Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Nation and Country


Nation vs Country

The Difference between “Nation” and “Country”

Do “Country” and “Nation” Mean the Same Thing?
There are  few major differences between the terms “country” and “nation”. In the US, these terms tend to be used synonymously due to rather strong American nationalism, which is said to have been heavily influenced by president Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 and the Promise of American Life. This kind of nationalism is more synonymous with allegiance, as whoever has ever lived and is loyal to the US could take on its nationalism. The use of the word “nation” that is mixed up often with “country” uses the unifying qualities of an official countrywide language and culture rather than ethnicity. Today, due to rapid Globalisation and multiple generations of immigration, many countries are starting to blend the concepts of nation and country as well. For instance, while a man’s great grandparents may be Guatemalan, he may consider himself British after multiple generations of nationalisation.

So What is a Nation?
A nation[ii] is officially observed as a group of people who share the same cultural identity. They share the same language, culture and lineages. Kurdish people consider themselves a nation of Kurdistan, though Kurdistan is not officially recognised by either its neighbours, or Western countries. Establishing a national identity often helps people living in the same country feel united. A multitude of border and religious disputes in the Middle East, some believe, have to do with the creation of official country lines, such as the Sykes-Picot agreement, that cross originally ‘unofficial but understood’ border lines. Nationality can also be found to be used as a legal definition to describe the relationship between a person and state, such as where you are legally allowed to reside. In this case, nationality is “a term of municipal law, defined by municipal law” iv. Your legal nationality could be anywhere you are allowed to reside. In certain countries, if you live within a country for a specific amount of time you could become a citizen (therefore having political rights) through nationalisation.

Then What is a Country?
Country[v], conversely, is synonymous with ‘State’ as it applies to self-governing political identities. The United states is a country, all abiding by the same laws of the same government. These states (not to be confused with State) are smaller communities that all adhere to one federal government in the country. Countries tend to be diverse and a conglomerate of multiple nationalities, such as American’s considering themselves “Latin American” in order to celebrate their diversity while also creating a separate, but equally as powerful, national allegiance to the United States. A State and a country are generally used to mean the same thing.

How to Spot a Country from a Territory
A country is also not to be confused with a territory [vi], which relies on its mother country for protection, economic support and any other features of an independent country. The US, for example, has Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. While these territories are part of the country of the United States, Puerto Ricans would consider their nationality to be Puerto Rican. In order to be considered a country, a territory would have to regulate its own government and economy, have its own army and stand without support.

Multiple Country Mergers
In Europe, for example, the dissolution of certain merger states like Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia, the USSR, or Czechoslovakia highlight the differences in nationalities combined into single countries. While the nations separately may be Austrian or Hungarian, and a man may consider himself either Austrian or Hungarian, the country at one time was combined into one. Israel and Palestine are an ideal example of strong nationalism, to the point where their nationalism is almost synonymous with their religious ideology. While much of what was originally Palestine has been dissolved into Israel, most of those who were originally Palestinian now legally living in Israel would still consider themselves Palestinian.

What about a “Nation” and a “State”?
Separately, there also exists a “nation-state[vii]”, which exists when a state or country also share the same nationality. For example, while Colombia is an independent country, it is also made up of those who consider their nationality Colombian due to shared culture, religion and language. The same goes for many countries who haven’t experienced much immigration in the past few generations. Japan is notoriously considered a nation-state, though it includes ethnically diverse minorities, the vast majority is homogeneous.

Why Does It Matter?
The importance of distinguishing between vocabulary all comes down to understanding different political landscapes. Understanding that a Palestinian living in Israel does not often consider himself an Israeli helps to understand conflict. It is understandable why major nationalist campaigns have been initiated in countries with heavy immigration, as it unifies its citizens and minimises tension and cultural differences.

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  1. ‘Israel and Palestine are an ideal example of strong nationalism, to the point where their nationalism is almost synonymous with their religious ideology. While much of what was originally Palestine has been dissolved into Israel, most of those who were originally Palestinian now legally living in Israel would still consider themselves Palestinian.’

    This is fallacious, and a poor example to use. Until the founding of modern Israel in 1948, ‘Palestinian’ referred to any inhabitant of the region, Palestine – or British Mandate Palestine, as it was after the fall of the Ottoman empire. ‘Palestinian’ was created as a national identity for a particular group of arabs only in 1967, after several failed arab wars attempting to destroy Israel.

    Israel is a country founded within the broader region ‘Palestine’, but there is not and never has been a country ‘Palestine’. All jews and christians living in what is now Israel at the time of its creation would have been Palestinian then, and now call themselves Israeli.

    • “… there isn’t and never has been a country Palestine”.

      I may be misunderstanding sth. . But Wikipedia states the following: ↓

      The State of Palestine [i] ( Arabic: ﺩﻭﻟﺔ
      ﻓﻠﺴﻄﻴﻦ Dawlat Filasṭīn ), also known
      simply as Palestine, is a de jure
      sovereign state in the Middle
      East that is recognized by 136 UN
      members and since 2012 has a
      status of a non-member observer
      state in the United Nations – which
      amounts to a de facto, or implicit,
      recognition of statehood.

      That would make Palestine a country, wouldn’t it?

  2. A nation consists of a distinct population of people that are bound together by a common culture, history, and tradition who are typically concentrated within a specific geographic region

  3. How are you gonna spell Colombia wrong in a post like this?

  4. why is the controversy on whether to say kenya is a country or a nation?

  5. A lot of good information here. However, as is too often the case, there are pieces missing from the answer to this question, and some answers are not fully accurate.

    The tenth amendment makes clear the United States, which is found in the District of Columbia, is not the end all authority for the fifty countries we call states.

    The U.S. has ONLY those finite powers granted it and the tenth makes clear those not granted remain with the states and the people.

    For example, a local sheriff can actually arrest federal agents, if he had the courage to, for acts in excess of their authority and done on the land of their state.

    For another example, perhaps more easily seen, the U.S., through its legislative authority, Congress, presumed to hold authority to impose gun free zones around schools in the several states. The U.S. Supreme Court, in U.S. vs Lopez, shot down that law, as an excess of granted authority.

    As the court said, schools have nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    As it yet stands, each state is a sovereign country. The U.S. exists at the pleasure of the several states, and not they at its.

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References :

[0]Croly, Herbert. The Promise of American Life.1909.

[1] http://glossary.usip.org/resource/state-versus-nation

[2] http://glossary.usip.org/resource/state-versus-nation



[5]Weiss, Paul. Nationality and Statelessness in International Law.2nd ed. Maryland. 1979. Print.

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