Democracy, in simplest terms, is when a government is controlled by the people it governs, such as the United States of America or France. Democracy started in ancient Greece and has evolved over the centuries. Whereas ancient democracy was typically direct, with the people literally having a voice in every issue, modern democracy is typically representative, where people elect others to represent them.
Democracy in ancient Greece started most notably in Athens. Instead of a king ruling the people, the people represented themselves. This was possible due to the relatively small size of the city-states which used a democratic system. Over time, however, it has become necessary to move from direct to representative democracy. This is because it is seemingly impossible for a large nation such as the United States to practice direct rule by the people. For a democracy to truly be direct, each eligible citizen must be present at every governmental debate and must vote on every issue. Because this isn't practical in the modern world, modern democratic nations have their citizens vote for representatives who are charged with providing a voice for their constituents. Most modern countries use some variant of democracy, the most common being that of the republic. A republic demands the protection of the individual, usually through laws and morals established in a constitution. Examples of governments which use a republic form of democracy are the United States of America, France, Brazil and South Africa.