ELI5: How do countries purchase land from each other like they once did (louisiana purchase) and how come when citizens buy property the government still owns it.

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I think you’re confusing two separate concepts. One is land ownership, the other is sovereign territory. Land has both an owner and a country. In the case of the Louisiana Purchase, the land transferred ownership from the French government to the US government, and the sovereignty transferred from France to the US. Normally when you buy land, the sovereignty remains with the same country. If I buy a plot of land in Canada or wherever, then that land is still part of the country of Canada. However, the ownership of that land is now transferred to me.


If you have more guns & troops than the folks nearby, you ALWAYS have the option to take a bit of land and sell it to someone else; this is still true in 2021. The Louisiana purchase was between one empire with many guns, the French, and another, the new empire of the US which was busy expanding east to west across North America. The land originally belonged to other peoples but famously they weren’t given much say in much. Modern states depend on old thefts and if the land you bought for your house wasn’t part of the state anymore, the state would eventually cease to exist! States are very committed to continuing existing. Edit – 2021 not 2020 dagnabbit


* In the US, when you buy property, you own it, not the government. * The land is still considered part of the territory of the the United States and also the state in which is lies but the government doesn’t “own” it. * There is a process by which the government can take the land back but they technically pay you for it and so force you to sell it to them.


Transactions like the Louisiana Purchase are not really a “purchase.” For $15million, what the United States got was simply the nation state of France ceasing to claim the area in question. Over the course of the next 75 years numerous occupying Native American cultures quite adamantly disputed the U.S. ownership of various parts of the Louisiana Purchase.


There are two tiers of ownership that are being conflated in the question. 1. The top tier is territory. A government draws an administrative division around land. Everything inside that line is it’s jurisdiction. There is a surprising amount of disagreement about where exactly those lines are and their positions are negotiable by trade, force, and diplomacy. States like the USA, Canada, the EU, they can negotiate overlapping sovereignties at this tier. Perhaps both the State and Federal government can tax commerce that occurs on it. Another country may have entered a treaty that gives them a stake at what militaries or industries can do there. Regardless of what happens at lower tiers, that the land is the jurisdiction of a sovereign state doesn’t change. 2. Lower tiers may be “ownership” or some temporary status, but that’s all subject to change by the state that has jurisdiction. You may buy land at this tier with “just” money (and so may the state), but the state can still tax you, regulate what you do on it, control how you can resell it, etc. If you raise an army and try to resist the state’s influence, you’re trying to punch up into the top tier of ownership and the revolution is on. Hope that helps! Edit: I think I can do this in a better way to for a five year old. Countries deal with land the way parents deal with stuff in their house. Everything under our roof is ultimately in our control. Granny bought you a keyboard? You “own” it, but if it lives here, we have plenty of control over what you do with it. We can even take it from you and give it to another kid. Would granny like that? No. Would you like it? No. But we can do it if you don’t stop turning it up to 11 and banging away on it.