National power

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This article is about the political term. For the former energy company, see National Power.

National power is defined as the sum of all resources available to a nation in the pursuit of national objectives.[1]

Elements of national power[edit]

National power stems from various elements, also called instruments or attributes; these may be put into two groups based on their applicability and origin - "national" and "social".[2]

  • National:
    • Geography
    • Resources
    • Population
  • Social:
    • Economic
    • Political
    • Military
    • Psychological
    • Informational


Important facets of geography such as location (geography), climate, topography, and size play major roles in the ability of a nation to gain national power. Location has an important bearing on foreign policy of a nation. The relation between foreign policy and geographic location gave rise to the discipline of geopolitics.

The presence of a water obstacle provided protection to nation states such as Great Britain, Japan, and the USA and allowed Japan to follow isolationist policies. The presence of large accessible seaboards also permitted these nations to build strong navies and expand their territories peacefully or by conquest. In contrast, Poland, with no obstacle for its powerful neighbours, even lost its independence as a nation, being partitioned among the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria from 1795 onwards till it regained independence in 1918.

Climate affects the productivity of Russian agriculture as the majority of the nation is in latitudes well north of ideal latitudes for farming. Conversely, Russia's size permitted it to trade space for time during the Great Patriotic War.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Instruments of national power." in US NATO Military Terminology Group (2010). JP 1 (02) "Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms", 2001 (As amended through 31 July 2010) (PDF). Pentagon, Washington: Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Department of Defense. p. 229. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Jablonsky, David (2010). "Ch. 9 - "National power"". In Bartholomees (Jr), J. Boone,. The U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues (Vol 1) : Theory of War and Strategy (4/ed). Carlisle, Pennsylvania: U.S. Army War College. p. 126. ISBN 1-58487-450-3. Retrieved 12 September 2010.