Citizenship is a legal relationship between a person and a country. Usually the country is the one he or she was born in, lives in, supports, and in return gets protection. A person is usually a citizen of the country where he or she is born, but sometimes a person will apply to change his or her citizenship to become a citizen in another country. There are countries which allow dual (two) citizenship, and countries which do not.
A citizen is a member of a sovereign group of people that have certain rights. Governments protect these rights or take advantage of them. Some Governments may exile people from citizenship laws on such matter vary between countries.
- People born in the country may be citizens by Jus soli, right of soil. Those having citizen parents may be natural born citizens.
- Some countries also recognise Jus sanguinis, the right of members of the national diaspora to be citizens. Jus sanguinis comes from Latin meaning "right of blood" which basically means one can inherit citizenship by descent from a parent and in some cases a grandparent or even more distant ancestors.
- Foreigners can also be naturalized as citizens. Naturalization makes them citizens of their new country. Many countries require that they give up their citizenship of their old country, but some countries have permanent citizenship; you can't quit such a citizenship.
- People who are citizens of more than one country, with approval of both Governments, are dual citizens. They may legally enter and live in either country.
- A person who has no citizenship is called a stateless person. There are many causes of statelessness: wars, refugees, people whose birth was never registered, people born in a territory which is not recognised as a state, and so on. Some countries are very generous in giving stateless people citizenship, and some are not. The problem is well-known, but there is no general solution.