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It is remarkable how fast and how effectively you can construct a nationality with a flag, a few speeches, and a national anthem.
—Nicholas Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

A nation (often interchanged with country) is a group of people who share certain characteristics, most commonly language, religion, ethnicity, and history. As a sociological and political term, it is a fluid concept — what Benedict Anderson has termed an "imagined community."[note 1] It has been common in history for different nations to fuse together[note 2] or for a single nation to break apart.[note 3] Sometimes, a single person may feel they belong to more than one "nationality", depending on circumstances.[note 4]

Most of the states of Western Europe were built along national lines - Denmark, Malta, and Iceland, for example; but compare Austria, Ulster, Switzerland, Catalonia, San Marino, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus, the Vatican City, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, nation-building also came about due to European monarchs fostering a sense of nationhood amongst their peoples through nationalism, adopting the "vulgar" languages and concentrated myth-making.[note 5] Since World War I, nationality as the primary prerequisite for statehood has declined. Today, most states are rather multi-national[note 6] though there was a brief resurgence of "ethnic group gets a country" in the 1990s with the break up of the communist system in Eurasia.

The population of the nation of Canada includes over 600 recognized First NationsWikipedia.

See also[edit]


  1. Other scholars like Anthony D. Smith have similarly emphasized how persistent and fluid the notion of nation was even before the modern conception of the nation-state.
  2. For example, as the different Jurchen and other tribes in Northeast China became the Manchu, or how the Cornish, etc., all became English.
  3. A modern example of this seems to be the Chinese and the Taiwanese, and possibly the North and South Koreans.
  4. This sums up the feelings of many Yugoslavs at the beginning of the 1990s.
  5. Examples of such myth-making include King Arthur, Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and El Cid.
  6. Either because they have national minorities or were never nation-states, to begin with.