A think tank, policy institute, or research institute is an organization that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture.
Most policy institutes are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects - wikipedia
The following article lists global policy institutes according to continental categories, and then sub-categories by country within those areas. These listings are not comprehensive, given that more than 6,800 think tanks exist worldwide.
According to University of Southern California historian Jacob Soll, the term "think tank" is modern, but "it can be traced to the humanist academies and scholarly networks of the 16th and 17th centuries - tabletmag.com
Soll notes that "in Europe, the origins of think tanks go back to the 800s, when emperors and kings began arguing with the Catholic Church about taxes. A tradition of hiring teams of independent lawyers to advise monarchs about their financial and political prerogatives against the church spans from Charlemagne all the way to the 17th century, when the kings of France were still arguing about whether they had the right to appoint bishops and receive a cut of their income." - wikipedia
The effect of globalization on the proliferation of think tanks is most evident in regions such as Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and parts of Southeast Asia, where there was a concerted effort by the international community to assist in the creation of independent public policy research organizations.
A recent survey performed by the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program underscores the significance of this effort and documents the fact that most of the think tanks in these regions have been established during the last 10 years.
Presently there are more than 4,500 of these institutions around the world. Many of the more established think tanks, having been created during the Cold War, are focused on international affairs, security studies, and foreign policy.