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Power is in the hands of a hereditary ruling class or nobility. A form of oligarchy. EX: Saudi Arabia


A single person rules with unlimited power. Also called dictatorship and despotism. EX: Germany under Adolf Hitler

direct democracy

Citizens hold political power by citizens directly making political decisions. EX: ancient Athens

representative democracy

Citizens hold political power by electing representatives. EX: United States


Powers are divided among federal, or national government and a number of state governments. EX: United States


A king allows nobles to use his land in exchange for their loyalty, military service, and protection of the people who live on the land. EX: Medieval Europe

military state

Military leaders rule, supported by the power of the armed forces. EX: Myanmar

absolute monarchy

A ruling family headed by a king or queen holds all the political power. EX: reign of King Louis XIV of France

constitutional monarchy

The ruling family's power is limited by the constitution or laws of the nation. EX: present-day United Kingdom


A few persons or a small group rule. EX: ancient Greek city-states


Legislative and executive functions are combined in a legislature called a parliament. EX: present-day United Kingdom


The chief officer is a president who is elected independently of the legislature. EX: present-day United States


Citizens elect representatives to rule on their behalf. EX: United States


Religious leaders control the government, relying on religious law and consultation with religious scholars. EX: present-day Iran


The government controls every aspect of public and private life, and all opposition is suppressed. EX: Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin

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