Difference Between Federal & National

In most democracies, governments exist at both central and state levels to streamline administration and divide powers. There are either states or provinces in these countries, with the central government being referred to as either a national government or a federal government. While many functions of federal governments are similar to national governments, some differences arise from the relations and power-sharing between central and state governments.


The US Constitution created a federation of states with a federal government to protect the freedoms and interests of these states. This system differs from a national or central government that may take away some powers and freedoms from state governments. A federal government is responsible for addressing interstate issues and conducting relations with other nations, maintaining currency, and providing a standing army and homeland security. In most other aspects, states can act independently with their own elected governments.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution clarifies situations in which the federal government cannot take action and simultaneously prohibits state governments from doing anything. In such cases, the state government reserves the right to act.


A national system of governance is used in many countries with power-sharing between central and state governments, with clear demarcation of powers in central, state, and concurrent lists. In cases of confusion, the central law prevails over the state law. In countries with a national government, the parliament makes laws that apply to the entire country and all people living in individual states.

Key Takeaways

  • A national government has more direct control over the freedom of people living in the states than a federal government.
  • Federal governments give more autonomy to states in a federation than a union with a national government and states.
  • A national government is the government of the entire nation, while a federal government is a government of independent and sovereign states.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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