Constituent country

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Constituent country is a term sometimes used in contexts in which a country makes up a part of a larger political entity, such as a sovereign state. The term constituent country does not have any defined legal meaning, and is used simply to refer to a country which is a constituent part of something else.

In unitary states


The Danish Realm consists of three constituent parts, each part often referred to as a country:

However, this terminology is not consistent. The Faroes are also referred to as a "self-governing territory" or similar by (e.g.) the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands[3] and the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[4] In the Danish/Faroese act of 2005 (Act on the Faroese authorities acquisition of affairs and fields / (Danish) Lov om de færøske myndigheders overtagelse af sager og sagsområder) the Faroese government is referred to as an equal partner to the Danish government.[5][6]


In 2004, the French overseas collectivity of French Polynesia was legally designated as a pays d'outre-mer au sein de la République,[7] translated as an "overseas country inside the Republic".[8] The Constitutional Council of France ruled that this was merely a change of appellation and did not represent a constitutional change in legal status.[9]


Since 10 October 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four countries:[10]

Each is expressly designated as a land in Dutch law by the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[11] Unlike the German Länder and the Austrian Bundesländer, landen is consistently translated as "countries" by the Dutch government.[12][13][14]

New Zealand

The Realm of New Zealand consists of three parts usually referred to as countries:

However, the Constitutions of the Cook Islands[18] and of Niue[19] do not describe either as a country, nor do the New Zealand Acts which brought those constitutions into force.[20][21]

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is generally described as comprising four countries:[22]

The United Kingdom itself is a unitary state and not four countries in personal union but came about by the union of four countries. Wales was incorporated into the kingdom of England in 1542, the kingdoms of England and Scotland united in 1707, and the kingdom of Ireland united with them in 1801. Northern Ireland was created when Ireland was partitioned in 1921. Northern Ireland remained in the United Kingdom, whereas the rest (now the Republic of Ireland) left.

Although the term country is usually applied uncontroversially to England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland is often described using other terms, such as "region" or "province".[23][24][25] For example, ISO 3166-2:GB defines the UK as being made up of three countries (England, Scotland, Wales) and one province (Northern Ireland).[26]

Northern Ireland had a devolved parliament from 1921–72. Devolution was restored to Northern Ireland in 1999 following the Good Friday Agreement and referenda in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in 1998. After referenda in 1997, new devolved governments were created in Scotland and Wales. England remains solely under the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London.

At sporting events such as rugby union, an alternative title, Home Nations, is used, which in these contexts sometimes includes Ireland as a whole.


China does not have any specified constituencies, but it contains the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, both of which have separate governments from the national government. This political arrangement is sometimes called "one country, two systems".

In federal states

Soviet Union

According to its constitution the Soviet Union was a union of freely associated Soviet Socialist Republics; in reality, for most of its lifespan the USSR was a strongly centralized state.

Map of the Union Republics from 1956–1991
Republics of the USSR.svg
USSR pop.
USSR area


Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic 1922 147,386,000 51.40 17,075,400 76.62 Moscow  Russia 1
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic 1922 51,706,746 18.03 603,700 2.71 Kiev
(Kharkov before 1934)
 Ukraine 2
Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic 1924 19,906,000 6.94 447,400 2.01 Tashkent
(Samarkand before 1930)
 Uzbekistan 4
Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 16,711,900 5.83 2,727,300 12.24 Astana  Kazakhstan 5
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic 1922 10,151,806 3.54 207,600 0.93 Minsk  Belarus 3
Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 7,037,900 2.45 86,600 0.39 Baku  Azerbaijan 7
Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 5,400,841 1.88 69,700 0.31 Tbilisi  Georgia 6
Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic 1929 5,112,000 1.78 143,100 0.64 Dushanbe  Tajikistan 12
Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 4,337,600 1.51 33,843 0.15 Kishinev  Moldova 9
Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 4,257,800 1.48 198,500 0.89 Bishkek  Kyrgyzstan 11
Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 3,689,779 1.29 65,200 0.29 Vilnius  Lithuania 8
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic 1924 3,522,700 1.23 488,100 2.19 Ashkhabad  Turkmenistan 14
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 3,287,700 1.15 29,800 0.13 Yerevan  Armenia 13
Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 2,666,567 0.93 64,589 0.29 Riga  Latvia 10
Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 1,565,662 0.55 45,226 0.20 Tallinn  Estonia 15
  The annexation of the Baltic republics in 1940 was considered as an illegal occupation and never recognized by the majority of the international community.[27][28][29] The Soviet Union officially recognized their secession on September 6, 1991, prior to its final dissolution.


The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was divided into six Constituent Socialist Republics, along with two self autonomous Provinces within Serbia.

St Kitts and Nevis

The island of Nevis has a constitutionally guaranteed right to secede from the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and thereby become a sovereign country. This is stipulated in section 113 of the Kittian/Nevisian Constitution.[30] An independence referendum was held in Nevis on 10 August 1998. With 62% support amongst Nevisian voters, it fell slightly short of the constitutionally required two-thirds majority support necessary.[31] In view of the constitutional position, both St. Kitts and Nevis could be regarded as constituent countries of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

See also


  1. The West Nordic Council. website. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  2. Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Factsheet Denmark: Greenland.
  3. Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands. "About the Faroe Islands". Retrieved 8 March 2011
  4. Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Factsheet Denmark – the Faroes.
  5. Lov om de færøske myndigheders overtagelse af sager og sagsområder
  6. Denne lov bygger på en overenskomst mellem Færøernes landsstyre og den danske regering som ligeværdige parter. (Faroese)]
  7. "Loi organique n°2004-192 du 27 février 2004" (in français). Retrieved 18 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "French Polynesia profile". BBC News. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Décision n° 2004-490 DC du 12 février 2004". Retrieved 18 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Netherlands Antilles no more – Stabroek News – Guyana". Stabroek News. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Article 1 of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands". Retrieved 18 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations -Aruba". 24 January 2003. Retrieved 18 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. SMN NEWS TEAM. "St Martin News Network". Retrieved 17 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations – New Status". 1 October 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Cook Islands Government. "The Cook Islands Government Online". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  16. Australian Government. "AusAid". Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  17. Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. "Niue". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  18. "Constitution of the Cook Islands".
  19. "Constitution of Niue".
  20. "New Zealand legislation – Cook Islands".
  21. "New Zealand legislation – Niue".
  22. "A beginners guide to UK geography: Glossary". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 9 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. S. Dunn; H. Dawson (2000), An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, One specific problem – in both general and particular senses – is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state – although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. J. Whyte; G. FitzGerald (1991), Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford: Oxford University Press, One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. D. Murphy (1979), A Place Apart, London: Penguin Books, Next – what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Changes in the list of subdivision names and code elements" (PDF). ISO 3166-2. International Organization for Standardization. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. European parliament: Resolution on the situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (No C 42/78) (1983). Official Journal of the European Communities. European Parliament.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Aust, Anthony (2005). Handbook of International Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-53034-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Ziemele, Ineta (2005). State Continuity and Nationality: The Baltic States and Russia. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 90-04-14295-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Constitution of the Federation of Saint Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis
  31. "Electoral Office – Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis". Retrieved 17 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>