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citizen,member of a state, native or naturalized, who owes allegianceallegiance,
in political terms, the tie that binds an individual to another individual or institution. The term usually refers to a person's legal obligation of obedience to a government in return for the protection of that government, although it may have reference to any
..... Click the link for more information. to the government of the state and is entitled to certain rights. Citizens may be said to enjoy the most privileged form of nationalitynationality,
in political theory, the quality of belonging to a nation, in the sense of a group united by various strong ties. Among the usual ties are membership in the same general community, common customs, culture, tradition, history, and language.
..... Click the link for more information. ; they are at the furthest extreme from nonnational residents of a state (see alienalien,
in law, any person residing in one political community while owing allegiance to another. A procedure known as naturalization permits aliens to become citizens.
Each nation establishes conditions upon which aliens will be admitted, and makes laws concerning them.
..... Click the link for more information. ), but they may also be distinguished from nationals with subject or servile status (e.g., slaves or serfs; see serfserf,
under feudalism, peasant laborer who can be generally characterized as hereditarily attached to the manor in a state of semibondage, performing the servile duties of the lord (see also manorial system).
..... Click the link for more information. , slaveryslavery,
historicially, an institution based on a relationship of dominance and submission, whereby one person owns another and can exact from that person labor or other services.
..... Click the link for more information. ). (It should be noted, however, that in Great Britain and some other constitutional monarchies a citizen is called a subject.)
The term citizen originally designated the inhabitant of a town. In ancient Greece property owners in the city-statescity-state,
in ancient Greece, Italy, and Medieval Europe, an independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece.
..... Click the link for more information. were citizens and, as such, might vote and were subject to taxation and military service. Citizenship in the Roman republic and empire was at first limited to the residents of the city of Rome, later granted to Rome's Italian allies, and ultimately extended in A.D. 212 to all free inhabitants of the empire. Under feudalismfeudalism
, form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. The term feudalism is derived from the Latin feodum,
..... Click the link for more information. in Europe the concept of national citizenship disappeared. In time, however, city dwellers purchased the immunity of their cities from feudal dues, thereby achieving a privileged position and a power in local government; these rights were akin to those of citizenship and supplied much of the content of later legislation respecting citizenship.
Modern concepts of national citizenship were first developed during the American and French revolutions. Today each country determines what class of persons are its citizens. In some countries citizenship is determined according to the jus sanguinis [Lat.,=law of blood], whereby a legitimate child takes its citizenship from its father and an illegitimate child from its mother. In some countries the jus soli [Lat.,=law of the soil] governs, and citizenship is determined by place of birth. These divergent systems may lead to conflicts that often result in dual nationality or loss of citizenship (statelessness).
Although the Constitution of the United States, as written in 1787, uses the word citizen and empowers Congress to enact uniform naturalizationnaturalization,
official act by which a person is made a national of a country other than his or her native one. In some countries naturalized persons do not necessarily become citizens but may merely acquire a new nationality.
..... Click the link for more information. laws, the term was not defined until the adoption (1868) of the Fourteenth AmendmentFourteenth Amendment,
addition to the U.S. Constitution, adopted 1868. The amendment comprises five sections. Section 1
Section 1 of the amendment declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens and citizens of their state
..... Click the link for more information. , which gave citizenship to former black slaves. As this amendment indicates, the United States generally follows the jus soli. However, Congress has also recognized, subject to strict rules, the principle of jus sanguinis so that children born of American parents abroad are citizens during their minority and can retain this citizenship at majority if they meet certain conditions. In addition, in 2000, Congress granted automatic citizenship to most minor children of American parents who were adopted from abroad; previously such adopted children needed to be naturalized. Until the 1940s the United States recognized several classes of nationals who were not citizens, e.g., Filipinos and Puerto Ricans. Today, however, all U.S. nationals are citizens. The United States recognizes the right of voluntary extraditionextradition
, delivery of a person, suspected or convicted of a crime, by the state where he has taken refuge to the state that asserts jurisdiction over him. Its purpose is to prevent criminals who flee a country from escaping punishment.
..... Click the link for more information. , and in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that citizenship can be lost only if freely and expressly renounced; Congress does not have the power to take it away.