 14 May 2009
  4. ^ CIA World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina, 14 May 2009
  5. ^ CIA World Factbook: Brazil, 14 May 2009
  6. ^ CIA World Factbook: Ethiopia, 14 May 2009
  7. ^ CIA World Factbook: Germany, 14 May 2009
  8. ^ CIA World Factbook: India, 14 May 2009
  9. ^ CIA World Factbook: Mexico, 14 May 2009
  10. ^ CIA World Factbook: Nepal, 14 May 2009
  11. ^ CIA World Factbook: Nigeria, 14 May 2009
  12. ^ CIA World Factbook: Pakistan, 14 May 2009
  13. ^ "Text of the Russian constitution in English". Constituteproject.org.
  14. ^ CIA World Factbook: Switzerland, 14 May 2009
  15. ^ CIA World Factbook: United States, 14 May 2009
  16. ^ CIA World Factbook: Venezuela, 14 May 2009
  17. ^ a b "The CIA World Factbook officially dated October 15, 1991". Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2011-02-05.