Sovereignty is a concept of international law in which a sovereign state exercises independent control over a particular geographic area.  The modern concept of ‘statehood’ has been memorialized in the ‘Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,’ of 1933.  The Montevideo Convention defines a state as (1) having a permanent population, (2) a defined geographical territory, (3) a government, and (4) the power to enter into relations with other sovereign states.

Additionally, state recognition is an essential and highly political factor in the creation of a nation.  Recognition can occur even when all four above criteria have not been met or have been met imperfectly.

See Also: Self-Determination (A Concept of International Law)