The foundation of US law and government is the US constitution including its 27 amendments. However most of the time when I look for something similar for other nations, what I find tends to be somewhat less clean. For example the "Constitution of Canada" seems to consist of a number of different acts running from (if I'm reading things correctly) the 1860's to the 1980's. It seems to be cobbled together from a verity of pre-existing legal documents and the like. The US constitution rather is a single document written with the prior intent of being a complete constitution.

  • Which type of construction is the exception here?
  • Are there other constitutions that follow the US pattern of construction?
  • Are there any others in English (i.e. that I can read and study)?


  • My interest here is that the "single unified document" type is easier to study, I'm not trying to claim that something that works is inferior because of how it got put together.
  • My interest stems from a "world building" exercise where I'm hypothesizing what type of constitution a fictional nation would have.

2 Answers 2


Most countries have a written constitution.

The fifth republic in France

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany

India This is the official text, and not a translation.


The Constitute project attempts to list these. However they are a little generous in their definition of "Constitution" (For example, the Magna Carta in England is not a Constitution of the United Kingdom!)

The UK is unusual in not having single-document constitution, but a collection of laws, conventions and traditions. Most countries have been reconstituted since 1792 and have done so with a formal document.

  • So it's just the UK (and thus much of the English speaking world) where "it's complicated".
    – BCS
    Dec 13, 2021 at 4:30
  • And wow those are all a lot longer than the US constitution. A quick scan makes me think each of them covers a bunch of things that the US has (the 18th aside) only deal with using laws.
    – BCS
    Dec 13, 2021 at 4:37
  • @BCS Wikipedia lists seven nations as having uncodified constitutions: Canada, China, Isreal, New Zealand, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. The reason for this stems from legal and government traditions (Canada, NZ, UK) to "It's Complicated and in multiple documents and possibly very old" (San Marino) to "We're working on it" (Isreal) to "Really, are you surprised?" (China, Saudi Arabia).
    – hszmv
    Dec 13, 2021 at 14:37
  • @BCS The reason for the shortness of the U.S. Constitution is a.) It was the first of it's kind document and the founders were more focused on getting government functions down than rights (The Bill of Rights was thought to be kind of "These are the things that lead us to the Revolution, everybody knows this already." and were only put in place when another group emerged that said, "That's the kind of thinking that lead to the Revolution in the first place" and made sure to write them down anyway.).
    – hszmv
    Dec 13, 2021 at 14:42
  • @BCS On a final note, the bulk of the Uncodified club are Common Law Nations (Canada, Israel, NZ, UK). Common Law has deference to traditions and not upsetting past decisions built into it's legal systems, almost to the point of this deference being the defining characteristic. That said, India and the U.S. are the two largest Constitutional Democracies in the world by population and both are common law nations, as is the fifth largest nation by population, Pakistan.
    – hszmv
    Dec 13, 2021 at 14:52

Many nations have a tradition of passing laws to amend laws.

James K mentioned the German Grundgesetz, for instance this law contained the words "The articles 74a and 75 are revoked." The naming will tell you that 74a was inserted by a previous change, between 74 and 75. Interesting in this regard is article 79, which precludes some changes ("eternity guarantee").

When it comes to studying the Grundgesetz, you can either look at the most current version (probably on the web, e.g. here, translated here), or you look at the version history, which tells you some things about Germany's political history -- reintroduction the the draft, balancing of power between the states and the federal level, reunification, environmental protection ...

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