• Imagining History

What is an Ancient Greek City State? - A Quick Guide for KS2

Updated: 4 days ago

If you've heard or Athens or Sparta before, then you've heard of the two most famous Ancient Greek City States. But what is a City State exactly?

Ancient Greek City States:


Ancient Greece was split up into smaller states, often based around a city, called City States. They worked almost like smaller countries within a big country!

Differences between the City States:

Each City State in Ancient Greece had it's own laws, army, rulers/government & money.

For example, some City States had a democracy (where everyone votes on laws and who they want to rule over them) and some were ruled by a King (who would decide his own laws and was often given the role by his father who was King before him). Some City States were even ruled by TWO kings!

Similarities between the City States:

Every City State in Ancient Greece had the same language & religion. So if you travelled to a new City State you could go to a temple and give offerings and prayers to the same gods you would find in the temples at home.


These City States often disagreed and went to war against each other. This is why each one needed their own army - to defend their City State against other City States. Athens and Sparta went to war against each other on a regular basis.

Further reading:

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