What Are the Four Essential Features of a State?

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In order for an area to be considered a state, it must have a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and sovereignty. If just one of these is missing, an area will not be given statehood.

Although a state has to have a permanent population, these residents can be foreigners. The people living in the state don’t even need to know the language, so long as they are permanent residents. There is no minimum number of residents that must populate an area.

Each area requesting statehood must have a coherent territory or a defined geographical area. This area must be controlled by a government.

A government must be in place that takes care of everything political, social, cultural, environmental and economic. It is the executive government in the area.

Sovereignty means the government has independent authority over the territory. The government has complete control over making and executing laws and foreign affairs, and it makes the would-be state independent.

The first states in America were Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and they all became states in 1787. The last territory to become an American state was Hawaii. The territory of Hawaii was granted statehood on August 21, 1959, 8 months after Alaska became a state.