A nation state (or nation-state) in the most specific sense is a
country where a distinct cultural or ethnic group (a "nation" or
"people") inhabits a territory and have formed a state (often a
sovereign state) that they predominantly govern. It is a more precise
term than "country," but of the same general meaning, being that it is
an ethnic nation with its own land (thus "homeland") and government.
A nation, in the sense of a common ethnicity, may include a diaspora
or refugees who live outside the nation-state; some nations of this
sense do not have a state where that ethnicity predominates. In a more
general sense, a nation-state is simply a large, politically sovereign
country or administrative territory. A nation-state may be contrasted
A multinational state, where no one ethnic group dominates (may also
be considered a multicultural state depending on the degree of
cultural assimilation of various groups).
A city-state which is both smaller than a "nation" in the sense of
"large sovereign country" and which may or may not be dominated by all
or part of a single "nation" in the sense of a common
An empire, which is composed of many countries (possibly non-sovereign
states) and nations under a single monarch or ruling state government.
A confederation, a league of sovereign states, which might or might
not include nation-states (such as the European Union).
A federated state which may or may not be a nation-state, and which is
only partially self-governing within a larger federation (for example,
the state boundaries of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina are drawn along ethnic
lines, but those of the
United States are not).
This article mainly discusses the more specific definition of a
nation-state, as a typically sovereign country dominated by a
2 History and origins
3 Before the nation state
5 In practice
6 Exceptional cases
6.1 United Kingdom
6.2 Kingdom of the Netherlands
9.1 Clash of civilizations
11 See also
12.2 External links
The relationship between a nation (in the ethnic sense) and a state
can be complex. The presence of a state can encourage ethnogenesis,
and a group with a pre-existing ethnic identity can influence the
drawing of territorial boundaries or to argue for political
This definition of a "nation-state" is not universally accepted. "All
attempts to develop terminological consensus around "nation" resulted
in failure", concludes academic Valery Tishkov.
Walker Connor discusses the impressions surrounding the characters
of "nation", "(sovereign) state", "nation state", and "nationalism".
Connor, who gave the term "ethnonationalism" wide currency, also
discusses the tendency to confuse nation and state and the treatment
of all states as if nation states. In
Globalization and Belonging,
Sheila L. Crouche discusses "The Definitional Dilemma".
History and origins
Main article: Nation
The origins and early history of nation states are disputed. A major
theoretical question is: "Which came first, the nation or the nation
state?" Scholars such as Steven Weber, David Woodward, and Jeremy
Black have advanced the hypothesis that the nation state did
not arise out of political ingenuity or an unknown undetermined
source, nor was it an accident of history or political invention; but
is an inadvertent byproduct of 15th-century intellectual discoveries
in political economy, capitalism, mercantilism, political geography,
and geography combined together with cartography and
advances in map-making technologies. It was with these
intellectual discoveries and technological advances that the nation
state arose. For others, the nation existed first, then nationalist
movements arose for sovereignty, and the nation state was created to
meet that demand. Some "modernization theories" of nationalism see it
as a product of government policies to unify and modernize an already
existing state. Most theories see the nation state as a 19th-century
European phenomenon, facilitated by developments such as
state-mandated education, mass literacy and mass media. However,
historians[who?] also note the early emergence of a relatively unified
state and identity in
Portugal and the Dutch Republic.[citation
Eric Hobsbawm argues, the French state preceded the
formation of the French people. Hobsbawm considers that the state made
the French nation, not French nationalism, which emerged at the end of
the 19th century, the time of the Dreyfus Affair. At the time of the
1789 French Revolution, only half of the
French people spoke some
French, and 12–13% spoke the version of it that was to be found in
literature and in educational facilities, according to Hobsbawm.
During the Italian unification, the number of people speaking the
Italian language was even lower. The French state promoted the
replacement of various regional dialects and languages by a
centralised French language. The introduction of conscription and the
Third Republic's 1880s laws on public instruction, facilitated the
creation of a national identity, under this theory.
