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What is State? Essential elements of State



State is a political entity, society is a social institution. There is no doubt that the state exists within the society. But it is not a part of the society as we understand it. The State is invested with control on account of which it can support or even destroy the social order and the like. The State for all practical purposes is an association or an organization of a group of persons or members who are associated into a unity of will, established within society for the achievement of conscious but limited purposes.

Essential Elements of State:

Article 1 of Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of State prescribes four essential elements of a state. These are discussed below

Permanent Population:

A state must have a permanent population. There can be no state without people as state is almost an abstraction and as such it is the thing itself away from its parts and other garments. It is, in short, the given community of given individuals viewed in certain aspect, namely, as a political unity. A State therefore expresses inner urge of mankind and possesses a unity which is indivisible and immutable like the individuality of a person, complete in itself and incapable of being divided or undergoing a change.

Defined Territory:

The second essential element for a valid state is that it must have defined boundaries. Modern state are national state i.e., they are organized on the principle of defined territory. Thus, an association of people without defined territory cannot be conferred with the status of state.


The third attribute of the State is its Sovereignty. Sovereignty has two aspects—internal and external. Internally, it is supreme over every person within the area of its jurisdiction; externally it ensures the independence of one State as a whole with reference to all the States.


The forth attribute of the State is that there must be some machinery through which it can enforce its supreme authority. This machinery is its Government, an organization in which is vested the right to exercise sovereign powers. But it is very necessary that the State must be distinguished from its Government.

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