Topic: Basic Concept of Government.
Period: I
Objectives: This lesson intends to teach learners the basic concept of government. We will be looking at the definition and characteristics of a state in this first period of the topic.


A State as one of the concept of government is defined from different perspectives..”the state is defined as that entity that has the following characteristics population, government, territory, monopoly of force.” The definition is very important in international law and international relation. A state may be defined as an organised body of people living within a defined territory with government to control the affairs of people which enjoys some measures of sovereignty state in this sense is not limited to a segment of a country like Abia state, Adamawa state, kogi state, Lagos state, etc, but rather it is concerned with a country such as Nigeria, U.S.A, China, Canada etc which enjoys sovereignty.

Characteristics of a state

A state is made up of the following characteristics:
1.Defined territory: A state must have clearly defined boundaries which demarcate her from other states.
2.Population: A state must also possess human beings living within her territory. The human beings are referred to as citizens and they are the most important agents of development of the state.
3.Government . this is the machinery that controls the affairs of people within the state. The government helps the state to execute her will.
4.Sovereignty.This is the supremacy of a state over her citizens and freedom from external control. This characteristic is essential because it forms the foundation of the authority through which the state makes and enforces laws.
5.Permanence: this characteristic refers to the unchangeable nature of state once a state is formed, it continues to exist.
6.Recognition: The existence and sovereignty of a state must be recognized by individuals, groups within and outside the state other states should also recognize the existence of a state.

Differences between a state and a nation.

1. A state comprises people that share heterogeneous features e.g, Nigerian state is made up of different nations/Nation : is made up of people with homogeneous characteristics e.g, Hausa/Fulani nation, Yoruba nation and igbo nation, in nigerian state.
2. A state has people that speak different languages/Nation is always made up of people with common descent and language..
3.A state is always independent and therefore enjoys sovereignty ./Nation is dependent and therefore does not enjoy sovereignty.
4.A state harbours two or more nations /A Nation exists under the protection of a state..

State And Society

A state is formed in a society and a state therefore establishes government to exert her influence in a society . A society refers to a group of the affairs of people in a society. A state is recognized and distinguish but society may not possess these characteristics.

State And Government

State and government are complementary to each other. State is an entity while government gives meaning to the existence of the state by helping to carry out her functions..for a state to maintain her corporate existence, it has to possess a form of government either good or Bad.

Differences Between State And Government

1. State is a territorial associations of people living in defined boundaries whereas Government is an administrative and divisional institute within a state..
2. A state is more inclusive as it embraces all the people and associations within a given area however, Government is not as inclusive as a state, it is only a part of a state.
3. A state is a continuing entity. it is therefore permanent. Government on the other hand is a temporary institution. It only last over a period of time which could be fixed.
4. A state is dependent on government to carry out its activities while Government is the machinery by which functions of a state are performed. It is the means by which a state maintains her existence.
5. A state has its elements, such as population, territory, government and sovereignty meanwhile Government has its main organs such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary
6. A state is greater in size as it contains those who are in government and those who are not but Government is smaller in size as it is sometimes limited to those who administer its affairs..


Now that you are done, you can use the questions below as a test.

  1. What are the elements of a state and government?
  2. ——— is a continuing entity.
  3. State 6 differences between a state and government.
  4. What is a state?
  5. State 6 characteristics of a state.
  6. ——- helps the state to execute her will.
  7. —— are the most important agents of development of a state.

Did you provide the right answers? Bravo!

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