The Population Of The States

The physical environment of itself can accomplish no historical result. It always acts upon or through individuals, determining their characteristics, and conditioning their activities. Hence a study of the fundamental elements of the state must include the individuals that comprise it and the natural circumstances in Which it exists.

The internal influence of heredity must be added to the external influence of the environment. The results of the contact of man With man and a man with nature must be considered. Just as political science views the earth as divided into several geographic units, differing among themselves and ten mg with more or less definiteness to divide groups’ humanity. Hence, political science views humanity as divided Into a number hi ethnic units, differing in numbers and racial and national characteristics, and tending more or less powerfully toward that Spirit of unity which creates a state.

The influences of the natural environment partly explain the origin and development of states, the influences resulting from characteristics of individuals and groups of individuals complete the explanation. Nature and man in constant interrelation create the state.

Three aspects of population, in particular, are of importance in their effect upon the state, both in its internal organization and activities and in its international relations. These are the following.

  1. The size of the population. The number of people in a state, the rate of population growth, and the relation of numbers to area and resources have important political effects.
  2. The distribution of the population. The population’s distribution includes both the internal distribution, which creates varying densities of population in different parts of a state and the external distribution, which results in populations’ movement from one state to another.
  3. The type of the population. The physical and psychological differences that create races and nationalities, the degree of intelligence and political ability, and the stage of economic development are aspects of the population that have marked influence upon political organization and status.

Growth of Population of the states :

The growth of population in a State, aside from the changes caused by immigration and emigration, is determined by the excess of births over deaths and, therefore, modified by any causes that increase or diminish either birth rate or death rate. Among early peoples, the birth rate was high, but a comparatively small increase in population resulted from the correspondingly high death rate.

Disease, famine, war, and at times the deliberate removal of surplus children or useless aged resulted in an enormous waste of life. A declining birth rate has accompanied the growth of civilization. For these two important reasons have been offered:

(1) the biological fact that the powers of reproduction tend to decrease as animal life becomes more complex and highly organized.

(2) the sociological fact the-deliberate prevention increase as a civilization becomes older and wealthier. Marriages under these conditions are fewer and later, and families smaller. The annual birth fate in the United States has decreased from 35 per thousand of the population in 1900 to 25 per thousand in 1945.

At the same time, the progress of civilization is accompanied by a declining death rate. Improvements in sanitation and medical science check disease: A more highly developed economic life prevents famine from the average age of humans. Life is extended, and society cares for its weak instead of destroying them. Thus, despite a declining birth rate, the population may increase rapidly, and the waste of human life be avoided.

In the leading modern states, the increase of population, owing to an excess of births over deaths, varies considerably. In France, birth and death rates are about equal, and there has been little increase in population during the past half-century. Great Britain, the United States, and Germany have an increase in the population of about seven to ten per thousand annually. Italy and Japan have increased somewhat larger, While the Russian population growth is more than twenty per thousand annually.

The average span of human life, especially in the United States, has been considerably lengthened. The proportionate number of elderly persons has grown, with resultant effects on political, social, and economic life, and growing demand for state aid to this group.

The increasing population was an important factor in the rise and development of the state. In primitive times growing numbers caused increasing contact of man with man, necessitating organization, authority, and laws. Later pressure on the food supply led to migrations, colonization, and conquests. IE external expansion was impossible; a more highly developed economic life had to be created at home. The more populous states improved their agricultural methods or became increasingly important to the industry, commerce, and city life.

In this case, the necessity of importing food and raw materials and finding markets for finished goods led to colonial and commercial rivalries to exploit backward peoples and frequent wars. The size of the population is an important element in military strength. From the early Spartans, who bred warriors as one breeds cattle, to modern France, bewailing her stationary population, the question of numbers Ins been of importance in political affairs.

The theory of those interested in national greatness usually favors a large population. The Hebrews were encouraged by the Biblical injunction to be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth. The Greeks and Romans regulated marriage and encouraged large families, though the Greeks emphasized quality. For several centuries after the rise of modern national states, the prevailing mercantilism doctrines, emphasizing national wealth and greatness, encouraged belief in large populations’ value. Rulers of states are usually bitter opponents of race suicide.

On the other hand, social reformers have held theories opposing too-rapid growth. In its reaction against the social and moral conditions in the Roman Empire, early Christianity made celibacy am ideal and viewed marriage as an inferior state. In the later eighteenth century, poverty and unemployment in western Europe led economic reformers to the view that population tends to increase more rapidly than the means of subsistence, and the doctrines of Malthus and his followers attacked the earlier belief in the desirable results of increased population. At present, the desire to maintain high living standards and the eugenic interest in improving the racial stock lead many social reformers to favor birth control.

