The formation of a nationality or nation is attributable to many factors. None of them, however, is indispensable. Some of them many be discussed as follows:
(1) Racial Unity. (2) Linguistic Unity. (3) Religious Unity. (4) Geographical Unity. (5) Common Historical Background. (6) Cultural Unity.
1. Racial unity:
Those who regard nationality as a racial phenomenon attach great importance to racial unity as its essential basis. Racial purity, as pointed out above, is not traceable anywhere in the present age.
England, America and Canada have developed into single nations despite the fact there was a lot of racial diversity in their respective populations.
England and Australia, on the other hand, are two distinct nations although they belong to one racial stock. Racial unity, therefore, does not play an important part in the creation of a nationality though indirectly it has some strength.
2. Common language:
People having a common language can very easily develop into a single nation. Common language means common literature. It therefore, brings about like-mindedness. This results in a sort of psychological unity among the people.
History, however, shows that nationalities and nations can come into existence even when a variety of languages are spoken by the people. Switzerland and Canada are good examples.
3. Religious unity:
Common religion is always responsible for strong bonds of unity. It can be very helpful in the formation of a nationality because religious unity implies unity in the basic ideas and ideals of the people.
Importance of religion as a bond of national unity has, however, considerably diminished in the present age of scientific outlook. The United States of America affords an excellent example of a strong nation developing from a people having a variety of religious faiths like Protestantism, Catholicism, Puritanism etc.
This shows that though religious unity helps the process of national unity yet it cannot be considered a pre-requisite to national unity.
4. Geographical unity:
Geographical unity is considered to be very essential for the formation of nationalities and nations. Geographical unity is Nature’s attempt to design separate entity of ascertain country.
Moreover, such unity affords an opportunity to the people to live together under similar climatic conditions. They develop like-mindedness or similar mental behavior which, in turn, is responsible for forging strong unity among them.
5. Common historical background:
Common history has proved to be an important source of unity. Common past invokes an inspiration in the people and binds them together. Historical calamities sometimes give a chance to the people to develop national sentiments.
The Indians learnt the lesson of nationalism because of the Imperial domination of the British people. According to J.S. Mill, “the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections, collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret connected with the same incidents in the Past are strongest of all the factors which generate the feeling of nationality.”
6. Cultural unity:
Culture in its broad sense means a way of life.People having common customs and common way of life can easily develop into a single nation.
While all the factors mentioned above help in the growth of a nationality, none of them is absolutely indispensable. In fact nationality is a subjective and spiritual sentiment which cannot be defined in terms of any objective factors.
The presence or absence of any one or more of these factors does not necessarily imply the presence or absence of a spirit of nationality. The example of the couple of United States of America shows that nation can emerge even if people belong to various racial stocks.
Switzerland is an example of a nation even though the people are divided by race, language and religion. The Jews represent a strange example of a nation. The Jews developed into a nation although they never had any particular territory having a geographical unity.
They were scattered all the world over and it was only after world war II that they established a slate of their own in Israel. As Laski puts it, “Nationality is essentially spiritual in character, a sentiment, the will of the people to live together.”