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Characteristics of a State

The main features of a State include:

(a) Government
(b) Territory
(c) Population
(d) Sovereignty or Independence

(a) Government:

Any State must have a government. It is the principal instrument which holds the State together. The government of any particular State will ensure obedience and conformity of the population to the will of the State. It has the right to physical force if necessary in order to acquire compliance. It is the only supreme body that can apply the legitimate use of force within the society. It has three main organs – Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. The functions of each organ of government compliment the other for the overall interest of the State concerned. The functions of the three organs may be fused into one body as in parliamentary or monarchical form of government or separated as in the presidential form of government. But when it is separated, each organ acts as check on the other. Government may also be found at different levels of the society, as for example, Local Government, State or Federal Government.

(b) Territory:

Another important characteristic of the State is territory. A State must have a territory. The term territory does not only refer to land, but also embraces the air, the land, water, lakes, and natural resources pertaining to the land. A State can alter its territory by amalgamation or by secession.

(c) Population:

Population is another important feature of a State. A State is a social community. Every State has population – inhabitants, and there are well-defined criteria for membership. Population is very important to the survival of the State. The population of a State should be adequate for the sustenance of the State. A State with a small population finds it difficult to defend itself against larger States. The population of States varies greatly from a few thousand to millions.

(d) Sovereignty:

A State must have sovereign power, that is, it must not be subject to any authority whether internal or external in all its transactions. A sovereign State is an independent State. In the exercise of this sovereign right, a State keeps and maintains the instrument of force or coercive instruments, which include the Armed Forces, Security, Court of Law, Police, etc.