There are thus Opposing tendencies in modem states. A declining death rate accompanies a declining birth rate. Militarists and employers of cheap labor desire large populations. Others desire quality rather than numbers and emphasize the dangerous results in poverty and wars that follow too-rapid growth. Undeveloped areas desire increased populations; congested areas seek an outlet for their surplus numbers. The proper adjustment of the population to the food supply, resources, and economic conditions in a state is fundamental in political science.

Distribution of Population:

In addition to population growth, which results from the excess of births over deaths, the distribution of this population over the earth is important to political science. Here again, the physical environment 1.5 a determining factor. Certain areas, because of their configuration, climate, our resources, adapted to sustain large populations. The group’s size will depend not only upon the external environment but also upon the use made of it by man.

A given area, capable of supporting but a small group in the hunting or pastoral stage, may maintain a larger number engaged in agriculture, or an infinitely larger number when in dusty and commerce have developed. In favor, the excess of births over deaths will usually be greatest. The population’s size and density will be further increased by peoples attracted thither by the superior advantages that such areas offer. Thus, both the rate of increase within the group and the accessions that groups receive as a result of peoples’ movements determine the density and distribution of the population.

Movements of peoples have taken various forms:

The great migrations of early peoples, the periods of colonization that followed the discovery and opening up of new lands, and the modern immigration movement are examples. There may be a gradual shifting of the state’s population, such as the westward movement in the United States, or a concentration of population, such as the remarkable change from rural to urban life in the past century.

In 1800 only five percent of the population of the United States lived in cities. In 1940 more than sixty percent lived under urban conditions. Therefore, a survey of humanity at any given time shows the population is sparsely settled in some places, compactly aggregated in others. The population density varies from about 700 per square mile in England and Belgium to about 50 in the United States and about 25 in Russia.

The actual density must, of course, be considered in connection with the nature of the territory, its suitability to human life, and the degree of intensification in agriculture, the stage of industrial development, and the extent of commercial activities in each area.

The distribution of population has affected state life in many ways. Aggregation of the population in favored areas led to those common interests, which resulted in a spirit of unity and contact of man with his fellows, which led to the need for organization and law.

Migrations and the conquests that accompanied them required closer organization than a stationary life demanded and led to some form of regulation between ruler and subject and between one group and another. The intermarriage of diverse peoples and the new environment’s influence created variations that made for progress and gave rise to new political forms.

The migration of peoples that destroyed the Roman Empire and laid the basis for modern European states is a suggestive example. The colonial expansion made the establishment of various forms of colonial government created interesting problems in the relation of the colony to the mother country, fed to difficult adjustments in the governing of backward peoples, and Caused important rivalries and wars among the expanding nations.

Immigration creates important social, economic, and political problems in internal affairs with which the state must deal. The effort to regulate or restrict immigration may draw the state into international difficulties. Large cities’ growth has Opened lip an entirely new field of political science, that of municipal government and administration.


Even a casual glance at individuals shows certain physical similarities and differences. Some of these are personal peculiarities and perish with the individual others are persistent and fundamental. Based on physical makeup, the population of the earth may be classified according to race. The classification bases include the color of the skin, the shape of the skull, hair, stature, and other physical characteristics. People who live in the same general areas under similar conditions of climate, food, and occupation develop common physical traits. These are handed down from parent to child and thus perpetuated. Naturally, people of the same original parentage, who remain under the same natural conditions, become racially similar, while intermarriage or change of environment modifies the race type. At present, races have been so intermingled that few pure racial stocks remain.

The existence of races influenced state formation in two ways:

1. As to motive. Descendants of the same ancestors, similar in physical makeup and mental characteristics, developed a feeling of unity that made political organization natural and easy. The feeling of race unity and rate superiority has been. A powerful and constant social phenomenon In early times, strangers and enemies were identical, and only to people of the same tribe were obligations of morality or justice acknowledged. Belief in descent from a common ancestor was a frequent phenomenon in early states.

2. As to method. The basis of kinship, which underlies race formation, the family developed in its expanded forms. The clan and tribe, a more elaborate and rigid form of organization, arose. The state was, in many cases, the ultimate outgrowth of this organization. Thus, at the beginning of political existence, racial conditions made the state possible and furnished its earliest organization’s framework.

