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A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (
federalism Federalism is a combined or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or "federal" government) with regional governments ( provincial, state, cantonal, territorial, or other sub-unit governments) in a single po ...
). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision, neither by the component states nor the federal political body. Alternatively, a federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs. It is often argued that federal states where the central government has overriding powers are not truly federal states. For example, such overriding powers may include: the constitutional authority to suspend a constituent state's government by invoking gross mismanagement or civil unrest, or to adopt national legislation that overrides or infringes on the constituent states' powers by invoking the central government's constitutional authority to ensure "peace and good government" or to implement obligations contracted under an international treaty. The governmental or constitutional structure found in a federation is considered to be federalist, or to be an example of
federalism Federalism is a combined or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or "federal" government) with regional governments ( provincial, state, cantonal, territorial, or other sub-unit governments) in a single po ...
. It can be considered the opposite of another system, the
unitary state A unitary state is a sovereign state governed as a single entity in which the central government is the supreme authority. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative divisions (sub-national units). Such units exercise only th ...
. France, for example, has been unitary for many centuries. The
Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: link=no, Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling , ) was a Central- Eastern European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence ...
was a unitary state with crown lands, after the transformation into the
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire,, the Dual Monarchy, or Austria, was a constitutional monarchy and great power in Central Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1 ...
monarchy the remaining crown lands of so-called
Cisleithania Cisleithania, also ''Zisleithanien'' sl, Cislajtanija hu, Ciszlajtánia cs, Předlitavsko sk, Predlitavsko pl, Przedlitawia sh-Cyrl-Latn, Цислајтанија, Cislajtanija ro, Cisleithania uk, Цислейтанія, Tsysleitaniia it, Cislei ...
became federated as '' Länder'' of the
Republic of Austria Austria, , bar, Östareich officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in the southern part of Central Europe, lying in the Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine states, one of which is the capital, Vienna, the most populous ci ...
through the implementation of its constitution. Germany, with its 16 states, or ''Länder'', is an example of a federation. Federations are often
multi-ethnic Mixed race people are people of more than one race or ethnicity. A variety of terms have been used both historically and presently for mixed race people in a variety of contexts, including ''multiethnic'', ''polyethnic'', occasionally ''bi-eth ...
and cover a large area of territory (such as Russia, the United States,
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world's second-largest country by total ...
, India, or
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At and with over 217 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area an ...
), but neither is necessarily the case (such as Saint Kitts and Nevis or the Federated States of Micronesia). Several ancient chiefdoms and kingdoms, such as the 4th-century BCE League of Corinth, Noricum in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common historical, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) between Catholicism and Protestantism significantly shaped the area's ...
, and the Iroquois Confederacy in pre-Columbian North America, could be described as federations or confederations. The Old Swiss Confederacy was an early example of formal non-unitary statehood. Several colonies and dominions in the
New World The term ''New World'' is often used to mean the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 3 ...
consisted of autonomous provinces, transformed to federal states upon independence such as the United States, and various countries in Latin America (see
Spanish American wars of independence The Spanish American wars of independence (25 September 1808 – 29 September 1833; es, Guerras de independencia hispanoamericanas) were numerous wars in Spanish America with the aim of political independence from Spanish rule during the early ...
). Some of the New World federations failed; the Federal Republic of Central America broke up into independent states less than 20 years after its founding. Others, such as
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, th ...
, have shifted between federal, confederal, and unitary systems, before settling into federalism.
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At and with over 217 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area an ...
became a federation only after the fall of the monarchy, and Venezuela became a federation after the Federal War. Australia and Canada are also federations. Germany is another nation-state that has switched between confederal, federal and unitary rules, since the German Confederation was founded in 1815. The North German Confederation, the succeeding
German Empire The German Empire (), Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditar ...
and the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: link=no, Weimarer Republik ), officially named the German Reich, was the government of Germany from 1918 to 1933, during which it was a constitutional federal republic for the first time in history; hence it is ...
were federations. Founded in 1922, the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nationa ...
was formally a federation of Soviet republics,
autonomous republics An autonomous republic is a type of administrative division similar to a province or state. A significant number of autonomous republics can be found within the successor states of the Soviet Union, but the majority are located within Russia. M ...
and other federal subjects, though in practice highly centralized under the government of the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation has inherited a similar system. India,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
,
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
and
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo's East Malaysi ...
(then Federation of Malaya) became federations on or shortly before becoming independent from the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It began with the overseas possessions and trading posts esta ...
. In some recent cases, federations have been instituted as a measure to handle
ethnic conflict An ethnic conflict is a conflict between two or more contending ethnic groups. While the source of the conflict may be political, social, economic or religious, the individuals in conflict must expressly fight for their ethnic group's positio ...
within a state, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iraq since 2005. With the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the natio ...
having become effective on 4 March 1789, the United States is the oldest surviving federation, while the newest federation is Nepal, after its constitution went into effect on 20 September 2015.


