Nation States Humans have always partitioned space to separate themselves from other human groups. This is similar to other species. The creation of territory is the basis for political organization and action. The political partitioning of space leads to the most basic of human geographic divisions - the sovereign state. Most states are recognized as such by other states, and their territory respected; they are governed by a recognizable body, with rules for the administration of the state. Individuals are therefore tied to a state and subject to its rules. A state is an independent or sovereign (able to make its own decisions free from external control) political entity. It often includes most of the following: •A defined territory of land •A permanent resident population •An organized economy •An interconnected system of financial and infrastructure services •A recognized (by international legal standards and its people) form of government. occupying a defined territory (a state). A nation is a group of people who are aware of and share one or more of these cultural features: •Religion •Language •Values and customs •Ethnicity •Historical experience •Identification with a homeland Nations, unlike states, are not limited by geography. Members of a nation feel they belong to a distinct group regardless of location. There is a growing trend of “nationalism” leading to nation-states where each person within a political boundary is expected to share the same cultural traits. Reaching a true nation-state is difficult as there are over 1400 nationalities in the world. It has also been argued that nationalism also means: that all members of the national (cultural) group have the right to live within the borders of the state; that it may be inappropriate for other national groups to live within the borders; and, the government must be in the hands of the dominant national group. Given these ideas or arguments, it is possible to see how conflict both internally and externally can arise. In Europe, nationalism became the dominant criteria for defining a nation in the 19th century. Before that most people just tended to accept whatever empire or despotic ruler was in charge. Why did this change? Five possible explanations for the emergence of the nation state: • response to national political philosophies of the 18th century, especially the Swiss philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) • desire to be closer to people of similar cultural backgrounds • part of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, because those who owned and benefited from the means of production liked a stable state (this is a Marxist argument) • the collapse of local communities (with industrialization) and the need for communication/technology and coordination of a larger group Despite this rise of nationalism, the world has lots of examples of multinational and binational states. For example: African countries whose boundaries were drawn by Europeans without considering African national cultural groups. Many multinational states are unstable, especially in Africa, but not all, e.g., South Africa - now, Switzerland. Binational states include Canada and Belgium, both of which suffer internal stresses due to differing political desires of dominant cultural groups. When the entire population of a state is not bound by the same sense of nationalism but is spilt among local primary allegiances, then that state is said to suffer from cultural subnationalism. This can lead to civil war or even international disputes (e.g., India helping the 18% Tamil population of Sri Lanka). Subnationalism is one of the centrifugal forces that pull nations apart, as compared to centripetal forces (like a strong sense of nationalism) which tend to act to bind a state together. Subnationalism has led to strong authoritarian rulers in some states, Iraq and especially in Africa, who argue that it is the only alternative to tribalism tearing the countries apart. How these countries got this way is a function of colonialism. THE END!