A republic (Latin: res publica, meaning “public affair”) is a form of government in which the country is considered a "public matter", not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy, or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a hereditary monarch.[1][2][3]

In the context of American constitutional law, the definition of republic refers specifically to a form of government in which elected individuals represent the citizen body[2][better source needed] and exercise power according to the rule of law under a constitution, including separation of powers with an elected head of state, referred to as a constitutional republic[4][5][6][7] or representative democracy.[8]

As of 2017, 159 of the world's 206 sovereign states use the word "republic" as part of their official names – not all of these are republics in the sense of having elected governments, nor is the word "republic" used in the names of all nations with elected governments.

The word republic comes from the Latin term res publica, which literally means "public thing," "public matter," or "public affair" and was used to refer to the state as a whole. The term developed its modern meaning in reference to the constitution of the ancient Roman Republic, lasting from the overthrow of the kings in 509 B.C. to the establishment of the Empire in 27 B.C. This constitution was characterized by a Senate composed of wealthy aristocrats and wielding significant influence; several popular assemblies of all free citizens, possessing the power to elect magistrates and pass laws; and a series of magistracies with varying types of civil and political authority.

Most often a republic is a single sovereign state, but there are also sub-sovereign state entities that are referred to as republics, or that have governments that are described as "republican" in nature. For instance, Article IV of the United States Constitution "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government".[9] In contrast, the former Soviet Union, which described itself as being a group of "Republics" and also as a "federal multinational state composed of 15 republics", was widely viewed as being a totalitarian form of government and not a genuine republic, since its electoral system was structured so as to automatically guarantee the election of government-sponsored candidates.[10]


The term originates from the Latin translation of Greek word politeia. Cicero, among other Latin writers, translated politeia as res publica and it was in turn translated by Renaissance scholars as "republic" (or similar terms in various western European languages).[11]

The term politeia can be translated as form of government, polity, or regime and is therefore not always a word for a specific type of regime as the modern word republic is. One of Plato's major works on political science was titled Politeia and in English it is thus known as The Republic. However, apart from the title, in modern translations of The Republic, alternative translations of politeia are also used.[12]

However, in Book III of his Politics, Aristotle was apparently the first classical writer to state that the term politeia can be used to refer more specifically to one type of politeia: "When the citizens at large govern for the public good, it is called by the name common to all governments (to koinon onoma pasōn tōn politeiōn), government (politeia)". Also amongst classical Latin, the term "republic" can be used in a general way to refer to any regime, or in a specific way to refer to governments which work for the public good.[13]

In medieval Northern Italy, a number of city states had commune or signoria based governments. In the late Middle Ages, writers such as Giovanni Villani began writing about the nature of these states and the differences from other types of regime. They used terms such as libertas populi, a free people, to describe the states. The terminology changed in the 15th century as the renewed interest in the writings of Ancient Rome caused writers to prefer using classical terminology. To describe non-monarchical states writers, most importantly Leonardo Bruni, adopted the Latin phrase res publica.[14]

While Bruni and Machiavelli used the term to describe the states of Northern Italy, which were not monarchies, the term res publica has a set of interrelated meanings in the original Latin. The term can quite literally be translated as "public matter".[15] It was most often used by Roman writers to refer to the state and government, even during the period of the Roman Empire.[16]

In subsequent centuries, the English word "commonwealth" came to be used as a translation of res publica, and its use in English was comparable to how the Romans used the term res publica.[17] Notably, during The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell the word commonwealth was the most common term to call the new monarchless state, but the word republic was also in common use.[18] Likewise, in Polish the term was translated as rzeczpospolita, although the translation is now only used with respect to Poland.

