Nationality Essay

On By In 1

Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Nation and Nationality’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Nation and Nationality’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Nation and Nationality

Essay Contents:

  1. Essay on the Concept of Nation and Nationality
  2. Essay on the Definition of Nation and Nationality
  3. Essay on the Factors in the Growth of a Nation (Marks of Nationality)
  4. Essay on the Difference between Nation and Nationality
  5. Essay on the Difference between a Nation and a State
  6. Essay on the Theory of One Nation, One State
  7. Essay on the Conclusion to Nation and Nationality

Essay # 1. Concept of Nation and Nationality:

A nation is body of persons inhabiting a definite territory and thus united to one another because they belong to the same country. These persons constituting a nationality are drawn from a number of different races or breeds which, after wandering in many places, got settled down in a particular territory.

A nation is therefore, not necessarily a race like the Nordic, Alpine or the Mediterranean, but rather a mixture of races.

As a result of long mixing together, the members of a nation develop two forms of mental sympathy. First, they have a common tradition which has grown up in the course of a common past history, a common language, a common religion, a common culture or way of life and common social habits. Secondly, they have a common will to live together, because they are under the impression that they have a liking for the institutions and laws which suit their way of life. In this way, a nation tends to form a separate state for the expression and realisation of its national character and will.

The idea of nation (or nationality) developed in different ways among different nations. In Germany under the Nazi regime (1933 – 1945) the nation was based on a “racial” unit which was supposed to be on the unity of “Aryan blood” which made the Germans a superior people compared with the Jews.

The French idea of the nation that began with the French Revolution of 1789 is, however, very simple. According to the French conception, the nation is simply the population of the territory of France united by the bond of “love of the national soil”.

Thus the French nationality was something rooted in the soil of France, its sunshine, its wine, its speech, its social habits and its way of life. The idea of the nation is generally the basis of a state. But it is not always that in a state there is, only one nation. For example, India is a nation, though consisting of diverse interests.


Essay # 2. Definition of Nation and Nationality:

The word “nation” is derived from the Latin term Natus which means born. So in its derivative sense nation means a group of people that have a common racial origin. This was the conception of nation for the German philosophers. This idea of nation is definitely misleading because there is no nation in the world belonging to the same racial stock.

According to J. W. Garner- “A nation is a culturally homogeneous social group which is at once conscious and tenacious of its unity of psychic life and expression.”

So Lord James Bryce said- “Nation is a union of men having racial or ethnographic significance”.

According to J. K. Bluntschli- “Nation is a union of people bound together by language and customs in a common civilisation which gives them a sense of unity and distinction from all foreigners.”

For R. N. Gilchrist, nationality may be defined as “a spiritual sentiment or principle arising among a number of people usually of the same race, residents on the same territory, sharing a common language, the same religion, similar associations and common ideals of political unity.”

J. W. Burgess’ definition of nation is- “a population with ethnic unity, inhabiting a territory, with geographical unity.” For Stephen Butler Leacock, “a body of people united by common descent and common language” makes a nation. To Ernest Barker- “A nation is a community of persons living in definite territory and thereby bound together by the bonds of mutual love.” In the same vein, Ramsay Muir defined nation as “a body of people who fell themselves to be naturally linked together by certain affinities which are so strong and real for them that they can live happily together, are dissatisfied when disunited and cannot tolerate subjection to peoples who do not share the ties.”

According to A. E. Zimmern, it is “A body of people united by a corporate sentiment of peculiar intimacy, intensity and dignity, related to a definite home-country.” Again, Pradier Fodere’s definition is- “Affinity of-race, community of language, of habits, of customs and religion are the elements which constitute the nation.”

In all such definitions most of the political thinkers emphasise that every society which has enough of a distinct tradition to be called a character has a natural right to political independence and what is called, in the jargon of the hour, self-determination. John Stuart Mill thinks that any portion of mankind may be said to constitute a nation if they are united among themselves by common sympathies.

But racial purity cannot be found in the modern world because the population of every modern country has a mixed blood. Nation has also nothing to do with a definite territory, though this is the general notion of a nation. So it is said that nationality is not a matter of political frontiers or round skulls and broad noses, but a matter of the heart and soul. In this connection V.P. Singh, the former Prime Minister of India said- “A nation is not a map on a piece of paper. It lies in the heart of the people”.

We may conclude about the definition of nation with the words of Ernest Renan- “A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. To have a common glory in the past, a common will in the present; to have done great things together, to want to do them again; these are the conditions for the existence of a nation.”


