AskDefine | Define confederation

Dictionary Definition



1 the state of being allied or confederated [syn: alliance]
2 a union of political organizations [syn: confederacy, federation]
3 the act of forming an alliance or confederation [syn: alliance]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A union or alliance of states or political organizations.
  2. The act of forming an alliance.


union or alliance of states

Extensive Definition

A confederation is a group of empowered states or communities, usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution. Confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign affairs, foreign trade, and a common currency, with the central government being required to provide support for all members. A confederation, in modern political terms, is usually limited to a permanent union of sovereign states for common action in relation to other states. The main differences with a federation are: (1) No real direct powers: many confederal decisions are externalised by member-state legislation. (2) Decisions on day-to-day-matters are not taken by simple majority but by special majorities or even by consensus or unanimity (veto for every member). (3) Changes of the constitution, usually a treaty, require unanimity.
The nature of the relationship between the entities constituting a confederation varies considerably. Likewise, the relationship between the member states and the central government, and the distribution of powers among them, is highly variable. Some looser confederations are similar to international organizations, while tighter confederations may resemble federations.
In a non-political context, confederation is used to describe a type of organization which consolidates authority from other semi-autonomous bodies. Examples include sports confederations or confederations of Pan-European trades unions.
The noun confederation refers to the process of (or the event of) confederating; i.e., establishing a confederation (or by extension a federation). In Canada, Confederation generally refers to the British North America Act, 1867 which initially united four colonies of British North America (Province of Upper Canada, Province of Lower Canada, Province of New Brunswick and Province of Nova Scotia), and to the subsequent incorporation of other colonies and territories. Despite this use of the word "confederation", Canada is a federal state.

List of entities considered to be confederations

Note that historical confederations, especially those predating the 20th century, may not fit the current definition of a confederation, may be proclaimed as a federation but be confederal, and may not show any qualities that are today recognized as those of a federation.


Historic confederations

Some have more the characteristics of a personal union, but they are still listed here because of their own self-styling.

Fictional confederations

See also


Sources and external links

confederation in Bosnian: Konfederacija
confederation in Bulgarian: Конфедерация
confederation in Catalan: Confederació
confederation in Czech: Konfederace
confederation in Welsh: Conffederasiwn
confederation in Danish: Konføderation
confederation in German: Staatenbund
confederation in Estonian: Konföderatsioon
confederation in Spanish: Confederación
confederation in French: Confédération (organisation politique)
confederation in Galician: Confederación
confederation in Korean: 국가연합
confederation in Croatian: Konfederacija
confederation in Indonesian: Konfederasi
confederation in Italian: Confederazione
confederation in Hebrew: קונפדרציה
confederation in Lithuanian: Konfederacija
confederation in Macedonian: Конфедерација
confederation in Dutch: Confederatie
confederation in Japanese: 国家連合
confederation in Norwegian: Konføderasjon
confederation in Norwegian Nynorsk: Konføderasjon
confederation in Polish: Konfederacja
confederation in Portuguese: Confederação
confederation in Romanian: Confederaţie
confederation in Russian: Конфедерация
confederation in Serbian: Конфедерација
confederation in Serbo-Croatian: Konfederacija
confederation in Finnish: Valtioliitto
confederation in Swedish: Konfederation
confederation in Turkish: Konfederasyon
confederation in Ukrainian: Конфедерація
confederation in Chinese: 邦联制

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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