Definition of State and It's Elements

Definition of State and It's Elements

Meaning and Definition of State

The state is the most universal and most powerful of all social institutions. The state is a natural institution. Aristotle said man is a social animal and by nature he is a political being. To him, to live in the state and to be a man were identical.


 The modern term “state” is derived from the word “status”. It was Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) who first used the term “state” in his writings. His important work is titled as “Prince”.
 The state is the highest form of human association. It is necessary because it comes into existence out of the basic needs of life. It continues to remain for the sake of good life.
 The aims, desires and aspirations of human beings are translated into action through the state. Though the state is a necessary institution, no two writers agree on its definition.
State is an association and it means a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government. State in another sense,  the political organization that has supreme civil authority and political power and serves as the basis of government and a government or politically organized society having a particular character.


According to Wikipedia, A state is a type of polity that is an organized political community living under a single system of government. States may or may not be sovereign. For instance, federated states are members of a federal union, and may have only partial sovereignty, but are, nonetheless, states. Some states are subject to external sovereignty or hegemony, in which ultimate sovereignty lies in another state. States that are sovereign are known as sovereign states.





According to Aristotle : “ a union of families and villages having for its end a perfect and self     –sufficing life by which we mean a happy and honorable life”
According to Woodrow Wilson : “The state is people organized for law within a definite territory.”
According to Bluntschli : “ The state is a politically organized people of a definite territory”
To  Holland, the state is “a numerous assemblage of human beings generally occupying a certain territory amongst whom the will of the majority or class is made to prevail against any of their number who oppose it.”
 Burgess defines the state as “a particular portion of mankind”

According to Sidgwick, “State is a combination or association of persons in the form of government and governed and united together into a politically organized people of a definite territory.”
According to Garner, “State is a community of people occupying a definite form of territory free of external control and possessing an organized government to which people show habitual obedience.”
 Prof. Laski defines “state as a territorial society divided into government and subjects whose relationships are determined by the exercise of supreme coercive power.”

So, We can say that A state is a association or organized political institution or community where has a government to govern within a definite territory.

Elements of State

There are for components of a state and these are described in the following:
1.    Population: It is the people who make the state. Population is essential for the state. Greek thinkers were of the view that the population should neither be too big nor too small. According to Plato the ideal number would be 5040. According to Aristotle, the number should be neither too large nor too small. It should be large enough to be self – sufficing and small enough to be well governed.
Rousseau determined 10,000 to be an ideal number for a state. Greek thinkers like Plato and Aristotle thinking on the number was based on small city – states like Athens and Sparta. Modern states vary in population. India has a population of 102,70,15,247 people according to 2001 census.

2.    Territory: There can be no state without a fixed territory. People need territory to live and organize themselves socially and politically. It may be remembered that the territory of the state includes land, water and air – space. The modern states differ in their sizes. Territory is necessary for citizenship. As in the case of population, no definite size with regard to extent of area of the state can be fixed. There are small and big states.
In the words of Prof. Elliott “territorial sovereignty or the Superiority of state overall within its boundaries and complete freedom from external control has been a fundamental principle of the modern state life”.





3.    Government: Government is the third element of the state. There can be no state without government. Government is the working agency of the state. It is the political organization of the state. Prof. Appadorai defined government as the agency through which the will of the State is formulated, expressed and realized.
According to C.F. Strong, in order to make and enforce laws the state must have supreme authority. This is called the government.


4.    Sovereignty: The fourth essential element of the state is sovereignty.The word ‘sovereignty” means supreme and final legal authority above and beyond which no legal power exists. The concept of “sovereignty” was developed in conjunction with the rise of the modern state. The term Sovereignty is derived from the Latin word superanus which means supreme. the father of modern theory of sovereignty was Jean Bodin (1530 – 1597) a French political thinker.

Sovereignty has two aspects: Internal sovereignty means that the State is supreme over all its citizens, and associations. External sovereignty means that the state is independent and free from foreign or outside control.


According to Harold J. Laski, “It is by possession of sovereignty that the state is distinguished from all other forms of human association.

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