Governments create laws, enforce rules, protect citizens and provide a wide range of public services. They also regulate what happens in private life. Although governments vary widely in appearance and function, they all share one central purpose.

A government is a group of people who control a country and make national decisions. It may also be referred to as the state, nation or empire. Governments are the foundation of a society and are necessary for the survival of human communities.

The word government comes from the Latin veneris, meaning “people’s service,” which is a reference to their responsibilities and duties to each other. Throughout history, different nations have established various forms of government to meet the needs of their citizens and protect them from external threats. The most common types of governments are democracies (rule by the people), republics and dictatorships.

A democracy is a form of government in which citizens decide how their country should be run and who will lead it. In this type of system, representatives are elected to represent the interests of all citizens. Some democracies have a strong presidential system in which the president has broad executive powers. In other democracies, the legislative branch—including Congress (the House of Representatives and Senate) and federal agencies—makes the laws.

An authoritarian regime is a form of government in which an individual or small group of people exercise absolute power over the entire nation. There are many different variations of this form of government, including dictatorships, communism and feudalism. A central theme of an authoritarian regime is fear and distrust among the population, which results in the concentration of power in the hands of the few.

There is a growing debate about the role of government in a modern society. Some people argue that it should be limited to protecting citizens from outside threats and providing basic services such as education, health care and security. Others believe that it should be expanded to include social programs that provide jobs, food and housing. In order to pay for these new programs, some Americans are required to work, while others receive government benefits such as medical insurance and welfare payments.

Some political systems are not government at all, but rather ideologies that influence the behavior of individuals within a society. For example, minarchism is a philosophy that advocates for the smallest possible government that provides only a few services to all citizens. Other ideologies, such as libertarianism, are concerned with limiting the role of government to the minimum amount necessary.