digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Vatican City, a city-state well known for being the smallest country in the world.

A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity, not administered as a part of another local government, whose territory consists of a city and usually its surrounding territory.[1][2] A city-state can also be defined as a central city and its surrounding villages, which together follow the same law, have one form of government, and share languages, religious beliefs, and ways of life. Historically this included famed cities like Rome, Athens and Carthage,[2] but today only a handful of sovereign city-states exist, with some disagreement as to which states should and should not be considered city-states. A great deal of consensus exists surrounding Singapore, Monaco and Vatican City. Other states that often get cited as being modern city-states include Malta,[3][4][5][6] San Marino,[7][8][9] Liechtenstein,[9][10] Andorra,[7][9] Luxembourg,[7] Qatar;[11][12] Brunei,[7] Kuwait[7][11][11][13] and Bahrain.[7][11]

Additionally, several cities enjoy a high degree of autonomy despite formal subjection to the sovereign rule of another country and therefore function in large-part as city-states, and have been identified recently as representative of modern city-states. Hong Kong and Macau, along with independent members of the United Arab Emirates, most notably Dubai and Abu Dhabi, often are cited as such.[7][8][14] The highly urbanized Gaza Strip functions largely as a de facto state.

Historical background[edit]

Historical examples include the oldest known Sumerian cities of Uruk and Ur; Ancient Egyptian city states, such as Thebes or Memphis; the Phoenician cities (such as Tyre and Sidon); the Berber city-states of the Garamantes; the city-states of ancient Greece (the poleis such as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Corinth); the Roman Republic (which grew from a city-state into a great power); the Maya, Aztecs, and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including cities such as Chichen Itza, Tikal, Monte Albán and Tenochtitlan); the central Asian cities along the Silk Road; Venice; Ragusa, states of the medieval Russian lands such as Novgorod and Pskov, and many others. Scholars have classed the Viking colonial cities in medieval Ireland, most importantly Dublin, as genuine city-states.[15]

The Republic of Ragusa was a maritime city-state that was based in the walled city of Dubrovnik.

Within the transalpine part of the Holy Roman Empire the Free Imperial Cities enjoyed a considerable autonomy, buttressed legally by the Lübeck law, which many other cities emulated. Some cities – though also members of different confederacies at that time – officially became sovereign city-states in the 19th century – such as the Canton of Basel City (1833–48), the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (1806–11 and again 1813–71), the Free City of Frankfurt upon Main (1815–66), the Canton of Geneva (1813–48), the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (1806–11 and again 1814–71) and the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck (1806–11 and again 1813–71). Another city-state, though lacking sovereignty, was West Berlin (1948–1990), being a state legally not belonging to any other state, but ruled by the Western Allies. They allowed – notwithstanding their overlordship as occupant powers – its internal organisation as one state simultaneously being a city, officially called Berlin (West). Though West Berlin maintained close ties to the West German Federal Republic of Germany, it was legally never part of it.

A number of the aforementioned city-states – though partly with altered borders – continue to exist as city-states within today's Federal Republic of Germany and today's Swiss Confederation (see "Cities that are component states of federations" below).

Some of the most well-known exemplars of city-state culture in human history include ancient Greek city-states and the merchant city-states of Renaissance Italy, which organised themselves in small independent centres. The success of small regional units coexisting as autonomous actors in loose geographical and cultural unity, as in Italy or Greece, often prevented their amalgamation into larger national units.[citation needed] However, such small political entities often survived only for short periods because they lacked the resources to defend themselves against incursions by larger states. Thus they inevitably gave way to larger organisations of society, including the empire and the nation state.[16]

In Cyprus, the Phoenician settlement of Kition (in present-day Larnaca) comprised a city-state that existed from around 800 BC until the end of the 4th century BC.

