10 Oldest Constitutions In The World - Deepstash
10 Oldest Constitutions In The World

10 Oldest Constitutions In The World

Curated from: oldest.org

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Constitution of Canada

  • The Constitution of Canada was written in 1867 as the British North America Act. This year is also the birth of Canada, which was founded when four British colonies in North America decided to unite and form a single, self-governing confederation under the British Crown. 
  • Canada’s Constitution outlines the country’s system of government, including the structure of its Parliament, the way elections work, the role of the monarchy, and the divisions of powers between the federal government and the provinces. 
  • The Constitution was last updated in 1982.

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Constitutional Act of the Kingdom of Denmark

  • The Kingdom of Denmark is both a monarchy and a democracy. 
  • As a constitutional monarchy, the power of the monarch is limited by the Constitutional Act of the Kingdom of Denmark, which dates back to 1849. The Constitutional Act is the most important piece of legislation in Denmark, and all other laws must comply with it.
  • The Constitutional Act was last amended on June 5, 1952.
  • Not only does the Constitutional Act outline Danish democracy, but it also establishes the rights and duties of individual citizens, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and compulsory military service.

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Swiss Federal Constitution

  • The Swiss Federal Constitution was first written on September 12, 1848, and it established the Swiss Federal State. 
  • Switzerland was heavily influenced by the United States Constitution as well as the ideals of the French Revolution
  • The Swiss Federal Constitution provided its citizens with a declaration of fundamental individual rights, a federal government, and a federal court of justice.
  • This 1848 Constitution was later rewritten in 1874. The modern Swiss Federal Constitution was ratified on April 18, 1999 and directly replaced the 1874 Constitution.

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Constitution of Luxembourg

  • The Constitution of Luxembourg was first written in 1841, just two years after Luxembourg became a sovereign nation. 
  • The current Constitution dates to 1868 and it was last amended in 2016.
  • Luxembourg’s Constitution describes the constituent foundations of the State, the guarantee of the rights and liberties of the nation’s citizens, and the organization of the powers.
  • While the Constitution of Luxembourg has been revised several times since 1841, one of the biggest changes took place in 1919. Following that revision of the Constitution, all citizens of legal age, 21 at the time (lowered to 18 in 1972), were given the right to vote. 

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Constitution of Belgium

  • The Constitution of Belgium was approved on February 7, 1831 after the National Congress first gathered in November of the previous year to begin discussions of establishing a new government. 
  • While the Belgian Constitution is an original document, it was inspired by the French constitutions of 1791, 1814 and 1830, the Dutch constitution of 1814, and of English constitutional law.
  • Since 1831, Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy with three levels of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. In addition to establishing the country’s laws and government, the Belgian Constitution provides rights and freedoms to its citizens.

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Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherland

  • The Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands dates back to around 1814 or 1815 and has been amended a few times. 
  • The first major revision happened in 1848 and established a system of parliamentary democracy. The current version of the Dutch Constitution dates to 1983.
  • The Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands combines the rules for the Dutch system of government and fundamental rights for the nation’s citizens. 

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Constitution of Norway

  • The Constitution of Norway or Kongeriget Norges Grundlov was adopted on May 17, 1814 and is one of the oldest existing constitutions in the world. 
  • It was founded on the principles of the sovereignty of the people; the separation of powers; and human rights.
  • Norway’s Constitution also establishes three different branches of government: Legislative, budgetary and supervisory power is vested in the Storting; Executive power is vested in the King and Council; and Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Courts, the subordinate courts, and the Court of Impeachment. 
  • From the beginning, the Constitution of Norway recognized fundamental human rights that the country has strived to uphold. 

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Constitution of the Republic of Poland

  • Although the Constitution of San Marino is technically older, the Poland’s Constitution of 3 May 1791 is generally considered the world’s second oldest modern constitution and the oldest in Europe.
  • The 1791 Constitution set out to establish a more effective constitutional monarchy, that had a clear division of executive, legislative, and judiciary powers.
  • Poland’s later constitutions take inspiration from the ideas in the Constitution of 3 May 1791. Poland’s modern constitution was put into effect in 1997 and it was last amended in 2009.

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United States Constitution

  • The United States Constitution is often considered the oldest constitution in the world. It was the first permanent constitution of its kind and influenced the constitutions of several other countries.
  • The United States Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788 after nine of the 13 original states signed. The Constitution went into effect the following March and a new government was established. 
  • Since then, the United States Constitution has been amended 27 times, with the first ten amendments collectively known as the Bill of Rights.

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Constitution of San Marino

  • The Constitution of San Marino dates all the way back to 1600 and has been in continuous use since then, making it the oldest constitution in the world. 
  • The country’s Constitution is uncodified, which means that not all of its elements are law (this is why the United States’ Constitution is often cited as the oldest). 
  • San Marino current legal system is still based on this 1600 Constitution, so it counts as the world’s oldest existing constitution.
  • The Constitution of San Marino was written in Latin and contained in six books. 
  • It was last amended in 2002 when the Declaration of Citizen Rights from 1974 was updated.

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