Created By: Hertzyscowicz on May 31, 2012 Last Edited By: Hertzyscowicz on February 4, 2013

Nation Species Equivalence

One nation per species, one species per nation

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
In Real Life, racial and ethnic divisions and how they line up with nationality are pretty hairy business. Even a nation like Japan, with oceans marking its borders and mind-boggling a level of ethnic homogeneity, has minority groups like the Ainu and Zainichi Koreans.

In Scifi and Fantasy that social construct gets extended beyond the population level to entire species. If there are several different species, then chances are each species will have their own nation state, and each of those nations will be solely populated by that species. Humans are often exempt from this rule, both in that there may be several human nations and that any human nation may have a notable nonhuman minority.

When this trope is in effect, expect to see most references to the nation be replaced with references to the species.

Compare SingleBiome Planet and PlanetOfHats. Contrast Multicultural Alien Planet.


Examples of Subversion and Aversion

Literature
  • Prince Roger is an aversion; the one non-human major nation has a notable human minority, and two native species.

Live-Action Television
  • Babylon 5 - this trope is omnipresent. A notable example is when Londo identifies the government attempting to bug his quarters solely based on the species of the culprit. Also of note is the human excemption by way of The War of Earthly Aggression between the Earth federation and Mars colony.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The underground Drow cities in various settings
    • Greyhawk: Celene (elves)
    • Mystara: Rockhome (dwarves), Five Shires (halflings), Alfheim (elves)
    • Forgotten Realms: Isle of Evermeet (elves), Deep Realm (gold dwarves), Luiren (halflings). Shield Dwarf enclaves include Citadel Adbar, Mithral Hall and Citadel Felbarr.
    • Dragon Lance: Qualinesti and Silvanesti (elves)
    • In the Eberron the continent of Khorvaire was unified under the human-ruled kingdom of Galifar before the Last War. During the war many of the non-human races reclaimed their ancestral homelands: Dwarves = The Mror Holds, Gnomes = Zilargo, Halflings = The Talenta Plains, Goblinoids = Darguun, and Elven mercenaries from the island continent of Aerenal seized a chunk of land and named it Valenar. Humans originated on a different continent that has fallen under the control of extraplanar entities, and the Warforged and half-human races lack homelands entirely. In addition most of the other nations on Khorvaire have sizable minorities of all the common races.
  • Atlantis: The Lost World generic RPG setting. The elven nation of Broceliande.

Video Games
  • League of Legends - Ionia and Demacia's champions run the gamut of every sort of creature one could imagine, while Noxus has only champions that are humans or mutations thereof.
  • Each playable race in The Elder Scrolls series is native to a different province of Tamriel.
    • Cyrodiil = Imperial
    • Black Marsh = Argonian
    • Elsweyr = Khajiit
    • Hammerfell = Redguard
    • High Rock = Breton
    • Morrowind = Dunmer
    • Skyrim = Nord
    • Summerset Isle = Altmer
    • Valenwood = Bosmer
    • Orsinium = Orc (not actually its own province; Orsinium is located in High Rock)

Miscellaneous
  • Real Life; One sentient species, two hundred and seven sovereign states. Of course, the human expemtion applies.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • May 31, 2012
    jatay3
    Of course one(and only one) of those two hundred and seven sovereign states might be inhabited by aliens all of the same species without us knowing it.
  • June 3, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I recall in Forgotten Realms races are live in fairly unified nations, except humans. Not sure how close to this trope it is. However the only Dungeons And Dragons setting I am fairly confident in my knowledge in is Eberron, so what i recall in Forgotten Realms might not be right, I didn't even remember the name of the setting right till i just looked it up. Also how do you count sovereign states in Real Life, are you counting UN approved, US approved, approved by 2 or 3 sovereign state or what?
  • June 3, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • Each playable race in The Elder Scrolls series is native to a different province of Tamriel. (Don't have a reference guide for that series, anyone care to expand on it?)

