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). a nation has also been defined as a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity and particular interests.
american political scientist benedict anderson characterised a nation as an "", and australian academic 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 and 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 american journalist vance packard. so, a nation is an intersubjective reality and exists solely in the collective imagination of the citizens. even if a person comes to believe that a nation does not exist, the nation will remain unharmed, as it is not a subjective reality which exists in the mind of a single person. only if a very large number of people come to believe that the nation should not exist and end its validity will the nation cease to exist.