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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 its liberation in 1944. The Slovak Republic also served under Germany during the same period.

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 (1966-2001) under Suharto Regime, Iran until 1979, Cambodia under the regime of Lon Nol, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. A good case study of client state building is the U.S. - Iran relations under the Shah.[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 small, but strategic states. Israel, the Republic of China (Taiwan), South Korea, Colombia and Bahrain are good examples.


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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The American Conservative
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:47:13 -0700

It may be not be “our job” to question what a client state does, but that doesn't really explain why Paul won't do it. When the U.S. is implicated in the actions of the client because it chooses to subsidize the client, it would seem entirely ...
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:00:00 -0700

1 U.S. ally in the region, Israel knows it has license to do whatever it deems necessary to defend itself, just as long as it presents its lies to the world in the same language and narrative as a client state for the U.S.. It is the bigger U.S. lies ...


Eurasia Review
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:11:15 -0700

In addition, an aspect of the outcome of Sisi's negotiation with Hamas — which was simply to hand Hamas terms of cessation of hostility approved by Israel — is simply to position Egypt as a client state of Israel. And that must be, for all Egyptians ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:29:11 -0700

Mr. Fidell, who said he is handling the case without charging his client, declined to discuss most details about his client's state of mind now that he has returned to active Army duty in Texas. "Sgt. Bergdahl is deeply grateful to President Obama for ...

The Nation. (blog)

The Nation. (blog)
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:00:00 -0700

Three hot wars are underway and the United States has a client state in each of them. Civil wars in the Ukraine and Iraq plus Israel's invasion of Gaza give Washington's armchair generals fresh opportunity to scold President Obama for his reluctance to ...

FrontPage Magazine

FrontPage Magazine
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:35:03 -0700

And so Egypt, formerly a US client state, decided to humiliate him. A highly unusual security check that US Secretary of State John Kerry and his senior aides were subjected to at the presidential palace in Cairo before meeting Egyptian President Abdul ...
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:02:40 -0700

Renisha McBride FILE- In this undated file photo is the cover of a funeral program showing 19-year-old Renisha McBride from a service in Detroit. Jury selection started Monday, July 21, 2014 in a trial that will put gunman Theodore Wafer's self-defense ...


Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:00 -0700

The states of the old Confederacy, where slavery has been revived, are a client state of the Third Reich. Germany has colonies on the moon and Mars. The complicated plot, which involves multiple view point characters, concerns the forementioned man who ...

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