Essay # 3. Factors in the Growth of a Nation (Marks of Nationality):

The following are some of the factors responsible in the growth of a nation, though none of them is indispensable:

i. Racial Unity:

Racial unity is insisted on by some as an essential factor in the growth of nationality. But there is no racial purity in modern states. As a matter of fact, modern states consist of several races of mixed nature as in England, the USA and Canada. Notwithstanding the diversified races composing a state, it can function smoothly. So racial unity is never an important factor in the relation of the state.

ii. Linguistic Unity:

Language, which is the dress of thought, is another cementing factor in the making of a nation. A common language and a common literature create a kind of like mindedness which emotionally unites several people covered by the bond of language and literature.

Since language is directly linked to a specific territory and these together provide the basis for a common life-style, language should be made the basis for administrative units, wherever possible. But language is never an essential factor in the growth of the state. For example, India having 17 major languages, which create some artificial barrier among the entire population, is still a nation.

iii. Religious Unity:

A common religion can be very helpful for a nation. But this too is not an indispensable factor. India is a country where almost all the religions of the world are to be found existing side by side. Even then, India is a nation. Pakistan, which was created on the basis of the Islamic faith in 1947, was shattered by a co-religious sector in East Pakistan that broke away from Pakistan and established a new state called Bangladesh. The tie of a common religion could not hold together the two parts of Pakistan. Here language proved to be more important than religion.

E. H. Carr on traits of nation:

(i) The idea of common government whether as a reality in the present or past or as an aspiration of the future;

(ii) A certain size and closeness of contact between all individual members;

(iii) A more or less defined territory;

(iv) Certain characteristics of which the most predominant trait is language;

(v) Some common interests of the individual members;

(vi) Some common feelings associated with the idea of nation in the minds of the individual members.

iv. Geographical Unity:

Geographical factor has proved to be a remarkable source for the formation of national unity. It is a design of nature to bring a kind of identity by way of climate and other phenomenon of geography which provide the people an opportunity to live together. They have a tendency of like-minded or common behaviour which ultimately unite them into one homogeneous people.

v. Historical Unity:

Historical unity is considered to be very essential for the formation of nationality. A common heritage binds people together. The Indians nurtured the lesson of unity because of their bondage under the British imperialists. A common political aspiration brought together the Greeks though separated by geographical barriers.

In this connection John Stuart Mill observes- “The possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections, collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret connected with the same incidents in the past are strongest of all the factors which generate the feeling of nationality.”

vi. Cultural Unity:

A common way of life and mannerism can foster the cause of a nationality. Thus we find the culture pattern as a responsible factor in the growth of a single nation.


Essay # 4. Difference between Nation and Nationality:

There is a subtle point of distinction between nation and nationality. When a group of people have some kind of identity with regard to any of race, language, mannerism, etc. or even a sentimental or emotional affinity, that group constitutes a nationality.

When that group aspires for or actually attains a political status like independence that nationality becomes a nation.

The moment a nationality gets a separate state of its own, it becomes a nation.

So Lord James Bryce rightly said:

“The difference between the two is of political organisation. Nationality is a nation in the making. As soon as a nationality secures political independence it becomes a nation.”

Thus a nation is the total of a nationality plus statehood. So when a nationality demands for a homeland of its own, it becomes a nation.

According to C. J. H. Hayes: 

“A nationality by acquiring unity and sovereign independence becomes a nation.”

For example, former East Bengal in Pakistan was a nationality. But the moment East Bengal became independent of Pakistan under the name of Bangladesh she became a nation.

There is another way of distinguishing a nation from a nationality. According to some political scientists, the distinction between the two is not of a political organisation but of number. When there is one ethnic or racial group it is a nationality.

When several ethnic or linguistic groups join together in a bigger way that conglomeration is called a nation. For example, in India, there are various linguistic and racial groups like Bengalis, Marathis, Punjabis, etc. Each group is a nationality and India is a nation.


Essay # 5. Difference between a Nation and a State:

Although we use the two terms nation and state to mean the same thing, in actuality there is some difference.

Nation is one of feeling while state is one of reality. We know that a state is composed of population, territory, sovereignty and government. Whenever these four elements are available a state is constituted.

Absence of any of them negates the statehood. A state may have more than one nation. For example, before the First World War, Austria and Hungary, two distinct nations, made one state, though there was no element of unity between Austria and Hungary.

