A quasi-state or state-like entity,[2] including what is termed a proto-state,[3][2] is a political entity that does not represent a fully institutionalized or autonomous sovereign state.[4]

Maximum extent of the territory of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (frequently described as a proto-state) in Syria and Iraq, on 21 May 2015.[1]

The precise definition of quasi-state in political literature fluctuates depending on the context in which it is used. It has been used by some modern scholars to describe the self-governing British colonies and dependencies that exercised a form of home rule but remained crucial parts of the British Empire and subject firstly to the metropole's administration.[5] Similarly, the Republics of the Soviet Union, which represented administrative units with their own respective national distinctions, have also been described as quasi-states.[4]

In more recent usage, the term quasi-state has most often been evoked in reference to militant secessionist groups who claim, and exercise some form of territorial control over, a specific region, but which lack institutional cohesion.[5][failed verification see discussion] Such quasi-states include the Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia during the Bosnian War[5] and Azawad during the 2012 Tuareg rebellion.[6] The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is also widely held to be an example of a modern quasi-state or proto-state.[7][3][8][9]