10 Difference Between State And Nation


What Is a Nation?

A nation is a group of people who see themselves as a cohesive and coherent unit based on shared cultural or historical criteria. Nations are socially constructed units, not given by nature. Their existence, definition, and members can change dramatically based on circumstances. Nations in some ways can be thought of as “imagined communities” that are bound together by notions of unity that can pivot around religion, ethnic identity, language, cultural practice and so forth.

The concept and practice of a nation work to establish who belongs and who does not (insider vs. outsider). Such conceptions often ignore political boundaries such that a single nation may “spill over” into multiple states.

The basic requirement of a nation is the strong bonds of emotional unity among its people which develop due to several common social cultural elements. Before 1947, India was a nation but not a State because it did not have sovereignty.

Some nations are sovereign states, but many are not. Nations that hold territory but are not sovereign states include:

  • The Indian Nations of the United States
  • Bosnia (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Catalonia (in northern Spain)
  • Quebec
  • Corsica
  • Sicily
  • Tibet
  • Kurds
  • Roma
  • Palestine
  • Hong Kong
  • Bermuda
  • Greenland
  • Puerto Rico
  • Northern Ireland

What Is a State?

A state is a territorial entity, with a permanent population, defined borders, and a government that effectively controls the territory. A state as a constituent political entity is characterized by four main elements: permanent population, territory, government and sovereignty. It must also have the right and capacity to make treaties and other agreements with other states. In the absence of even one element, a State cannot be really a State. In other words, (State = Nation + Territory+ Government+ Sovereignty).

In the context of international law, the term “state” should not be confused with territorial entities that are called states, but are in fact, subnational jurisdictions of a state.The key difference between a state and a nation is the territorial component. A state requires territory to be recognized as such, but a nation does not.

Many geographic entities have some but not all the qualities that make up a sovereign state. As of 2020 there are 195 sovereign states in the world (197 by some counts); 193 are members of the United Nations (the United Nations excludes Palestine and the Holy See). Two other entities, Taiwan and Kosovo, are recognized by some but not all members of the United Nations.

Also Read: Difference Between State And Government