A federal republic is a form of government in which citizens elect officials to run the government according to laws that restrict the power of the central government and vest regional units with a degree of autonomy. The federation’s component regions can consist of states, colonies or provinces.
Though the central government of a federal republic exerts direct influence over both individuals and its regional subdivisions, sovereignty ultimately resides in the people who select their representatives. Moreover, the division of power between the central government and the federation’s individual subdivisions varies from one federal republic to another.
Typically, matters with a national scope, such as those relating to security, defense and monetary policy, rest with the central government. Issues that are more localized, such as infrastructure and education, are given to the individual subdivisions.
Most federal republics formalize the division of powers between the levels of government in a written constitution. A constitution is an official document that states the nature, functions, responsibilities and limitations of a government.
Federal republics differ from federal monarchies in that federal monarchies may or may not be based on democratic principles, whereas all federal republics are democratic in structure. Federal republics also differ from unitary republics, in which central governments have total sovereignty over all political concerns.