What Is Government?

Government is the set of rules and people that control a country, state, city or local community. It makes laws, collects taxes, and enforces those laws with police or other forces. Government also provides services, like roads, schools, and national security.

Almost every place on Earth has a government. The only places that do not have one are tiny disputed territories or the continent of Antarctica, where people follow traditions instead of government rules. Governments exist to protect people, provide law and order, and to make sure that there is enough food, water, housing and other goods for all.

How government does this varies from place to place. But most governments have a central authority, or chief, known as a leader or president. The leader, in turn, has a group of people called his or her Cabinet, which handles the day-to-day tasks of running the government and solving big problems. In the United States, the president is part of a system that is sometimes called “separation of powers” or a “system of checks and balances.” This system is designed so that any one branch of the government cannot become too powerful. The framers of the U.S. Constitution put these three branches, or sections, of the government together so that they can check each other and limit power.

It is not clear why people first started to create government. Perhaps they recognized that it was easier to protect themselves when they stayed in groups and when they agreed that some members should have more power than others.

Today, most governments have some sort of rulemaking body that makes laws and passes budgets to decide how to spend money. The laws set limits on what can be done and establish punishments for breaking the rules. Governments also have a way to raise money, by collecting taxes on income, property and sales.

Governments also provide some goods or services that all people can use free of charge, such as fish in the sea or clean drinking water. Because these goods are not produced in large enough quantities or at low enough costs for private businesses to offer them, the government makes them available by offering to pay for them. Governments can also protect public goods from those who would take them away from everyone else, such as terrorists or other nations.

There are many different types of government, but they all have some things in common. They make laws, collect and print money, provide services and protect the people they serve. Governments also have a force, or police, to enforce the law and punish those who break it. People who want to change the way their government works may try to influence the politicians who run it by voting for or against them in elections, or by working with them to get them to do what they want. Governments can also change the way they operate by creating new laws or adjusting old ones.