A civilization is a complex way of life that developed as people began to develop urban settlements. It includes a high level of social division and specialization, a degree of technological progress, and a broad cultural sophistication. Civilization is characterized by the organization of government, education, and religion; the development of writing, art, and literature; and the creation of large-scale infrastructures such as transportation networks and trade. It is often viewed as an historical milestone, marking the point at which human beings leave behind a “natural” life of hunter-gatherers and become fully human.
Civilization arose in regions where agriculture made it possible to grow enough food for people to live in cities rather than on the edge of survival in small camps. In cities, people practiced arts and crafts that they traded for food. People also created a system of writing to record their ideas and keep track of trade. Cities intensified social hierarchies based on wealth and class status, a feature that distinguishes civilizations from less-developed societies. They often built armies and other state production centers and demanded tribute from landowners and specialized craft workers to pay for them. In some cases, rulers even used tribute money to finance war against neighboring cities.
The earliest civilizations appear to have arisen in the Middle East around 3000 BCE, and they spread outward to Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, and central Asia by 1000 BCE. They then expanded to Africa and South America by 400 BCE. Most historians consider the emergence of civilization a turning point in human history.
Some scholars believe that it marks the point when humans begin to accept authority, moral standards, and rules of law. They also view civilization as a process in which the human mind is conformed to the will of an infinitely higher power, such as God or a supreme being. Others, however, see a darker side to civilization: the commodification of human lives and the degradation of the environment.
a program that gathers and analyzes data on the age, gender, and other characteristics of a population, usually for a specific region or nation. It is often based on census data, but can be used for other types of research, such as tracking disease outbreaks.
A term for the gradual changes in all of the interconnected weather elements over a long period of time, such as an entire season or year. The word is derived from the Latin civitas, meaning city.
a political group of citizens who vote for representatives and leaders to represent them in the government of their country. In the United States, it is referred to as a democracy. In other countries, it is called a republic. A democracy is a system of government in which the powers are vested in citizens, and the representation is proportional to each person’s voting power. A republic, on the other hand, concentrates power in a small number of people who do not have the right to vote.