Constituent country

Constituent country

Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts in which a country makes up a part of a larger entity. The term constituent country does not have any defined legal meaning, and is used simply to refer to a country which is a part (i.e. a constituent) of something else.



The Kingdom of Denmark consists of three constituent parts, each part sometimes 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] Similarly, the Danish Government also refers to Greenland as an "autonomous province"[5] and neither of the laws forming Greenland's constitution refer to Greenland as a country.[6]


French regions (e.g., Pays d'Auge, Pays de la Loire, and Pays de Caux) often bear the appellation pays ("land"), which is sometimes also used in reference to other nations (e.g., Pays-Bas is the French name of the Netherlands).

In 2004, the French overseas collectivity of French Polynesia was legally designated as a pays d'outre-mer au sein de la République.[7] Although some translated this 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 an unconstitutional change in legal status.[9]

Germany and Austria

The states of Germany and of Austria are referred to as Bundesländer ("Federal Lands") and Gliedstaaten ("Member States") in German, a usage implying their former sovereignty in a manner parallel to the American use of "states" (German: Bundesstaaten and Gliedstaaten). However, they are never considered countries in their own right and are referred to as Bundesländer or terms such as "states" in other languages to avoid confusion.


As of 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 and 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 Kingdom

Constituent countries of the UK.

The United Kingdom is generally considered to comprise four countries:[22][23][24][25]

However, the kingdom itself is a unitary one and not a personal union: properly speaking, the principality of Wales ceased to exist in 1542, the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707, and the kingdom of Ireland in 1800 or 1953.[26] Further, the current usage "country" does not always appear in the acts of union which established the modern nation and can therefore be particularly controversial when applied to Northern Ireland, which did not exist prior to 1921 (See: Countries of the United Kingdom).

Northern Ireland had a devolved parliament from 1921 – 1973 and an assembly from 1973 – 1974 and from 1982 – 1986. After referenda in Wales and Scotland in 1997, new devolved governments were created in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland[27] but not England, which remains directly under Parliament.

At sporting events such as rugby union, the alternate title Home Nations is used. In such contexts, "Ireland" may refer to the team of the entire island as a whole.

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. ^ Danish Government.[dubious ] "Denmark in Brief".
  6. ^ The "Act on Greenland Self-Government 2008" refers to Greenland as a "people" and the "Greenland Home Rule Act 1978" referred to Greenland as a "community".
  7. ^ Loi organique n°2004-192 du 27 février 2004
  8. ^ Regions and territories: French Polynesia BBC, 11 December 2010, retrieved 8 March 2011
  9. ^ Décision n° 2004-490 DC du 12 février 2004
  10. ^
  11. ^ Article 1 of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  12. ^ Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations -Aruba
  13. ^ St Martin News Network 18 November 2010
  14. ^ Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations - New Status
  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. ^ Number "Countries within a Country."[dead link]
  23. ^ Office for National Statistics. "Glossary".
  24. ^ "2001 British Census".[dead link]
  25. ^ British Embassy in the United States of America. "Countries in the UK".[dead link]
  26. ^ The year Elizabeth II ceased to be styled Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, &c. and was instead styled Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, &c. See: Titles of Elizabeth II.
  27. ^ Although this Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended on several occasions, including from 2002 – 2007.

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