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in ancient Greece, Italy, and Medieval Europe, an independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece. From the beginning of Greek history to its climax in the 5th and 4th cent. B.C., the Greeks were organized into city-states, of which there were several hundred. The first Italian city-states were Greek colonies. Later Etruscan and native city-states emerged, including Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, many Italian cities (e.g., Florence, Genoa, Venice) were city-states until the 19th cent., as were such N German cities as Bremen and Hamburg. The Greek word polis meant both city and city-state. Since the city-state was independent, different states—and the same state at different times—had a variety of governments, ranging from absolute monarchy to pure democracy. Only citizenscitizen,
member of a state, native or naturalized, who owes allegiance to the government of the state and is entitled to certain rights. Citizens may be said to enjoy the most privileged form of nationality; they are at the furthest extreme from nonnational residents of a state
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 participated in the government of the city-state, and citizenship was limited to those born of citizen parents. In the classical era, a large proportion of the city-state's population consisted of slaves. Participation by citizens in government was often limited by class distinctions. The government usually consisted of an assembly and council; the former predominated in democracies, the latter in oligarchies. Although the various city-states combined into religious or military federations, most did not endure for long in Greece, leaving it open to foreign attack by large centralized states to which it eventually submitted.


See G. Glotz, The Greek City and Its Institutions (ed. by N. Mallinson, 1930, repr. 1969); V. Ehrenberg, The Greek State (2d rev. ed. 1969, repr. 1972).


a state consisting of a sovereign city and its dependencies. Among the most famous are the great independent cities of the ancient world, such as Athens, Sparta, Carthage, and Rome
References in periodicals archive ?
Usually, a third member city-state was chosen for this task, as for example Megara in a dispute between Corinth and Epidaurus, or Patras between Thourioi and Megalopolis.
In the end, Scott analyzes a host of theories about city-states and finds them all wanting in one way or another.
A free, city-state of Liverpool could trade across the world and challenge the Hamburgs, Singapores and Hong Kongs once more, and whoever it is sits in Downing Street will be totally irrelevant.
In his judgment Jerusalem in the early eighth century was only a small city-state and not the capital of the wider regional state of Judah.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) said Friday it was slashing airfares to Singapore by as much as 75% in a bid to restore dwindling passenger bookings and lure visitors back to the city-state in the aftermath of the SARS outbreak.
The Singapore government on Thursday urged companies operating in the city-state to freeze or cut wages to protect jobs amid fears that jobless rate could exceed 5.
They remained isolated until 1929 when, in an agreement with Benito Mussolini, 44 hectares (108 acres) were set aside to become the sovereign city-state known as Vatican City.
What makes these unnecessary difficulties so maddening is that The Italian City-State is also a rewarding and even an exciting book that seeks to explain the roots, peculiar features, generative forces, and inherent constraints of the civilization of medieval Italian city-states.
that in much of mainland Greece the city-state did not develop during the periods he is concerned with, political life in most of central and northern Greece being organized around the ethnos, a tribal or cantonal state form.
Just as it was necessary to organize matters within a city-state when irrigation came into use, it became necessary to organize matters still further throughout all the city-states of a particular river.
Since Singapore became a nation in 1965, the city-state has been led by Lee Kuan Yew, longtime prime minister, present senior minister, and in spirit, the father of the republic.