Can a nation really be independent?

nation

This is how Dutch people dress when they want to show that they are Dutch and like their nation. You also do it for tourists, like here in the Keukenhof flower park. Such national costumes are also found in other nations. However, such traditions are often not very old: only about 200 years. It used to be just the fashion until people said: This is typical for us.

A nation is a large group of people. These people have something in common. What they have in common can be features such as: the language, traditions, the economy, an area, a culture, religion, origin and many others. Exactly what a nation is has been debated for a long time. In no nation do all people really have all the characteristics in common.

The word nation itself comes from Latin: “natio” is the word for birth there. It came into our language through French. The expression became known about 600 years ago.

Is a nation the same as a people?

A national symbol is a kind of symbol for the nation. It can be flags or songs. In Ireland, the Irish Wolfhound is also a national symbol.

Because the word nation can mean very different things, other words have been thought of. In the German language one knows state nation and cultural nation.

The state nation is also called the nation of citizenship or nation of will. The people in a country want to live together. They have given themselves rules that everyone obeys. France and the USA are often thought of as such state nations. There it took a long time for the residents to really feel that way.

A cultural nation consists of people with common characteristics such as language and tradition. They read the same books and have common legends. People don't necessarily live in the same area or state. This idea used to be particularly important for the Germans: During the time of the German Confederation there were many individual German states.

The word people is as indistinct as the word nation. It is more reminiscent of the cultural nation. However, there is also the word state people, which fits more to the state nation. Another word is nation state: a nation has its own state.

In the multi-ethnic state, however, there are several peoples. Then it is the thought of the state nation that holds them together. The words people and nation are also often used mixed up. In some states the different groups are called nations, in other peoples.

Can a person belong to only one nation?

Quite a few people do not belong to just one nation, but to several. This is the case, for example, if the father is German and the mother is Italian. Such people often have both passports, or more precisely: nationalities.

Some people leave their homeland to live in a foreign country. For example, because there is a war going on in their home country. Which nation these people then belong to is a question that often leads to controversy. Some people find that a person should only have one nationality.

What is nationalism

Many thinkers have also tried to explain what nationalism is. A nationalist is someone who likes the nation. He means his own nation or the thought that there are nations.

Today the word nationalism has a bad sound in many countries. Some nationalists say that their own country or people are the best in the world. They also speak ill of other nations. Some of these nationalists are ethnic nationalists: "Völkisch" means here that the nation can only consist of people of the same "race".

That is why they prefer to say in Germany and elsewhere: patriotism. So the patriot loves his own country while the nationalist hates other countries. The word patriot comes from the Latin word for fatherland.

In other countries, however, people think of something good. For them, a nationalist is someone who does something for the whole nation and not just for their village or a religion. Nationalism has this significance especially for countries in Africa and Asia that have not been independent for so long. In addition, many individual peoples often live in such countries: the nation is then what they all have in common, what unites them.

What's bigger than a nation?

Today there are about 200 states in the world. Almost all of them are members of the United Nations. This is an association of states. United States would have been a better name: what a state is is pretty clear. What a nation is not. The United Nations was called the United Nations because the USA, i.e. the United States of America, already existed.

Often people do something that has to do not just with one nation, but with several. For example, someone flies by plane to a city that is in a different country. This is called an international flight. The word "international" has the Latin word "inter" in it. It means "between".

Besides the nations, there are many other groups of people. For example, someone can be a German and a Catholic at the same time. Then he belongs to the German nation, but also to the Catholic Church. Catholics live in many countries, not just in Germany.

  • The crown of the Swedish king. In Sweden, the royal family is a symbol of the nation.

  • There is a national holiday in the USA. They celebrate with fireworks that the USA once became independent.

  • A national museum like the one in Warsaw is mostly about the history of a country.

  • Like a national museum, a national theater is often only called that because it is supposed to be the most important in the country. This is in London.

  • Many national anthems are solemn and solemn, like that of the Czech Republic: "Where is my home country?"


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