City-state, a political system consisting of an independent city having sovereignty over contiguous territory and serving as a centre and leader of political, economic, and cultural life. The term originated in England in the late 19th century and has been applied especially to the cities of ancient Greece, Phoenicia, and Italy and to the cities of medieval Italy.
It is common perception that Nation is more important than cities, that the cities exists in Nation but the fact of the matter is that the Nation State is extension of city states.
The name was initially given to the political form that crystallized during the classical period of Greek civilization. The city-state’s ancient Greek name, polis, was derived from the citadel (acropolis), which marked its administrative centre; and the territory of the polis was usually fairly limited. City-states differed from tribal or national systems in size, exclusiveness, patriotism, and passion for independence. The origin of city-states is disputed. It is probable that earlier tribal systems broke up during a period of economic decline and the splintered groups established themselves between 1000 and 800 BCE as independent nuclei of city-states that covered peninsular Greece, the Aegean islands, and western Asia Minor. As they grew in population and commercial activity, they sent out bands of emigrants who created similar city-states on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, mainly between 750 and 550 BCE.
The importance of fortified centres during the Hungarian and Arab incursions contributed to the development of towns. Town walls were rebuilt or repaired, providing security both to citizens and to people from the country; and the latter found further places of refuge in the many fortified castelli with which the countryside began to be covered.
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