Some nation states, such as
Germany and Italy, came into existence at
least partly as a result of political campaigns by nationalists,
during the 19th century. In both cases, the territory was previously
divided among other states, some of them very small. The sense of
common identity was at first a cultural movement, such as in the
Völkisch movement in German-speaking states, which rapidly acquired a
political significance. In these cases, the nationalist sentiment and
the nationalist movement clearly precede the unification of the German
and Italian nation states.
Historians Hans Kohn, Liah Greenfeld, Philip White and others have
classified nations such as
Germany or Italy, where cultural
unification preceded state unification, as ethnic nations or ethnic
nationalities. However, "state-driven" national unifications, such as
England or China, are more likely to flourish in
multiethnic societies, producing a traditional national heritage of
civic nations, or territory-based nationalities. Some
authors deconstruct the distinction between ethnic nationalism and
civic nationalism because of the ambiguity of the concepts. They argue
that the paradigmatic case of
Ernest Renan is an idealisation and it
should be interpreted within the German tradition and not in
opposition to it. For example, they argue that the arguments used by
Renan at the conference What is a nation? are not consistent with his
thinking. This alleged civic conception of the nation would be
determined only by the case of the loss gives Alsace and Lorraine in
the Franco-Prussian War.
The idea of a nation state was and is associated with the rise of the
modern system of states, often called the "Westphalian system" in
reference to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). The balance of power,
which characterized that system, depended on its effectiveness upon
clearly defined, centrally controlled, independent entities, whether
empires or nation states, which recognize each other's sovereignty and
territory. The Westphalian system did not create the nation state, but
the nation state meets the criteria for its component states (by
assuming that there is no disputed territory).
The nation state received a philosophical underpinning in the era of
Romanticism, at first as the "natural" expression of the individual
peoples (romantic nationalism: see Johann Gottlieb Fichte's conception
of the Volk, later opposed by Ernest Renan). The increasing emphasis
during the 19th century on the ethnic and racial origins of the
nation, led to a redefinition of the nation state in these terms.
Racism, which in Boulainvilliers's theories was inherently
antipatriotic and antinationalist, joined itself with colonialist
imperialism and "continental imperialism", most notably in
pan-Germanic and pan-Slavic movements.
The relation between racism and ethnic nationalism reached its height
in the 20th century fascism and Nazism. The specific combination of
"nation" ("people") and "state" expressed in such terms as the
Völkische Staat and implemented in laws such as the 1935 Nuremberg
laws made fascist states such as early Nazi
different from non-fascist nation states.
Minorities were not
considered part of the people (Volk), and were consequently denied to
have an authentic or legitimate role in such a state. In Germany,
Jews nor the Roma were considered part of the people and were
specifically targeted for persecution. German nationality law defined
"German" on the basis of German ancestry, excluding all non-Germans
from the people.
In recent years, a nation state's claim to absolute sovereignty within
its borders has been much criticized. A global political system
based on international agreements and supra-national blocs
characterized the post-war era. Non-state actors, such as
international corporations and non-governmental organizations, are
widely seen as eroding the economic and political power of nation
states, potentially leading to their eventual disappearance.[citation
Before the nation state
Dissolution of the multiethnic Austro-Hungarian
In Europe, during the 18th century, the classic non-national states
were the multiethnic empires, the Austrian Empire, Kingdom of France,
Kingdom of Hungary, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the
Empire and smaller nations at what would now be called
sub-state level. The multi-ethnic empire was a
Absolute monarchy ruled
by a king, emperor or sultan. The population belonged to many ethnic
groups, and they spoke many languages. The empire was dominated by one
ethnic group, and their language was usually the language of public
administration. The ruling dynasty was usually, but not always, from
This type of state is not specifically European: such empires existed
on all continents, except Australia and Antarctica. Some of the
smaller European states were not so ethnically diverse, but were also
dynastic states, ruled by a royal house. Their territory could expand
by royal intermarriage or merge with another state when the dynasty
merged. In some parts of Europe, notably Germany, very small
territorial units existed. They were recognised by their neighbours as
independent, and had their own government and laws. Some were ruled by
princes or other hereditary rulers, some were governed by bishops or
abbots. Because they were so small, however, they had no separate
language or culture: the inhabitants shared the language of the
In some cases these states were simply overthrown by nationalist
uprisings in the 19th century. Liberal ideas of free trade played a
role in German unification, which was preceded by a customs union, the
Zollverein. However, the Austro-Prussian War, and the German alliances
in the Franco-Prussian War, were decisive in the unification. The
Empire and the Ottoman
Empire broke up after the
First World War, and the Russian
Empire became the
Soviet Union after
the Russian Civil War.
