AskDefine | Define homeland

Dictionary Definition

homeland n : the country where you were born [syn: fatherland, motherland, mother country, country of origin, native land]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One’s country of residence.
  2. One’s country of birth.
  3. In the context of "South Africa|historical": An area set aside for black South Africans under the policy of apartheid.



Extensive Definition

A homeland (rel. country of origin and native land) is the concept of the territory (cultural geography) to which an ethnic group holds a long history and a deep cultural association with —the country in which a particular national identity began. As a common noun, it simply connotes the country of one's origin. When used as a proper noun, the word, as well as its cognates in other languages (ie. Heimatland in German) often have ethnic nationalist connotations: Fatherland, Motherland, Mother country, each having some distinct interpretation according to nationality or historical usage.

Various meanings

  • The Soviet Union, which commonly referred to its homeland as "Mother Russia," created homelands for some minorities in the 1920s, including the Volga German ASSR and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Often, as in the case of the Volga German ASSR, these homelands were later abolished and their inhabitants deported to either Siberia or the Kazakh SSR.
  • In the current United States, the Department of Homeland Security was created soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as a means to centralize response to various threats. The term is rarely used by common United States citizens to refer to their country, which made the chosen name sound odd to many. In a June 2002 column, Republican consultant and speechwriter Peggy Noonan expressed the hope that the Bush administration would change the name of the department, writing that, "The name Homeland Security grates on a lot of people, understandably. Homeland isn't really an American word, it's not something we used to say or say now".
  • In the apartheid era in South Africa, the concept was given a different meaning. The white government transformed the 13% of its territory that had been exempted from white settlement into regions of "home-rule". Then they tried to bestow independence on these regions, so that they could then claim that the other 87% was white territory. Four of them were declared independent nations by South Africa, but were unrecognized as independent countries by any other nation besides each other and South Africa. The territories set aside for the African inhabitants were called the bantustan.
  • In German, homeland is translated as Heimatland, and this was a term used by the Nazis to refer to the more common German term "Vaterland" ("Fatherland"). It was also the name of a strongly pro-Nazi magazine edited by Wilhelm Weiss during the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany.


homeland in German: Heimat
homeland in Esperanto: hejmo (regiono)
homeland in Hebrew: מולדת (ארץ)
homeland in Polish: ojczyzna prywatna
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