Elements of the State – What are they, importance and characteristics

We explain what and which are the elements of the State, the characteristics of each one and why they are important.

state elements
Not every human community can be considered a state.

What are the elements of the State?

In legal theory, elements of the State or constituent elements of the State are understood to be the set of factors that traditionally must be present for a State to exist, that is, to are the factors that allow the existence of a State.

Going to the basics, a State is a political institution created to guarantee the satisfaction of the collective needs of justice, organization and leadership, through an imposed legal order, that is, a law. For this to be possible, certain fundamental conditions must be met, since not every human community is equivalent to a State.

The classification of these elements often varies in political and legal studies, but fundamentally they are reduced to three:

  • The population. There are no states without populations, that is, without their own citizens, be they children, adults or the elderly. This sense of belonging and identification is key to the existence of the State, because from this, nationals can be distinguished from foreigners, their own and those of others. Often in specialized language the state (institutions and laws) is distinguished from the people and their culture (the nation).
  • The territory. For a State to exist, it must have its own territory to administer, that is, a portion of the planet’s surface that belongs to it and is under its absolute control, where the majority of its population resides. This territory is delimited by the country‘s borders, which separate its territory from that of its neighbors, and within which the only valid law is the law of the State. The waters that cross it (rivers, lakes, lagoons and seas to a certain extent) and natural resources of all kinds that are present in it are part of the territory.
  • Power or sovereignty. Finally, a State does not exist if it is not sovereign, that is, if it does not have the authority to administer its territory at will, and if it does not have the institutions to autonomously and freely exercise its roles of justice, leadership and organization. social and political. The sovereignty of States is, in principle, inviolable, and any interference by external powers can be considered a motive for war; reason for which international conflicts are settled according to international laws and institutions by mutual agreement between nations. In other words, there are no states without a government, without institutions and without political power in their hands.