In the history of Mainland Southeast Asia, settlements were organised by aristocratic groups, Buddhist leaders, and others into autonomous or semi-autonomous city-states which were referred to as mueang and usually related in a tributary relationship now described as mandala or as 'over-lapping sovereignty' in which smaller city-states paid tribute to larger ones which paid tribute to still larger ones until reaching the apex in cities like Ayutthaya; Bagan; Bangkok and others which served as centers of Southeast Asian royalty. The system existed until the 19th century when colonization by European powers, and Thailand's (then known as Siam) resulted in the adoption of the modern concept of statehood.[17][18][19]

Contemporary city-states[edit]

Sovereign city-states[edit]


Main article: Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is an independent city-state. Monaco-Ville (the ancient fortified city) and Monaco's well-known area Monte Carlo are districts of a continuous urban zone, not distinct cities, though they were three separate municipalities (communes) until 1917. The Principality of Monaco and the city of Monaco (each having specific powers) govern the same territory. On 28 June 1919, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, part of the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monégasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests. Only in 1993 did Monaco become a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights. In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco clarifies that if there are no heirs to carry on the dynasty, the principality will remain an independent nation rather than revert to France (which were the terms of the previous arrangement). Monaco's military defence, however, is still the responsibility of France. Monaco did not receive its first foreign ambassador, the French ambassador, until 16 February 2006.


Main article: Singapore
Overview of Singapore's financial district

Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. About 5.2 million people live and work within 700 square kilometres (270 sq mi), making Singapore the 3rd-most-densely populated country in the world after Monaco, another city-state, and Macau. The entire island functions as a single metropolitan area. The city centre near the south of the island is surrounded by satellite towns, parks, reservoirs and industrial estates, which are connected to the centre and each other by a dense network of roads, expressways and metro railway lines dubbed MRT by locals. Singapore has a highly centralised, unitary government with a unicameral legislature (the City Council and the Rural Board were abolished in the 1960s). While there are town councils and mayors in Singapore, these are essentially property managers in charge of the maintenance of public housing within their constituency boundaries. They do not represent local authorities with any legislative or executive autonomy from the national government.

Prior to the 19th century, Singapore was a minor part of various regional empires, including Srivijaya, Majapahit, Malacca and Johor. From 1826 to the Battle of Singapore in 1942, Singapore was the capital of the Straits Settlements, a British colony that included the Settlements of Malacca and Penang along the Straits of Malacca. After the Second World War, Singapore was hived off as a separate colony while the other two Settlements joined the Malay States to form the Federation of Malaya. In 1963, Singapore merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. However, because of a number of problems, Singapore was expelled from the federation in 1965, becoming an independent republic.

Since 1965, Singapore rapidly industrialised and modernised, becoming one of the four "Asian Tigers". In addition to the substantial absolute and per-capita size of its economy, Singapore maintains a significant armed forces. It ranks highly in terms of defence spending and troop size.

Despite its small land area, Singapore has a population, economy and armed forces that place it in a similar league to small, but full-fledged nations like New Zealand, Ireland, Israel and the Nordic countries (i.e., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), rather than semi-dependent microstates. Singapore also maintains a diplomatic corps and has memberships in international organizations such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Singapore places emphasis on self-sufficiency in basic needs, like water. The government also stockpiles other key resources, such as sand and oil. In this way, Singapore tries to avoid overdependence economically, politically or militarily on larger entities. Accordingly, Singapore may represent the most-complete contemporary example of a city-state, meeting the full definitions of both a city and a fully sovereign state.

Vatican City[edit]

Main article: Vatican City

Until 1870, the city of Rome had been controlled by the pope as part of his Papal States. When King Victor Emmanuel II seized the city in 1870, Pope Pius IX refused to recognize the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. Because he could not travel without effectively acknowledging the authority of the king, Pius IX and his successors each claimed to be a "Prisoner in the Vatican", unable to leave the 0.44 km2 (0.17 sq mi) papal enclave once they had ascended the papal thrones.

The impasse was resolved in 1929 by the Lateran Treaties negotiated by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini between King Victor Emmanuel III and Pope Pius XI. Under this treaty, the Vatican was recognized as an independent state, with the Pope as its head. The Vatican City State has its own citizenship, diplomatic corps, flag, and postage stamps. With a population of less than 1,000 (mostly clergymen), it is by far the smallest sovereign country in the world.

Non-sovereign city-states[edit]

Some cities or urban areas, while not sovereign states, may nevertheless enjoy such a high degree of autonomy that they function as "city-states" within the context of the sovereign state that they belong to. In the United States this could be interpreted as "Home rule".

Cities under international supervision[edit]

Main article: International city (an autonomous or semi-autonomous city-state)


Main article: Free City of Danzig


Main article: Free State of Fiume



Main article: Klaipėda Region


After the Second World War, the UN attempted to make the Free Territory of Trieste into a city state, but it never gained real independence and in 1954 its territory was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia.

