Difference Between State and Nation

State vs Nation
 

State and nation are two of the most confused words irrespective of there being a clear difference between both. It is common to see people and even leaders invariably referring to their countries as nation or State. There is nothing wrong in that, in some aspects. A nation is often referred to as a Member State in the world bodies such as UN. But, it has to be remembered that state and nations are treated as separate entities especially in political science. A country, when being referred to as a State, capital S is used instead of lowercase s to differentiate from ordinary word state that refers to condition of an object or entity. There are more differences in a State and a nation as described in this article.

What is a Nation?

A nation is a group of people who share common cultural heritage, a bonding because of shared history and geographical boundaries. People may or may not share same traditions, values, language, and religion. There are examples of nations that are multicultural and have people with different traditions and customs and even speak different languages. One great example of a nation that is a melting pot of languages is India that has unity in diversity. Even in such a country, there is a common thread of nationalism that binds the people together and makes the concept of a nation. Sometimes people define nation without the requirement of having the same boundaries. For example, the Kurdish people though they do not live inside the same boundaries (they live in Iran, Iraq and Turkey) consider themselves as the members of the Kurdish nations. That is not accepted by most countries though.

Difference Between State and Nation

Native Americans are known as Native American nation.

What is a State?

On the other hand, a State is defined in political science as a patch of land with a sovereign government. A State is the political unit that has the sovereign power over a piece of land. A State can also be defined as a community that lives under the power of the government. This State is also an organized community in a particular area. There are States that are also nations and in such circumstances they are called nation-states. The situation is troublesome when a state overlaps the boundaries of several nations and this is when there are often civil wars. At present there are 195 nations (including nation states). A State that is recognized as sovereign by outside countries is regarded as a nation.

 State vs Nation

Nation States

There is another state (with a lower case s), which is one of the constituent parts of a country. Nearly all the countries of the world are divided into a number of states. Some examples are the states of US and the states of India.

What is the difference between State and Nation?

• A nation is a group of people who share common cultural heritage, a bonding because of shared history and geographical boundaries.

• On the other hand, a state is defined as a patch of land with a sovereign government. A State is the political unit who has the sovereign power over a piece of land. A State can also be defined as a community (organized) in a specific area governed by a specific government.

• A nation does not create laws. A nation has customs and traditions. But a State does create law.

• People in a nation do not have to share language or traditions always to be called nation. For example, the Indian nation or the American nation is created by a people who speak a number of languages and have different traditions. In a State, the people are collected together by the law or the ruling power the sovereign or the government holds.

• A nation is more of a political and cultural combination. A State is a political and judicial combination.

• A nation to be called a nation does not necessarily have to be inside the same boundaries. For example, the Jewish people are all over the world. Yet, they are called the Jewish nation too. A State to be called a State it clearly needs a particular area over which it holds power.

• There are States that are also nations and, in such circumstances, they are called nation-states.

• A state can also be a reference to the provinces of a country as in America.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Native Americans via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Nation states by Ionut Cojocaru (CC BY 3.0)