A few of the smaller states survived: the independent principalities
of Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, and the republic of San Marino.
Vatican City is a special case. All of the larger Papal States save
the Vatican itself were occupied and absorbed by
Italy by 1870. The
Roman Question was resolved with the rise of the modern
state under the 1929
Lateran treaties between
Italy and the Holy See.)
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"Legitimate states that govern effectively and dynamic industrial
economies are widely regarded today as the defining characteristics of
a modern nation-state."
Nation states have their own characteristics, differing from those of
the pre-national states. For a start, they have a different attitude
to their territory when compared with dynastic monarchies: it is
semisacred and nontransferable. No nation would swap territory with
other states simply, for example, because the king's daughter married.
They have a different type of border, in principle defined only by the
area of settlement of the national group, although many nation states
also sought natural borders (rivers, mountain ranges). They are
constantly changing in population size and power because of the
limited restrictions of their borders.
The most noticeable characteristic is the degree to which nation
states use the state as an instrument of national unity, in economic,
social and cultural life.
The nation state promoted economic unity, by abolishing internal
customs and tolls. In Germany, that process, the creation of the
Zollverein, preceded formal national unity.
Nation states typically
have a policy to create and maintain a national transportation
infrastructure, facilitating trade and travel. In 19th-century Europe,
the expansion of the rail transport networks was at first largely a
matter for private railway companies, but gradually came under control
of the national governments. The French rail network, with its main
lines radiating from Paris to all corners of France, is often seen as
a reflection of the centralised French nation state, which directed
Nation states continue to build, for instance,
specifically national motorway networks. Specifically transnational
infrastructure programmes, such as the Trans-European Networks, are a
The nation states typically had a more centralised and uniform public
administration than its imperial predecessors: they were smaller, and
the population less diverse. (The internal diversity of the Ottoman
Empire, for instance, was very great.) After the 19th-century triumph
of the nation state in Europe, regional identity was subordinate to
national identity, in regions such as Alsace-Lorraine, Catalonia,
Brittany and Corsica. In many cases, the regional administration was
also subordinated to central (national) government. This process was
partially reversed from the 1970s onward, with the introduction of
various forms of regional autonomy, in formerly centralised states
such as France.
The most obvious impact of the nation state, as compared to its
non-national predecessors, is the creation of a uniform national
culture, through state policy. The model of the nation state implies
that its population constitutes a nation, united by a common descent,
a common language and many forms of shared culture. When the implied
unity was absent, the nation state often tried to create it. It
promoted a uniform national language, through language policy. The
creation of national systems of compulsory primary education and a
relatively uniform curriculum in secondary schools, was the most
effective instrument in the spread of the national languages. The
schools also taught the national history, often in a propagandistic
and mythologised version, and (especially during conflicts) some
nation states still teach this kind of history.