Presently, the term "republic" commonly means a system of government which derives its power from the people rather than from another basis, such as heredity or divine right.[19]

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Республикэ
адыгабзэ: Республик
Afrikaans: Republiek
Alemannisch: Republik
አማርኛ: ሪፐብሊክ
Ænglisc: Cynewīse
العربية: جمهورية
aragonés: Republica
ܐܪܡܝܐ: ܩܘܛܢܝܘܬܐ
asturianu: República
Avañe'ẽ: Tavakuairetã
azərbaycanca: Respublika
تۆرکجه: جومهوریت
Bân-lâm-gú: Kiōng-hô-kok
башҡортса: Республика
беларуская: Рэспубліка
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Рэспубліка
भोजपुरी: रिपब्लिक
български: Република
Boarisch: Republik
bosanski: Republika
brezhoneg: Republik
català: República
Чӑвашла: Республика
Cebuano: Republika
čeština: Republika
Cymraeg: Gweriniaeth
dansk: Republik
Deutsch: Republik
डोटेली: गणतन्त्र
eesti: Vabariik
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Repùblica
español: República
Esperanto: Respubliko
euskara: Errepublika
فارسی: جمهوری
Fiji Hindi: Ganrajya
føroyskt: Forsetaskipan
français: République
Frysk: Republyk
Fulfulde: Ndenndaandi
furlan: Republiche
Gaeilge: Poblacht
Gaelg: Pobblaght
Gàidhlig: Poblachd
galego: República
ГӀалгӀай: Республика
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Khiung-fò-koet
한국어: 공화제
Արեւմտահայերէն: Հանրապետութիւն
हिन्दी: गणराज्य
hornjoserbsce: Republika
hrvatski: Republika
Ilokano: Republika
Bahasa Indonesia: Republik
interlingua: Republica
isiXhosa: I-Republic
íslenska: Lýðveldi
italiano: Repubblica
עברית: רפובליקה
Jawa: Républik
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಗಣರಾಜ್ಯ
къарачай-малкъар: Республика
ქართული: რესპუბლიკა
қазақша: Республика
Kiswahili: Jamhuri
Kreyòl ayisyen: Repiblik
kurdî: Komar
Кыргызча: Республика
Ladino: Repuvlika
Latina: Res publica
latviešu: Republika
Lëtzebuergesch: Republik
lietuvių: Respublika
Limburgs: Rippebliek
lingála: Republíki
lumbaart: Republega
македонски: Република
Malagasy: Repoblika
മലയാളം: ഗണതന്ത്രം
მარგალური: რესპუბლიკა
مصرى: جمهوريه
مازِرونی: جمهوری
Bahasa Melayu: Republik
Mirandés: República
မြန်မာဘာသာ: သမ္မတနိုင်ငံ
Nederlands: Republiek
Nedersaksies: Rippebliek
नेपाली: गणतन्त्र
नेपाल भाषा: गणतन्त्र
日本語: 共和制
Napulitano: Repubbreca
norsk: Republikk
norsk nynorsk: Republikk
Nouormand: Républyique
occitan: Republica
олык марий: Республик
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Respublika
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਗਣਰਾਜ
پنجابی: ریپبلک
Piemontèis: Repùblica
Plattdüütsch: Republiek
polski: Republika
português: República
qırımtatarca: Cumhuriyet
română: Republică
romani čhib: Ketnepen
rumantsch: Republica
Runa Simi: Ripuwlika
русиньскый: Републіка
русский: Республика
саха тыла: Өрөспүүбүлүкэ
Scots: Republic
Seeltersk: Republik
shqip: Republika
sicilianu: Ripùbbrica
Simple English: Republic
سنڌي: ريپبلڪ
slovenčina: Republika
slovenščina: Republika
ślůnski: Republika
Soomaaliga: Jamhuriyadda
کوردی: کۆمار
српски / srpski: Република
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Republika
Sunda: Républik
suomi: Tasavalta
svenska: Republik
Tagalog: Republika
தமிழ்: குடியரசு
Taqbaylit: Tagduda
татарча/tatarça: Җөмһүрият
тоҷикӣ: Ҷумҳурӣ
Türkçe: Cumhuriyet
українська: Республіка
اردو: جمہوریہ
vèneto: Republica
Tiếng Việt: Cộng hòa
Volapük: Repüblikän
文言: 共和
West-Vlams: Republiek
Winaray: Republika
吴语: 共和制
ייִדיש: רעפובליק
粵語: 共和制
Zazaki: Cumhuriyet
žemaitėška: Respoblėka
中文: 共和制