Federations and other forms of state


Federations

The component states are in some sense sovereign, insofar as certain powers are reserved to them that may not be exercised by the central government. However, a federation is more than a mere loose alliance of independent states. The component states of a federation usually possess no powers in relation to foreign policy and so enjoy no independent status under international law. However, German Länder have that power, which is beginning to be exercised on a European level. Some federations are called
asymmetric Asymmetric may refer to: *Asymmetry in geometry, chemistry, and physics Computing *Asymmetric cryptography, in public-key cryptography *Asymmetric digital subscriber line, Internet connectivity *Asymmetric multiprocessing, in computer architectur ...
because some states have more autonomy than others. An example of such a federation is
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo's East Malaysi ...
, in which
Sarawak Sarawak (; ) is a state of Malaysia. The largest among the 13 states, with an area almost equal to that of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak is located in northwest Borneo Island, and is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, K ...
and
Sabah Sabah () is a state of Malaysia located in northern Borneo, in the region of East Malaysia. Sabah borders the Malaysian state of Sarawak to the southwest and the North Kalimantan province of Indonesia to the south. The Federal Territory o ...
agreed to form the federation on different terms and conditions from the states of
Peninsular Malaysia Peninsular Malaysia ( ms, Semenanjung Malaysia; Jawi: سمننجڠ مليسيا), or the States of Malaya ( ms, Negeri-negeri Tanah Melayu; Jawi: نڬري-نڬري تانه ملايو), also known as West Malaysia or the Malaysian Peninsula, ...
. A federation often emerges from an initial agreement between several separate states. The purpose can be the will to solve mutual problems and to provide for mutual defense or to create a nation-state for an ethnicity spread over several states. The former was the case with the United States and Switzerland. However, as the histories of countries and nations vary, the federalist system of a state can be quite different from these models. Australia, for instance, is unique in that it came into existence as a nation by the democratic vote of the citizens of each state, who voted "yes" in referendums to adopt the
Australian Constitution The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a constitutional document that is supreme law in Australia. It establishes Australia as a federation under a constitutional monarchy and outlines the structure and powers of the A ...
. Brazil, on the other hand, has experienced both the federal and the unitary state during its history. Some present-day states of the Brazilian federation retain borders set during the Portuguese colonization (before the very existence of the Brazilian state), whereas the latest state,
Tocantins Tocantins () is one of the 26 states of Brazil. It is the newest state, formed in 1988 and encompassing what had formerly been the northern two-fifths of the state of Goiás. Tocantins covers and had an estimated population of 1,496,880 in 2 ...
, was created by the 1988 Constitution for chiefly administrative reasons. Seven of the top eight largest countries by area are governed as federations.


Unitary states

A
unitary state A unitary state is a sovereign state governed as a single entity in which the central government is the supreme authority. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative divisions (sub-national units). Such units exercise only th ...
is sometimes one with only a single, centralized, national tier of government. However, unitary states often also include one or more self-governing regions. The difference between a federation and this kind of unitary state is that in a unitary state the autonomous status of self-governing regions exists by the sufferance of the central government, and may be unilaterally revoked. While it is common for a federation to be brought into being by agreement between a number of formally independent states, in a unitary state self-governing regions are often created through a process of devolution, where a formerly centralized state agrees to grant autonomy to a region that was previously entirely subordinate. Thus, federations are often established voluntarily from "below" whereas devolution grants self-government from "above". It is often part of the philosophy of a unitary state that, regardless of the actual status of any of its parts, its entire territory constitutes a single sovereign entity or nation-state, and that by virtue of this the central government exercises sovereignty over the whole territory ''as of right''. In a federation, on the other hand, sovereignty is often regarded as residing notionally in the component states, or as being shared between these states and the central government.


