Since 1945 Latin America, Africa,
Southern Europe, and the Middle East have been common areas for all military dictatorships. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the military often has more cohesion and
institutional structure than most of the civilian institutions of society.
The typical military dictatorship in
Latin America was ruled by a
junta (derived from a Spanish word which can be translated as "conference" or "board"), or a committee composed of several officers, often from the military's most senior leadership, but in other cases less senior, as evidenced by the term colonels' regime, where the military leaders remained loyal to the previous regime. Other military dictatorships are entirely in the hands of a single president, sometimes called a caudillo, normally the senior army commander. In either case, the
chairman of the junta or the single commander may often personally assume office as
head of state.
military governments more often came to be led by a single powerful person, and were
autocracies in addition to military dictatorships. Leaders like
Gamal Abdel Nasser,
Francisco Franco and
Saddam Hussein worked to develop a
personality cult and became the faces of the nation inside and outside their countries.