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Communist states

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Communist states

The following is a list of self-declared socialist countries — that is to say, past and present countries which have declared themselves to be socialist or in the process of building socialism. Self-identification is the only criterion used by the list. Therefore, all countries that claimed to be socialist are included, even if their claims are disputed. All countries that did not claim to be socialist are excluded, even in cases where those countries were considered socialist by certain outside observers.

The majority of self-declared socialist countries have been Marxist–Leninist states inspired by the example of the Soviet Union. They share a common definition of "socialism" and they refer to themselves as socialist states on the road to communism. For this reason, they are generally called "communist states" by Western sources (although they do not use that name for themselves). Meanwhile, the countries in the Non-Marxist–Leninist category represent a wide variety of different interpretations of the word "socialism." In many cases, they do not define what they mean by it.

A sovereign state is a different entity from the political party which rules that state at any given time. Thus, a country may be ruled by a socialist political party but without the country itself claiming to be socialist. This has occurred in both single-party and multi-party political systems. In particular, there are numerous cases of democratic socialist political parties winning elections in liberal democratic states and ruling for a number of terms until a different party wins the elections. For example, the Swedish Social Democratic Party has won most elections in Sweden since 1945, but the country never adopted socialism as its official ideology. This article does not list countries that do not have constitutional references to socialism, even in cases where those countries happen to be governed by socialist parties for a certain period of time.

On the other hand, countries that do maintain constitutional references to socialism are always listed, even when those countries are ruled by non-socialist political parties. For example, India is a liberal democracy that has been ruled by non-socialist parties on many occasions, but it is listed here because the Indian constitution makes references to socialism.

Marxist–Leninist Countries


Country Since Party Head of party Head of state Head of government
 People's Republic of China 1 October 1949 Communist Party of China Xi Jinping
(since 2012)
Li Keqiang
(since 2012)
 Republic of Cuba 1 July 1961 Communist Party of Cuba Raúl Castro
(since 2006)
 Lao People's Democratic Republic 2 December 1975 Lao People's Revolutionary Party Choummaly Sayasone
(since 2006)
Thongsing Thammavong
(since 2010)
 Socialist Republic of Vietnam 2 July 1976 Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong
(since 2011)
Truong Tan Sang
(since 2011)
Nguyen Tan Dung
(since 2006)


Country Full name From Until Constitutional
 Afghanistan Democratic Republic of Afghanistan 27 April 1978 30 November 1987 Preamble: "In the present stage, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, as the initiator and coordinator of the policy of National Reconciliation, actively carries forward together with other political, national and democratic forces this humanitarian policy."[1]
Republic of Afghanistan 30 November 1987 28 April 1992
 Albania Democratic Government of Albania 29 November 1944 11 January 1946 Section 1, Article 1: "The People's Socialist Republic of Albania is a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which expresses and defends the interests of all the working people.[2]
People's Republic of Albania 11 January 1946 28 December 1976
People's Socialist Republic of Albania 28 December 1976 22 March 1992
 Angola People's Republic of Angola 11 November 1975 27 August 1992 Section 1, Article 2: "All sovergenity is vested in the Angolan people. The MPLA, their legitimate representative constituted from a broad front including all patriotic forces engaged in the anti-imperialist struggle, is responsible for the political, economic, and social leadership of the nation."[3]
 Benin People's Republic of Benin 30 November 1975 1 March 1990 Legally a socialist state
 Bulgaria People's Republic of Bulgaria 15 September 1946 7 December 1990 Section 1, Article 1: ""The People's Republic of Bulgaria is a socialist state of the working people from town and village, headed by the working class."[4]
Cambodia Democratic Kampuchea 17 April 1975 10 January 1979 Legally a socialist state from 1979 to 1989, ruled by a communist party from 1975 to 1989
People's Republic of Kampuchea 10 January 1979 1 May 1989
Congo-Brazzaville People's Republic of the Congo 3 January 1970 15 March 1992 Presidential oath: "I swear allegiance to the Congolese people, to the Revolution and to the Congolese Labor Party. I Shall undertake, while guided by Marxist–Leninist principles, [...] to devote all my strength to the triumph of the proletarian ideals"[5]
 Czechoslovakia Czechoslovak Republic 9 June 1948 11 July 1960 Section 1, Article 1: "The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic is a socialist state founded on the firm alliance of the workers, farmers and intelligentsia, with the working class as its head."[6]
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic 11 July 1960 29 March 1990
 Ethiopia Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia 28 June 1974 22 February 1987 Country declared Marxist–Leninist in 1974, the Workers' Party of Ethiopia becoming "the formulator of the country's development process and the leading force of the state and in society" in 1987.[7]
People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia 22 February 1987 27 May 1991
 East Germany German Democratic Republic 7 October 1949 3 October 1990 Section 1, Article 1: "The German Democratic Republic is a socialist state of workers and peasants. It is the political organization of the working people of town and country under the leadership of the working class and its Marxist–Leninist party."[8]
 Hungary People's Republic of Hungary 20 August 1949 23 October 1989 Section 1, Article 2: "The Hungarian People's Republic is a socialist state."[9]
 North Korea Democratic People's Republic of Korea 9 September 1948 19 February 1992[10] Section 1, Article 1: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is an independent socialist state representing the interests of all the Korean people."[11]
 Mongolia Mongolian People's Republic 24 November 1924 12 February 1992 Section 1, Article 2: "The Mongolian People's Republic is state which exists and is developing in the form of people's democracy."[12]
 Mozambique People's Republic of Mozambique 25 June 1975 1 December 1990 Section 1, Article 2: "power belongs to the workers and peasants united and led by FRELIMO and organs of people's power."[13]
 Poland People's Republic of Poland 28 June 1945 19 July 1989 Section 1, Article 1: "The Polish People's Republic is a socialist state."[14]
 Romania Romanian People's Republic 30 December 1947 21 August 1965 Section 1, Article 3: "The leading force of society in the Socialist Republic of Romania is the Romanian Communist Party."[15]
Socialist Republic of Romania 21 August 1965 21 December 1989
 Somalia Somali Democratic Republic 21 October 1976 26 January 1991 Section 1, Article 1: "The Somali Democratic Republic is a socialist state led by the working class, and is an integral part of the Arab and African entities."[16]
 Soviet Union Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 30 December 1922 26 December 1991 Section 1, Article 1: "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a socialist state of the whole people, expressing the will and interests of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, the working people of all the nations and nationalities of the country."[17]
 North Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam 2 September 1945 30 April 1975 Section 2, Article 9: "The Democratic Republic of Vietnam is advancing step by step from people's democracy to socialism by developing and transforming the national economy along socialist lines, transforming its backward economy into a socialist economy with modern industry and agriculture and an advanced science and technology."[18]
 South Yemen People's Democratic Republic of Yemen 30 November 1967 22 May 1990 Section 1, Article 3: "The Yemeni Socialist Party, armed with the Scientific Socialism theory, is the leader and guide of society and state."[19]
 Yugoslavia Democratic Federal Yugoslavia 29 November 1943 29 November 1945 Section 1, Article 2: "The socialist system in Yugoslavia is based on relations between people acting as free and equal producers and creators, whose work serves exclusively to satisfy their personal and common needs."[20]
Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia 29 November 1943 7 April 1963
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 7 April 1963 27 April 1992


