/cheef"deuhm/, n.
1. the rank or office of a chief.
2. the territory or people over which a chief rules.
[1570-80; CHIEF + -DOM]

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Type of sociopolitical organization in which political and economic power is exercised by a single person (or group) over many communities.

It represents the centralization of power and authority at the expense of local and autonomous groupings. Political authority in chiefdoms, such as those found in western Africa or Polynesia, is inseparable from economic power, including the right by rulers to exact tribute and taxation. A principal economic activity of the heads of chiefdoms is to stimulate the production of economic surpluses, which they then redistribute among their subjects on various occasions. See also sociocultural evolution.

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Universalium. 2010.

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