The take-over or alteration of government by force, or the show or threat of force, when carried out by a relatively small number of members of the state apparatus (usually backed by some key military unit) distinguishes the world's frequent coups d'Ã©tat from broad-based popular or guerrilla managed revolutions. Very often the coup is a military one engineered by a group of officers.
Rebellion against government is defined as a crime in many criminal codes.
If unsuccessful coups associated with a nation's military officers' positioning themselves during major political disorders are included, then the post World War II count exceeds 100. Over 50 were in Latin America (which also had 50 in the first half of the century); over 30 in Asia; over 20 in Africa; and 5 in Europe. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of coups d'Ã©tat are successful.
Coups d'Ã©tat, even by the military, are ideologically nourished by the civilian culture in which they take place. They always reflect society's loss of a sense of lawfulness, and not only the loss of a sense of lawfulness on the part of those doing the coup.