And you said a country can't have one city...
When a country is a city-state, i.e. the city is the country, or the other way around: the country has only one city.
Although this can be justified by the country being small (e.g. Monaco, Vatican City, Singapore), it is NOT justified when a country of this size has an economy the size of the US economy. This is a perfect opportunity to mix this trope with a hearty helping of City of Adventure
. In Anime
a city like this is usually a Utopia
Note that the area with one city DOES NOT have to be a country, it can be a planet
or county or etc...
Compare Britain Is Only London
when an entire Real-Life country is reduced into consisting of nothing more than its most popular city.
Anime and Manga
- In Appleseed, Olympus, the most powerful country, apparently has only one city.
- Almost all (or maybe all) the "countries" in Kino's Journey are like this. Even if there are a few that aren't, Kino never stays long enough to find out.
- At the end of Super Dimension Fortress Macross (or the first season of Robotech), humans have been nearly wiped out by the Zentradi, and have only one city left. Nonetheless, they still field a very powerful military.
- Academy City in A Certain Magical Index. While located inside Japan, it is its own nation, one of the most powerful influences in the world, and can even declare war.
- Exaggerated in Code Geass R2, where Zero announces the formation of the United States of Japan by declaring its first territory (and thus "city") to be the very room he is currently broadcasting from. Everybody reacts just about how you'd expect them to by this point, since it's Zero and all.
- The various Mega-Cities in Judge Dredd each only have direct authority over their respective urban areas, though MC-1 at least does have some influence over parts of the Cursed Earth.
- Attilan, home of The Inhumans.
- Also from Marvel, Madripoor - which, conveniently enough, is next-door to Singapore.
- From Wildstorm (recently transplanted into the DCU) is the small island nation of Gamorra, which is the home base of Kaizen Gamorra.
- The Matrix had Zion, the last human city. Within the Matrix is a single, gigantic megalopolis that houses the entire matriculated population, and is known only as the City.
- Star Wars: Coruscant is a city that has grown to cover the entire planet it is on. Its name is therefore synonymous with the city and the planet.
- In the live action Super Mario Bros. movie, the parallel world where Koopas reside had only one city, surrounded by endless tracts of desert.
- Quite a few locations in Discworld are city-states. Of particular note is Ankh-Morpork, wherein most of the books are set, and which is also surrounded by other city-states, the likes of Quirm and Pseudopolis. Each is a stand-in for a real-world country. At one point these were all part of a single Ankh-Morpork empire, but said empire went into decline and its wider surroundings are now largely autonomous. However, Ankh-Morpork is still the economic powerhouse of not just the region but the entire continent, and thus has significant political influence over these.
- Trantor from the Foundation universe is a planet whose entire surface has been urbanized, thus making it one big city.
- The Terminus-based (First) Foundation was the interstellar equivalent of this trope for much of Foundation, being a Land Of One Planet (and growing from an Imperial foundation cut off from the Galactic Empire to a Hegemonic Empire effectively ruling a decent portion of the galaxy). At least at the beginning it was a Land Of One City as well — Terminus was the youngest colony in the galaxy, and simply hadn't had time to get the population for more than one city. By Foundation and Empire at least the Four Kingdoms, the surrounding states that were the beginning of the Foundation's hegemony, seems to have been formally annexed into the Foundation.
- Tar Valon from The Wheel of Time; also, the (less-important) city-states of Mayene and Far Madding.
- In fact, the time of the books this is somewhat true of most of the nations in the main continent of the setting. The powerful nations may have large borders, at least on a map, but they only have one city that deserves the name, and usually hold little if any authority beyond that city. Most of the countryside is populated by tiny villages who rule themselves.
- Grantville in 1632 is effectively this (for the first book — they end up joining/helping to form a new state at the end of the first book, and a couple of books later they're one of the major cities of a powerful confederation). Interestingly there were a number of independent cities like that at the time. Unfortunately they didn't possess repeating rifles.
- Perdido Street Station and Iron Council feature New Crobuzon, which in the latter book is at war with the city-state of Tesh. The Scar also features a city-state made of pirate ships stuck together.
- The crumbling city of Gormenghast appears to be the only city in the world. In fact, it seems to be the world. (Until the third book, "Titus Alone" when the titular hero runs away from Gormenghast and ventures out into the world.)
- The Queens in Septimus Heap rule only over the Castle.
- The entire Marîd Audran mystery/crime series takes place in one moderately sized Middle Eastern city based on New Orleans. Hell most of the stories set in the city is set in one neighborhood, the Budayeen (think an Arabic red light district)
- Melniboné is one of these, by the time the events of The Elric Saga begin. It used to be the capital of a vast conquered empire but now it's just an insular little city-state in the middle of the sea.
- Melniboné itself is a fairly large island which at one time contained several large metropolises: by the time Elric ascended to it's throne, its society had grown so decandant and its nobility so apathetic that all of the island appart from its capital was abandonned and reverted to wilderness, while Imrryr (the aforementioned capital) itself is still by far the largest city in the world, although half of its buildings are empty.
- The Nine Free Cities of Essos in A Song of Ice and Fire, based off the real life Italian city-states. Initially they were colonies of Valyria's empire, who were forced to become autonomous after the Doom destroyed Valyria. However, they may also be something of a subversion; it's remarked that the Free Cities are more or less the same country in all but name, "hiring the same soldiers to fight the same wars for the same rulers".
- Subverted for the North, the only city in the North is White Harbor, which is ruled by House Manderly who are sworn to the Starks. The rest of the settlements in the North are mostly small villages, holdfasts, and castles.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's Rough Draft duology, one of the parallel Earths is a Steam Punkish world called Veroz (or Earth 3). One of the notable things about it is its complete lack of nation-states. All cities are independent.