Race is an important element in present-day politics:

The existence of several races in the same state creates difficulties, as is indicated by the United States’ experiences with the Negro and with the Chinese and Japanese. International problems frequently arise from feelings of racial difference or claims of racial superiority.

Since the Opening of the nineteenth century, the rapid increase of the white race, made possible by increased food supply through invention and discovery and by control of the death rate through advancements in medical science and sanitation, led to extensive colonization and gave to the white race political control of a large part of the world.

At present, the white birth rate is falling rapidly. Other races are increasing in numbers because white control checked tribal wars, diminished famine’s danger, and reduced the death rate by introducing safeguards against disease. As a result, the next century will probably see a considerable territorial readjustment of races, with important political consequences.

Many writers have put forward claims for the superior political genius of certain races. The Greeks and the Romans attributed their achievements to qualities inherent in peculiarly gifted blood. More recently, the emphasis has been placed upon the superiority of the so-called Aryan or Teutonic, or Nordic stock. Such claims are viewed with suspicion by modern scholars because the groups that claim superiority are composed of mixed racial elements and because there are far greater differences among individuals of the same stock than among racial groups.

Theories of racial superiority are often utilized to stir patriotic emotions in times of war and to justify the imperialistic extension of the institutions and culture of a more powerful state over weaker peoples. There is also a wide differ mice of opinion concerning the value or danger of race mixtures. One group holds that only in purity of race can be found {hit means of preserving and perfecting superior qualities. The other group emphasizes the advantages of amalgamation in creating diversity and variation, thereby creating a more plastic-type and increasing the opportunity for superior individuals’ appearance.


Common descent, which played so important in the early stages, has become of little importance to present political science. No modern state coincides with a race. The lines of demarcation that separate races are growing less distinct as peoples more easily migrate and intermarry. The influences of heredity and environment remain, but to these physical ties are added social bonds that result from man’s contact with man, and the basis of unity in modern states is psychological rather than physical. Secondary groups, called nationalities, emerge, united by a common spirit, by common customs and interests, and when they form a political unit, they become a nation. On this basis, modem states have arisen.

No single factor creates nationality. Several elements, not all of which are always present, combine in varying proportions to give the feeling of subjective unity that constitutes nationality. Among these are the following:

1. Community of race:

If a person shows marked physical differences from its neighbors, or if it believes in a common origin or feels racially superior and has a prejudice against intermarriage or social contact with other groups, this feeling of racial unity contributes to the formation of nationality.

2. Community of language:

Language furnishes the medium through which people maintain intercourse and express their ideas and culture in common literature. Diversity of language separates peoples, prevents them from knowing or understanding one another, and renders difficult national consciousness growth.

While a few states, of which Switzerland is an example, may develop a strong national spirit despite the diversity of language, nevertheless, of all the factors that contribute to nationality, a community of language is usually the one of which peoples are most conscious, and for which they will struggle most bitterly against suppression.

3. Community of religion:

During a long period of human history, a community of religious belief was a powerful bond of union and played an important part in national consolidation. The permanence of the Hebrew nationality, the rise of the Mohammedan empire, and the sixteenth-century wars all showed a fundamental religious basis. It stated considered religious unity a necessary condition for their own existence.

At present, religious differences between Protestants and Catholics form an obstacle to national unity in Ireland. The cleavage between Hindu and Muslims has prevented tIndia’spolitical unity. On the other hand, most of the world’s leading states possess a strong national spirit despite the diversity of religious beliefs among their populations. The growth of toleration and freedom of belief has diminished religion’s importance as an element in determining nationality.

4. Geographic unity:

People occupying a unified territory, especially if natural barriers surround it, tend to develop the common interests and common spirit that underlie nationality. Nevertheless, the national spirit may survive when the population is distributed among several states, as were the Poles, or when people are scattered over the earth, as are the Hebrews.

5. Common political aspirations:

The spirit of nationality usually manifests itself in the desire for political independence or a large degree of government autonomy. The principle of self-determination of nations is based on the theory that every nationality, if sufficiently numerous and territoriality compact, has a natural right to determine its own destiny, live under its own laws, and form an independent state. People who live for a time under a common political authority may develop a national spirit and patriotism even though, at first, they were composed of diverse national elements.

6. Community of interests:

Peoples whose manner of life and customs have common ideas of right and wrong who have common economic interests, and have a common history and tradition rapidly develop a national spirit. Nationality is mainly a psychological feeling. They believe that they belong together, that they possess a common pride or common grievances, that they have a common heritage and common traditions. It results from several instincts, including gregariousness, or the herd instinct pugnacity of the fighting instinct egoism, which includes the desire for self-preservation and self-aggrandizement, and which is mo intense in time of danger and submission, or the tendency to follow leaders.