Again, the basis of the two concepts is different – a nation is based on the consciousness of unity because of psychological or spiritual feelings. But in a state there is a political unity.

So A. E. Zimmern distinguishes the two thus:

“Nationality, like religions, is subjective, statehood is objective, nationality is psychological, statehood is political; nationality is a condition of mind, statehood is a condition of law, nationality is a possession, statehood is enforceable obligation; nationality is a way of feeling, thinking and living, statehood is a condition inseparable from all civilised ways of living.”

Most of the modern states are nation-states. We may, for example, cite England, Italy, Germany, etc. There is a trend among the modern political writers to equate nation with the state. This gives rise to the theory of one nation, one state.

It is insisted that there should be as many states as there are nations. In other words, statehood should be identified with nationhood, and there should not be any state having more than one nation. This right is known as the right of self-determination.

Sir John Stuart Mill, who is the strongest exponent of this theory, maintained:

“The boundaries of a state should coincide in the main with those of nationalities.”

According to him, a multinational state is unsatisfactory because there is no unity except obeying the common authority.

Whether India is a Nation:

We refer to India as a nation-state. Is the term appropriate? The term state stands for a political entity, while the word nation in the sociological sense means the state. Let us take the case of state. India is definitely a political entity. But the problem comes with the expression nation. Is there one society, in the sociological sense, in India? To give the answer in the positive, India must have commonness in race, religion and language.

It is common knowledge that India does not have common racial unity. All races of the world are to be found in India, it is for this reason that India is called an anthropological museum. This goes on the minus side of nation. As for religion, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism are the main religions of India today. Hindu-Muslim animosity is persistent in Jammu and Kashmir, of course, with the backing of Pakistan.

Otherwise also, there is sporadic incidents of communal riots in India. In 1980 Hindu- Muslim riots broke out in Moradabad and rocked the entire province of Uttar Pradesh. So it is difficult to say that India has religious oneness.

The position with regard to common language is equally disappointing. Indian constitution recognises 17 languages which are called official languages. In addition, there are 1,500 recognised mother tongues, which cannot be excluded from the definition of language.

Language means communication. And modern day developments have shown that communication is imperative in order to bring about participatory development and authentic nation-building.

As a matter of fact, in the context of a vast multi-lingual entity like India, appropriate communication is possible only through the language of its peoples i.e. their mother tongues. Language in India, instead of becoming a means of communication has very often degenerated into a basis of dispute and identity crisis. This has led to creation of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Meghalaya.

The process is still on the anvil. So neither racially nor religiously nor linguistically India offers a homogenous whole. So it is difficult to call India one nation. This is at least what comes up at the first sight. But if we have a close-up view of it we must be impelled to draw a different conclusion.

We have borrowed the term nation-state from the west. There each nation demanded its own “political roof” and applied it to a condition where numerous nations and cultural conglomeration came to form a state in the wake of the two World Wars. In India, the term has not been used to mean one state but one cultural mainstream, i.e., to build one nation at the cost of other cultural collectivities.

In that case Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, though having differences, have a unified combine which is the state. As several flower plants constitute one garden despite the colour, and odour, differing, so several cultural units combine to make one nation and one state. All said and done, India must be one nation, because the Indians feel that they are so.


Essay # 6. Theory of One Nation, One State:

When a group of people have an identical entity in race, religion or language or even some kind of emotions and ideals of like nature, they qualify to form one nation.

Their next desire becomes to form one state. This idea became current in the wake of the First World War. President Woodrow Wilson was a priest of his theory of one nation, one state.

Thus the moment each group of people develop a national character, each must have an opportunity to have its independent political life.

The most prominent exponent of this doctrine is John Stuart Mill who is said to have maintained in this book Representative Government – “It is in general a necessary condition of free institutions that the boundaries of governments should coincide in the main with those of nationalities.”

The theory has two lines of arguments. First, if a state consists of only one nationality, there will be more unity and the united energy may be channelized for the all-round progress of the state. Conversely, if the states are formed according to their national character, there will be an end of the majority ruling over the minority.

This will close the story of exploitation. So Pakistan had been created by carving a slice of land having Muslim population in 1947. Again, the Bengali-speaking population felt the need for an independent homeland. So was created Bangladesh in 1971.

Criticism of the Theory of One Nation, One State:

The theory evoked the following criticism. In the first place, if various nationalities live together, there will be an exchange of cultures, which will strengthen each group and enrich their outlook. In the second place, the theory is impracticable.

