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Countries are regions legally identified as distinct entities in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously independent people with distinct political characteristics. Regardless of the physical geography, in the modern internationally accepted legal definition as defined by the League of Nations in 1937 and reaffirmed by the United Nations in 1945, a resident of a country is subject to the independent exercise of legal jurisdiction, while "Any person visiting a country, other than that in which he usually resides, for a period of at least 24 hours" is defined as a 'foreign tourist'. It is not uncommon for general information or statistical publications to adopt the wider definition for purposes such as illustration and comparison.


  • I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases.
  • My dear, my native soil!
    For whom my warmest wish to Heav'n is sent,
    Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
    Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
    • Robert Burns, The Cotter's Saturday Night (1786), stanza 20.
  • I can't but say it is an awkward sight
    To see one's native land receding through
    The growing waters; it unmans one quite,
    Especially when life is rather new.
  • Yon Sun that sets upon the sea
    We follow in his flight;
    Farewell awhile to him and thee,
    My native land—Good Night!
  • Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.
    • Stephen Decatur, toast at a dinner in Norfolk, Virginia (April 1816); reported in Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Life of Stephen Decatur (1848), p. 295. Variation: "Our country—In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, and always successful, right or wrong." Reported in Niles’ Weekly Register, Baltimore, Maryland (April 20, 1816), p. 136.
  • As nations are among the largest and the most complete divisions into which society is formed, the grandest aggregations of organized human power; as they raise to observation and distinction the world’s greatest men, and call into requisition the highest order of talent and ability for their guidance, preservation and success, they are ever among the most attractive, instructive and useful subjects of thought, to those just entering upon the duties and activities of life. The simple organization of a people into a national body, composite or otherwise, is of itself an impressive fact. As an original proceeding, it marks the point of departure of a people, from the darkness and chaos of unbridled barbarism, to the wholesome restraints of public law and society. It implies a willing surrender and subjection of individual aims and ends, often narrow and selfish, to the broader and better ones that arise out of society as a whole. It is both a sign and a result of civilization. A knowledge of the character, resources and proceedings of other nations, affords us the means of comparison and criticism, without which progress would be feeble, tardy, and perhaps, impossible. It is by comparing one nation with another, and one learning from another, each competing with all, and all competing with each, that hurtful errors are exposed, great social truths discovered, and the wheels of civilization whirled onward.
  • And nobler is a limited command,
    Given by the love of all your native land,
    Than a successive title, long and dark,
    Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's Ark.
  • God grant, that not only the Love of Liberty, but a thorough Knowledge of the Rights of Man, may pervade all the Nations of the Earth, so that a Philosopher may set his Foot anywhere on its Surface, and say, “This is my Country.”
    • Benjamin Franklin, letter to David Hartley (December 4, 1789); reported in Albert H. Smyth, ed., The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, (1907), volume10, p. 72.
  • So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar,
    But bind him to his native mountains more.
  • Who saves his country, saves himself, saves all things, and all things saved do bless him! Who lets his country die, lets all things die, dies himself ignobly, and all things dying curse him!
    • Benjamin Harvey Hill, reported in Benjamin H. Hill, Jr., Senator Benjamin H. Hill of Georgia; His Life, Speeches and Writings (1893), epigraph, p. 594. From "Notes on the Situation", a series of articles appearing in the Chronicle and Sentinel, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In the life of nations, what in the last resort decides questions is a kind of Judgment Court of God.
  • You convey too great a compliment when you say that I have earned the right to the presidential nomination. No man can establish such an obligation upon any part of the American people. My country owes me no debt. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope. My whole life has taught me what America means. I am indebted to my country beyond any human power to repay.
    • Herbert Hoover, letter to Senator George H. Moses, chairman of the Republican national convention, upon learning of his nomination for president (14 June 1928); reported in The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover (1952), volume 2, p. 195.
  • What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.
  • Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    This is my own, my native land!
    Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
    As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
  • My foot is on my native heath, and my name is MacGregor.
  • I would not change my native land
    For rich Peru with all her gold.
    • Isaac Watts, "Praise for Birth and Education in a Christian Land", song 5, stanza 3, Divine Songs in Easy Language for the Use of Children (1715; republication of 1975), p. 12.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 141-42.
  • There came to the beach a poor Exile of Erin,
    The dew on his thin robe was heavy and chill;
    For his country he sigh'd, when at twilight repairing,
    To wander alone by the wind-beaten hill.
  • Thomas Campbell, The Exile of Erin.
  • From the lone shielding on the misty island
    Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas—
    But still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
    And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.
    • Canadian Boat Song. First appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, September 1829. Attributed to John G. Lockhart, John Galt and Earl of Eglington (died 1819). Founded on Eglington's lines according to Prof. Mackinnon. Also in article in Tait's Magazine (1849). Wording changed by Skelton.
  • He made all countries where he came his own.
  • They love their land, because it is their own,
    And scorn to give aught other reason why;
    Would shake hands with a king upon his throne,
    And think it kindness to his majesty.
  • To be really cosmopolitan a man must be at home even in his own country.
  • Patriæ quis exul se quoque fugit.
    • Translation: What exile from his country is able to escape from himself?
    • Horace, Carmina II. 16. 19.
  • Who dare to love their country, and be poor.
  • Un enfant en ouvrant ses yeux doit voir la patrie, et jusqu'à la mort ne voir qu'elle.
    • Translation: The infant, on first opening his eyes, ought to see his country, and to the hour of his death never lose sight of it.
    • Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
  • It was always accounted a virtue in a man to love his country. With us it is now something more than a virtue. It is a necessity. When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.
    Men who have offered their lives for their country know that patriotism is not the fear of something; it is the love of something.
    • Adlai Stevenson, speech to the American Legion convention, New York City (27 August 1952); as quoted in "Democratic Candidate Adlai Stevenson Defines the Nature of Patriotism" in Lend Me Your Ears : Great Speeches In History (2004) by William Safire, p. 81 - 82.
  • La patrie est aux lieux où l'âme est enchainée.
    • Translation: Our country is that spot to which our heart is bound.
    • Voltaire, Le Fanatisme. I. 2.

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