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What is the difference between a state and a nation?

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Quick Answer

A state is an independent political entity with clear geographic boundaries, and a nation is a large population that shares the same culture. Sometimes, although not always, these two entities overlap. When a homogeneous group of people with a common culture have their own independent government and recognized boundaries, the entity is called a nation-state.

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What is the difference between a state and a nation?
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Full Answer

A state has different defining characteristics compared to a nation. A state issues money and has a bureaucracy that provides services to its citizens. It also has recognition from other states. One of the key differences between a state and a nation is that a state has the right to enter into agreements with other states.

Nations have a population that shares the same language, traditions and religion. This is not necessarily true of states. States often have diverse populations consisting of various groups, or nations. One example of a diverse state is Canada. Although the majority of the country is English-speaking, a large minority speaks French and has different cultural traditions than the majority. Belgium, which has a French-speaking population and a population that speaks Dutch, is another example.

Some nations cross the boundaries of two or more states. An example is the Kurdish nation, which has members in the states of Iraq and Turkey.

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