The race group, language culture and religion orders are so widely and indiscriminately distributed that it is almost impossible to give every nation group a separate slice of land to form a state.

We may give the example of Czechoslovakia. After the First World War, Czechoslovakia was separated from Germany. But many Germans who were inhabitants of Czechoslovakia were left without any political entity for them. They were made a minority population in the new state.

The USSR, which had been a union of several ethnic population, allowed in 1991 to break away from the union and form as many as fifteen states. It is apparent that these states are feeling uneasy in the absence of a strong inherent power to ensure economic viability and defence potentiality. So although the theory one nation, one state may sound attractive, it has several practical difficulties.


Essay # 7. Conclusion to Nation and Nationality:

All the factors listed above are strong forces in the creation of nationality. But none of them is indispensable. Nationality is something sentimental and subjective, while the factors mentioned above are all objective, so the presence or absence of any of the factors may not necessarily lead to the birth or death of nationality.

For example, Switzerland is a nation, though there are diverse races, languages and religions. Similarly, the Jews constituted one nation even though there is no. geographical unity so much so that they have no common or definite territory to live in. So Harold J. Laski rightly said- “Nationality is essentially spiritual in character, a sentiment, the will of the people to live together.”


Upload and Share Your Article:

My goal for this essay was to explore the relationship between identity, nationality, and immigration. I wanted to understand how immigration influences identity and how it impacts our feelings of belonging and acceptance. I learned a lot about this topic through writing this essay and I feel as though I’ve learned more about my identity.



My Ecuadorian mother was born in Eugene, Oregon one December night over forty years ago. Both of her parents were from Ecuador but she was never able to get Ecuadorian citizenship because the application to the closest Ecuadorian consulate, which was in California, was lost in the mail. By the time my grandparents found out it was too late, and my mother would have to remain a citizen of the United States of America. When my mother was two my grandfather finished graduate school and decided that it was time to move back to Guayaquil. My mother has no memories of her time in the United States as a young girl. She has always considered herself to be an Ecuadorian even though she was born in Oregon, probably one of the furthest states from Ecuador, and never became an Ecuadorian citizen. Twenty two years after moving to Ecuador my mother returned to the United States and came to Philly to go to graduate school. While in school she met my father and married. Originally they were going to live in Ecuador but the financial situation of the country was very unstable at the time and it was difficult to find jobs so they decided it was best if they stayed in Philadelphia. It’s strange to think that if the whole financial instability situation in Ecuador had not occurred I would have been born there and I would probably still live there. Every once in awhile I like to think about how different my life would be if I was born in and lived in Ecuador. Would I be the same person? How does nationality affect identity?

I have lived in the same city all my life and in the same house for as long as I can remember. I have never felt that I do not belong in Philly or in the United States and I am aware that the city I have grown up in has had a large role in the development of my identity. My mother has had a completely different experience. She was born in the U.S. to two foreigners, moved to a Ecuador where she never legally a citizen, and then moved back to the United States. So how has the development of my identity differed from the development of my mother’s identity? The development of my identity has been relatively easy. I’ve been influenced by the culture of in Philadelphia but mostly influenced by my family and the people I have met. For my mother it was mostly just as easy. Growing up she considered herself Ecuadorian. She didn’t even remember anything about the United States. Once she came back to the United States it was harder. She was a citizen of the U.S. but she didn’t know the culture and she spoke with an accent. My mother now considers herself to be both American and Ecuadorian but there was a time when she felt that she didn’t belong in the United States or in Ecuador. She’d changed enough in her time in the U.S. to feel that she didn’t belong in Ecuador but enough to feel that she did belong in the United States. The only difference between the development of our identities was that small amount of time when my mother felt that she didn’t belong and that came from a change of location.

Nationality and immigration both have a role in shaping identity and fostering feelings of belonging. In an article, Vivian Gerrand explained how belonging and identity related to nationality and immigration:


“This sense of belonging is more than just about growing up here; it comes from a sense of individuality as much as from cultural influences. It shows that identity is never fixed; there is always movement between cultures. This new sense of belonging separates out the idea of fixed national, collective and individual identities.”


This shows that identity is something fluid. Nationality influences it and as people immigrate their identity changes because of their new experiences. My mother has lived longer than me so it is only natural that she has had more opportunity to explore her identity and to see it be shaped by new experiences in other countries. She is an example of how immigration changes identity and makes it more diverse. A diverse identity can only be a good thing because it allows us to be more open minded and more willing to understand those who are different than us.

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *