Countryland, or a state, is a geographical area and an independent political entity with its own government, administration, laws, often a constitution, police, military, tax rules, and people. Some countries are nation states – for example, France or Israel. In these nation states one particular nation is dominant. Other states, such as the People's Republic of China, Spain or the United Kingdom contain several nations (or, at least, some parts of the population call themselves a nation), in spite of some of them considering themselves as nation states.
Sometimes, parts of states with a distinct history or culture are called "lands" or "countries": England, Scotland and Wales – the three nations on the island of Great Britain – are sometimes called countries, even though they are administrative components of the State of the United Kingdom.
The terms country, nation, state and land are often used as synonyms, but in a more strict usage they are distinguished:
- country is the geographical area
- nation designates a people, however national and international both confusingly refer as well to matters pertaining to what are strictly states, as in national capital, international law
- state is about government, and an entity in international law
- land may be used for "a country and its people" but also thought of as country belonging to a nation or a monarch
Country is also a short form for