Language and cultural policy was sometimes negative, aimed at the
suppression of non-national elements. Language prohibitions were
sometimes used to accelerate the adoption of national languages and
the decline of minority languages (see examples: Anglicisation,
Czechization, Francisation, Italianization, Germanisation,
Magyarisation, Polonisation, Russification, Serbization,
In some cases, these policies triggered bitter conflicts and further
ethnic separatism. But where it worked, the cultural uniformity and
homogeneity of the population increased. Conversely, the cultural
divergence at the border became sharper: in theory, a uniform French
identity extends from the Atlantic coast to the Rhine, and on the
other bank of the Rhine, a uniform German identity begins. To enforce
that model, both sides have divergent language policy and educational
See also: Monoethnicity
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In some cases, the geographic boundaries of an ethnic population and a
political state largely coincide. In these cases, there is little
immigration or emigration, few members of ethnic minorities, and few
members of the "home" ethnicity living in other countries.
Examples of nation states where ethnic groups make up more than 85% of
the population include the following:
Albania: The vast majority of the population is ethnically Albanian at
about 98.6% of the population, with the remainder consisting of a few
small ethnic minorities.
Armenia: The vast majority of Armenia's population consists of ethnic
Armenians at about 98% of the population, with the remainder
consisting of a few small ethnic minorities.
Bangladesh: The vast majority ethnic group of
Bangladesh are the
Bengali people, comprising 98% of the population, with the remainder
consisting of mostly Bihari migrants and indigenous tribal groups.
Therefore, Bangladeshi society is to a great extent linguistically and
culturally homogeneous, with very small populations of foreign
expatriates and workers, although there is a substantial number of
Bengali workers living abroad.
China: The vast majority of China's population is Han, making up 92%
of the population. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Chinese. Han
population is geographically distributed on the eastern side of China.
Also have very small percentage of Turks, Tibetans,
Egypt: The vast majority of Egypt's population consists of ethnic
Egyptians at about 99% of the population, with the remainder
consisting of a few small ethnic minorities, as well as refugees or
asylum seekers. Modern Egyptian identity is closely tied to the
Egypt and its long history; its development over the
centuries saw overlapping or conflicting ideologies. Though today an
Arab people, that aspect constitutes for Egyptians a cultural
dimension of their identity, not a necessary attribute of or prop for
their national political being. Today most Egyptians see themselves,
their history, culture and language (the Egyptian variant of Arabic)
as specifically Egyptian and at the same time as part of the Arab
Estonia: Defined as a nation state in its 1920 constitution,[citation
needed] up until the period of Soviet colonialisation,
historically a very homogenous state with 88.2% of residents being
Estonians, 8.2% Russians, 1.5% Germans and 0.4%
Jews according to the
1934 census. As a result of Soviet policies the demographic
situation significantly changed with the arrival of Russian speaking
Estonians form 69%,
Belarusians 1.1% of the population (2012). A significant
proportion of the inhabitants (84.1%) are citizens of Estonia, around
7.3% are citizens of
Russia and 7.0% as yet undefined citizenship
Greece: 91.6% of the permanent residents are ethnic Greek; the
remaining 911929 inhabitants consist of immigrants from Albania
(480,824), Bulgaria (75,915),
Romania (46,253), former USSR (70,000),
Europe (77,000) and the rest of the world (161,937).
Hungary: The Hungarians (or Magyar) people consist of about 95% of the
population, with a small Roma and German minority: see Demographics of
Iceland: Although the inhabitants are ethnically related to other
Scandinavian groups, the national culture and language are found only
in Iceland. There are no cross-border minorities as the nearest land
is too far away: see Demographics of Iceland.
Ainu, an ethnic minority people from
Japan (between 1863 and early
Japan is also traditionally seen as an example of a nation
state and also the largest of the nation states, with population in
excess of 120 million. It should be noted that
Japan has a small
number of minorities such as Ryūkyū peoples,
Koreans and Chinese,
and on the northern island of Hokkaidō, the indigenous Ainu minority.
