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Top 10 Country Rivalries

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Derick Mcduff

There’s no love lost between these nations. From a long burning history of animosity, these rivalries run deep. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Country Rivalries.

Special thanks to our user Jackson Locke for suggesting this idea! Check out our voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Country+Rivalries.


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Script written by Derick McDuff

Top 10 Country Rivalries

There’s no love lost between these nations. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Country Rivalries.
For this list, we’ll be looking at countries that are considered rivals in a socio-political context. We’ll be avoiding countries that have a “friendly rivalry,” such as the United States and Canada.

#10: United Kingdom vs. France

On opposite sides of the English Channel, the French and English have had a long and complex history, stretching back centuries. Since the Middle Ages, kings on both sides regularly laid claim to each other’s lands, with perhaps the most famous example being the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century. Not long after, England paid them back in kind, attempting to seize the French throne in one of the longest and bloodiest wars in medieval history: the Hundred Years’ War. Despite being allies in the 20th century, animosity has reemerged recently, particularly after the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

#9: Iran vs. Saudi Arabia

It’s no secret that tensions are high between a number of countries in the Middle East, including the contentious relationship between Iraq and Iran. However, Iran’s rivalry with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is what earns a spot on our list. Both are Islamic nations, however the Saudis are primarily Sunni while Iran is mostly Shia. Further dividing both countries are their approaches towards their oil and gas exports and, of course, their relations with the “Western world.” While Saudi Arabia is an ally of nations like the United States and the UK, Iran exists in stark opposition to the West.

#8: Turkey vs. Greece

This rivalry goes back to the destruction of the Byzantine Empire by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1453. Following the Greek War of Independence, the Greeks regained their autonomy in 1832. The newly established Greek Republic and the Ottomans would fight further wars over the years, culminating in World War I. Despite the Ottoman Empire being dissolved at the end of that war, little was resolved, and only a year after WWI’s conclusion, Greece and the provisional Turkish government were at war once again. Many of these tensions have carried over to today, as threats and ill will continue to be exchanged between Greece and Turkey.

#7: United Kingdom vs. Ireland

The United Kingdom and Ireland’s long and contentious history dates back as long as people have lived there. Connected politically since the 1600’s, they officially became one nation in 1801 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, however tensions ran high between the two islands, with a strong desire for Irish Independence. With the exception of the area now known as Northern Ireland, Ireland was able to break away from the UK in 1921. This did not completely end tensions, however, as issues including Brexit and the status of Northern Ireland still divide the nations today.

#6: Germany vs. France

As the result their shared border, a number of key conflicts have erupted between these neighbors. Some of the most notable include Napoleon conquering Germany and the Franco-Prussian War. However, the key defining conflicts in the rivalry between these nations were undoubtedly World War I and II, as well as the buildup and aftermath of each. Costly for both sides, France played a key role in blaming Germany for the First World War in The Treaty of Versailles. Then, during World War II, much of France fell to Hitler’s forces and was occupied for years. However, France and Germany’s relationship has definitely improved since then.

#5: China vs. Japan

While a number of these rivalries have a long history, few are quite as extensive as this one, with the first recorded battle between China and Japan taking place in 663. In more recent times, there are a number of reasons that distrust is high between these countries, as from roughly 1870 to the end of World War II, the Japanese Empire annexed and occupied vast areas of China. During the invasion, the Japanese Empire committed numerous war crimes, including the use of chemical weapons, and mass murder and rape in Nanking. Tensions remain today, with issues including territorial disputes, and Chinese accusations that Japan fails to acknowledge past atrocities.

#4: North Korea vs. South Korea

Korea was split into two distinct nations along the 38th parallel following the conclusion of World War II, with the Soviets supporting the communist North, and the US supporting the democratic South. In 1950, North Korea declared war against its Sothern neighbor, quickly pulling in the United States and China. After years of virtual stalemate, an end to the fighting was reached, however both sides are technically still at war to this day. As of 2018, relations between the two countries seem to be improving, but time will tell whether these improvements will stick.

#3: India vs. Pakistan

Much of the bad blood between these neighbors can be traced back to the Partition of India, when Britain left and divided the region in 1947. Fueled largely by religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims, as well as territorial disputes, armed conflicts have erupted many times over the years, including in 1965, and 1971. Today, both sides possess a large number of nuclear weapons, largely in response to one another. According to many experts, the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan is the likeliest in the world.

#2: United States vs. Russia

While the US’s current relationship with China is tense, the rivalry between these two nations defined the second half of the twentieth century. At the time, the USSR’s communism and the US’s capitalism were competing for dominance across the globe, and the countries became involved in proxy-conflicts around the world, including Vietnam and Afghanistan. With each side stockpiling nuclear weapons and ready for mutually assured destruction, the world came dangerously close to ending, particularly during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even after the Cold War, tensions still persist between the US and the Russian Federation.

#1: Israel vs. Palestine

The current situation between the Palestinians and the Israelites is easily one of the most complex and divisive issues in the world. Jews in Israel and Arabs in Palestine each have long historic roots in the region, particularly Jerusalem. A long history of violent conflict exists between both groups, and has grown even worse in the years of occupation of Palestine by Israel. The conflict has caught the attention of the world at large, with countries and people around the world all having strong opinions on it.


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