Confederation

A confederation, in modern political terms, is usually limited to a permanent union of sovereign states for common action in relation to other states. The closest entity in the world to a confederation at this time is the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been de ...
. While the word ''confederation'' was officially used when the Canadian federal system was established in 1867, the term refers only to the process and not the resulting state since Canadian provinces are not sovereign and do not claim to be. In the case of Switzerland, while the country is still known officially as the Swiss Confederation, this is now a misnomer since the Swiss cantons lost their sovereign status in 1848. In Belgium, however, the opposite movement is underway.One of the most important recent books about the Belgian institutions, written by one of the leading French-speaking jurists concludes: ''Vers le confédéralisme'' (Toward a Confederation). See: Charles-Etienne Lagasse, ''Les Nouvelles institutions politiques de la Belgique et de l'Europe'', Erasme,
Namur Namur (; ; nl, Namen ; wa, Nameur) is a city and municipality in Wallonia, Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia, hosting the Parliament of Wallonia, the Government of Wallonia and its administration. Namu ...
2003, p. 603
Belgium was founded as a centralized state, after the French model, but has gradually been reformed into a federal state by consecutive constitutional reforms since the 1970s. Moreover, although nominally called a federal state, the country's structure already has a number of confederational traits. At present, there is a growing movement to transform the existing federal state into a looser confederation with two or three constitutive states and/or two special regions.Many Flemings would prefer two states, Flanders and Wallonia, and two special regions, Brussels and the German-speaking region. In Wallonia, there is wider support for three states: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. A confederation is most likely to feature three differences when contrasted with a federation: (1) No real direct powers: many confederal decisions are externalized by member-state legislation; (2) Decisions on day-to-day-matters are not taken by simple majority but by special majorities or even by consensus or unanimity (veto for every member); (3) Changes of the constitution, usually a treaty, require unanimity. Over time these terms acquired distinct connotations leading to the present difference in definition. An example of this is the United States under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles established a national government under what today would be defined as a federal system (albeit with a comparatively weaker federal government). However, Canadians, designed with a ''stronger'' central government than the U.S. in the wake of the Civil War of the latter, use the term "Confederation" to refer to the formation or joining, not the structure, of Canada. Legal reforms, court rulings, and political compromises have ''decentralized'' Canada in practice since its formation in 1867.


Empire

An empire is a multi-ethnic state, multinational state, or a group of nations with a
central government A central government is the government that is a controlling power over a unitary state. Another distinct but sovereign political entity is a federal government, which may have distinct powers at various levels of government, authorized or deleg ...
established usually through coercion (on the model of the Roman Empire). An empire often includes self-governing regions, but these will possess autonomy only at the sufferance of the central government. On the other hand, a political entity that is an empire in name, may comprise several partly autonomous kingdoms organised together in a federation, with the empire being ruled over by an emperor or senior king (
great king Great king, and the equivalent in many languages, refers to historical titles of certain monarchs, suggesting an elevated status among the host of kings and princes. This title is most usually associated with the ''shahanshah'' (shah of shahs, ...
, high king,
king of kings King of Kings; grc-gre, Βασιλεὺς Βασιλέων, Basileùs Basiléōn; hy, արքայից արքա, ark'ayits ark'a; sa, महाराजाधिराज, Mahārājadhirāja; ka, მეფეთ მეფე, ''Mepet mepe'' ...
...). One example of this was the
German Empire The German Empire (), Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditar ...
(1871–1918).


Comparison with other systems of autonomy


Federacy

A
federacy A federacy is a form of government where one or several substate units enjoy considerably more independence than the majority of the substate units. To some extent, such an arrangement can be considered to be similar to asymmetric federalis ...
is a unitary state that incorporates one or more self-governing
autonomous area In developmental psychology and moral, political, and bioethical philosophy, autonomy, from , ''autonomos'', from αὐτο- ''auto-'' "self" and νόμος ''nomos'', "law", hence when combined understood to mean "one who gives oneself one ...
s. It is distinguished from a federation in that the constitutional structure of the state is still unitary, but incorporates federalist principles. Some federacies, notably Åland, were established through international treaty.


Devolution

A federation differs from a devolved state, such as
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It consists of over 17,000 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and parts of Borneo and New Guinea. ...
and the United Kingdom, because, in a devolved state, the central government can revoke the independence of the subunits (
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; sco, Scots Pairlament) is the devolved, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood area of the capital city, Edinburgh, it is frequently referred to by the metonym Holy ...
, the
Senedd The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English and () in Welsh, is the devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes laws for Wales, agrees certain taxes and scrutinises the Welsh ...
and the
Northern Ireland Assembly sco-ulster, Norlin Airlan Assemblie , legislature = Seventh Assembly , coa_pic = File:NI_Assembly.svg , coa_res = 250px , house_type = Unicameral , house1 = , leader1_type = ...
in the case of the UK) without changing the constitution. In some cases, such as the
Autonomous communities of Spain eu, autonomia erkidegoa ca, comunitat autònoma gl, comunidade autónoma oc, comunautat autonòma an, comunidat autonoma ast, comunidá autónoma , alt_name = , map = , category = Autonomous administra ...
, devolution has led to federation in all but name, or "federation without federalism".The Federal Option and Constitutional Management of Diversity in Spain Xavier Arbós Marín, page 375; included in 'The Ways of Federalism in Western Countries and the Horizons of Territorial Autonomy in Spain' (volume 2), edited by Alberto López-Eguren and Leire Escajedo San Epifanio; edited by
Springer Springer or springers may refer to: Publishers * Springer Science+Business Media, aka Springer International Publishing, a worldwide publishing group founded in 1842 in Germany formerly known as Springer-Verlag. ** Springer Nature, a multination ...
, (eBook)