Cities that are component states of federations[edit]

Some cities or metropolitan areas are component states of federations. Examples include:

Federally administered cities[edit]

A federal country may also have one or more cities that are federally administered:

Washington, D.C.[edit]
The John A. Wilson Building houses the offices of the mayor and council of the District of Columbia.

Not being part of any U.S. state, Washington, D.C.'s government operates under authority derived from the U.S. federal government. The city (generally referred to as the District of Columbia) is run by an elected mayor and a city council. The council is composed of 13 members: one elected from each of the eight wards and five members, including the chairman, elected at-large. The council conducts its work through standing committees and special committees established as needed. District schools are administered by a chancellor, who is appointed by the mayor; in addition, a superintendent of education and a board of education are responsible for setting some educational policies. There are 37 elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners that provide the most direct access for residents to their local government. The commissioners are elected by small neighborhood districts, and their suggestions are given "great weight" by the city council and city agencies. However, the U.S. Congress has the ultimate plenary power over the District. It has the right to review and overrule laws created locally and has often done so. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reserves to states all rights not belonging to the federal government, does not apply to the District. Residents of the District have one non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress.

Autonomous cities of unitary states[edit]

For nations without a federal administrative structure, i.e. unitary states, cities may sometimes enjoy a greater degree of autonomy, e.g.:

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

Because of Hong Kong's and Macau's long histories as colonies of the British and Portuguese empires, respectively, and the unique "one-country, two-systems" policy, the two city-states continue to enjoy a high degree of autonomy even after their transfer to the People's Republic of China. Having legal systems (English Common law in Hong Kong, and Portuguese Civil law in Macau), police forces, currencies (the Hong Kong dollar and Macanese pataca), customs policies, immigration policies, national sports teams, official languages, postal systems, academic and educational systems, and certain degrees of international representation that are different or independent from the People's Republic of China, makes their status almost equivalent to independent nations in many respects.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009. "A sovereign state consisting of an independent city and its surrounding territory." 
  2. ^ a b Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. HarperCoffins Publishers. 2003. "a state consisting of a sovereign city and its dependencies. Among the most famous are the great independent cities of the ancient world, such as Athens, Sparta, Carthage, and Rome." 
  3. ^ "The emblem of Malta, Department of Information, Official Website of President of Malta". Doi.gov.mt. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "This very crowded isle: England is most over-populated country in EU"Daily Mail
  5. ^ "''Draft National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries – Creative Malta''". Creativemalta.gov.mt. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Malta - European Central Bank
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Mogens, Hansen. 2000. "Introduction: The Concepts of City-States and City-State Culture." In A Comparative Study of Thirty City-State Cultures, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Polis Centre. Pg. 19
  8. ^ a b Parker, Geoffrey. 2005. Sovereign City: The City-state Through History Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  9. ^ a b c Mogens, Hansen. 2002. A Comparative Study of Six City-State Cultures: An InvestigationPg. 91
  10. ^ Mogens, Hansen. 2000. "Introduction: The Concepts of City-States and City-State Culture." In A Comparative Study of Six City-State Cultures, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Polis Centre. Pg. 19
  11. ^ a b c d Parker, Geoffrey. 2005. Sovereign City: The City-state Through History Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pg. 219
  12. ^ Roberts, David. 2014. Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-state. London: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd.
  13. ^ El-Katiri, Laura, Bassam Fattouh and Paul Segal. 2011 Anatomy of an oil-based welfare state: rent distribution in Kuwait. Kuwait City: Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States
  14. ^ Kotkin, Joel. 2010. "A New Era for the City-State?" In Forbes.
  15. ^ Holm, Poul, "Viking Dublin and the City-State Concept: Parameters and Significance of the Hiberno-Norse Settlement" (Respondent: Donnchadh Ó Corráin), in Mogens Herman Hansen (ed.), A Comparative Study of Thirty City-State Cultures. Denmark: Special-Trykkeriet Viborg. (University of Copenhagen, Polis Center). 2000. pp. 251–62.
  16. ^ Sri Aurobindo, "Ideal of Human Unity" included in Social and Political Thought, 1970.
  17. ^ Scott, James. 2009. An Anarchists History of Upland Southeast Asia.
  18. ^ Winichakul, Thongchai. 1997. Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press
  19. ^ Baker, Chris and Pasuk Phongpaichit. 2009. A History of Thailand: 2nd ed. Sydney: Cambridge University Press

Further reading[edit]

  • Mogens Herman Hansen (ed.), A comparative study of thirty city-state cultures : an investigation conducted by the Copenhagen Polis Centre, Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, 2000. (Historisk-filosofiske skrifter, 21). ISBN 87-7876-177-8.
  • Mogens Herman Hansen (ed.), A comparative study of six city-state cultures : an investigation, Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, 2002. (Historisk-filosofiske skrifter, 27). ISBN 87-7876-316-9.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City-state — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1000000 videos foundNext > 

What is a City-State?

