China catching up with the US, India on Russia's heels. Poland's power is growing

There are no surprises atop the ranking: the most powerful country is the US, which has 16.22 points from the total 100 points. China holds the second spot with 12.49 points (this is currently the largest world economy according to the purchasing power parity). Russia is third with 5.25 points and India fourth with 4.24 points. Rounding up the top ten are Germany, Great Britain, France, Japan, Brazil and Canada. The first four countries in the ranking are well ahead of the rest because of the size of their territory, the size of their armies (in absolute terms) and size of their economies. Interestingly, some of the countries make up for these shortcomings with other factors, such as the proportion of their GDP spent on the army, as well as diplomacy and alliances.

State Power Index, 1991-2016

Source: Own calculations

At the other end, the weakest countries in the world, ranked 160/168 and below are: Liberia, Swaziland, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Bhutan, Antigua and Barbados, Comoro Islands and Micronesia.

Poland is in the 27th place among 168 country with 0.65 points, trailing Thailand, Sweden and Malaysia. Right behind Poland we find Israel, Argentina and Norway. Interestingly, in 1991, or two years after the start of the political transition and four years after the economic changes, our country held the 35th spot in the world in terms of power. The main reasons for this was the uncompetitive economy, low accumulation of capital and shifting military alliances. Positive changes in the following years allowed Poland to advance eight places. In 2016, the valued of the state power index in Poland rose by 0.11 points compared to 1991. This was more than the average rise in those years (on average, state power in fact slipped by 0.01 points).

Poland is a neighbour of the third most powerful country in the world—Russia, No. 5 Germany, No. 31 Ukraine, No. 68 Czech Republic, No. 96 Belarus, No. 96 Slovakia and No. 117 Lithuania. Poland is the sixth most power country in the EU, ahead of the likes of the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium. Meanwhile, Hungary is in the 21st place in the EU.

Compared to France and Germany, Poland’s potential is a quarter and a fifth their potential, respectively, which is still better than in 1991, when the potential of those states was eight times higher. While in the years 1991-2016, the power rise of France and Germany was negative (Germany fell by 1.64 points and France by 0.84), Poland’s power grew by 0.11 points. This rise is associated with the equalisation of the economic backwardness from the communist era and economic growth in the last decades, along with maintaining high military expenditures, both in nominal terms, as well as a proportion of GDP, and having a large army.

In 1991-2026, China saw the biggest rise in power in the world—by 6.59 points, followed by India (1.65 points) and Iraq (0.3 points). Angola (0.28 points) had the fourth-highest growth, slightly ahead of Egypt (0.27 points), Uruguay (0.27 points) and Australia (0.26 points). Poland was the 21st in terms of its rise in power. We are in line with North Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam. Hungry are in the 146th spot (a fall of 0.14 points).

In the considered period of time, 46 countries experienced a drop of their power index. They included Liberia, Israel, Syria, South Africa Greece (a fall of 0.21 points), Great Britain and Russia, along with Western European countries (excluding Germany, France, Austria and Denmark).