Before entering fully into the definition of the term city-state, we are going to know the etymological origin of the two words that give it its shape:
-City is a word that derives from Latin, exactly from “civitas” which is made up from the sum of two clearly differentiated parts: the noun “civis”, which means “citizen”, and the suffix “-tat”, which it is used to indicate “quality”.
-Estado, on the other hand, also has its origin in Latin. In its most specific case it derives from “status”, which emanates from the verb “stare” and which is synonymous with “being standing”.
The concept of city State is used to name a State formed by a only city. These are territories with a very small area compared to traditional states.
The origin of city-states (or city-states) dates back several centuries BC. These entities arose in Sumerian around the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, when the inhabitants began to develop various activities taking advantage of these rivers and getting organized.
These city-states were independent, like many that arose in medieval times for commercial reasons. At present we can find independent city states and others that are integrated into a country organized as a federation.
Among the first city-states we can name Sparta (on the Ancient Greece), Tikal (city-state of the Mayan civilization) and Chichen Itza (also linked to the Mayan people). In the Middle Ages, were developed in Europe cities states like Florence, Amalfi and Witches.
In this list of city-states we cannot ignore others such as the following:
-Andorra. That it has a feudal origin and that precisely from that past has maintained its essence as a city-state. Its official language is Catalan and it has been independent since 1278. It is located between France and Spain.
-San Marino. It has a population of about 30,000 inhabitants, it is a parliamentary republic. Likewise, it must be established that it has the particularity of being the oldest Sovereign State in the world. It is close to Italy.
Today they are considered as city-states integrated to a federation to Berlin (Federal Republic of Germany), Moscow (Russian Federation) and Basel (Swiss Confederation), among other locations. There are also autonomous city states but that are part of a nation: Ceuta (Spain), Gibraltar (United Kingdom), Macau (China), etc.
On the other hand, several independent city-states remain. Monaco and the Vatican City at continent european and Singapore on Asia are examples of these entities. As you can see, the difference between city-state and country can be subtle and even non-existent since it is, after all, States.
Vatican City, which is one of the European city states, has the distinction of being also considered the smallest country in the world. Its origin as an independent state dates back to 1929 and is known for hosting the Holy See, which we can establish is the highest institution that exists within the Catholic Church.