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A client state is a state that is economically, politically or militarily subordinate to another more powerful state in international affairs.[1] Types of client states include: satellite state, associated state, puppet state, neo-colony, protectorate, vassal state and tributary state.

Client states in antiquity[edit]

Persia, Greece, and Rome[edit]

Ancient states such as Persia and Greek city-states would create client states by making the leaders of that state subservient. Classical Athens for example forced weaker states into the Delian League and in some cases imposed democratic government on them. One of the most prolific users of client states was Republican Rome[2][3] (e.g. Demetrius of Pharos) which, instead of conquering and then absorbing into an empire, chose to make client states out of those it defeated, a policy which was continued up until the 1st century BC when it became the Roman Empire. The use of client states continued through the Middle Ages as the feudal system began to take hold.

Under the Mongol Empire[edit]

In the 13th century, Korea was overrun by the powerful Mongol Empire. After the treaty in 1260 and invasion of 1270's, Goryeo became a dependency of the Yuan Dynasty.

Ottoman Empire[edit]

19th and 20th centuries[edit]


During the French Revolution and Napoleonic eras, France conquered most of western Europe and established several client states. At first, during the French revolutionary wars these states were erected as republics (the so-called "Républiques soeurs", or "sister republics"). They were established in Italy (Cisalpine Republic in Northern Italy, Parthenopean Republic in Southern Italy), Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands as a republic and a monarchy.

During the First French Empire, while Napoleon and the French army conquered Europe, such states changed, and several new states were formed. The Italian republics were transformed into the Kingdom of Italy under Napoleon's direct rule in the north and the Kingdom of Naples in the south, under Joseph Bonaparte's rule and later under Marshal of the Empire Joachim Murat's rule.

The west bank of the River Rhine was annexed and was a part of the French Empire. Numerous German states, comprising the Confederation of the Rhine, were client states of the French Empire, including the Kingdom of Westphalia, which was controlled by Jerome Bonaparte.

Spain, too, was a client kingdom, following the French invasion of the Iberian Peninsula; as was Poland, then the Duchy of Warsaw.

British Empire[edit]

In the British Empire the Indian Princely States were technically independent (and were technically given their separate independence in 1947, although the Nizam of Hyderabad did not retain his independence from India). Egyptian Independence in 1922 technically ended a British protectorate in Egypt. Sudan and Egypt continued to be governed as Anglo-Egyptian Sudan until Sudanese independence in 1956; Britain also had an interest in Egypt until the Suez Crisis was over. Iraq was made a kingdom in 1932. In each case the economic and military reality did not amount to full independence, but a status where the local rulers were British clients. Similarly in Africa (e.g. Northern Nigeria under Lord Lugard), and Malaya with the Federated Malay States and Unfederated Malay States; the policy of indirect rule.

Nazi Germany[edit]

After France was defeated in the Battle of France, Vichy France was established as a client state of Nazi Germany, which remained as such until 1942 when it was reduced to a puppet government until its liberation in 1944. Germany also established, in its newly conquered Eastern territories, client states including the Slovak Republic and the Independent State of Croatia.

United States[edit]

After 1945 the term was often applied to nations ruled by dictatorships backed openly by either the United States or the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, many Latin American nations such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua until 1979, Cuba until 1959, and Chile under the regime of General Augusto Pinochet were seen as U.S. client states, as the U.S. government had significant influence over the policies of those dictatorships. The term also applied to other authoritarian regimes with close ties to the United States during the Cold War, more appropriately referred to as U.S. proxy states, such as South Vietnam, Indonesia (1966-1998) under Suharto Regime, Iran until 1979, Cambodia under the regime of Lon Nol, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. U.S. - Iran relations under the Shah have been cited as a modern political science case study.[4]

The term might also arguably be used for those states extremely economically dependent on a more powerful nation. The three Pacific ocean countries associated with the United States under the Compact of Free Association (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau) may fall somewhat in this category.

The United States also provides significant political and military backing to the small but strategically important states of Israel, the Republic of China (Taiwan), South Korea, Colombia and Bahrain.


In the late 19th century the Japanese Empire reduced Korea's status to that of a client state. In the early 20th century this was converted to direct rule. Manchukuo in contrast remained a puppet state throughout World War II.

Soviet Union[edit]

Soviet proxy or "client" states included much of the Warsaw Pact nations whose policies were heavily influenced by Soviet military power and economic aid. Other third world nations with Marxist-Leninist governments were routinely criticized as being Soviet proxies as well, among them Cuba following the Cuban Revolution, the People's Republic of Angola, the People's Republic of Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). Within the Soviet Union itself, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR, had seats at the United Nations, but were actually proper Soviet territory.


  1. ^ Michael Graham Fry, Erik Goldstein, Richard Langhorne. Guide to International Relations and Diplomacy. London, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Continuum International Publishing, 2002. Pp. 9.
  2. ^ Herod's Judaea
  3. ^ Collected studies: Alexander and his successors in Macedonia, by Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond,1994,page 257,"to Demetrius of Pharos, whom she set up as a client king
  4. ^ Gasiorowski, Mark US Foreign Policy and the Shah, Cornell University Press, 1991

See also[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Client_state — Please support Wikipedia.
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295 news items

The Guardian

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:26:15 -0700

Assad's close relationship with Iran makes this much worse: Sunni Iraqis hate Iran, which they (correctly) believe is trying to turn Iraq into a Shia-sectarian client state. Sunni support is the foundation of ISIS's power. They've taken pains to reach ...

Breitbart News

Breitbart News
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:25:31 -0700

A client state of Iran. Turkey: Previously a stable, secular Muslim state whose democracy was vouched safe by the military. Now ruled by Muslim Brotherhood-friendly leadership. Strongly aligned with Hamas despite being a member of NATO. Along with ...

Washington Times

Washington Times
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:15:46 -0700

It appears America traded blood and treasure for very little, to create an Iranian client-state in the south, and an Islamic caliphate in the west and, possibly, the north. So long as the Kurds hold out, and their cries find guilty ears in Washington ...

Business Spectator

Business Spectator
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:47:13 -0700

As far as external airlines are concerned, the only one that has made advanced orders for COMAC aircraft are state-owned airlines in Laos, after concerted diplomatic pressure by Beijing was placed on its small client state neighbour. State-owned ...

The Independent

The Independent
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:14:11 -0700

Young people, people of color, and self-identified Democrats increasingly express ill-regard for this war-addled US client state. In July, 51 per cent of respondents aged 18-29 told the firm Gallup they deemed Israel's offensive “unjustified.” Compared ...
Center for Research on Globalization
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:25:00 -0700

“This is the President of the United States of America, and you are the head of a client state—let's not forget that!” he said. “AIPAC should have come to Bibi and said, 'You don't talk to the President the way you do! This is not done, you have to ...
Herald Scotland
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:09:08 -0700

No, Mr Salmond did what he is good at: faux anger, opportunistic abuse and plausibility, all on behalf of the client state whose votes he seeks, winding up his ill-informed supporters into a frenzy of anger, bitterness, resentment, envy, entitlement ...
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:52:30 -0700

Consider it: expensive American military hardware is supplied to a client state (Iraq), said equipment is then commandeered by hostile rebel forces (the Islamic State), all of which requires the pilfered equipment to be both bombed and ultimately ...

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