Nation stateNationStates. See also State (disambiguation).
The term nation state (or nation-state), while often used interchangeably with the terms unitary state and independent state, refers properly used to states in which a single nation is dominant. A nation state may at the same time be a federal state, as for instance the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America.
Over the last few centuries (and particular over the last half-century, except in Africa), this form of state has become more common, so that now most states claim to be nation states. However, this has not always been so; and even today there are some states where it is questionable whether they contain a single dominant nation. This is made more difficult by the question of what is a nation.
There are many states, such as Belgium and Switzerland, with multiple linguistic, religious or ethnic groups within them, without any one being clearly dominant. However, often (and especially in the case of Switzerland and the United States) a bridging national identity has been constructed despite these differences. A better example of a non-nation state would be the United Kingdom, which consists of the four nations England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Although England was overwhelmingly dominant within the United Kingdom in the past, that can no longer be so clearly stated as the case.
A somewhat similar example might be contemporary Spain, where Basques, Catalans, and Galicians claim to be nations distinct from the historically dominant Castile (the Spanish Constitution of 1978 hints at this by mentioning "regions and nationalities" within Spain, and recognizing implicitly their pre-existence).
In many cases, such as Canada, Switzerland, United States of America, Indonesia, the Soviet Union, India, and China, efforts have been made to create a national identity that encompasses different groups within that country. In the case of China this effort has manifested itself in the concept of Zhonghua minzu (or a Chinese people).
Examples of non-nation states are empires which embrace more than one nation, city-states which may be part of a larger nation, thalassocracies, American Indian nations or tribes none of which possess states, and sovereign corporations (as in the Hudson's Bay Company or the British East India Company). The Palestinianss are sometimes referred to as a Nation without a state, much as European Jews before the official creation of Israel in 1948.