However, they are either numerically insignificant (Ainu), their
difference is not as pronounced (though Ryukyuan culture is closely
related to Japanese culture, it is nonetheless distinctive in that it
historically received much more influence from
China and has separate
political and nonpolitical and religious traditions) or well
assimilated (Zainichi population is collapsing due to
Lebanon: The Lebanese Arabs comprise about 95% of the population, with
the remainder consisting of a few small ethnic minorities, as well as
refugees or asylum seekers. Modern Lebanese identity is closely tied
to the geography of
Lebanon and its history. Although they are now an
Arab people and ethnically homogeneous, its identity oversees
overlapping or conflicting ideologies between its Phoenician heritage
Arab heritage. While many Lebanese regard themselves as Arab, some
Lebanese Christians, especially the Maronites, regard themselves,
their history, and their culture as Phoenician and not Arab, while
still other Lebanese regard themselves as both.
Lesotho: Lesotho's ethno-linguistic structure consists almost entirely
Basotho (singular Mosotho), a Bantu-speaking people; about
99.7% of the population are Basotho.
Maldives: The vast majority of the population is ethnically Dhivehi at
about 98% of the population, with the remainder consisting of foreign
workers; there are no indigenous ethnic minorities.
Malta: The vast majority of the population is ethnically Maltese at
about 95.3% of the population, with the remainder consisting of a few
small ethnic minorities.
Mongolia: The vast majority of the population is ethnically Mongol at
about 95.0% of the population, with the remainder consisting of a few
ethnic minorities included in Kazakhs.
South Korea are among the most ethnically and linguistically
homogeneous in the world. Particularly in reclusive North Korea, there
are very few ethnic minority groups and expatriate foreigners.
Poland: After World
War II, with the genocide of the
Jews by the
invading German Nazis during the Holocaust, the expulsion of Germans
World War II
World War II and the loss of eastern territories (Kresy), 96.7%
of the people of
Poland claim Polish nationality, while 97.8% declare
that they speak Polish at home (Census 2002.).
Several Polynesian countries such as Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu,
Portugal: Although surrounded by other lands and people, the
Portuguese nation has occupied the same territory since the
romanization or latinization of the native population during the Roman
era. The modern Portuguese nation is a very old amalgam of formerly
distinct historical populations that passed through and settled in the
territory of modern Portugal: native Iberian peoples, Celts, ancient
Mediterraneans (Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Jews), invading Germanic
peoples like the
Suebi and the Visigoths, and
Muslim Arabs and
Berbers. Most Berber/
Arab people and the
Jews were expelled from the
Iberian Peninsula during the
Reconquista and the repopulation by
San Marino: The Sammarinese make up about 97% of the population and
all speak Italian and are ethnically and linguistically identical to
San Marino is a landlocked enclave, completely surrounded by
Italy. The state has a population of approximately 30,000, including
1,000 foreigners, most of whom are Italians.
Swaziland: The vast majority of the population is ethnically Swazi at
about 98.6% of the population, with the remainder consisting of a few
small ethnic minorities.
The notion of a unifying "national identity" also extends to countries
that host multiple ethnic or language groups, such as India. For
Switzerland is constitutionally a confederation of cantons,
and has four official languages, but it has also a "Swiss" national
identity, a national history and a classic national hero, Wilhelm
Innumerable conflicts have arisen where political boundaries did not
correspond with ethnic or cultural boundaries.
World War II
World War II in the
Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito era, nationalism was
appealed to for uniting
South Slav peoples. Later in the 20th century,
after the break-up of the Soviet Union, leaders appealed to ancient
ethnic feuds or tensions that ignited conflict between the Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes, as well Bosnians, Montenegrins and Macedonians,
eventually breaking up the long collaboration of peoples. Ethnic
cleansing was carried out in the Balkans, resulting in the destruction
of the formerly socialist republic and producing the civil wars in
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992–95, resulting in mass population
displacements and segregation that radically altered what was once a
highly diverse and intermixed ethnic makeup of the region. These
conflicts were largely about creating a new political framework of
states, each of which would be ethnically and politically homogeneous.
