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State

  • By: George W. White
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

A state is a politically organized territory with a sovereign government. The concept of the state is similar to that of country, which is the term used in popular discourse. However, the term country has other meanings (e.g., a rural landscape) and is avoided in academic writing and other circumstances where precision in meaning is necessary. At the same time, the term state is used synonymously with the term nation, which is much different in that the latter refers to a people with a common identity. The meaning of state is also obscured because a state's first level of subdivision, commonly called a province, also is sometimes called a state. The United States is an example where this occurs. However, its states (from Alabama ...

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