We explain what the State is and the capacities it must have. In addition, its elements and the differences it has with a government.

The State is the entire population of a country.

What is the state?

State (usually with capital letters) is understood as the organization human body that encompasses the entire population of a country, structured socially, politically and economically through a set of independent and sovereign institutions that regulate life in society.

In other words, a State is equivalent to the set of attributions and public bodies that constitute the government sovereign of a nation, and sometimes the term is also used to refer to the nation as a whole: the Argentine State, the Palestinian State, etc. For an organized human group to be recognized as a State, it must have certain conditions, but also international recognition from its peers.

All States, then, must be able to count on the capacity to:

  • Externalize your power. That is, to achieve the recognition of their peers by force if necessary.
  • Institutionalize your power. This means owning institutions coercive measures that maintain order and consolidate methods of succession in political power, whatever they may be.
  • Manage a collective identity. The inhabitants of a State must feel part of an organized whole and greater than their own individualities or families, and they must share a tradition, a founding story, a series of national symbols, etc.

State elements

Every state requires autonomy and strength to exercise and defend its decisions.

The elements common to every State are:

  • Population. No State exists without a population that integrates it, no matter how large or tiny it may be, or however diverse it may be in cultural, racial or linguistic matters. In fact, there are many plurinational States (several nations organized in the same State), since the important thing is that the inhabitants agree to be governed by the same institutions and share a similar political destiny.
  • Territory. All States have a territory and borders that delimit their area of sovereignty and exercise of law, of the neighboring States. Said territory is yours to manage, assign, protect or economically exploit in the way that you see fit, as long as it does not jeopardize neighboring territories.
  • government. Every State must have strong and lasting institutions to manage life in society, as well as with authorities to govern them and sovereign methods to decide who will exercise said authority in their territory. Said government will exercise the politics and the administration of the State for a defined time based on the legal, cultural and political rules of the population.
  • Sovereignty. No state exists if another makes its decisions for it, so every state requires autonomy and strength to exercise and defend their decisions. If we do not have it, we can be in front of a colony, an associated State or other forms of domination of one State over another.

Rule of law

The rule of law is governed by a Constitution.

The rule of law is called a particular order of a country, in which all kinds of conflict and social, legal or political procedure is resolved according to what is explicit in a Magna Carta, that is, a Constitution.

The Constitution provides for the rules of play for the operation of a particular State, including the powers and limitations of State forces, the rights and obligations of citizens, and therefore all those who live in said country must voluntarily submit to the law enshrined in said text.

It is an indispensable condition for the existence of a rule of law that all citizens are equal before the law, enjoy the same Rights and duties, are legally evaluated with the same scale and that the institutions operate in accordance with the law.

Nation and government

In the same State there may be different nations or peoples.

Terms such as state, nation and government are often confused. The distinction between a State, as we have defined it in this article, and a nation or a government lies in:

  • Governments are administrations of the resources and institutions of the State, which vary according to the political and legal rules of a country, and which then give the turn to other political actors to exercise their own government, without this normally implying drastic changes in the structure of the State. Governments pass and are constituted by an elected or dominant political class; States, on the other hand, are durable and cover the entire population of a country. The sum of all heritage Public therefore equals the State, not the government.
  • Nations, for their part, are groups of people who share historical, cultural, sometimes ethnic, usually linguistic ties, and who recognize themselves as a collectivity, whether or not they have their own state to administer. The concept of nation is similar to that of “people”: in the same State there can be different nations or peoples, as is the case of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, made up of a mixed population of different ethnic groups or indigenous nations.
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