A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government (for example the inhabitants of a sovereign state) irrespective of their ethnic make-up. In international relations, nation can refer to a country or sovereign state. The word nation can more specifically refer to a tribe of North American Indians, such as the Cherokee Nation.
As an example of how the word natio was employed in classical Latin, the following quote from Cicero's Philippics Against Mark Antony in 44 BC contrasts the external, inferior nationes ("races of people") with the Roman civitas ("community").:
"Omnes nationes servitutem ferre possunt: nostra civitas non potest."
("All races are able to bear enslavement, but our community cannot.")
An early example of the use of the word "nation" (in conjunction with language and territory) was provided in 968 by Liutprand (the bishop of Cremona) who, while confronting the Byzantine emperor, Nicephorus II, on behalf of his patron Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, declared:
"The land...which you say belongs to your empire belongs, as the nationality and language of the people proves, to the kingdom of Italy.'"
A significant early use of the term nation, as natio, was at mediaeval universities, to describe the colleagues in a college or students, above all at the University of Paris, who were all born within a pays, spoke the same language and expected to be ruled by their own familiar law. In 1383 and 1384, while studying theology at Paris, Jean Gerson was twice elected procurator for the French natio. The division of students into a natio was also adopted at the University of Prague, where from its opening in 1349 the studium generale was divided among Bohemian, Bavarian, Saxon and Polish nations.
In a similar way, the nationes were segregated by the Knights Hospitaller of Jerusalem, who maintained at Rhodes the hostels from which they took their name "where foreigners eat and have their places of meeting, each nation apart from the others, and a Knight has charge of each one of these hostels, and provides for the necessities of the inmates according to their religion," as the Spanish traveller Pedro Tafur noted in 1436.
- ^ a b c World Book Dictionary defines nation as “the people occupying the same country, united under the same government, and usually speaking the same language”. Another definition is that nation is a “sovereign state.” It also says nation can refer to “a people, race, or tribe; those having the same descent, language, and history.” World Book Dictionary also gives this definition: “a tribe of North American Indians.” Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary defines nation as “a community of people composed of one or more nationalities with its own territory and government” and also as “a tribe or federation of tribes (as of American Indians)”.
- ^ "Nation". Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged (10th ed.). http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Nation. Retrieved 17 June 2011. "1. an aggregation of people or peoples of one or more cultures, races, etc, organized into a single state: the Australian nation"
- ^ Bretton, Henry L. (1986). International relations in the nuclear age: one world, difficult to manage. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-88706-040-4. http://books.google.ie/books?id=wCpKUmCpmoEC&lpg=PR4&dq=0-88706-040-4&pg=PA5#v=onepage&q=0-88706-040-4&f=false. Retrieved 17 June 2011. "It should be stated at the outset that the term nation has two distinctly different uses. In a legal sense it is synonymous with the state as a whole regardless of the number of different ethnic or national groups–nationalities–contained within it. In that sense, one speaks of nation and means state."
- ^ Harper, Douglas. "Nation". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=nation. Retrieved 5 June 2011. .
- ^ Online at Tufts.edu
- ^ Taken from an online translation at UCdavis.edu
- ^ see: nation (university)
- ^ Pedro Tafur, Andanças e viajes.
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