A sovereign state is a nonphysical juridical entity of the international legal system that is represented by a centralized government that has supreme independent authority over a geographic area[1]. Sovereign states maintain a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. Its normally understood a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subject to any other power or state.

The word country is often used to refer to sovereign states, although it originally means a geographic region. Wales, England, and Scotland are examples of "countries" which are not states, since the state is the United Kingdom. The first states came into existence as people “gradually transferred their allegiance from an individual sovereign (emperor, king, duke, prince) to an intangible but territorial political entity, the State”.


  1. "The powers of external sovereignty on the part of the State do not depend on the affirmative grant of this in the Constitution. ... The State would not be completely sovereign if it did not have in common with other members of the family of nations the right and power in the field of international relations equal to the right and power of other states. These powers of the State include the power to declare war or to participate in a war, to conclude peace, to make treaties, and maintain diplomatic relations with other states." — Crotty v An Taoiseach [1987] IESC 4 (9 April 1987)

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