Friday, May 28, 2010


State is a community of persons more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, independent of external control, and possessing an organized government to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience.

States vary in shapes and sizes, cultures, forms of government, natural resources, language, etc. However, all states possess four elements: a) people, b) territory, c) government, and d) sovereignty. The absence of any of these elements will not make a state a state.

People are the inhabitants of the state. It is the entire body of those citizens of the state who are vested with political power for political purposes. There is no specific number of people required in order that a state be considered as one. However, it is important that the number must be numerous enough to be self-sufficient and to defend themselves and small enough to be administered. To date, the smallest state in terms of population is Vatican City with 826 citizens, who are mostly clerics and some Swiss guards. On the other hand, China is the largest state with 1.3 billion population. The Philippines is also fast growing state with 97,976,603 population.

Territory is a fixed area or surface of the earth where the inhabitants of a state live and where they maintain a government of their own. There are three components of territory: a) the land mass otherwise known as the terrestrial domain, b) the internal and external waters, which make up the maritime and fluvial domain; and c) the air space above the land and waters, which is called the aerial domain.

For the sake of practicality, a territory must neither be too big as to be difficult to administer and defend nor too small as to be unable to provide for the needs of the population. The smallest state is Vatican City. It spreads across 0.17 square miles or .43 square kilometer. It would actually fit in Rizal Park in Manila. The biggest state is Russia with its total land area of 6,592.735 square miles.

A state may increase or decrease its territory by the acquisition of further territory through either (a) discovery and occupation; or (b) conquest; or (c) accretion; or (d) prescription; or (e) cession through gift, exchange, or purchase. It may decrease through its loss. The increase or decrease does not affect the personality of the state. What is important is there still exists a portion of its territory as an abode for its people.

Government is the institution or aggregate of institutions by which an independent society makes and carries out those rules of action which are necessary to enable men to live in a social state, or which are imposed upon the people forming that society by those who possess the power or authority of prescribing them. (Bernas, 2007). Simply, it refers to the agency through which the will of the state is formulated, expressed and implemented.

Government is different from administration although these two terms are often used interchangeably. Government refers to the institution while administration is the body of men running the government.

There is no particular form prescribed to the State, provided only that the government is able to represent the State in its dealings with other states. The mandate of the government is to always protect the welfare of the people.

Sovereignty is referred to as the supreme, absolute and uncontrollable power by which any state is governed. It has two manifestations: a) internal, which is the power of the State to rule within its territory; and b) external, which is the freedom of the State to carry out its activities without subjection to or control by other States. This is often called as independence.

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