Associated states

A federation also differs from an
associated state An associated state is the minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory (some dependent, most fully sovereign states) and a major party—usually a larger nation. The details of such free association are containe ...
, such as the Federated States of Micronesia (in free association with the United States) and
Cook Islands ) , image_map = Cook Islands on the globe (small islands magnified) (Polynesia centered).svg , capital = Avarua , coordinates = , largest_city = Avarua , official_languages = , langu ...
and Niue (which form part of the
Realm of New Zealand The Realm of New Zealand consists of the entire area in which the monarch of New Zealand functions as head of state. The realm is not a federation; it is a collection of states and territories united under its monarch. New Zealand is an indep ...
). There are two kinds of associated states: in case of Micronesia, the association is concluded by a treaty between two sovereign states; in the case of the Cook Islands and Niue, the association is concluded by domestic legal arrangements.


Crown dependencies

The relation between the Crown Dependencies of the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = " O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , map_caption = Location of the Isle of Man (green) in Europ ...
and the bailiwicks of Guernsey and
Jersey Jersey ( , ; nrf, Jèrri, label=Jèrriais ), officially the Bailiwick of Jersey (french: Bailliage de Jersey, links=no; Jèrriais: ), is an island country and self-governing Crown Dependency near the coast of north-west France. It is the la ...
in the Channel Islands and the United Kingdom is very similar to a federate relation: the Islands enjoy independence from the United Kingdom, which, via The Crown, takes care of their foreign relations and defense – although the UK Parliament does have overall power to legislate for the dependencies. However, the islands are neither an incorporated part of the United Kingdom nor are they considered to be independent or associated states. The islands do not have a monarch, ''per se''; rather in the Isle of Man the
British Monarch The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies (the Baili ...
is, '' ex officio'',
Lord of Mann The lord of Mann ( gv, Çhiarn Vannin) is the lord proprietor and head of state of the Isle of Man. The current lord proprietor and head of state is Charles III. Before 1504 the head of state was known as King of Mann. Relationship with t ...
, and in the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, the
British Monarch The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies (the Baili ...
rules as the
Duke of Normandy In the Middle Ages, the duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western France. The duchy arose out of a grant of land to the Viking leader Rollo by the French king Charles III in 911. In 924 and again in 933, Normandy ...
.


Dependent territories

Dependent territories A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency (sometimes referred as an external territory) is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state, yet remains politically outside the controlli ...
, such as the
British overseas territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen territories with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are the last remnants of the former Br ...
, are vested with varying degrees of power; some enjoy considerable independence from the sovereign state, which only takes care of their foreign relations and defense. However, they are neither considered to be part of it nor recognized as sovereign or associated states.


''De facto'' federations

The distinction between a federation and a unitary state is often quite ambiguous. A unitary state may closely resemble a federation in structure and, while a central government may possess the theoretical right to revoke the autonomy of a self-governing region, it may be politically difficult for it to do so in practice. The self-governing regions of some unitary states also often enjoy greater autonomy than those of some federations. For these reasons, it is sometimes argued that some modern unitary states are ''de facto'' federations. ''De facto'' federations, or quasi-federations, are often termed "
regional state A regional state, or a regionalised unitary state, is a term used to denote a type of state that is formally unitary but where a high degree of political power has been highly decentralised to regional governments. This contrasts with a state or ...
s".


