Constituent nation

Constituent country is a term sometimes used in contexts in which a country makes up a part of a larger political entity, such as a sovereign state. The term constituent country does not have any defined legal meaning, and is used simply to refer to a country which is a constituent part of something else.

In unitary states


Main article: Danish Realm

The Danish Realm consists of three constituent parts, each part sometimes referred to as a country:

However, this terminology is not consistent. The Faroes are also referred to as a "self-governing territory" or similar by (e.g.) the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands[3] and the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[4] Similarly, the Danish Government also refers to Greenland as an "autonomous province"[5] and neither of the laws forming Greenland's constitution refer to Greenland as a country.[6]


Traditional French Lieu-dits (e.g., Pays d'Auge, and Pays de Caux) often bear the appellation pays ("land"), which is sometimes also used in reference to other nations (e.g., Pays-Bas is the French name of the Netherlands). One region (Pays de la Loire) also bears this appellation. These are however not considered as home countries.

In 2004, the French overseas collectivity of French Polynesia was legally designated as a pays d'outre-mer au sein de la République,[7] translated as an "overseas country inside the Republic".[8] The Constitutional Council of France ruled that this was merely a change of appellation and did not represent a constitutional change in legal status.[9]


From 10 October 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four countries:[10]

Each is expressly designated as a land in Dutch law by the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[11] Unlike the German and Austrian Bundesländer, landen is consistently translated as "countries" by the Dutch government.[12][13][14]

New Zealand

Main article: Realm of New Zealand

The Realm of New Zealand consists of three parts usually referred to as countries:

However, the Constitutions of the Cook Islands[18] and of Niue[19] do not describe either as a country, nor do the New Zealand Acts which brought those constitutions into force.[20][21]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is generally considered to comprise four countries:[22][23][24][25]

However, the kingdom itself is a unitary one and not a personal union. The principality of Wales ceased to exist in 1542, the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707, and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801. Further, the word country does not always appear in the acts of union which established the modern nation. The term can be particularly controversial when applied to Northern Ireland, which was created when Ireland was partitioned in 1921.

Northern Ireland had a devolved parliament from 1921–73 and an assembly from 1973–74, 1982–86, and 1999 to the present. After referenda in Wales and Scotland in 1997, new devolved governments were created in Scotland, Wales but not England, which remains directly under the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London.

At sporting events such as rugby union, an alternative title, Home Nations is used, which in these contexts sometimes includes Ireland as a whole.

In federal states

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was a Union of the free associate Soviet Socialist Republics, by constitution. In reality, most of its lifespan the Union was a strongly centralized state.

Map of the Union Republics from 1956-1991

USSR pop.
USSR area


Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic 1922 147,386,000 51.40 17,075,400 76.62 Moscow  Russia 1
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic 1922 51,706,746 18.03 603,700 2.71 Kiev
(Kharkov before 1934)
 Ukraine 2
Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic 1924 19,906,000 6.94 447,400 2.01 Tashkent
(Samarkand before 1930)
 Uzbekistan 4
Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 16,711,900 5.83 2,727,300 12.24 Alma-Ata  Kazakhstan 5
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic 1922 10,151,806 3.54 207,600 0.93 Minsk  Belarus 3
Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 7,037,900 2.45 86,600 0.39 Baku  Azerbaijan 7
Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 5,400,841 1.88 69,700 0.31 Tbilisi  Georgia 6
Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic 1929 5,112,000 1.78 143,100 0.64 Dushanbe  Tajikistan 12
Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 4,337,600 1.51 33,843 0.15 Kishinev  Moldova 9
Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 4,257,800 1.48 198,500 0.89 Frunze  Kyrgyzstan 11
Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 3,689,779 1.29 65,200 0.29 Vilnius  Lithuania 8
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic 1924 3,522,700 1.23 488,100 2.19 Ashkhabad  Turkmenistan 14
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 3,287,700 1.15 29,800 0.13 Yerevan  Armenia 13
Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 2,666,567 0.93 64,589 0.29 Riga  Latvia 10
Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 1,565,662 0.55 45,226 0.20 Tallinn  Estonia 15
  The annexation of the Baltic republics in 1940 was considered as an illegal occupation and never recognized by a number of Western countries, including the United States and European international organizations such as the European Union.[26][27][28] The Soviet Union officially recognized their secession on September 6, 1991, prior to its final dissolution.

Germany and Austria

The states of Germany and of Austria are referred to as Bundesländer ("Federal Lands") and Gliedstaaten ("Member States") in German, a usage implying their sovereignty in a manner parallel to the American use of "states" (German: Bundesstaaten and Gliedstaaten). However, they are never considered countries in their own right and are referred to as Bundesländer or terms such as "states" in other languages to avoid confusion.

St Kitts and Nevis

The island of Nevis has a constitutionally guaranteed right to secede from the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis and thereby become a sovereign country. This is stipulated in section 113 of the Kittian/Nevisian Constitution.[29] An independence referendum was held in Nevis on 10 August 1998. With 62% support amongst Nevisian voters, it fell slightly short of the constitutionally required two-thirds majority support necessary.[30] In view of the constitutional position, both St. Kitts and Nevis could be regarded as constituent countries of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

See also


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