Constituent country

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A constituent country is a country that makes up a part of a larger political or constitutional entity, usually 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.

Constituent countries by sovereign state[edit]

Kingdom of Denmark[edit]

Further information: Danish Realm

The Kingdom of Denmark 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]

French Republic[edit]

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 ruled that this was merely a change of appellation and did not represent a constitutional change in legal status.[9]

New Caledonia is a Sui generis collectivity with a transitory special status (statut particulier or statut original) that gives them a large autonomy. Due to this unique situation, the territory is often unofficially considered as an "oversea country", although there is no legal background to this appellation until the result of a referendum on its final status to be hold by 2018 and provided by the Nouméa Accord signed in 1998. New Caledonia has increasingly adopted its own symbols, choosing an anthem, a motto, and a new design for its banknotes.[10] In July 2010, the territory adopted the Kanak flag, alongside the existing French tricolor, as dual official flags of the territory.[11]

Kingdom of the Netherlands[edit]

Since 10 October 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four countries:[12]

Each is expressly designated as a land in Dutch law by the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[13] Unlike the German Länder and the Austrian Bundesländer, landen is consistently translated as "countries" by the Dutch government.[14][15][16]

New Zealand[edit]

Further information: Realm of New Zealand

The Realm of New Zealand consists of the sovereign state of New Zealand and its four dependent territories. Two of its dependent territories are considered self-governing states in free association with New Zealand, and are usually referred as countries along with New Zealand proper:

However, the Constitutions of the Cook Islands[20] and of Niue[21] do not describe either as a country, nor do the New Zealand Acts which brought those constitutions into force.[22][23]

Saint Kitts and Nevis[edit]

The island of Nevis has a constitutionally guaranteed right to secede from the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and thereby become a sovereign state. This is stipulated in section 113 of the Kittian/Nevisian Constitution.[24] 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.[25] In view of the constitutional position, both federate states, Saint Kitts and Nevis, could be regarded as constituent countries of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

United Kingdom[edit]

Further information: Countries of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is generally described as comprising four countries:[26]

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".[27][28][29] For example, ISO 3166-2:GB defines the UK as being made up of three countries (England, Scotland, Wales) and one province (Northern Ireland).[30]

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.

Historical constituent countries by sovereign state[edit]

Czechoslovak Socialist Republic[edit]

According to its constitution Czechoslovakia was a union of two freely associated Socialist Republics: Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic; in reality, for most of its lifespan ČSSR was a strongly centralized state.

Soviet Union[edit]

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.

Soviet socialist republic Member
(km²; 1991)
Capital Modern state
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic 1922 147,386,000 17,075,400 Moscow  Russia
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic 1922 51,706,746 603,700 Kiev
(Kharkov before 1934)
Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic 1924 19,906,000 447,400 Tashkent
(Samarkand before 1930)
Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 16,711,900 2,727,300 Astana  Kazakhstan
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic 1922 10,151,806 207,600 Minsk  Belarus
Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 7,037,900 86,600 Baku  Azerbaijan
Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 5,400,841 69,700 Tbilisi  Georgia
Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic 1929 5,112,000 143,100 Dushanbe  Tajikistan
Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 4,337,600 33,843 Kishinev  Moldova
Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 4,257,800 198,500 Bishkek  Kyrgyzstan
Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 3,689,779 65,200 Vilnius  Lithuania
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic 1924 3,522,700 488,100 Ashkhabad  Turkmenistan
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic 1936 3,287,700 29,800 Yerevan  Armenia
Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 2,666,567 64,589 Riga  Latvia
Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940 1,565,662 45,226 Tallinn  Estonia
  The annexation of the Baltic republics in 1940 was considered as an illegal occupation and never recognized by the majority of the international community.[31][32][33] 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.

SR Slovenia
SR Croatia
SR Bosnia and
SR Macedonia
SR Serbia

See also[edit]


  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 French). Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  8. ^ "French Polynesia profile". BBC News. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Décision n° 2004-490 DC du 12 février 2004". Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  10. ^ "Nouvelle-Calédonie: où en est le processus d'indépendance?" (in French). Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  11. ^ Malkin, Bonnie (20 July 2010). "New Caledonia adopts second flag in compromise over French rule". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 28 July 2010. New Caledonian Congress overwhelmingly voted to adopt the emblem of the indigenous movement, which features red, blue and green stripes with a yellow sun and black totem, as the nation's second official flag 
  12. ^ "Netherlands Antilles no more – Stabroek News – Guyana". Stabroek News. 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  13. ^ "Article 1 of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands". Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  14. ^ "Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations -Aruba". 2003-01-24. Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  15. ^ SMN NEWS TEAM. "St Martin News Network". Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  16. ^ "Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations – New Status". 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  17. ^ Cook Islands Government. "The Cook Islands Government Online". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  18. ^ Australian Government. "AusAid". Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  19. ^ Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. "Niue". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  20. ^ "Constitution of the Cook Islands".
  21. ^ "Constitution of Niue".
  22. ^ "New Zealand legislation – Cook Islands".
  23. ^ "New Zealand legislation – Niue".
  24. ^ Constitution of the Federation of Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts) and Nevis
  25. ^ "Electoral Office – Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis". Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  26. ^ "A beginners guide to UK geography: Glossary". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  27. ^ 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. 
  28. ^ 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. 
  29. ^ 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'. 
  30. ^ "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. 
  31. ^ European parliament: Resolution on the situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (No C 42/78) (1983). Official Journal of the European Communities. European Parliament. 
  32. ^ Aust, Anthony (2005). Handbook of International Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-53034-7. 
  33. ^ Ziemele, Ineta (2005). State Continuity and Nationality: The Baltic States and Russia. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 90-04-14295-9.