Why did Greece develop city-states?

One major reason why ancient Greece was dominated by small city-states and independent towns, rather than by one all-powerful king, is its geography. The country's mountainous terrain, many isolated valleys, and numerous offshore islands encouraged the formation of many local centers of power, rather than one all-powerful capital.

Another key factor influencing the formation of city-states rather than kingdoms was the Mediterranean. Such a calm and easily navigable sea provided the Greeks with an opportunity to found new colonies in times of crisis and overpopulation. It also appealed to their sense of heroism and adventure. Starting in the 8th century BC, colonies were eventually founded all over the Mediterranean, from Naples in Italy, to Marseilles in France, Cyrene in Northern Africa, Byzantium, close to the Black Sea, and numerous cities all along the western coast of modern-day Turkey. These colonies remained in contact with their mother cities, and acknowledged their 'blood ties' with them, but in most other respects they soon acted independently of them.

A final reason behind the development of city-states was the Greek aristocracy, who acted to prevent any permanent monarchies from forming. They defended the political independence of their cities vigorously. As a result any individual who did manage to take over a city could only hope to do so for a short time as a 'tyrant' rather than a king.




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