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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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Tue, 02 Sep 2014 06:18:45 -0700

... has what he wants in Ukraine. But there's every reason to suspect that his latest successful land grab will only inspire more. Once he has the east and south of Ukraine, why not the whole thing, which Russia has long considered a client state in ...


PJ Media
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:06:23 -0700

After having gobbled up and digested Crimea, Vladimir Putin appears ready for the next course; the establishment of a separate state in southeast Ukraine. The fiction that such a state would be independent of Moscow's control fools no one. But ...


Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:07:30 -0700

After overthrowing the independent, albeit inconsistent, state led by Saddam Hussein, the U.S. was hoping to turn Iraq into a stable client state; one that would be a proxy in regional conflicts, one that would give Iraq's oil away to big oil, one that ...
Foreign Policy (blog)
Sat, 16 Aug 2014 09:39:31 -0700

Novorossiya Is Coming Apart at the Seams. Moscow dreamed of transforming southeastern Ukraine into a client state. But the Kremlin's plans are fraying as Kiev pushes back. BY Anna Nemtsova; AUGUST 15, 2014. Share +. Twitter Facebook Google + ...


Mon, 01 Sep 2014 04:23:31 -0700

Syria was a client-state of the Soviet Union and still comes under the Russian sphere of influence which means the US treads with care. So while the west has been hamstrung in its attempts to develop a clear strategy for Syria, the continued civil war ...
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 ...
The Japan Times
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:48:45 -0700

It is being fought against a peaceful, Russian-speaking people whose only transgression is a desire to be part of the European Union rather than a Russian client state. They even managed to topple a corrupt dictatorship — a task in which the Russian ...
New York Post
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 21:16:38 -0700

Those US sanctions came in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of part of its former client state. The breach affects gigabytes worth of data, including data on executives, according to Bloomberg News, which first reported the hack.

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