Country, State, and Nation Definining an Independent Country

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Country, State, and Nation Definining an Independent Country

Postby admin » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:08 pm

While the terms country, state, and nation are often used interchangeably, there is a difference.

A State (note the capital "S") is a self-governing political entity. The term State can be used interchangeably with country.

A nation, however, is a tightly-knit group of people which share a common culture. A nation-state is a nation which has the same borders as a State.

States and Independent Countries

Let's start with what defines a State or an independent country. An independent State:

  1. Has space or territory which has internationally recognized boundaries (boundary disputes are OK).
  2. Has people who live there on an ongoing basis.
  3. Has economic activity and an organized economy. A country regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money.
  4. Has the power of social engineering, such as education.
  5. Has a transportation system for moving goods and people.
  6. Has a government which provides public services and police power.
  7. Has sovereignty. No other State should have power over the country's territory.
  8. Has external recognition. A country has been "voted into the club" by other countries.

There are currently 196 independent countries or States around the world. Territories of countries or individual parts of a country are not countries in their own right.

Examples of entities that are not countries include: Hong Kong, Bermuda, Greenland, Puerto Rico, and most notably the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. (Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England are not countries.)

A "state" (with a lower-case "s") is usually a division of a federal State (such as the states of the United States of America).

Nations and Nation-States

Nations are culturally homogeneous groups of people, larger than a single tribe or community, which share a common language, institutions, religion, and historical experience.

When a nation of people have a State or country of their own, it is called a nation-state. Places like France, Egypt, Germany, and Japan are excellent examples of nation-states. There are some States which have two nations, such as Canada and Belgium. Even with its multicultural society, the United States is also referred to as a nation-state because of the shared American "culture."

There are nations without States. For example, the Kurds are stateless people.
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