What is the minimal number of beings (humans on earth or X on Y for that matter) to actually run anything we would call a "state"?

Perhaps a better question would be about how many people are required in minimum, to make a tribe, or a nation; I am not a tribalist-nationalisht fanatic, I just want to know of philosophers have actually researched this and achieved some very solid agreements on the matter or not.

  • In his Laws, Plato concluded that the ideal number of citizens in a polis is 5,040. Is that the sort of answer you are looking for? Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 2:06
  • @MarkAndrews also, but I don't think entirely. While Plato is venerated in the subject, there might be more general and experience based definitions or axioms, which can cover more periods of time; there might also be criticism on Plato's arguments on the subject.
    – Semo
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 4:11
  • No, "there is little consensus, or even reasoned argument, over what constitutes both “very small” and “state”", Dumienski, Microstates. And on the minimal question it is no more reasonable to expect an "argument" than on how few grains make a heap. Vague predicates do not work this way, one can make plenty of "arguments", one no better than others. Two can be enough, a master and a slave, Sealand had 27, but was never recognized internationally, minimal viable population is 500-1000, ignoring inbreeding, etc.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 11:18
  • @Conifold the issue of inbreeding is interesting, this might base the need in at least two different families to create a tribe, while direct family members or even second degree members (cousins, aunts) don't interbreed.
    – Semo
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 11:29
  • That's the problem. One can pull "issues" out of a hat and base "arguments" on them. And that just means that this is a prompt for discussion forums, not an answerable question for SE.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


Well, see microstates or micronations. A micronation like the Principality of Sealand only needs a handful of citizens and a plot of land nobody else wants. However, micronations like that are not internationally recognized.

Generally, what is needed for international recognition is some significant level of political power. This is how the Vatican City can be internationally recognized with only a population of 1000. Political power games also explain why Taiwan has difficulty getting officially recognized as a sovereign state among many countries, despite a population of 23 million.

  • I find reason in what you wrote in a world with two or more states, but not in a world with just one super-state (then, is there really any state at all?).
    – Semo
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 2:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .