Differences Between Nationhood and Nationality

A nation is basically a group of human beings gathered together on the basis of a cultural common heritage, tradition, language, history and, most often, a common geography. In today’s world, a nation refers to a statehood or governing entity, rather than a people. Nations are ruled by one political system with universal representation. A nation-state is ruled by a centralized authority that consists of a parliament, presidency, ruling party, and a Cabinet. No political party can monopolize all political power.


For some, the concept of nationhood has become too abstract and has resulted in a sort of nationalism where the nation becomes an abstract community rather than any sort of political entity recognized as a nation. Nationalism does not necessarily embrace race or ethnic consciousness, but at its core level is based around a perceived sense of belonging to a group. In this way, every nation has the same blood, language and culture but different political institutions. Nationalism is associated with chauvinism, xenophobia, national identification and glorification of the past.

At the other end of the spectrum are nations or states that do embrace a sense of nationhood. These are typically more democratic and less tribalist in nature. Nationalism can be defined as a political belief that all humans are important and deserve rights. Nations that espouse national greatness and territorial integrity are often considered to be nation-states, not mere nations.