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What is a Military State? All You Need to Know!

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

what is a military state

What is a military state? The definition is a military state is a territory that is governed by the military. It is also important to know the characteristics and examples of a military state. Continue reading to get a complete understanding!

The Definition of Military State

As mentioned earlier in the introduction, a military state is a military-governed territory. And the formal governing body is referred to as a military government.

Now that you have defined “military state,” let’s look at some other aspects and military state facts.

On Wikipedia, a military government is any that is administered by a military force. It does not matter if the government is legal by the laws of the current jurisdiction or if it is formed by natives or an occupying force. The key is that it is done (headed) by military personnel.

The Types of Military Governments


There are a few different types of military governments, as follows:

  • Military Occupation
  • Military Dictatorship
  • Martial Law
  • Military Junta
  • Stratocracy

A loosely related form of government is the fiscal-military state government.

Let’s explore each type in detail!

Type 1: Military Occupation

This type of military government called military occupation is also commonly referred to as belligerent occupation. It is when a territory is acquired, and the ruling power enforces provisional control without claiming formal sovereignty.

The ruling power is the “occupant” and the acquired territory is the “occupied.” The occupant would set up a military “head” to govern the occupied.

  • Note: An occupation is not the same as territorial acquisition by annexation or invasion.

Some examples of occupations are:

  • Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA)
  • Allied-Occupied Germany (1945 to 1949)
  • Indian Occupation of Goa (1961)
  • Indonesian Occupation of the West New Guinea (1963)
  • Turkish Occupation of Northern Cyprus (1974 to Now)
  • Somali Occupation of Ogaden in Ethiopia (1977 to 1978)
  • Indonesian Occupation of East Timor (1975 to 1999)
  • Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara (1975)
  • The United States Occupation of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (1959 to Now)

Type 2: Military Dictatorship

This is when a territory is governed by a single leader and that leader is a military personnel. Often, it is a high ranking military officer. Hence, the military has the ultimate control.

Currently, there are six countries under military dictatorship:

  • Sudan
  • Mali
  • Myanmar
  • Chad
  • Guinea
  • Burkina Faso

Several countries that used to have a military dictatorship are:

  • Algeria (From 1965 to 1976, then from 1992 to 1994, and again in 2019)
  • Burundi (From 1966 to 1974, then from 1976 to 1979, from 1987 to 1992, and 1996 to 2003)
  • Comoros (From 1999 to 2006)
  • Republic of Congo (From 1968 to 1969 and from 1977 to 1979)
  • Ghana (From 1966 to 1969, then from 1972 to 1975, from 1975 to 1979, and from 1981 to 1993)
  • Madagascar (From 1972 to 1976)
  • Cuba (In 1933 and from 1952 to 1959)
  • Paraguay (From 1940 to 1948 and from 1954 to 1989)
  • Bangladesh (From 1975 to 1981, then from 1982 to 1990, and from 2007 to 2009)
  • Pakistan (From 1958 to 1969, then from 1969 to 1971, from 1977 to 1988, and from 1999 to 2008)
  • Bulgaria (From 1923 to 1926, then from 1934 to 1935, and from 1944 to 1946)
  • France (From 1799 to 1814, in 1848, then from 1851 to 1858, and from 1870 to 1871)

Type 3: Martial Law

This is when direct military control is imposed on normal civil functions. Generally, when this happens, civil law by the government is suspended.

A recent example is in Armenia, when the Prime Minister (Nikol Pashinyan) declared martial law during the 2020 Nagorno – Karabakh war. And some earlier examples are:

  • Martial law in China to suppress protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989
  • Martial law in Poland to counter the Solidarity movement from December 1981 to July 1983

Type 4: Military Junta

This is a government that is by a military leaders committee. It is an authoritarian form of government and is often the result of a coup d’état. To name a few examples:

At present, these countries have a military junta:

  • Chad (Since 2021)     – The Transitional Military Council
  • Guinea (Since 2021)     – The National Committee of Reconciliation and Development
  • Mali (Since 2020)     – The National Committee for the Salvation of the People
  • Sudan (Since 2021)

A few past examples are:

  • Egypt (From 2011 to 2021)     – Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
  • Ethiopia (From 1974 to 1987)     – Derg
  • Liberia (From 1980 to 1984)     – People’s Redemption Council
  • Chile (From 1973 – 1990)       – Government Junta
  • Nicaragua (From 1979 to 1985)     – Junta of National Reconstruction
  • Peru (From 1968 – 1980)      
  • South Korea (From 1961 to 1963)     – Supreme Council for National Reconstruction
  • Thailand (From 2006 to 2008)     – Council for National Security
  • Thailand (From 2014 to 2019)     – National Council for Peace and Order
  • Poland (From 1981 to 1983)     – Military Council of National Salvation
  • Portugal (From 1974 to 1975)     – National Salvation Junta
  • Turkey (From 1960 to 1961)     – National Unity Committee
  • Turkey (From 1980 to 1983)     – Council for National Security

Type 5: Stratocracy

This is a government that is headed by a group of military chiefs. There are also governmental branches administered by military forces. But unlike the types of government mentioned above, stratocracy is not necessarily autocratic or oligarchic by nature.

There have been many historical stratocracies, like Sparta’s Diarchy. Ancient Rome is also a distinguished example of a stratocratic state.

Fiscal Military State


This is a state with an economic model that is dependent on its armed forces sustainment. Normally, it is used in times of extended serious conflict. A key characteristic of a fiscal military state is high taxation.

The Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden embroiled in periods of war were arranged as fiscal military states in the past. But today, there are few states that fall under this category. After all, there are not as many big scale international conflicts; the importance of this type of state is no longer pronounced.


As you have read, the answer to, “What is a military state?” is rather simple. Any territory governed by a military force can be called a military state. But a military government comes in several forms. A military state is also not the same as a fiscal military state. The latter is when a state has an economic model that is dependent on the maintenance of its armed forces. There are not a lot of fiscal military states anymore. If you have anything else to share or questions to ask regarding this topic, leave us a comment. We would be very happy to hear from you.

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