Free state (polity)

Free state is a term occasionally used in the official titles of some states throughout the world with varying meanings depending on the context. In principle, the title asserts and emphasises a particular freedom of the state in question, but this is not always reflected in practice. Some states use the title to assert sovereignty or independence from foreign domination, while others have used it to assert autonomy within a larger nation-state. Sometimes "free state" is used as a synonym for "republic".

The republican sense of the term derives from libera res publica (literally, "the free public thing/affair"), a term used by Latin historians for the period of the Roman Republic, though not all "free states" have been republics. The historical German free states and the Orange Free State of Southern Africa were republican in form, however the Congo Free State and Irish Free State were governed under forms of monarchy.