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In political geography and international politics a country is a geographical territory. It is used casually in the sense of both the concept of nation (a cultural entity; see below) and state (a political entity). Strict definitions tend to place it as meaning only the state [1], though general use is wider than this [2].There are dozens of other, non- sovereign territories which constitute a geographical country, but are not sovereign states. Several states have overseas dependencies, with territory and citizens separate from their own. These have some features of countries and are sometimes listed as such.

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Characteristics of a country
Types of Country
Nation, country and state

Characteristics of a country - Contents

A country usually has its own government, administration and laws; and often a constitution, police, military, tax rules, and a population who are referred to as one another's countrymen. Together they form what Benedict Anderson referred to as an imagined community.

Types of Country - Contents

The State
A State is an independent territory with a government, a population and sovereignty over these. The entire landmass of the world (excluding Antarctica), along with coastal seas is considered to be divided among such countries. There are currently 192 states (countries) recognized by the United Nations — its 191 members and the Vatican City.In addition to these, there are other non sovereign territories which, under the philosophy of self-determination, wish to be considered countries in this sense. Some of these have de facto control over their population and territory, such as Abkazia, but are not considered states as they are not recognised as having sovereignty. On the other hand, in some internationally-recognized states, there is no functioning central government or there are several de facto states and governments. These are internationally not considered to constitute separate states, but rather to exist on the territory of the internationally recognized state.

A nation is a 'set of people with a common identity who have formed a nation-state or usually aspire to do so' (Viotti and Kauppi, 2001). In this sense of country, the reference is more likely to be to a group that supposedly shares a common ethnic origin, language, religion, or history (real or imagined). The term has become synonymous with 'country' where nations without sovereignty (that is, nations that are not states) have aimed to identify themselves on the same terms as sovereign states. Others, including nationalists, may consider their single nation (or country) to be divided between different states.

Constituent Countries
Three of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, which itself may be considered a country in the sense of this article, are also called countries: England, Scotland and Wales, see constituent countries of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is known as a province of the United Kingdom rather than a country.

Nation, country and state - Contents

In the English language, the terms nation (cultural), country (geographical) and state (political) do have precise meanings, but in daily speech and writing they are often used interchangeably, and are open to different interpretations. For example, Cornwall is considered by some to be a nation in England which is a constituent country, or home nation, of the Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is an internationally recognised sovereign state, which is also referred to as a country and whose inhabitants have British nationality. The terminology can be further complicated by the use of the word state to mean a non-sovereign sub-entity of as sovereign state, as is done in the Flag of United States United States and Flag of Australia Australia. In most English-speaking countries when the terms state, nation and country are used internally, they are understood by the context in which they are used and are not controversial. However, when these terms are used to describe the statehood aspirations of a people who do not currently live in the internationally recognised independent state they would like to inhabit, these terms can be controversial and open to misunderstanding.In reality, there is often a rough correspondence between both senses of country - this is the concept of the nation-state. It is one that many governments have attempted to encourage, in order to provide legitimacy to their control over a territory. However, because of historical and modern migration, ethnically homogeneous communities are rare or non-existent (Iceland and Japan being the most commonly quoted exceptions).
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