union of sovereign states linked by treaties, whose common government does not directly exercise its sovereignty over their territory

A confederation is a group of countries that, by treaty, have given some of their powers to a central government. They do this in order to coordinate their actions in a number of areas. This is like a federation, but without the association being a new country.

A confederation is not the same as a federation, but they have a similarity. A confederation is a group of countries, a federation is a country.

The only example today is the European Union. Switzerland still has the official Latin name Confœderatio Helvetica, since it was founded in 1291, as a confederation. It later became a federation but kept the word Confœderatio.