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Suzerainty (American accent: soo-zer-en-tee) happens when a country X has its own government but cannot act independently because of a more powerful country Y.[1][2] This more powerful country Y is called the suzerain and can usually control the foreign relations of X (how X interacts with other countries).

It differs from sovereignty in that the tributary still has limited control of its own stuff and internal country affairs.

A suzerain can also mean a feudal lord.[2] Vassals must pay tribute to the feudal lord.

Some examples

The term suzerainty originally described the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its surrounding regions including:

China historically had suzerainty over Mongolia,[3] Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam.

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