    • In the Eberron the continent of Khorvaire was unified under the human-ruled kingdom of Galifar before the Last War. During the war many of the non-human races reclaimed their ancestral homelands: Dwarves = The Mror Holds, Gnomes = Zilargo, Halflings = The Talenta Plains, Goblinoids = Darguun, and Elven mercenaries from the island continent of Aerenal seized a chunk of land and named it Valenar. Humans originated on a different continent that has fallen under the control of extraplanar entities, and the Warforged and half-human races lack homelands entirely. In addition most of the other nations on Khorvaire have sizable minorities of all the common races.
  • June 3, 2012
    KTera
    ^ The unofficial wiki has a list, but:
    • Cyrodiil = Imperial
    • Black Marsh = Argonian
    • Elsweyr = Khajiit
    • Hammerfell = Redguard
    • High Rock = Breton
    • Morrowind = Dunmer
    • Skyrim = Nord
    • Summerset Isle = Altmer
    • Valenwood = Bosmer
    • Orsinium = Orc (not actually its own province; Orsinium is located in High Rock)
  • June 3, 2012
    Sackett
    Isn't this normal?

    The word "nation" comes from "nationality" and the concept is that a nation is made up of a single race of people, hence the talk of "the German nation" long before German unification.

    Or the way we refer to the Cherokee Nation, and so on.

    America is actually the exception in that America does not have a racial nationality associated with the American nation-state, instead being based on a common ideology and foundational myth, with a sense of Americans being "adopted" into a constructed nationality.
  • June 4, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ This is a fantasy and science fiction trope for settings with species other than human beings. Some cities/countries have a mixture of the different races, and some have populations that are solely (or almost entirely) of one species.

    I think this should have at least a few straight examples so we know it's a trope.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • The underground Drow cities in various settings
      • Greyhawk: Celene (elves)
      • Mystara: Rockhome (dwarves), Five Shires (halflings), Alfheim (elves)
      • Forgotten Realms: Isle of Evermeet (elves), Deep Realm (gold dwarves), Luiren (halflings). Shield Dwarf enclaves include Citadel Adbar, Mithral Hall and Citadel Felbarr.
      • Dragon Lance: Qualinesti and Silvanesti (elves)
  • June 4, 2012
    peccantis
    Does Maus fit here? Since the animals represent humans of different nationalities and not their respective species?
  • June 4, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Plausible in that truly non-human sapients might simply not be very compatible to live together.

    Do we have Nation Of Hats yet?

  • June 4, 2012
    zarpaulus
    ^^^ That Eberron block-o-text I listed above is another D&D campaign setting.
  • June 4, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Should probably elaborate that the human exception includes both factionalized humans and multispecies Federations that include humans.

    And Multicultural Alien Planet reminded me of something:
    • In The Cyantian Chronicles there are at least three major nations on Cyantia named after one of the native species: The Wolf City-states, The Mounty Kingdom, and the Fox Empire. However, aside from the xenophobic Empire they are actually inhabited by multiple species (fox refugees seem fairly common).
  • June 4, 2012
    jatay3
    Traveller is an aversion; most races including, of course, humans are subfactionalized. Even the herdlike K'kree have minor states independant of the Two-thousand Worlds.
  • June 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Isn't Star Trek like this? I am not that familiar with star trek
  • June 5, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    @ captainsandwich I got the number of sovereign states from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states). The exact number isn't pertinent to the discussion.

    @Lumpenprole I'm not sure if Nation Of Hats would be a good name, since it would imply that everyone has a gimmick other than being the same species.

    @Arivne I'll add a separate list for straight examples.

