A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests. A superpower is traditionally considered to be a step higher than a great power.

Alice Lyman Miller (Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School), defines a superpower as "a country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, and sometimes, in more than one region of the globe at a time, and so may plausibly attain the status of global hegemony."

It was a term first applied in 1944 to the British Empire, the Soviet Union and the United States of America. Following World War II, as the British Empire transformed itself into the Commonwealth and its territories became independent, the Soviet Union and the United States generally came to be regarded as the only two superpowers, and confronted each other in the Cold War.

After the Cold War, only the United States appeared to fulfill the criteria to be considered a world superpower. The term "second superpower" has been applied by scholars to the possibility that the People's Republic of China could soon emerge as a superpower on par with the United States. Brazil, the European Union, and India are also thought to have the potential of achieving superpower status within the 21st century. A few heads of states, politicians and news analysts claim that Russia may have already reclaimed that status.

Some people doubt the existence of superpowers in the post Cold War era altogether, stating that today's complex global marketplace and the rising interdependency between the world's nations has made the concept of a superpower an idea of the past and that the world is now multipolar.

Read more about Superpower:  Terminology, Characteristics, Cold War, Post Cold War, Potential Superpowers

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Famous quotes containing the word superpower:

    Even one billion Chinese do not a superpower make.
    John Lukacs (b. 1924)