Government is a system of rules and laws that make and enforces decisions and policies for the benefit of its citizens. Its duties are to protect the safety and health of its people, provide goods and services, and ensure justice is served. Governments are typically organized into distinct institutions called branches that have different powers, functions, and responsibilities. These branches are often referred to as the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The structure and functions of government vary among countries, but most countries have some form of this structure.
The earliest form of government was probably a monarchy, but as time passed and the work of governing became more complex, many monarchs began to share power with groups that could help them govern. In Europe, this resulted in Parliaments, which were legislative assemblies that developed from meetings of nobles and advisers to the king or queen. Many other countries have developed Parliament-style legislatures. These kinds of governments are called constitutional monarchies or parliamentary democracies.
During the American Revolution, the founding fathers designed the Constitution of the United States, and they created a federal government with three main branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. They wanted to design a government that would serve its citizens well. The founding fathers also wanted to prevent any one branch of the government from becoming too powerful, so they put in place a system of checks and balances.
In this system, each branch has the ability to change or overturn decisions made by the other two branches. The president can veto laws that Congress passes; the congress can approve or reject presidential appointments; and the Supreme Court can overturn laws that have been ruled unconstitutional.
Another duty of the government is to protect common goods—goods that all people may use but are in limited supply, such as fish in the sea and clean drinking water. Governments at the state and local levels protect these goods so that a few people do not take them all, leaving others with nothing. Governments also protect social and public goods, such as education, roads, and law enforcement.
A major task of the federal government is to pass laws and enforce those laws. The way laws are made and interpreted is not the same in every country, but most countries have an independent judicial branch that interprets the meaning of federal laws and decides whether they are constitutional or not. Most governments allow citizens to vote for their representatives, and they encourage people to participate in the political process. They also promote a set of values, such as equality and liberty, that the government tries to uphold and live by.