What is the difference between a state and a nation


When the word state is mentioned, many people connect it to a nation, or even consider the two words as synonyms. Although many people believe they are equal, the words nation and state are completely different from one another.


A state is composed of four elements: government, territory, population and sovereignty. If an element is absent, it disqualifies the area from being called state. However, a nation can be defined as a population that shares a similar culture and ideals. A nation is formed as a result of a common race, religion, language, territory, history, culture or political aspirations. These elements are not essential and are constantly evolving.

Political and social organization

“State” is a political term and refers to an area organized for the safety of people. It is a legal entity with human actions. On the contrary, a nation tends to focus less on people’s physical needs and more on metaphorical or emotional terms.

Although a state can be multinational, a nation cannot be multinational. This means that two or more nations can be within a single state. However, two nations cannot be one that makes a nation very distinct from a state. Current multinational states include: USA, Russia, China, Great Britain, Quebec in Canada and Catalonia and Galicia in Spain.

A state has police power and individuals who disobey are punished. A state is a political organization and it orders, constrains and punishes. On the other hand, a nation has no strong powers. A nation is sustained by spiritual, emotional and moral power and appeals to its citizens and persuades them. It is a unity rather than a political organization.


It is clearly evident that although a nation and a state sound alike, the two terms are very different. The individual features and attributes of a state and a nation can be used to differentiate the two terms.

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