    This is probably related to Species Loyalty if it gets out of YKTTW; http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=y28jfon19dslb5gk2u4cllie
  • June 5, 2012
    zarpaulus
    @captainsandwich: The Klingon and Romulan Empires and Cardassian Alliance are. The United Federation of Planets (the good guys) and the Dominion are both multi-species.
  • June 5, 2012
    jatay3
    The Romulans are an aversion. They are a split-off from Vulcans. Come to think of it Klingons feud among themselves so often that they are almost an aversion.
  • June 5, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Valenar and Aerenal are 2 different nations.
  • June 5, 2012
    ACLLou
    Inverted and played straight by League of Legends. Ionia and Demacia's champions run the gambit of every sort of creature one could imagine, while Noxus has only champions that are humans or mutations thereof.
  • June 6, 2012
    zarpaulus
    B5 also includes the human exception, what with The War Of Earthly Aggression.

    • Star Trek: The Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Alliance are straight examples. The United Federation of Planets and the Dominion are multi-species aversions while the Romulan Empire is a faction of the Vulcan species.
  • June 8, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Well, I put my hat down, put with some of the examples, I'm having second thoughts about having a split between the straight/nonstraight examples.
  • June 8, 2012
    Thenakedcat
    The summary for the proposed trope needs to get at something in real life nation states that is socially constructed, i.e., the idea of distinct races or ethnic groups with cultural characteristics that line up with underlying biological divisions. Although racial and ethnic divisions and how they line up with nationality are pretty hairy business even just on Earth (even a nation like Japan, with oceans marking its borders and a level of ethnic homogeneity that makes Americans boggle, has minority groups like the Ainu and Zainichi Koreans), in scifi and fantasy that social construct gets extended beyond the population level to entire species.

    If you want to see just how much these kinds of differences tend to get simplified in real life, try to scifi/fantasy the ethnopolitical situation in Belgium. It took them 541 days from election to governing coalition in the last political cycle because of the level of disconnect between the Walloon and Flemish ethnic groups.

    Of course, there are also examples on Earth where nations have been much more successful in selling an idea of national identity that overrides racial and ethnic boundaries (for all their issues with race and ethnicity, the US and Canada have been pretty good at building "nation of immigrants" into a brand). It's interesting that we DON'T see more of those nations in SF/F.
  • June 9, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Wait a second is Eberron a strait example or a sub/adversion?
  • June 9, 2012
    zarpaulus
    ^ I'd say it's mixed, there are some single-species nations, but also several mixed species nations and of course many species have factions.
  • June 10, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I started a YKTTW on a trope to describe how humans are usually the exception to this rule. Humans Are Not United
  • June 13, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Bump

    I made the changes suggested by Thenakedcat (well, edited in the first paragraph of his post), and combined the straight and nonstraight examples.
  • June 15, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    This is really close to Planet Of Hats and the gaggle of tropes linked at the bottom of that description.
  • June 23, 2012
    Arivne
    Straight example:

    Tabletop Games
    • Atlantis: The Lost World generic RPG setting. The elven nation of Broceliande.
  • July 24, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • Zig-zagged in Sword Of The Stars, the six playable races are just as factional as humanity (more so, in the case of the Hivers and Zuul), but due to differences in environmental requirements and biochemistry each empire is strictly single-species. Until the Murder of Crows expansion that introduces techs that can mitigate the issues and allow one to keep "civilian" populations of other species.
  • July 24, 2012
    TBeholder
    a-a-and it's already muddied. A lot of examples are "country X of Y" without the reverse "Y is from X", so no "equivalence" here. E.g. elven lands in Dragonlance or dwarven and drow city-states in other mentioned settings.
  • February 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Traveller: Non-human interstellar empires include the K'kree's Two Thousand Worlds, the Hiver Federation, and the Aslan Hierate. The Vargr cannot hold a stable government together but the region of space they've colonized is known as the Vargr Extents. Humaniti is the exception again, with at least four ethnically based empires at the standard era plus the multi-ethnic Third Imperium (the First and Second were ruled by the Vilani and Solomani, humans from Vland and Sol respectively). Most empires have a number of minor subject races as well.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cqpveip37ppo8br2ex6u5ome