Serbians, Croatians and
Bosnians insisted they were ethnically
distinct although many communities had a long history of
Slovenia (89% Slovene),
Serbia (83% Serb) could be classified as nation states
per se, whereas Macedonia (66% Macedonian),
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina (50.1% Bosniak) are
Ethnolinguistic map of mainland
China and Taiwan
Belgium is a classic example of a state that is not a nation state.
The state was formed by secession from the
United Kingdom of the
Netherlands in 1830, whose neutrality and integrity was protected by
the Treaty of London 1839; thus it served as a buffer state after the
Napoleonic Wars between the European powers France,
1871 the German Empire) and the
United Kingdom until World
War I, when
its neutrality was breached by the Germans. Currently,
divided between the
Flemings in the north and the
the German-speaking population in the south. The Flemish population in
the north speaks Dutch, the Walloon population in the south speaks
French or German. The Brussels population speaks French or Dutch.
The Flemish identity is also cultural, and there is a strong
separatist movement espoused by the political parties, the right-wing
Vlaams Belang and the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie. The Francophone Walloon
Belgium is linguistically distinct and regionalist. There
is also unitary Belgian nationalism, several versions of a Greater
Netherlands ideal, and a German-speaking community of
Germany in 1920, and re-annexed by
Germany in 1940–1944.
However these ideologies are all very marginal and politically
insignificant during elections.
China covers a large geographic area and uses the concept of "Zhonghua
minzu" or Chinese nationality, in the sense of ethnic groups, but it
also officially recognizes the majority Han ethnic group which
accounts for over 90% of the population, and no fewer than 55 ethnic
According to Philip G. Roeder,
Moldova is an example of a Soviet era
"segment-state" (Moldavian SSR), where the "nation-state project of
the segment-state trumped the nation-state project of prior statehood.
In Moldova, despite strong agitation from university faculty and
students for reunification with Romania, the nation-state project
forged within the
Moldavian SSR trumped the project for a return to
the interwar nation-state project of Greater Romania." See
Controversy over linguistic and ethnic identity in
Moldova for further
Map of the
United Kingdom showing its four constituent countries.
United Kingdom is an unusual example of a nation state, due to its
claimed "countries within a country" status. The United Kingdom, which
is formed by the union of England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern
Ireland, is a unitary state formed initially by the merger of two
independent kingdoms, the Kingdom of
England (which already included
Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland, but the
Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union (1707)
that set out the agreed terms has ensured the continuation of distinct
features of each state, including separate legal systems and separate
In 2003, the British
Government described the
United Kingdom as
"countries within a country". While the Office for National
Statistics and others describe the
United Kingdom as a "nation
state", others, including a then Prime Minister, describe it
as a "multinational state", and the term
Home Nations is
used to describe the four national teams that represent the four
nations of the
United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland,
Wales). Some refer to it as a "Union State".
There has been academic debate over whether the
United Kingdom can be
legally dissolved as it is normally recognized internationally as a
single nation state.
English law jurist
A.V. Dicey from an English
legal perspective wrote that the question is based on whether the
legislation giving rise to the union (the Union with
one of the two pieces of legislation which created the state, can be
repealed. Dicey claimed because the Law of
England does not
acknowledge the word "unconstitutional", as a matter of
English law it
can be repealed. He also stated any tampering with the Acts of Union
1707 would be political
madness.[page needed][better source needed]
Kingdom of the Netherlands
A similar unusual example is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As of 10
October 2010, the
Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four
Each is expressly designated as a land in Dutch law by the Charter for
the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Unlike the German Länder and the
Austrian Bundesländer, landen is consistently translated as
"countries" by the Dutch government.