Nationality, therefore, is largely a matter of sentiment. It is a state of mind, a way of living, thinking, and feeling. It is a subjective realization of unity, based on many factors, and the result of a historical development War is significant as a stimulus to national sentiment.

The political principle of nationality was little realized until the beginning of modern times. Previously the boundaries of states were determined by the dynastic ambitions and policies of their rulers. By the fifteenth century, however, a feeling of nationalism was developed in England, and the English attempt to dominate France aroused a national spirit of resistance in that country. By the end of the century, Spain had become nationally conscious and expelled her alien ethnic and religious elements.

In the sixteenth century, Machiavelli struggled, without success, to arouse national sentiment in Italy. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, the partition of Poland and the continued desire of the Poles for the restoration of their political existence gave a marked impetus to the theory of nationality.

The effort of Napoleon to bring Europe under his domination aroused passionate popular resistance, and the: the spirit of nationalism was appealed to by Statesmen, craters, and poets in Germany, Italy, Russia, and Spain. The growth of democratic ideas gave an impetus to nationalism by transferring allegiance from the king to the nation. Revolution for national independence was often coupled with a struggle for democracy; hence national patriotism was intensified by its association with democratic aspirations. During the nineteenth century, revolutionary outbreaks in various parts of Europe aimed at national unity and independence.

The Greeks and the Balkan peoples won their independence from the Turks, and the Belgians separated from the Dutch. Italy and Germany were unified as nations. The First and Second World Wars were reawakened national aspirations. They were followed by attempts to redraw Europe’s map more nearly following national desires and by national uprisings among subject peoples in many parts of the earth.

It is evident, therefore, that nationality is a potent force in modern politics. A survey of the earth’s surface shows it to be divided by nature into several various geographic units. Hence, a survey of the earth’s population shows its division into various ethnic and national units. From the standpoint of both territory and population, a natural basis for the state exists.

Modern states have usually developed based on a fairly homogeneous population inhabiting a territory with definite natural boundaries, and states generally consider it their duty to protect or improve both the geographic unity of their territories and the national unity of their populations. They make strenuous efforts to assimilate alien elements and prevent the immigration of undesirables or absorb people of similar nationality not yet included in the state. Minority nationalities in a state, if unable to secure independence and self-determination, struggle valiantly for the protection of their language, laws, and local customs.

However, opinion is not unanimous as to the value of a mono national state. Some writers hold that a state may gain breadth and variety by including foreign elements that keep open communication with other civilizations. Others point out that inferior people are raised by living in a political union with superior peoples. They exhausted and decayed nations that were revived by contact with the younger and more vital stock.

Still, others argue that there is no necessary connection between nationality and government. They hold that nationality is essentially a question of culture and that dims nationalities should be able to live together peacefully under the Same government and diverse religions. They fear that excessive national spirit will become aggressive and imperialistic, and Will leads to war. Internationalism, as well as of nationalism, was given a marked impetus by the First and Second World Wars.

Importance of the Individual:

A discussion of the population that views it only as composed of several races and nationalities, differing in political ability and tending to form states, along certain lines, gives but a one-sided view. The population also consists of individuals, of great men, leaders, and reformers. Just how much political development is attributable to the spirit of the time that results from general causes and how much to individuals’ conscious effort is one of the most difficult of problems, and historians have held widely divergent opinions concerning it.

To some, all progress is the work of great men. To others, the individual is helpless unless the world is ready for him. As usual, the truth seems to be between the extremes. Great individuals are both causes and effects. A Caesar or a  Napoleon plays a mighty part, but at the same time, conditions are such as to produce these men and make their work possible. All great leaders are largely representative of their age, yet they may modify it and introduce new ideas that may form the basis of succeeding development. Until recently, it was generally believed that great individuals’ influence on the course of events was declining.

However, the establishment of dictatorships placed enormous powers in Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin. Their ideas and policies were powerful influences on the course of world events. After all, each individual composing the states is a being that wills and arts and while at any given time it may be impossible to distinguish between the crank and the reformer, between the man, who is Opposing the tendency of his times and the man who is starting a new movement toward a new age, in either case, the individual is a force that demands consideration.

Just as a man may consciously modify the physical conditions of the external world, so may he influence those psychical bonds that create nations and states, and as the control of man over nature makes prowess rapid in material civilization. Hence, man’s conscious effort to modify his political system makes possible the revolutions and reforms that mark the path of state development.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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