In a nutshell . . .
The terms nation, state, country and nation-state are used to refer to political, economic, social and cultural actors in the international system. The modern nation-state refers to a single or multiple nationalities joined together in a formal political union. The nation-state determines an official language(s), a system of law, manages a currency system, uses a bureaucracy to order elements of society, and fosters loyalties to abstract entities like "Canada," "the United States," and so on. What's the difference between these concepts?
A nation-state differs from a "state" or a "nation" for a couple of important reasons: A nation refers only to a socio-cultural entity, a union of people sharing who can identify culturally and linguistically. This concept does not necessarily consider formal political unions. A state refers to a legal/political entity that is comprised of the following: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) a government ; and d) the capacity to enter into relations with other states. This distinction is an important one because we, as political scientists, must be able to account for both political and socio-cultural factors in a political entity. Using the term nation-state, permits this investigation. What does the growth in the number of nation-states mean?
The growth in the number of nation-states means that nation-states are going to have to cope with new political, economic, and social realities. The new entrants in the political system bring with them new opportunities for the international political system, but also bring new problems that the international order must be able to approach and attempt to solve.
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