Many human societies have been governed by states for millennia, however for most of pre-history people lived in stateless societies. The first states arose about 5,500 years ago in conjunction with rapid growth of cities, invention of writing and codification of new forms of religion. Over time a variety of different forms developed, employing a variety of justifications of legitimacy for their existence (such as the divine right of kings, the theory of social contract, etc.). Today, however, the modern nation-state is the predominant form of state to which people are subject
Some states are sovereign. Some states are subject to external sovereignty or hegemony where ultimate sovereignty lies in another state. The term state is also applied to federated states that are members of a federal union, which is the sovereign state.
Speakers of American English often use the terms state and government as synonyms, with both words referring to an organized political group that exercises authority over a particular territory.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "State (polity)" as of 22 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.