An oligarchy is a type of government where control is given to a small group of people. There are a number of distinguishing factors among the people in this group, including their wealth, political, religious, or military ties, or nobility. In most cases, families are the rulers in oligarchies, and this power is passed down from generation to generation.
Oligarchies have gained a reputation for being tyrannical and oppressive. However, many governments around the world use some form of oligarchy, such as appointing representatives to determine national policy. Only when there is a limitation in the separation of powers and when the rule of law is violated does an oligarchy become tyrannical.
One of the most well-known examples of an oligarchy in history is the Soviet Union. Today, this form of government is still practiced in some nations, including: