Systems of Government

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 10724

Wherever you live, you are under some form of government structure. Who says government officials can tell us what to do? Discover reasons why we have governments and how they differ, for good or bad!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


The idea of no rules sounds pretty fun, right?

  • But what would our homes, our communities, and our world be like without any rules?
  • What would towns, states, and countries be like without any government?

Take some time to think about it, then dive into this lesson to discover what else you can learn on this topic!

  • Why do we have governments?

All countries require governments so they can function. Governments provide laws, structure, public services, and national defense.

Read through this list by Remy Melina from LiveScience, What Are the Different Types of Governments?. While reading, try to think of past or current countries that fit into these categories.

Now, take a closer look at the following four systems:

  • democracy
  • monarchy
  • dictatorship
  • communism


A form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but that is usually exercised indirectly through a system of representation and delegated authority that is periodically renewed.

Watch Democracy - A short introduction, from MinuteVideos:


A government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right. The monarch may be either a sole absolute ruler or a sovereign — such as a king, queen, or prince — with constitutionally-limited authority.

Watch What Countries Still Have Kings or Queens? (NowThis World, TestTube, A Discovery Digital Network):


A form of government in which a ruler or small clique wields absolute power (not restricted by a constitution or laws).

Watch Which Countries Have Dictators? (NowThis World, TestTube, A Discovery Digital Network):


A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single — often authoritarian — party holds power. State controls are imposed with the elimination of private ownership of property and capital, while claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (i.e., a classless society).

Watch What Is Communism? (NowThis World, TestTube, A Discovery Digital Network):

Look over the map below that labels systems of government across the globe:

forms of government

Map Legend
blue full presidential republics
green parliamentary republics with an executive presidency dependent on the legislature
yellow semi-presidential republics
orange parliamentary republics
red parliamentary constitutional monarchies in which the monarch does not personally exercise power
magenta dual system constitutional monarchies in which the monarch personally exercises power (often alongside a weak parliament)
purple absolute monarchies
brown single-party state
olive countries in which constitutional provisions for government have been suspended (e.g. military dictatorships)
gray no government

Image (and legend information) by Jackaranga and revised in 2014, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Now that you have an overview of types of governments and their locations, continue on to the Got It? section to play a matching game!

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