Democracy is a ruling system where the citizens have a great deal of control over the actions of the government, either directly or through elected representatives. Democratic governments can be traced back to the city-states of ancient Greece and Rome. Citizens would gather in a public forum, and each one would have the opportunity to speak and vote on issues affecting the community. This direct democracy system was possible due to the relatively small populations of the city-states. Starting in the 17th century, the monarchs of Europe began to be stripped of their absolute power, and by the end of the 19th century the citizens had a strong voice in government in many European nations. Large populations made public forums impractical, so the people elected groups of representatives to carry their views to the ruling powers. Strictly speaking, this type of system more closely resembles a republican system rather than a true democracy. This type of representative democracy is considered the best governing system in the modern world because of the personal and economic freedom enjoyed by the citizens.