What Were the City-States in Ancient Greece Called?

City-states were a prominent form of government in ancient Greece. These city-states were independent entities that had their own government, laws, and culture. The Greeks referred to their city-states as “polis,” which translates to “city” in English.

There were several city-states in ancient Greece, each with its unique characteristics and traits. Some of the well-known city-states include Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, and Argos. Let’s take a closer look at some of these prominent city-states.


Athens was one of the most influential city-states in ancient Greece. It was known for its democracy and for being the birthplace of philosophy. Athens was also famous for its art and architecture, which can be seen in structures like the Parthenon.

The Assembly

The Athenian government consisted of an Assembly made up of all male citizens over the age of 18. The Assembly met regularly to discuss policies and vote on important issues.

The Acropolis

The Acropolis was a hilltop fortress that housed several important buildings like the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. These buildings were dedicated to the Greek gods and goddesses.


Sparta was another powerful city-state in ancient Greece known for its military might. Its society revolved around discipline and orderliness.

The Spartan Army

The Spartan army was one of the most feared military forces in all of ancient Greece. All Spartan males were required to undergo military training from a young age.


Sparta’s economy relied on agriculture, and they used enslaved people called Helots to work their fields.

  • Athens: known for democracy and art.
  • Sparta: known for military might and discipline.

The Other City-States

While Athens and Sparta were the most well-known city-states in ancient Greece, there were many others that played a significant role in shaping Greek history.


Corinth was known for its strategic location on the Isthmus of Corinth. It was a major trading hub and had significant cultural influence.


Thebes was another prominent city-state that played a crucial role in Greek history. It was known for its military prowess and for being the birthplace of several famous Greek myths.


Argos was one of the oldest city-states in ancient Greece. It was known for its agriculture and its strategic location between Sparta and Corinth.

In conclusion, the city-states of ancient Greece were independent entities that had their own unique culture, government, and laws. While Athens and Sparta are often cited as the most well-known city-states, many others played significant roles in shaping Greek history. Understanding these city-states is crucial to understanding the rich history of ancient Greece.