a nation is a stable of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, history, ethnicity, or psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.
a nation is more overtly political than an ethnic group; it has been described as "a fully mobilized or institutionalized ethnic group". some nations are ethnic groups (see ethnic nationalism) and some are not (see civic nationalism and multiculturalism).
it is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests.
benedict anderson has characterised a nation as an "imagined community" and paul james sees it as an "abstract community". a nation is an imagined community in the sense that the material conditions exist for imagining extended and shared connections. it is an abstract community in the sense that it is objectively impersonal, even if each individual in the nation experiences him or herself as subjectively part of an embodied unity with others. for the most part, members of a nation remain strangers to each other and will likely never meet. hence the phrase, "a nation of strangers" used by such writers as vance packard.