Current countries with constitutional references to socialism

Country Since Form of government Constitutional
 People's Republic of Bangladesh 11 April 1971 Multi-party system Preamble: "Further pledging that it shall be a fundamental aim of the State to realise through the democratic process to socialist society, free from exploitation-a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice, political, economic and social, will be secured for all citizens;"[21]
 Cooperative Republic of Guyana 6 October 1980 Multi-party system Preamble: "Convinced that the organisation of the State and society on socialist principles is the only means of ensuring social and economic justice for all of the people of Guyana; and, therefore, being motivated and guided by the principles of socialism"[22]
 Republic of India 15 August 1947 Multi-party system Preamble: "We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a one Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:"[23]
 Democratic People's Republic of Korea 19 February 1992 One-party system Preamble: "The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the socialist motherland of Juche, which has applied the idea and leadership of the great leader Comrade Kim Il-Sung."[24]
 Portuguese Republic 2 April 1976 Multi-party system Preamble: "The Constituent Assembly affirms the Portuguese people’s decision to [...] ensure the primacy of a democratic state based on the rule of law and open up a path towards a socialist society,"[25]
 Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka 7 September 1978 Multi-party system Preamble: "[...] to constitute Sri Lanka into a democratic socialist republic whilst ratifying the immutable republican principles of representative democracy, and assuring to all peoples freedom, equality, justice, fundamental human rights and the independence of the judiciary"[26]
 United Republic of Tanzania 26 April 1964 Multi-party system Section 1, Article 3: "The United Republic is a democratic, secular and socialist state which adheres to multi-party democracy".[27]


Country Full name From Until Constitutional
 Algeria People's Democratic Republic of Algeria 8 September 1963 23 February 1989 Preamble: "the democratic and popular Algerian Republic will direct its activities toward the construction of the country in accordance with the principles of socialism"[28]
 Burma Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma 2 March 1962 23 September 1988 Chapter XVI General Provisions: "In order to overcome this deterioration and to build Socialism, the Revolutionary Council of the Union of Burma assumed responsibility as a historical mission, adopted the Burmese Way to Socialism, and also formed the Burma Socialist Programme Party."[29]
 Egypt Republic of Egypt 22 July 1957 22 February 1958 Preamble: "The Arab Republic of Egypt is a democratic, socialist state based on the alliance of the working forces of the people."[30]
United Arab Republic 22 February 1958 2 September 1971
Arab Republic of Egypt 2 September 1971 26 March 2007
 Iraq Republic of Iraq 17 July 1968 9 April 2003 Chapter 1, Article 1: "Its [the country's] basic objective is the realization of one Arab State and the build-up of the socialist system."[31]
 Libya Libyan Arab Republic 1 September 1969 2 March 1977 Section 1, Article 6: "The aim of the state is the realization of socialism through the application of social justice which forbids any form of exploitation."[32]
Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 2 March 1977 23 October 2011
 Sudan Democratic Republic of Sudan 8 May 1973 10 October 1985 Preamble: "In the belief of our pursuit of freedom, socialism and democracy to achieve the society of sufficiency, justice and equality,"[33]
 Syria Syrian Arab Republic 8 March 1963 27 February 2012 Section 1, Article 8: "The leading party in the society and the state is the Socialist Arab Ba'ath Party. It leads a patriotic and progressive front seeking to unify the resources of the people's masses and place them at the service of the Arab nation's goals."[34]


These are short-lived political entities that emerged during wars or revolutions (mostly in the aftermath of World War I) and declared themselves socialist under some interpretation of the term, but did not survive long enough to create a stable government or achieve international recognition.

See also


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