Israel was founded as a
Jewish state in 1948. Its "Basic Laws"
describe it as both a Jewish and a democratic state. According to the
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 75.7% of Israel's population are
Jews. Arabs, who make up 20.4% of the population, are the largest
ethnic minority in Israel.
Israel also has very small communities of
Armenians, Circassians, Assyrians, Samaritans, and persons of some
Jewish heritage. There are also some non-Jewish
spouses of Israeli Jews. However, these communities are very small,
and usually number only in the hundreds or thousands.
Pakistan, even being an ethnically diverse country and officially a
federation, is regarded as a nation state due to its ideological
basis on which it was given independence from British
India as a
separate nation rather than as part of a unified India. Different
ethnic groups in
Pakistan are strongly bonded by their common Muslim
identity, common cultural and social values, common historical
heritage, a national
Lingua franca (Urdu) and joint political,
strategic and economic interests.
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The most obvious deviation from the ideal of "one nation, one state"
is the presence of minorities, especially ethnic minorities, which are
clearly not members of the majority nation. An ethnic nationalist
definition of a nation is necessarily exclusive: ethnic nations
typically do not have open membership. In most cases, there is a clear
idea that surrounding nations are different, and that includes members
of those nations who live on the "wrong side" of the border.
Historical examples of groups who have been specifically singled out
as outsiders are the Roma and
Jews in Europe.
Negative responses to minorities within the nation state have ranged
from cultural assimilation enforced by the state, to expulsion,
persecution, violence, and extermination. The assimilation policies
are usually enforced by the state, but violence against minorities is
not always state initiated: it can occur in the form of mob violence
such as lynching or pogroms.
Nation states are responsible for some of
the worst historical examples of violence against minorities not
considered part of the nation.
However, many nation states accept specific minorities as being part
of the nation, and the term national minority is often used in this
Germany are an example: for centuries they have
lived in German-speaking states, surrounded by a much larger ethnic
German population, and they have no other historical territory. They
are now generally considered to be part of the German nation and are
accepted as such by the Federal Republic of Germany, which
constitutionally guarantees their cultural rights. Of the thousands of
ethnic and cultural minorities in nation states across the world, only
a few have this level of acceptance and protection.
Multiculturalism is an official policy in many states, establishing
the ideal of peaceful existence among multiple ethnic, cultural, and
linguistic groups. Many nations have laws protecting minority rights.
When national boundaries that do not match ethnic boundaries are
drawn, such as in the
Balkans and Central Asia, ethnic tension,
massacres and even genocide, sometimes has occurred historically (see
Bosnian genocide and 2010 South Kyrgyzstan ethnic
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Main article: Irredentism
The Greater German
Empire under Nazi
Germany in 1943
Ideally, the border of a nation state extends far enough to include
all the members of the nation, and all of the national homeland.
Again, in practice some of them always live on the 'wrong side' of the
border. Part of the national homeland may be there too, and it may be
governed by the 'wrong' nation. The response to the non-inclusion of
territory and population may take the form of irredentism: demands to
annex unredeemed territory and incorporate it into the nation state.
Irredentist claims are usually based on the fact that an identifiable
part of the national group lives across the border. However, they can
include claims to territory where no members of that nation live at
present, because they lived there in the past, the national language
is spoken in that region, the national culture has influenced it,
geographical unity with the existing territory, or a wide variety of
other reasons. Past grievances are usually involved and can cause
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish irredentism from
pan-nationalism, since both claim that all members of an ethnic and
cultural nation belong in one specific state.
