Types of government - Definitions
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Types of Government

Hammurabi's Code

The first people didn't need any government, because there were so few people. Mostly people lived just with their own family or with one or two other families, and the older men and women decided what to do, without any system for deciding. If you didn't like how things were being done, you could always go out on your own, or join another family nearby. Until about 10,000 BC, everyone lived this way.

But as there got to be more people, they began to live in larger groups. It got harder to decide what to do without anybody in charge. At this time, probably during the New Stone Age, people first began to have governments. Basically a government is a way for a large group of people to make decisions. Because some places got crowded sooner than other places, people began to have governments sooner in some places than in others.

People have had many different types of governments. Anthropologists (scientists who study people) like to divide governments into five groups: "big man" government, chiefdoms, complex chiefdoms, states, and empires. Even though not all governments fit neatly into these categories, the categories make it easier to talk about how people are doing things.

"Big Man" government
Complex chiefdoms

Bibliography and further reading about types of governments:

More about Egyptian Government
More about Greek Government
More about Chinese Government
Quatr.us home

Celebrating Black History Month with the pharaoh Hatshepsut, the queen Shanakdakhete, the poet Phillis Wheatley, the medical consultant Onesimus, the freedom fighters Toussaint L'Ouverture, Denmark Vesey, Yaa Asantewaa, and Samora Moises Machel, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Proud of your class page, homework page, or resource page? Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Cool stuff we've been enjoying: Looking for birthday gifts? Check out these new Chromebooks - all the computer you need for only $229.00!. Then study in peace with these Beats wireless headphones - for the exact same price! When you're done, show off your presentation or watch a movie with this excellent smartphone projector for only $39.99!

^ Back to Top

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
^ Back to Top