Spain

Spain is suggested as one possible ''de facto'' federation as it grants more self-government to its autonomous communities than are retained by the constituent entities of most federations. For the
Spanish parliament The Cortes Generales (; en, Spanish Parliament, lit=General Courts) are the bicameral legislative chambers of Spain, consisting of the Congress of Deputies (the lower house), and the Senate (the upper house). The Congress of Deputies meets ...
to revoke the autonomy of regions such as Galicia,
Catalonia Catalonia (; ca, Catalunya ; Aranese Occitan: ''Catalonha'' ; es, Cataluña ) is an autonomous community of Spain, designated as a ''nationality'' by its Statute of Autonomy. Most of the territory (except the Val d'Aran) lies on the nort ...
or the Basque Country would be a political near-impossibility, though nothing bars it legally. The Spanish parliament has, however, suspended the autonomy of
Catalonia Catalonia (; ca, Catalunya ; Aranese Occitan: ''Catalonha'' ; es, Cataluña ) is an autonomous community of Spain, designated as a ''nationality'' by its Statute of Autonomy. Most of the territory (except the Val d'Aran) lies on the nort ...
in response to the Catalan declaration of independence, in the lead up to the 2017 Catalan election. Additionally, some autonomies such as Navarre or the Basque Country have full control over taxation and spending, transferring a payment to the central government for the common services (military, foreign relations, macroeconomic policy). For example, scholar Enrique Guillén López discusses the "federal nature of Spain's government (a trend that almost no one denies)." Each autonomous community is governed by a
Statute of Autonomy Nominally, a Statute of Autonomy ( es, Estatuto de Autonomía, ca, Estatut d'Autonomia, gl, Estatuto de Autonomía, ast, Estatutu d'Autonomía, eu, Autonomia Estatutua) is a law hierarchically located under the constitution of a country and, ...
(''Estatuto de Autonomía'') under the
Spanish Constitution of 1978 The Spanish Constitution (Spanish, Asturleonese, and gl, Constitución Española; eu, Espainiako Konstituzioa; ca, Constitució Espanyola; oc, Constitucion espanhòla) is the democratic law that is supreme in the Kingdom of Spain. It was ...
.


South Africa

Although South Africa bears some elements of a federal system, such as the allocation of certain powers to provinces, it is nevertheless constitutionally and functionally a unitary state.


European Union

The
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been de ...
(EU) is a
sui generis ''Sui generis'' ( , ) is a Latin phrase that means "of its/their own kind", "in a class by itself", therefore "unique". A number of disciplines use the term to refer to unique entities. These include: * Biology, for species that do not fit in ...
political union A political union is a type of political entity which is composed of, or created from, smaller polities, or the process which achieves this. These smaller polities are usually called federated states and federal territories in a federal governm ...
or confederation (the assemblage of societies or an association of two or more states into one state). Robert Schuman, the initiator of the European Community system, wrote that a transnational Community like the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community lay midway between an association of States where they retained complete independence and a federation leading to a fusion of States in a super-state. The Founding Fathers of the European Union wrote the Europe Declaration (Charter of the Community) at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 18 April 1951 saying that Europe should be organized on a transnational foundation. They envisaged a structure quite different from a federation called the European Political Community. The EU is a three-pillar structure of the original supranational European Economic Community and the nuclear energy cooperation and non-proliferation treaty, Euratom, plus two largely
intergovernmental Intergovernmental can refer to: * Intergovernmentalism * Intergovernmental immunity (disambiguation) *Intergovernmental Risk Pool *Intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among socie ...
pillars dealing with External Affairs and Justice and Home Affairs. The EU is therefore not a ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legall ...
'' federation, although some academic observers conclude that after 50 years of institutional evolution since the
Treaties of Rome The Treaty of Rome, or EEC Treaty (officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community), brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC), the best known of the European Communities (EC). The treaty was sign ...
it is ''becoming'' one. The European Union possesses attributes of a federal state. However, its central government is far weaker than that of most federations and the individual members are sovereign states under international law, so it is usually characterized as an unprecedented form of supra-national union. The EU has responsibility for important areas such as trade, monetary union, agriculture, fisheries. Nonetheless, EU
member state A member state is a state that is a member of an international organization or of a federation or confederation. Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) include some members that are not sovereign states ...
s retain the right to act independently in matters of foreign policy and defense, and also enjoy a near-monopoly over other major policy areas such as criminal justice and taxation. Since the
Treaty of Lisbon The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). The Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed by the EU member s ...
, the Member States' right to leave the Union is codified, and the Union operates with more qualified majority voting (rather than unanimity) in many areas. A more nuanced view has been given by the German Constitutional Court. Here the EU is defined as 'an association of sovereign national states (''
Staatenverbund ''Staatenverbund'' The German term has no equivalent in English though it might partially be translated as "confederation of states". is a neologism for a system of multi-level governance in which states work more closely together than in a confede ...
'')'. With this view, the European Union resembles more of a confederation.


