How Is Your Nationality Determined?

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Nationality is determined by birth or naturalization and is defined as a group of people living together in a country who often share a common language, history, customs and traditions. Nationality requires membership to a sovereign state or nation, and there are areas throughout the world where nationality is determined by ethnicity. Nationality provides the protection of the state and jurisdiction over the people.

Traditionally, each state has the right to decide the nationals, and this type of determination is part of nationality law. Nationality is generally different from citizenship and may include non-citizens and citizens. Citizenship excludes non-citizens and offers its citizens the right to contribute in politics by standing for election and voting. Nationality relates to membership to a nation based on contributions by the people to the nation's identity, generally based on customs or cultural and ethnic associations.

There are instances where people are considered nationals with semi-autonomous status. For example, when power is ceded to a larger government, such as specific tribes of Native Americans in the United States, the people are considered nationals. There are also Spanish laws that recognize residents of the autonomous regions of Galicia, Andalusia, Valencia, Aragón and Catalonia as having distinct nationalities. In Italy, there are German speakers of South Tyrol that are recognized as Austrian nationals.