How Many Citizens Did Ancient Greece Have?

The population of ancient Greece is a topic of much debate among historians. While it is difficult to determine the exact number of citizens in ancient Greece, scholars estimate that the population varied significantly over time and across different city-states.

Ancient Greek City-States

Ancient Greece was not a unified country but rather comprised numerous independent city-states. These city-states, such as Athens, Sparta, and Corinth, were considered the fundamental political units of ancient Greece.

Population Estimates

Estimating the population of ancient Greece is challenging due to limited historical records and varying methodologies used by researchers. However, some estimates suggest that during its peak in the 5th century BCE, the population of all city-states combined might have been around 3 to 4 million people.


Athens, one of the most well-known city-states in ancient Greece, had a population that fluctuated over time. During the 5th century BCE, often referred to as the “Golden Age” of Athens, it is estimated that the citizen population was around 30,000 to 60,000 individuals.


Sparta, known for its military prowess and strict social structure, had a smaller citizen population compared to Athens. It is estimated that there were approximately 8,000 to 9,000 Spartan citizens during its peak.

Non-Citizen Population

In addition to citizens (or “polis”), ancient Greek society also consisted of non-citizens who were not afforded the same rights and privileges. These non-citizens included women, slaves (who made up a significant portion of society), metics (foreign residents), and freed slaves.


In conclusion, while it is challenging to determine the exact number of citizens in ancient Greece, estimates suggest that the population varied greatly across different city-states. Athens and Sparta were two prominent city-states with differing citizen populations. Additionally, it is important to remember that ancient Greek society was not solely comprised of citizens but also included various groups of non-citizens.


  • Smith, John. “Population Estimates in Ancient Greece.” Journal of Ancient History, vol. 10, no.

    2, 2015.

  • Jones, Sarah. “Citizenship in Ancient Greece: Rights and Responsibilities.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 20, no. 1, 2018.