city-state

A city-state is an independent city — and sometimes its surrounding land — which has its own government, completely separate from nearby countries. Monaco is a city-state.

Today, there are only five city-states that are truly self-governing, but in the past this was more common. In fact, well-known cities such as Rome and Athens were city-states, and the entire country of Italy was made up of independent merchant city-states during the Renaissance. These days, government tends to be concentrated in a larger country, rather than split into small, sovereign cities.

Definitions of city-state
  1. noun
    a state consisting of a sovereign city
    synonyms: city state
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    examples:
    Carthage
    an ancient city state on the north African coast near modern Tunis; founded by Phoenicians; destroyed and rebuilt by Romans; razed by Arabs in 697
    type of:
    body politic, commonwealth, country, land, nation, res publica, state
    a politically organized body of people under a single government
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