What Is a City-State in Ancient Greece for Kids?

A city-state is a type of government that was common in ancient Greece. It was also called a polis.

A city-state is made up of a city and the surrounding countryside. The city and the countryside work together as one unit.

What is a City-State?

A city-state is like a small country. It has its own government, laws, army, and way of life. The people who live in a city-state share a common identity and culture.

The City

The city was the center of the city-state. It was where people lived, worked, and traded with each other.

The city had walls to protect it from enemies. Inside the walls were buildings like homes, temples, markets, and public buildings.

The Countryside

The countryside around the city provided food for the people who lived there. Farmers grew crops like wheat, grapes, and olives. They also raised animals like sheep and goats for meat and milk.


Each city-state had its own government. Some were ruled by kings, while others were ruled by groups of people called oligarchs or by all the citizens in a democracy.


Each city-state had its own culture that was different from other city-states. They spoke different dialects of Greek and had different customs and traditions.

Famous City-States in Ancient Greece

  • Athens – known for its democracy and education system
  • Sparta – known for its military strength
  • Corinth – known for its trade and wealth
  • Thebes – known for its artistic achievements

In conclusion, a city-state in ancient Greece was like a small country with its own government, laws, and culture. The city and the surrounding countryside worked together as one unit. Each city-state had its own unique identity and way of life.