People's Republic of China

Constitutionally, the power vested in the special administrative regions of the People's Republic is granted from the
Central People's Government The State Council, constitutionally synonymous with the Central People's Government since 1954 (particularly in relation to local governments), is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is chaired by the p ...
, through a decision by the National People's Congress. However, there have been certain largely informal grants of power to the provinces, to handle economic affairs and implement national policies, resulting in a system some have termed federalism " with Chinese characteristics".


Myanmar

Constitutionally a
unitary state A unitary state is a sovereign state governed as a single entity in which the central government is the supreme authority. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative divisions (sub-national units). Such units exercise only th ...
, the political system in Myanmar bears many elements of federalism. Each
administrative division Administrative division, administrative unit,Article 3(1). country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, constituent state, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular, ind ...
has its own cabinets and chief ministers, making it more like a federation rather than a unitary state.


Wallis and Futuna

The
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, which originated in France, and its various dialects and accents ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with France ...
overseas collectivity
Wallis and Futuna Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands (; french: Wallis-et-Futuna or ', Fakauvea and Fakafutuna: '), is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific, situated between Tuvalu to the northwest, Fij ...
maintains some quasi-federation attributes. The territory is divided into three traditional chiefdoms:
Uvea The uvea (; Lat. ''uva'', "grape"), also called the ''uveal layer'', ''uveal coat'', ''uveal tract'', ''vascular tunic'' or ''vascular layer'' is the pigmented middle of the three concentric layers that make up an eye. History and etymolog ...
,
Sigave Sigavé (also Singave or Sigave) is one of the three official chiefdoms of the French territory of Wallis and Futuna in Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. (The other two chiefdoms are Uvea and Alo.) Geography Overview Sigave encompasses the ...
, and
Alo Alo or ALO may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * ''Alo'' (film), a 2003 Bengali drama * Alo Creevey, a fictional character in TV series ''Skins'' ** "Alo" (''Skins series 5'') ** "Alo" (''Skins series 6'') * Animal Liberation Orchestr ...
. The chiefdoms are allowed to have their own legal system which have to be implemented along with French legal system.


Internal controversy and conflict

Certain forms of political and constitutional dispute are common to federations. One issue is that the exact division of power and responsibility between federal and regional governments is often a source of controversy. Often, as is the case with the United States, such conflicts are resolved through the judicial system, which delimits the powers of federal and local governments. The relationship between federal and local courts varies from nation to nation and can be a controversial and complex issue in itself. Another common issue in federal systems is the conflict between regional and national interests, or between the interests and aspirations of different ethnic groups. In some federations the entire jurisdiction is relatively homogeneous and each constituent state resembles a miniature version of the whole; this is known as 'congruent federalism'. On the other hand, incongruent federalism exists where different states or regions possess distinct ethnic groups. The ability of a federal government to create national institutions that can mediate differences that arise because of linguistic, ethnic, religious, or other regional differences is an important challenge. The inability to meet this challenge may lead to the secession of parts of a federation or to civil war, as occurred in the United States (southern states sought to protect the institution of slavery while northern states opposed it, with a catalysis occurring in the then–
Kansas Territory The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the free state of Kansas. ...
), in
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
and in Switzerland. In the case of
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo's East Malaysi ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, borderin ...
was expelled from the federation because of rising racial tension. In some cases, internal conflict may lead a federation to collapse entirely, as occurred the
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, also known as the Central African Federation or CAF, was a colonial federation that consisted of three southern African territories: the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia and the ...
, the
Gran Colombia Gran Colombia (, "Great Colombia"), or Greater Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: ''República de Colombia''), was a state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 18 ...
, the
United Provinces of Central America The Federal Republic of Central America ( es, República Federal de Centroamérica), originally named the United Provinces of Central America ( es, Provincias Unidas del Centro de América), and sometimes simply called Central America, in it ...
, and the
West Indies Federation The West Indies Federation, also known as the West Indies, the Federation of the West Indies or the West Indian Federation, was a short-lived political union that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. Various islands in the Caribbean tha ...
.


Federal governments

The federal government is the common government of a national or supranational federation. A federal government may have distinct powers at various levels authorized or delegated to it by its member states. The structure of federal governments vary. Based on a broad definition of a basic
federalism Federalism is a combined or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or "federal" government) with regional governments ( provincial, state, cantonal, territorial, or other sub-unit governments) in a single po ...
, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and govern through common institutions with overlapping or shared powers as prescribed by a constitution. The federal government is the government at the level of the sovereign state. Usual responsibilities of this level of government are maintaining
national security National security, or national defence, is the security and defence of a sovereign state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government. Originally conceived as protection against military at ...
and exercising international diplomacy, including the right to sign binding
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually made by and between sovereign states, but can include international organizations, individuals, business entities, and other legal pe ...
. Basically, a modern federal government, within the limits defined by its constitution, has the power to make laws for the whole country, unlike local governments. As originally written, the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the natio ...
was created to limit the federal government from exerting power over the states by enumerating only specific powers. It was further limited by the addition of the Tenth Amendment contained in the
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and pri ...
and the Eleventh Amendment. However, later amendments, particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, gave the federal government considerable authority over states. Federal government within this structure are the government ministries and departments and agencies to which the ministers of government are assigned.


