Constituent country: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A constituent country is a country that is part of a larger entity, such as a sovereign state or supranational body.


Use by international bodies

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an example of a body that has used the phrase constituent countries, notably in reference to:

European institutions such as the Council of Europe sometimes use the expression in reference to the sovereign member states of the European Union.[2]


The Kingdom of Denmark consists of three countries:


In 2004, the French overseas collectivity of French Polynesia was designated an overseas country giving it the highest degree of autonomy of all overseas dependencies of France. The status of New Caledonia is unsettled, but may become an overseas country if it does not choose independence.


As of 2009, the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of three countries:[5]

The Netherlands Antilles are to be dissolved in October 2010. This will result in two new constituent countries, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, with Bonaire and the rest of the Antilles joining the Netherlands proper.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom labelled map7.png

The United Kingdom consists of four countries:[6]



While England, Scotland and Wales are long-established countries, Northern Ireland came into being in 1921, and is also referred to as a province[7] or region[8] of the United Kingdom. Two thirds of modern Wales was once known as the Principality of Wales, and Wales today is still occasionally called a 'principality', or 'the Principality'. Use of 'country', 'province' and 'principality' can all be considered controversial,[9] and the choice of appellation can sometimes be due to a preference in national feeling.[10]

The word country does not necessarily connote political independence, so it may, according to context, be used to refer both to the United Kingdom and to England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Thus, for example, the British Prime Minister's website refers to "countries within a country", stating "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."[11] In discussing the use of the phrase 'constituent countries', it should be remembered that the phrase necessarily takes its meaning from its surrounding context which may be different.[12]

Although the term 'constituent countries' is sometimes used by official government bodies in the UK, they are often simply referred to as countries; thus the 2001 British Census asked residents of the UK their "country of birth" with tick box options of: Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland; England; Republic of Ireland and Elsewhere;[13] and the Office for National Statistics states in its glossary that "In the context of the UK, each of the four main subdivisions (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is referred to as a country".[14] Similarly, the British Embassy in the United States uses the word 'countries' on its website, rather than 'constituent countries'.[15]

Historically, Ireland (between 1801 and 1921) and subsequently for a brief period, Southern Ireland (between 1921 and 1922) were what could be regarded today as constituent countries. However, use of the phrase constituent country is a relatively recent evolution and was not applied to those territories. Use of the term constituent country is sometimes regarded as inappropriate when applied to Northern Ireland because some do not regard it as a country. Instead, some regard it as a province of the UK while others regard it as part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland.

Alternative terms

The phrase 'component countries' was used by an MP in a written question, but the answer given referred to 'countries' rather than 'component countries'.[16] The overlapping, but not identical, term Home Nations is also occasionally used by government bodies, but is almost exclusively used in sporting contexts, particularly rugby union; this term more frequently means England, Scotland, Ireland (as a whole), and Wales.

Sometimes the four countries are described as 'constituent parts'.[17][18]

See also

Specifically related to the United Kingdom:


  1. ^ Definition
  2. ^ example
  3. ^ West Nordic Council. Overview of the North Atlantic area, by the West Nordic Council.
  4. ^ Factsheet Denmark: Greenland. Overview of Greenland, by the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  5. ^ "Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles: Political relations within the Kingdom of the Netherlands". Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  6. ^ countries within a country[1].
  7. ^ "Use of the term constituent country is sometimes regarded as inappropriate when applied to Northern Ireland because some do not regard it as a country. Instead, some regard it as a province of the UK while others regard it as a part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland." - Global Encyclopedia of Political Geogrpahy, 2009
  8. ^ Example
  9. ^ Example:
    • "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." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
    • "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'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
    • "Although a seat of government, strictly speaking Belfast is not a 'capital' since Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the same sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." - J Morrill, 2004, The promotion of knowledge: lectures to mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1992-2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford
    • "Not a country in itself, Northern Ireland consists of six of the thirty-two original counties of Ireland, all part of the section of that island historically known as Ulster." - J V Til, 2008, Breaching Derry's walls: the quest for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, University Press of America
    • "Northern Ireland is not a country in itself, but a small fragment torn from the living body of Ireland where now the last act of its long struggle for independence is being played out." - W V Shannon, Northern Ireland and America's Responsibility in K M. Cahill (ed), 1984, The American Irish revival: a decade of the Recorder, 1974-1983, Associated Faculty Press
    • "Northern Ireland (though of course not a country) was the only other place where terrorism can be said to have achieved a comparable social impact." - M Crenshaw, 1985, An Organizational Approach to the Analysis of Political Terrorism in Orbis, 29 (3)
    • "The study compare attitudes in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, the UK, Holland, Ireland, Italy and West Germany. It also includes Northern Ireland, which of course is not a country." - P Kurzer, 2001, Markets and moral regulation: cultural change in the European Union, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
    • "As I see it, I'm an Irish Unionist. I'm Irish, that's my race if you like. My identify is British, because that it the way I have been brought up, and I identify with Britain and there are historical bonds, psychological bonds, emotional bonds, all the rest of it you know. ... Bit to talk of independence in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland is not a country, Northern Ireland is a province of Ireland and it is a province in the UK and I think that the notion of a national identity or group identity or racial identity or cultural identity here is a nonsense." - Michael McGimpsey quoted in F. Cochrane, 2001, Unionist politics and the politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Cork University Press: Cork
    • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control." A Aughey, 1996, Duncan Morrow, Northern Ireland Politics, Longmon: London
  10. ^ 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." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  11. ^ Number 10
  12. ^ Term used by British and Irish Governments and British media.
  13. ^ 2001 British Census.
  14. ^ Office for National Statistics.
  15. ^ British Embassy in the United States of America
  16. ^ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 28 Feb 2000 (pt 35)
  17. ^ "Constituent parts" used by US government.
  18. ^ "Constituent parts" used by British government.

Simple English

A constituent country is a country which makes up a part of a larger country, or federation. The United Kingdom is made of 4 constituent countries. They are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.[1] The Kingdom of the Netherlands is also made of 4 constituent countries. They are the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.[2]


  1. British Government website


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address