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The definition of a national state combines two complex terms: nation and state. This entry explains the meaning of these concepts, and then reviews the evolution of the nation-state and its defining characteristics. It concludes with a look at the future of the nation-state in today’s global environment.

The term nation is derived from the Latin term natio, meaning birth. A nation comprises all individuals born within a particular period of time in the same place. Beyond the community of origins which gave rise to it, a nation is a product of history, deriving from a conjunction of political power and economic space. The term nation also refers to a group of people who have a common tradition and cultural heritage, a shared history, and a ...

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