In which Jeremy Corwin discusses what a city-state is and uses examples from Greece, Mesopotamia, Rome, and the Vatican. He also explains why his hometown of...

London's Inner City - Privately owned Corporation - City State of London

The little known "Inner City of London. Wealthiest Square Mile on the Earth! owned by the Banksters, headed by the Rothchilds. A real eye opener. my website ...

Mesopotamian City State Layout


City State Trailer

more info on www.poppoli.com - synopsis: When a foreign mafia decides to take control of the Icelandic drug market, a police woman lost in violence, a mechan...

Civilization V City State Music

The soundtrack of Civilization V was written by Geoff Knorr and Michael Curran. These are the jingles that play when you click on a city state in the game. I...

City State of Mind Part 1: Jabari Pendleton and Adrian Williams

Jabari and Adrian set it off! Filmed By: George Jadelrab, Pauly Harper, Thai Phan-Quang and Barrett Moore To purchase the video visit www.facebook.com/cityst...

Cities,States, Countries, Continents

Cities, States, Countries, and Continents by Teacher and the Rockbots.

Sumerian City States

ABOUT ILLINOIS: Giant City State Park

While many think of Illinois as flat farmland, we travel to the hilly, rocky and forested landscape of Southern Illinois. Here, Giant City State Park offers ...

Let's Play Civilization 5 part 12: City-State Conquest

Watch in full screen and in 1080p if you want the full experience of this let's play!) Note: This Let's Play is aimed for people who have never played Civil...

1000000 videos foundNext > 

45761 news items

News & Observer

News & Observer
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:11:55 -0700

Ben Martin throws a disc with his Rottweiler, Kush, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, at the Dorothea Dix campus in Raleigh. TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com Buy Photo. Recent Headlines. War weighs on Triangle Ukrainians' minds 2 hours ago ...
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 22:03:45 -0700

MICHIGAN CITY | Fresh produce is being put on many dinner tables from a football field-sized organic garden tended by inmates at Indiana State Prison. Ron Neal, acting prison superintendent, said six offenders do everything from planting the seed to ...
WBAL Baltimore
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:28:34 -0700

Defibrillator not used because of husband's hairy chest, widow says. post a comment. A Baltimore judge has decided to schedule a hearing to decide whether independent city state's attorney candidate Russell Neverdon can appear on the November ballot.

Jamestown Sun

Jamestown Sun
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 03:31:44 -0700

Valley City State head coach Dennis McCulloch had similar feelings. He too was pleased with his team's fall camp, but didn't expect to lead 21-0 at halftime, 28-0 after three and hold the Jimmies to 224 yards of offense. “All the credit goes to our ...
Santa Fe New Mexican.com
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:09:57 -0700

Chris Soules of Iowa will star in the 19th edition of ABC's romance reality series The Bachelor, which returns to ABC in January 2015. Courtesy ABC. Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 7:00 pm | Updated: 11:45 pm, Wed Aug 27, 2014. City, state play coy ...
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:26:15 -0700

The decade of the 1960s was rife with experiments in journalism, "new" forms of writing that upgraded conventional journalism. The innovators were Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Hunter Thompson, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion and many others. They wrote ...
The State
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:50:31 -0700

RALEIGH --- City leaders are "very close" to a deal to acquire the Dorothea Dix property, Mayor Nancy McFarlane said after a one-hour special City Council meeting Thursday morning behind closed doors. Park advocates have been planning for years to turn ...
Half Moon Bay Review
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:30:00 -0700

Earlier this year the Main Street Bridge became the dividing line for city residents. The City Council first resolved to replace it with “free” federal money. That united a cadre of local business owners and residents who together cried foul ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About City-state

You can talk about City-state with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!