Difference Between State and Country

Terms such as State and Country could be confusing to many who have no detailed idea of how and in which context they are being used. In different contexts, these terms can be interchangeable. There are situations where state and country can mean the same, and there are other situations where they can mean different things.

State vs Country

The main difference between a state and a country is that a country is a territory with defined borders, while a state is a division of that territory or simply a small region within a country. (In a geographical context.) Often, from a political perspective, we see both a country and a state as the same entity, a territory with internationally accepted borders.

State vs Country

When ‘s’ of “State” is written in uppercase it means that it refers to a region or territory that is the same as a country, and when ‘s’ of “state” is written in lowercase it means that it refers to a region or territory that is smaller than and within a country.

As said earlier, a country is a region that has defined and approved borders internationally and by neighboring countries. It also has sovereignty over the territory i.e. it has the authority over the region and no other country can take over. Countries are also called sovereign states.

Comparison Table Between State and Country

Parameters of ComparisonState Country
MeaningA state is a region or division under a territory
A state is an organized public community under the jurisdiction of one govt.
A territory governed by single govt.
DescriptionWhereas state is a small region under a country that is also run by the country’s govt and also state is used to refer to a whole country as well.Has its own economy. A country is basically a region that has a boundary that separates it from other countries.
GovernmentsMay have independent or dependent govt. Possibly the state govt is under the central govt. Have the govt and judicial body regulate people and implement rules and laws.
Have an independent govt, a sovereign authority.
Areas & ResidentsThe area of the state is smaller than that of a country or a sovereign state. Residents are obviously less in smaller territory.Have permanent residents. The total area is more than that of a state.
ExampleUttar Pradesh, Goa, Haryana and many more.USA, UK, China, India etc.

What is a State?

A state is basically a region that comes in the sovereignty of a country or a State. As stated earlier that the word ‘state’ could have two meanings, based on which context it is used. The state could sometimes be interchangeably used to refer to a country.

But the confusion is here, which one of the two meanings of the state is the most appropriate and used more often. Well, it is up to the user how he/she is meaning to use and what is he/she referring to, whether an independent state or a dependent state. We can understand clearly whenever we come across such a paragraph or discussion going on, it’s simple.

There are a number of states that sum up to be a whole country or an independent sovereign state. A state has its own government that may be independent or dependent to the central but has no high power over the central government.

Let’s take the example of India and the USA, United States is country also an independent state. India too is states are Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, California, Nevada, New York, etc.

What is a Country?

In basic terms, a country is a territory with a government and judicial system that regulates the people and enforces laws. There is an economy within the country to meet the country’s needs. It is responsible for fostering friendly relations between neighboring and partner countries. Additionally, it is responsible for issuing the nation’s currency as well as conducting business throughout the world.

In political terms, it is also called a sovereign state. The territory of a country or state is divided into smaller units called states. There are four basic components of a country: citizens, territory, government, and sovereignty. Sometimes a country is also called an independent state.

Features of a country:

  1. Has internationally recognized land and borders, notwithstanding border disputes
  2. Has permanent residents;
  3. Is sovereign, which means that another country cannot encroach on its territory
  4. Has a transportation system to move goods and people
  5. Recognized by other sovereign states
  6. Also has the education to educate the population.

There are 195 independent countries in the world. Kosovo is the latest formed country, after the independence from Serbia in the year 2008. Also, there are some countries which claim to be independently a country but other countries or sovereign state does not approve that, territories like Hong Kong, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Greenland.

Many disputes arise when countries refuse to recognize territories that claim to be countries. As an example, Taiwan claims to be an independent country, but China asserts that Taiwan is a part of China. Due to this, other countries that do not want to upset China also deny Taiwan’s independence.

Main Differences Between a State and a Country

The fundamental differences that differentiate the meaning of the two terms are listed below

  1. A state’s total area is usually under the boundary of a country or a sovereign state.
  2. Both have their own governments but a central government has superiority over a state government.
  3. A country is responsible for issuing currency and money for its people and business, while a state does not have the right to issue currency. It has to use the allowed currency by the central government.
  4. Has recognized government that is responsible for public services and police power and has the power to decide treaties, wage war, and take other actions for the people.
  5. A country has a sovereignty that no other country can impose any rule or occupy over the claimed region, but a state comes under the sovereignty of a country, i.e. a country can rule over a state when needed. It has authority.
Difference Between State and Country


It is all about the differences between a state and a country. All the confusion must be cleared up by now; this article has a table that compares both.

Note that a state could also mean a country, also a state is a subdivision of a country. Typically, a country refers to geographical aspects, whereas a state refers to a political context.


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0309132508104996
  2. https://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-SDZS200602014.htm
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