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A polis (pl. poleis) is a city. The word originates from the ancient Greek city-states, which developed in the Hellenic period and survived with decreasing influence well into Roman times.

The territory of the ancient polis were centered around a citadel, called the acropolis. There would of necessity also be an agora[?] (market) and a gymnasion. Most people lived in the countryside, but with only a short travel to the civic center. The Greeks did not regard the polis as a territorial unit so much as a religious and political association. Each city was composed of several tribes or demes[?], which were in turn composed of phratries[?] and finally gentes[?]. Metics (resident foreigners) and slaves lay outside this organization. Citizenship was typically determined by birth. Each polis also had a number of protecting gods and its own particular festivals and customs.

See also: synoecism[?], apoikia

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