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A Dictatorship is a type of government ruled by one person, who is either self-appointed or uses a lesser elected position to claim greater power.


The term is taken from a Roman title, Dictator, that was often given to a military leader who served as supreme commander of forces in the Roman Republic, usually only appointed during a time of war. This precedent changed with the appointment of Julius Caesar as "dictator for life" by the Roman Senate before he was assassinated by members of the same body.

A dictatorship is often also an Empire, but they are not always interchangeable. Often a dictatorship will try to put up the front of a representative-type of government, using the term "republic" when referring to itself. Dictatorships can rise in a variety of ways, including a military figure seizing control in a coup d'état, a legitimately elected leader declaring absolute power, or a leader using an emergency to declare martial law and then never rescending the emergency powers. "Banana Republic" is a slang term for many small dictatorships that arose in tropical areas like the Caribbean.

Because of the ease with which one dictator can be overthrown by another, many Dictators are very paranoid, leading to bloody purges of potential rivals.

How a dictatorship is managed can vary widely, from having the dictator micromanage everything himself to being run by an inner circle of loyal followers to having all of the trappings of fully functional republic (with the dictator always having the final say on political matters).

Dictatorships are very common, and the ease with which they can come into power means that many countries (modern and ancient) could be classified as dictatorships.

Historical Examples


  • Julius Caeser
  • Saddam Hussein
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Ferdinand Marcos
  • Benito Mussolini
  • Kim Jong Un
  • Vladimir Putin


  • Nazi Germany
  • North Korea
  • Republic of Iraq
  • Republic of the Philippines
  • Fascist Italy
  • Argentine Republic

Fictional Examples