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Social Studies: Basic Political Concepts

I want to take a brief moment to explain some basic political concepts I’ve learnt during the past few days.

A Nation
A nation is a human group sharing common characteristics of culture, language, historical experiences etc.
There are about 200 states whilst there are about 2000 nations.

A Centralized State
This name is used when talking about states which are governed from the capital. Most states are centralized.

A Federal State (a union)
When power has been decentralized from the capital to different provinces the state has become federal. Examples include the USA.

A Government
The ruling party of a country including a set of institutions (ruling the country).
The government has power over the military and police, amongst other things.

A Parliament
This is the lawmaking body of a state.

The Head of Government
Also known as the prime minister, bundeskansler or statsminister (in German resp. Swedish).

The Head of State
The head of state can be a king or a president. Often this post only has a symbolic value, becoming more powerful during times of war.

A Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental laws about how to rule a country and fundamental laws about important values in society, e.g. human rights and freedom of speech.


  • Direct democracy: everyone is allowed to vote. Referendums are held.
  • Indirect democracy: when representatives (to a parliament) are elected to make decisions.

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