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Related subjects: Geography

Background Information

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In political geography and international politics, a country is a political division of a geographical entity. Frequently, a sovereign territory, the term is most commonly associated with the notions of both state and nation, and also with government.

In common usage, the term is used casually in the sense of both nations and states. Definitions may vary. It is sometimes used to refer to both states and some other political entities, while in some occasions it refers only to states. It is not uncommon for general information or statistical publications to adopt the wider definition for purposes such as illustration and comparison.

There are non- sovereign territories (subnational entities, another form of political division or administrative division within a larger nation-state) which constitute cohesive geographical entities, some of which are former states, but which are not presently sovereign states. Some are commonly designated as countries (e.g. England, Scotland and Wales), while others are not (e.g., Cornwall, Brittany and Texas). The degree of autonomy and local government varies widely. Some are possessions of states, as several states have overseas dependencies (e.g., the British Virgin Islands, Netherlands Antilles, and American Samoa), with territory and citizenry separate from their own. Such dependent territories are sometimes listed together with states on lists of countries.

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