Contemporary

There are 27 federations in the world, with 6 each in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
,
Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with Africa. Asia covers an area ...
and Europe, 4 in
North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Car ...
, 3 in South America and 2 in Oceania.


Long-form names

* Federal Republic: Germany, Somalia,
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
. * Federation: Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis * Republic:
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, th ...
,
Austria Austria, , bar, Östareich officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in the southern part of Central Europe, lying in the Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine states, one of which is the capital, Vienna, the most populous ci ...
, India, Iraq,
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān, officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It shares borders with the Central African Republic t ...
,
South Sudan South Sudan (; din, Paguot Thudän), officially the Republic of South Sudan ( din, Paankɔc Cuëny Thudän), is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia, Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Con ...
. * Others: ** Bolivarian Republic ( Venezuela) ** Confederation ( Switzerland) ** Commonwealth ( Australia) ** Dominion (
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world's second-largest country by total ...
before 1982) ** Federal Democratic Republic (
Ethiopia Ethiopia, , om, Itiyoophiyaa, so, Itoobiya, ti, ኢትዮጵያ, Ítiyop'iya, aa, Itiyoppiya officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the n ...
, Nepal) ** Federated States ( Micronesia) ** Federative Republic (
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At and with over 217 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area an ...
) ** Islamic Republic (
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
) ** Kingdom (
Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to th ...
) ** Union (
Comoros The Comoros,, ' officially the Union of the Comoros,; ar, الاتحاد القمري ' is an independent country made up of three islands in southeastern Africa, located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean. I ...
) ** United Emirates (
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, اَلْإِمَارَات الْعَرَبِيَة الْمُتَحِدَة ), or simply the Emirates ( ar, الِْإمَارَات ), is a country in Western Asia ( The Middle East). It is located at t ...
) ** United States ( United States,
Mexico Mexico (Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Gua ...
) * None: ** Bosnia and Herzegovina (since 1998) ** Canada (since 1982) **
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo's East Malaysi ...


