Government is the system of people who make laws and enforce those laws, ensuring that everybody obeys them. It also provides services like health care and education to people. Governments have different roles, depending on the type of society and its needs. However, governments are always needed in order for a society to work to common standards and limit externalities that affect many.

Governments are made up of elected representatives who represent citizens in local, state and federal bodies. Those representatives make laws to govern their jurisdictions and raise money, mainly through taxes. The funds raised are used to provide services to the public. Governments can also spend money on projects to address a specific need or concern, such as national defense, education or the maintenance of parks.

A basic function of a government is to protect its citizens from violence and from the worst vicissitudes of life. This is a core part of the reason why governments have been created throughout history.

Another role of a government is to provide things that benefit the community as a whole, such as public safety, education and transportation infrastructure. Governments can also provide services that private companies could not provide in a timely manner, such as protecting its borders and providing national security. In recent years, some governments have started to privatise some of their services and let private companies take over.

Government policies can also help make markets more competitive and redistribute income. They can create incentives for business, address environmental issues and define property rights. Governments may also manage positive externalities, such as cleaning up after a natural disaster, or negative externalities, such as overfishing and global warming.

While the role of government has changed over time, it will continue to be important in the future. Governments will have to adapt to new challenges, but they must continue to protect their citizens and provide public goods. They will also have to change the way they do their jobs, as more and more of their services are being moved to private companies.

The structure of a government can vary from a monarchy with a head of state who is not involved in policy-making to a republic with a president, cabinet and other leaders who are selected by a parliament (or equivalent body). In between these two extremes, there are various combinations of parliamentary, presidential and representative democracies, in which citizens elect their deputies or senators, and then those representatives vote on legislation. The constitution of a country outlines the fundamental principles and philosophy of that government. A constitution is a document that sets the limits on what can be done by the government. It establishes the rights and duties of its members, explains the process for making laws and outlining the relationship between the people and the government. It is usually written in plain language that is easy to understand. A constitution can be amended in the future to reflect changes in society or technology.