Types of States
When people lived in small groups, all adults took part in making group decisions. Today, nations are too large for everyone to take part in every decision. But they still need to be able to protect people. They need to be able to solve problems. That is why we have overnments.
A state is a region that shares a government. The entire United States can also be called a state. Thats because it is a region that shares a federal government.
There are four kinds of states. Some regions are dependencies. They belong to another state. Others, like the United States, are nation-states, which are often simply called nations. Every place in the world where people live is a nation-state or dependency.
The first states formed in Southwest Asia more than 5,000 years ago. Early cities set up governments called city-states. Later, military leaders conquered several countries and ruled them as empires.
Types of Government
Each state has a government. There are many different kinds of government. Some are controlled by one person. Others are controlled by all of the people.
The earliest governments were simple. People lived in small groups. They practiced direct democracy. All adults took part in decisions. In time, communities banded together into larger tribal groups. Members of the tribe had a say in group decisions. But under tribal rule, chiefs or elders made the final decision.
Until about 200 years ago, absolute monarchy was one of the most common forms of government. In that system, kings or queens have complete control. Today, there are other countries where just one person rules. The leader is not a king or queen but a dictator.
Dictators have complete control over a country. An oligarchy is a government controlled by a small group of people. The group may be the leaders of a political party, a group of military officers, or even a group of religious leaders. In oligarchies and dictatorships, ordinary people have little say in decisions.
Today, most monarchies are constitutional monarchies. The power of the king or queen is limited by law. These nations have constitutions that define the governments power. Representative democracies are governments in which people elect representatives who create laws. If they do not like what a representative does, they can refuse to reelect that person.
Nations may agree to work together in an alliance. Members of an alliance are called allies. In some alliances, members agree to protect each other in case of attack. Some alliances, such as the European Union, are mainly economic.
The United Nations is an international organization that tries to resolve problems and promote peace. Almost all of the worlds nations belong to the United Nations. It sponsors other international organizations with specific purposes, such as combating hunger or promoting the well-being of children.