Defunct

*
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a political entity in Western, Central, and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. From the accession of Otto I in 962 unt ...
(800–1806) *
Inca Empire The Inca Empire (also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire), called ''Tawantinsuyu'' by its subjects, ( Quechua for the "Realm of the Four Parts",  "four parts together" ) was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The adm ...
(1197–1572) *
Confederation of Madja-as The Confederation of Madya-as was a legendary pre-colonial supra-baranganic polity on the island of Panay in the Philippines. It was mentioned in Pedro Monteclaro's book titled Maragtas. It was supposedly created by Datu Sumakwel to exerci ...
(1200–1569) * Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederation) (15th/16th century-1799) *
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, as the Commonwealth of Poland, was a bi-confederal state, sometimes called a federation, of Poland and Lithuania rul ...
(1569–1795) * Federated Dutch Republic (1581–1795) *
Confederate Ireland Confederate Ireland, also referred to as the Irish Catholic Confederation, was a period of Irish Catholic self-government between 1642 and 1649, during the Eleven Years' War. Formed by Catholic aristocrats, landed gentry, clergy and milita ...
(1642–1652) *
United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves The United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves was a pluricontinental monarchy formed by the elevation of the Portuguese colony named State of Brazil to the status of a kingdom and by the simultaneous union of that Kingdom of Brazil ...
(1815–1825) *
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti or Quisqueya) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West Indies, and t ...
(1822–1844) *
United Provinces of Central America The Federal Republic of Central America ( es, República Federal de Centroamérica), originally named the United Provinces of Central America ( es, Provincias Unidas del Centro de América), and sometimes simply called Central America, in it ...
(1823 – circa 1838) *
Peru–Bolivian Confederation The Peru–Bolivian Confederation was a short-lived state that existed in South America between 1836 and 1839. The country was a loose confederation between the states of Peru, divided into the Republic of North Peru and the Republic of South ...
(1836–1839) * Confederation of New Granada (1858–1863) *
Confederate States of America The Confederate States of America (CSA), commonly referred to as the Confederate States or the Confederacy was an unrecognized breakaway republic in the Southern United States that existed from February 8, 1861, to May 9, 1865. The Confeder ...
(1861–1865) * United States of Colombia (1863–1886) * North German Confederation (1867–1871) *
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire,, the Dual Monarchy, or Austria, was a constitutional monarchy and great power in Central Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1 ...
(1867–1918) *
German Empire The German Empire (), Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditar ...
(1871–1918) * Federal Republic of Spain (1873–1874) *
French Indochina French Indochina (previously spelled as French Indo-China),; vi, Đông Dương thuộc Pháp, , lit. 'East Ocean under French Control; km, ឥណ្ឌូចិនបារាំង, ; th, อินโดจีนฝรั่งเศส, ...
(1887–1954) *
Federated Malay States )Under God's Protection , capital = Kuala Lumpur1 , religion = Islam , legislature = Federal Legislative Council , type_house1 = State level , common_languages = , title_leader = Monarch , leader1 ...
(1896–1946) *
French West Africa French West Africa (french: Afrique-Occidentale française, ) was a federation of eight French colonial territories in West Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan (now Mali), French Guinea (now Guinea), Ivory Coast, Upper Volta (now Burki ...
(1904–1958) *
French Equatorial Africa French Equatorial Africa (french: link=no, Afrique-Équatoriale française), or the AEF, was the federation of French colonial possessions in Equatorial Africa, extending northwards from the Congo River into the Sahel, and comprising what are ...
(1910–1934) *
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia, at the junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast ...
(1912–1928) *
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Russian SFSR or RSFSR ( rus, Российская Советская Федеративная Социалистическая Республика, Rossíyskaya Sovétskaya Federatívnaya Soci ...
(1917–1991) *
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: link=no, Weimarer Republik ), officially named the German Reich, was the government of Germany from 1918 to 1933, during which it was a constitutional federal republic for the first time in history; hence it is ...
(1919–1933) *
Syrian Federation The Syrian Federation ( ar, الاتحاد السوري; french: Fédération syrienne), officially the Federation of the Autonomous States of Syria (french: Fédération des États autonomes de Syrie), was constituted on 28 June 1922 by High Comm ...
(1922–1925) *
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
(1922–1991) * Federal State of Austria (1934–1938) * Mengjiang Autonomous United Government (1937–1945, since 1941 autonomous region of the Reorganized National Government of China) * Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1943–1992) *
Malayan Union The Malayan Union was a union of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government to simplify administration. ...
(1946–1948) * Federation of Malaya (1948–1963) * United States of Indonesia (1949–1950) *
German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, people of German ancestry, or native speakers of the German language ** For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law **G ...
(1949–1952) * United Kingdom of Libya (1951–1963) *
Federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea The Ethiopian–Eritrean Federation was a coalition between the former Italian colony of Eritrea and the Ethiopian Empire. It was established as a result of the renunciation of Italy’s rights and titles to territorial possessions in Africa, in ...
(1952–1962) *
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, also known as the Central African Federation or CAF, was a colonial federation that consisted of three southern African territories: the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia and the ...
(1953–1963) *
West Indies Federation The West Indies Federation, also known as the West Indies, the Federation of the West Indies or the West Indian Federation, was a short-lived political union that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. Various islands in the Caribbean tha ...
(1958–1962) *
Mali Federation The Mali Federation ( ar, اتحاد مالي) was a federation in West Africa linking the French colonies of Senegal and the Sudanese Republic (or French Sudan) for two months in 1960. It was founded on 4 April 1959 as a territory with self- ...
(1959–1960) * Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) (1960–1964) * Federal Republic of Cameroon (1961–1972) * Republic of South Africa (1961–1994) *
Republic of Uganda }), is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The south ...
(1962–1967) *
Republic of Kenya ) , national_anthem = " Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"() , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Nairobi , coordinates = , largest_city = Nairobi ...
(1963–1964) *
United Republic of Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoro Islands and ...
(1964–1965) *
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, ČSSR, formerly known from 1948 to 1960 as the Czechoslovak Republic or Fourth Czechoslovak Republic, was the official name of Czechoslovakia from 1960 to 29 March 1990, when it was renamed the Czechoslovak ...
Became Czech and Slovak Federative Republic through a constitutional change in 1990. (1969–1992) *
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Serbia and Montenegro ( sr, Cрбија и Црна Гора, translit=Srbija i Crna Gora) was a country in Southeast Europe located in the Balkans that existed from 1992 to 2006, following the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yu ...
(1992–2003) Some of the proclaimed Arab federations were confederations ''de facto''.


See also


References


External links

* {{Authority control Constitutional state types