• Elements of the State 
    1. Sovereignty
    2. Government
    3. Territory
    4. Population


Definitions of State:

According to Aristotle,”State is a union of families and villages having for its end, a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean happy and honourable life.” 

According to Woodrow Wilson,“State denotes a set of people organized for law within a definite territory."



The Preamble of the Indian Constitution uses the words, ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’. The Preamble is also called the introduction letter of the Indian Constitution. When people of a nation want to become a sovereign country, it means they are demanding the right to self-determination. Freedom struggle is an expression of the right to self-determination. It is this urge for political self-determination that leads a nation in the direction of statehood.A State is a political community.

Elements of State:

  • Sovereignty:

Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with the term independence. But sovereignty is a legal term while independence is a political term. It is also called the ‘soul of the state’. It means that the country is legally sovereign with its own independent constitution. For example, India became politically independent in 1947 but it became a sovereign State in 1950 after the constitution came into effect. There are two aspects of sovereignty- Internal and External.

  • Internal sovereignty is the right of a nation to be free of internal forces of disruption to its rights & freedoms to exercise the internal governance of its society & territories.
  • External sovereignty, is the right of a nation to be free from external forces of interference that would challenge, disrupt, or remove the rights & freedoms of that nation to exist & to govern its own territory & society. For eg: India till 1947 had population, territory, government but no sovereignty. And thus it wasn’t called Sovereign Institution (state).
  • Government:

Every sovereign nation state must have a government. The government must be sovereign and independent. It’s the machinery or agency of the state that implements common policies, programmes and promotes common interests of the people in the state. Prior to independence India was not a State. Institutions of the State are ‘Public’ institutions. These Public institutions include various organs of the government like the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, Bureaucracy, etc. Public institutions are responsible for making policies, laws, taking decisions and implementing them. There3 are different forms of government such as presidential, parliamentary, federal etc.

  • Territory:

It refers to the geographic boundaries of a state. A state must have a specific territory. Today, territory doesn’t only mean land but includes water and air space too. But there’s is no defined size for a territory. It was thought that small and compact territories are easy to administer and people can enjoy democracy directly however it is difficult for smaller states to be self-sufficient. One can’t rule out the disadvantages of larger States as well. Often, larger states have the problem of geographical discontinuity which may lead to differences and a feeling of being cornered from the mainstream land. Therefore, a desirable size of territory is where optimum utilisation of resources is achievable and at the same time sufficient provisions for the citizens is possible. The areas of the State within which the State has the authority to govern is called ‘jurisdiction’. Jurisdiction is the legal power that the State has to take decisions.

  • Population:

A State cannot exist without people. This population can have any amount of diversity in terms of language, religion, culture, ethnicity, etc. Thus, a ‘State’ can comprise of many ‘nations’. For example, the Soviet Union had people of many nationalities like Russians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians, etc. Similarly, the United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In modern times, the size and quality of population play an important role in the development and growth of the State. The material, scientific, technological development of the State is evaluated by considering the quality of the population. Therefore, population which is illiterate, superstitious and ignorant is a burden to a state whereas intelligent, honest and hard – working people are a great advantage to the state.

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