What are Four Characteristics of a State
New York City skyline with urban skyscrapers at sunset, USA.

Do you want to know what are the characteristics of a state what distinguishes it from a nation? Below you will find characteristics of a nation-state. Also we explain in detail what are the main characteristics of a state? President Woodral Wilson describes a state as “a group of people who are well organized through the law in a defined territory.” This means a state supposed to be territorial society, well organized through principles of bureaucracy. A state has three arms of government, namely legislature, judiciary and executive promoting separation of power which rely on 4 characteristics of a state. Also fosters law to people occupying the area, ruled through constitutional law.

Origins of the State
  • Force Theory – The force theory states that some people in authority took others and forced them to follow certain rules in society.  Mostly called ‘Dictatorship’, where people in authority are not held accountable by the governed.
  • Evolutionary Theory – The evolutionary theory states that society transforms and evolves naturally, people grow, learn to make decisions hence there is need for a state because man is by nature a political animal.
  • Divine Right Theory – The divine right theory talks of right that God created a state. Made every living creature and placed certain people with royal birth and “divine right” to rule others in society.
  • Social Contract Theory – The social contract theory states that states came into existence after people made a decision with government on to be government ruled. Social contract theory explains what government is expected to do to its citizens and people’s expectation living in the state.

Main characteristics of a state, features and definition.

According to Marshal in his book ‘wealthy Nations’, who defined essential attributes of a state been, Population, Territory, Government, Sovereignty, Permanence, Recognition, Taxation, Regulatory laws, and people or citizens. Characteristics of a state in international relations refers to an organized community governed political and acting under laws of the land as required by government.

Key Terms
  • Nation State: This means a polictical state closely associated with cultiural norms of an entity.
  • Civil Society: A group of people or community which comprises of citizens, oprganized collectvely and share similar interests. These people work together in institutions, coporate bodies and voluntary groups.
  • Sovereign State: Means a political organization with well structured centralized government and soveregn authority over a specific territory.

How is nation different from state

Often people in the world apply terms such as country sovereign state, a state, nation-state and nation,commonly used interchangeably. This brigs about confurion because few know how is nation different from state.

Definition of a state and Nation

A nation refers and means a group of people who inhabit a large territory, sharing same culture, values, tribe, beliefs and with same nationality. While a state refers to a territory which has its own populkation and nstitutions performiung certain duties. A state is an important institution which facilitates antiquity. Enhances associa­tion between laws government in charge of certain country within a specific territory.

Types of a State: States are classified in two types, namely;

  • Sovereign state is subject to making its own laws and policies. They are not dependent to another state.
  • Subject state depends on external sovereignty to function and make laws. They are not wholly hegemony, because their ultimate sovereignty and control depends on another state.

The four essential features of a state

Now that we know a state is a community well organized, politically governed and has government. What are four characteristics of a state? These are the characteristics of a state what distinguishes it from a nation. A state has these four characteristics, namely;

4 characteristics of a state

  1. Population
  2. Territory
  3. Government
  4. Sovereignty

A state is defined as a political unit that has power of enforcing laws within a certain well defined territory and over a group of people. Here’s four characteristics of a state

4 Characteristics of a State explained:

1.Population – A state must have people governed by the government. These people are commonly referred to as ‘citizens’ sometimes, and a number does not even matter.

2. Territory – A state must have a well and clearly defined territory. This is referred to as ‘border’ which is a mark that symbolizes the end of one state and where another begins from.

3. Government – Government is powerful machinery that enforces rules and regulations through common law of the land. Government is the institution which any society enforces public policies through Bureaucratic institutions.  Consists of people with legitimate authority to exercise its powers. Elected politicians and public administrators, work together in management or leadership, to deliver people’s needs. Administrators have been known to also play huge role by introducing control within a well defined country’s territory.

Government makes public policies through administrators. It highlights things the government wants to do . This list of making public policy and implementation can take years, which helps in promoting Public choice theory. Most states are governed through a written document, known as ‘Constitution’. State requires such a government must be recognized within its defined territory and by any other nation or community.

Every government has these three kinds of powers:

  • •Legislative power – This is the power to make laws, decisions and policies at national level.
  • •Executive power – This is power to enforce law, administer law to people and country.
  • •Judicial power – Through the arm of government judiciary, government has power to interpret laws, pass to legislature for any changes the power to interpret laws, explain meaning, and coordinating society by resolving conflicts.

4. Sovereignty – A state must have supreme power and authority to act. This includes authority to make its own decisions, policies, reforms, public affairs, external affairs, etc. with littler or no interference from the other states or countries.

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