Pan-nationalism is less
likely to specify the nation ethnically. For instance, variants of
Pan-Germanism have different ideas about what constituted Greater
Germany, including the confusing term Grossdeutschland, which, in
fact, implied the inclusion of huge Slavic minorities from the
Typically, irredentist demands are at first made by members of
non-state nationalist movements. When they are adopted by a state,
they typically result in tensions, and actual attempts at annexation
are always considered a casus belli, a cause for war. In many cases,
such claims result in long-term hostile relations between neighbouring
states. Irredentist movements typically circulate maps of the claimed
national territory, the greater nation state. That territory, which is
often much larger than the existing state, plays a central role in
Irredentism should not be confused with claims to overseas colonies,
which are not generally considered part of the national homeland. Some
French overseas colonies would be an exception: French rule in Algeria
unsuccessfully treated the colony as a département of France.
It has been speculated by both proponents of globalization and various
science fiction writers that the concept of a nation state may
disappear with the ever-increasing interconnectedness of the
world. Such ideas are sometimes expressed around concepts
of a world government. Another possibility is a societal collapse and
move into communal anarchy or zero world government, in which nation
states no longer exist and government is done on the local level based
on a global ethic of human rights.[original research?]
This falls in line with the concept of internationalism, which states
that sovereignty is an outdated concept and a barrier to achieving
peace and harmony in the world.
Globalization especially has helped to bring about the discussion
about the disappearance of nation states, as global trade and the rise
of the concepts of a 'global citizen' and a common identity have
helped to reduce differences and 'distances' between individual nation
states, especially with regards to the internet.
Clash of civilizations
The theory of the clash of civilizations lies in direct contrast to
cosmopolitan theories about an ever more-connected world that no
longer requires nation states. According to political scientist Samuel
P. Huntington, people's cultural and religious identities will be the
primary source of conflict in the post–Cold
The theory was originally formulated in a 1992 lecture at the
American Enterprise Institute, which was then developed in a 1993
Foreign Affairs article titled "The Clash of Civilizations?", in
response to Francis Fukuyama's 1992 book, The End of History and the
Last Man. Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book The
Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
Huntington began his thinking by surveying the diverse theories about
the nature of global politics in the post–Cold
War period. Some
theorists and writers argued that human rights, liberal democracy and
capitalist free market economics had become the only remaining
ideological alternative for nations in the post–Cold
Specifically, Francis Fukuyama, in The End of History and the Last
Man, argued that the world had reached a Hegelian "end of history".
Huntington believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the
world had reverted only to a normal state of affairs characterized by
cultural conflict. In his thesis, he argued that the primary axis of
conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines.
As an extension, he posits that the concept of different
civilizations, as the highest rank of cultural identity, will become
increasingly useful in analyzing the potential for conflict.
In the 1993
Foreign Affairs article, Huntington writes:
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this
new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The
great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict
will be cultural.
Nation states will remain the most powerful actors
in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will
occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash
of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines
between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
Sandra Joireman suggests that Huntington may be characterised as a
neo-primordialist, as, while he sees people as having strong ties to
their ethnicity, he does not believe that these ties have always
Historians often look to the past to find the origins of a particular
nation state. Indeed, they often put so much emphasis on the
importance of the nation state in modern times, that they distort the
history of earlier periods in order to emphasize the question of
origins. Lansing and English argue that much of the medieval history
Europe was structured to follow the historical winners—especially
the nation states that emerged around Paris and London. Important
developments that did not directly lead to a nation state get
neglected, they argue:
one effect of this approach has been to privilege historical winners,
aspects of medieval
Europe that became important in later centuries,
above all the nation state.... Arguably the liveliest cultural
innovation in the 13th century was Mediterranean, centered on
Frederick II's polyglot court and administration in Palermo....Sicily
and the Italian South in later centuries suffered a long slide into
overtaxed poverty and marginality. Textbook narratives therefore focus
not on medieval Palermo, with its
Muslim and Jewish bureaucracies and
Arabic-speaking monarch, but on the historical winners, Paris and
Bioregionalism as an alternative to nation states.
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Extra text: authors list (link)
From Paris to Cairo: Resistance of the Unacculturated on identity and
the nation state.
Ingroups and outgroups
Ethnicity in census
Ethnic interest group
Ethnic theme park