The term “nation” and “nationality” have been employed by various political thinkers and writers on Political Science.
There is only a slight difference between the two. Etymologically, also there is only a slight difference between nation and nationality.
The two terms have a common origin.These two terms have been derived from the common Latin word ‘Natus’ which commonly connotes the idea of birth or race. In modern English usage distinct meanings have been given to these two words.
The only difference between nation and nationality is that a nation is politically organised and is an independent state but nationality is not. Undoubtedly, nationality possesses cultural unity but it is not as politically organised as the nation is nor it is an independent state as a nation is. Lord Bryce has very aptly remarked in this connection that “a nation is a nationality which has organised itself into a political body either independent or desiring to be independent”.
Prof. R.N. Gilchrist also believes that “nation is very near in meaning to state plus nationality”. John Stuart Mill is of the opinion that “a portion of mankind may be said to constitute a nationality if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between them and any other, which make them co-operate with each other more willingly than other people, desire to be under the same government and desire that it should be government by themselves exclusively”. This definition given by Mill deals more with nation than with nationality.
Burgess and Gumplowiz do not believe in the fact that the difference between “nation” and “nationality” is of political unity. They are of the opinion that nation and nationality differ from each other only because the size of their population is different.
According to them the Scotch and Welsh in Great Britain, Dutch in South Africa, French in America, Sloveen in Yugoslavia, Poles in Austria and Germany enjoyed their own nationalities for a long period of time but could not organise their independent state as they never wanted to do so. If they wanted to do so, they could have been successful in organising their nation.