When I started Maphover, I assumed that each term was interchangeable – a synonym to help colour a speech or a paragraph. But I was wrong. Each term has a different meaning. For instance, England is a country – but it’s not a State. Likewise, the United Kingdom is a State, but it’s not a country. But the term state has different meanings, depending on if the ‘S’ is a capital letter. Not an ideal situation.
It’s only natural to mix these three terms up – because TV and newspapers often use the terms interchangeably. I even made a mistake in my post: what are the newest countries in the world? It should actually read – What are the newest States in the World?
Country: A defined piece of land with borders. Examples include Germany, Scotland and Australia. Internationally, there are some almost agreed principles to determine what is a country.
Nation: A group of people that share a common identity. This identity could be rooted in religion, language or traditions. The people sharing this identity do not necessarily need to be in close physical proximity. Examples include Christians and Kurds.
State: A state is a Government that oversees education, immigration and the law. Practically, this is usually over a country (like the Ukrainian Government overseeing Ukraine) or a group of countries (like the United Kingdom overseeing the countries England, Scotland and Wales).
So, for instance:
- Victoria is a state within the sovereign State of Australia
- California is a state within the sovereign State of USA