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Difference Between Nation and Country

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Nation vs Country

The Difference between “Nation” and “Country”

Do “Country” and “Nation” Mean the Same Thing?
There are a 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 Lifei. 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 Globalization 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 nationalization.

So What is a Nation?
A nationii is officially observed as a group 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 recognized by either its neighbors, 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 agreementiii, 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 nationalization.

Then What is a Country?
Countryv, 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 territoryvi, 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-statevii”, which exists when a state or country also share the same nationality. For example, while Columbia 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 minimizes tension and cultural differences.


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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
[3]http://glossary.usip.org/resource/state-versus-nation
[4]https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Sykes-Picot_Agreement
[5]Weiss, Paul. Nationality and Statelessness in International Law.2nd ed. Maryland. 1979. Print.
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