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The constitution of a given country or state is so named because it constitutes the form of government and ratifies the existence of a sovereign self-governing people thereby. It is the summation of all the basic laws, and legal and governmental structures, that together make up the character of the state and how it is governed. In some countries, the constitution is an actual document, whereas in others it is purposely not so, mainly to avoid any possible interia-related problems (it is conjectured that a country which has written down it constitution in one document will venerate said document to the extent that changing it is considered in some way a 'sacreligous' action, and thus it can be said that there is a mental 'inertia' working against reform). The constitution, of whatever form, is used by certain especial legal bodies in each country (with various names, such as supreme, constitutional or high court) to judge the validity of legislation and other acts of the executive branches of state. Such legal bodies are normally the highest such body, and are without reproach (the British House of Lords is an exception, where the monarch can, although in practice never would, intervene in the progress of a case).

Countries with formalized constitutions:

Countries without formalized constitutions:

See also: Constitutional law