Saturday, June 11, 2011


Nation has different meanings in different contexts. In worldwide diplomacy, nation can mean country or sovereign state. The United Nations, for instance, speaks of how it was founded after the Second World War with “51 countries” and currently has “192 member states”. Nation may more broadly refer to a community of people who share a common territory and government—but who are not necessarily a sovereign state; and who often share a common language, race, descent, and/or history. The word nation can more specifically refer to a tribe of North American Indians, such as the Cherokee Nation


The word nation came to English from the Old French word nacion which in turn originates from the Latin word natio (nātĭō) literally meaning "that which has been born".

As an example of how the word natio was employed in classical Latin, the following quote from Cicero's Philippics Against Mark Antony in 44 BC contrasts the external, inferior nationes ("races of people") with the Roman civitas ("community")

"Omnes nationes servitutem ferre possunt: nostra civitas non potest."
("All races are able to bear enslavement, but our community cannot.")

– Cicero, Orationes: Pro Milone, Pro Marcello, Pro Ligario, Pro rege Deiotaro, Philippicae I-XIV

An early example of the use of the word "nation" (in conjunction with language and territory) was provided in 968 by Liutprand (the bishop of Cremona) who, while confronting the Byzantine emperor, Nicephorus II, on behalf of his patron Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, declared

"The land...which you say belongs to your empire belongs, as the nationality and language of the people proves, to the kingdom of Italy.'"

– Liutprand, Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana ad Nicephorum Phocam

Nation state

A nation state can be variously defined as one in which the boundaries of a state and nation coincide, or a state in which there is a relative homogeneity among its inhabitants.
Nations without a sovereign state

Nations that are a community of people sharing a common territory and government but are not sovereign states can be controversial subjects due, in no small part, to national security concerns of neighbouring countries. A notable example of a group of people who are sometimes claimed to constitute such a stateless nation are Palestinians. Palestinian nationalism in modern times arose between 1948 and 1950. Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 spoke of "the Palestinian nation" in the context of Jerusalem and Palestine. The State of Palestine is today widely recognized by sovereign states, although often in equivocal terms. Still, op‑ed pieces in Israeli media question the existence of a Palestinian nation, partly due to its very short histor

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