What was a city-state in Ancient Greece?

 Imagine that the city you live in is its own country. It has its own king, queen, or other leader.
It has its own laws. It has its own traditions and ways of doing things that might be quite a bit different from the city down the road or on the other side of the mountain.  Your city might trade with nearby towns and cities and form alliances with them, or your city might go to war with its neighbors from time to time.

That’s a city-state.

A city-state is a city that is also its own little country or nation.

Some examples of ancient Greek city-states include Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes.

The Greek city-states were independent of each other. They were separated by mountains and water. This made it harder for them to interact, at least early on, and so they had different ideas about how to live, how to rule themselves, etc.

The Greek city-states’ differences led to rivalries and even wars. Those between Athens and Sparta are the most famous.

They did all speak Greek, though, and they also shared the ancient Greek religion. When foreign governments, such as the Persians, tried to interfere or conquer the Greeks, the city-states usually came together.

 It’s a bit like a family. Brothers and sisters have arguments, rivalries, maybe even a fight or two, but when it’s most important, families usually come together.

City-states aren’t very common today. Vatican City is one example of a modern city-state.

Nation-states are much more common now.  The Unites States is a nation-state. We are a group of cities united by one overall government in Washington.

 Ancient Egypt was a nation-state too, probably the very first one.

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