Hegemony, in international politics, dominance of one state over a group of other states. The word derives from the Greek hegemon, meaning “leader” or “ruler”. The group of states can be a confederation, an alliance, or merely informal. It was during the Napoleonic Wars of 1799-1815 that the term was first used in the political sense, though actual hegemonies had often appeared before. The conquest of territory throughout Europe by Napoleon was said to have created a French hegemony over continental Europe. “Hegemony” is closely related to the term “imperialism“, because it describes the extension of a state’s influence over other states or an entire region, but without creating a new, overarching, legal entity. The spreading of such informal authority creates a sphere of interest, a term used to describe a region that is subject to a dominating state’s policies by a blend of coercion and incentives.

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