- In Vladimir Vasilyev's The Big Kiev Technician, the world of 300,000 years in the future (with Modern Stasis in full effect) is made up of country-sized cities, usually the most well-known Real Life city in a country having grown and absorbed the other settlements, now being called with the "Big" prefix. The titular Big Kiev is about the size of modern-day Ukraine with Big Moscow being even larger. Other "Big" cities are mentioned as well (e.g. Big Berlin, Big London, Big New York).
- Magic: The Gathering has Ravnica, a plane with only one city. That said, that one city is large enough to occupy the entire plane.
- Lookshy, a relatively small city state, is capable of fielding military forces comparable to the Realm (which on its own is an island the size of the continental United States or Asia and recieves tribute from across the world), through a combination of an extremely militant society and huge stockpiles of artifact weaponry. Lookshy is comparably disadvantaged in that it doesn't have nearly the same power projection as the Realm (they can protect themselves and their neighbours, but are unable to be as expansive).
- Nexus has economic power comparable to the Realm, partially because it is at the heart of the Scavenger Lands (and benefits from some protection by Lookshy) and partially because it serves as the headquarters of a powerful, worldwide mercantile guild. The Emmissary is also important in maintaining the autonomy and power of the city.
- The Dark Sun setting for Dungeons & Dragons has several city-states, each of which controls one of the few remaining fair-sized spots of fertile land and not much else (centuries of sorcerous warfare and use of magical WMDs millenia past reduced most of the world to desert, natch).
- In the Tippyverse setting, the existence of Teleportation Circles has reduced the world to city states, since noone has any reason to go outside when they can just teleport between cities and farming is unnecessary thanks to limitless magically created food.
- As revealed in Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Island has one city: Big Ape City.
- Final Fantasy IX has Lindblum and Burmecia, which control a goodly portion of the continent with only one city. Also, narrowly averted in that Alexandria has a whopping three cities (or two, it's ambiguous where Treno stands)
- Final Fantasy VII has Wutai, though this may be a result of Wutai's war with Shinra. Crisis Core showed that the post-war resistance movement against Shinra had more people than Wutai itself had in the original game. Given that the rest of the Wutai island is made up of dead earth interspersed with rope bridges, it's entirely possible that the one small town is all that's left of Wutai.
- Final Fantasy XI's nations of San d'Oria, Bastok, Windurst, and Jeuno are all technically city-states in the present time, although the first three have historical areas that they controlled in the past that are now up for grabs. Aht Urhgan is seemingly the only in-game nation with actual vast stretches of territory.
- The now-destroyed Zendar from Mount & Blade.
- Tropico 3 has only one city to build on, and you CAN STILL have a thriving economy.
- Although it's not very clear in the game itself at first glance, according to lore Stormwind is actually a city-state, and the adjacent regions are independent governments that just allow Stormwind to protect them with its military.
- Bioshock: Rapture isn't especially large compared to most real-world cities, but it's definitely self-contained, self-sufficient, and a sovereign nation as far as anyone's concerned.
- Coumbia was originally part of America, but has since declared its independence and become a self-sustaining city.
- 4X games typically start with every empire consisting of only single city. Though establishing or conquering additional cities is usually the first thing the players do.
- Civilization series veterans have popularized a variant called the One City Challenge in which the player restricts himself or herself to a single city at all times, thus radically changing the gameplay and the methods or mindset needed to secure a victory. Some later iterations of the game made this an official game mode.
- Also from Civilization, Civilization V introduced "city-states", which despite the name typically control a substantial amount of surrounding territory. Realistically, they're more like small-to-midsize countries than what we usually think of as city-states, as evidenced by the fact that many of them take the names of real-life cities from countries that have only one large, well-known city (e.g. Stockholm, Seoul, Dublin) or only a small handful of them (e.g. Warsaw, Sydney, Quebec City, and Hanoi).
- In the Civ V update Brave New World, one of the new player civilizations (Venice) makes this obligatory by disabling the creation of Settlers and preventing the 'proper' annexation of any city you conquer. In exchange for that, you get extra influence over the "city-states" and extra opportunities to become ludicrously wealthy.
- What are commonly called One Province Minors(OPMs) in games designed by Paradox Interactive are these, states with only one province, and thus, in game terms, only one city.
- Thief's The City. In fact, there are only two other cities mentioned in the series, and they're both feudal city states as well. Civilisation of any kind outside the City certainly exists, but it is hardly ever elaborated on.
- The Good strategy in Black & White 2 involves building a huge city that will, eventually, house everyone on the island, as neighbors will immigrate.
- In Warcraft, Dalaran is a city-state ruled by mages. Despite being only a city-state, they are treated as equals to the other Seven Kingdoms.
- In Crusader Kings most counties consist of a city, a castle (the capital in the prevailing government of the era), and a temple. Many counties can have more holdings built but they're expensive. And there's a large number of "petty kingdoms" and independent counties that consist of a single county, as well as most Merchant Republics.
- The eponymous village of The Questport Chronicles.
- Metamor Keep consists of the titular keep and a few outlying villages. By the time of Metamor City the keep has developed into an arcology covering most of its original territory and is the capital of an empire spanning most of the continent.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The north and south poles are inhabited by the Water Tribes. The Northern tribe have one huge city/fortress, while the Southern tribe started out similarly before being decimated by the Fire Nation and scattering into dispersed hamlets.
- Phantom 2040: Following the Resource Wars, the United States no longer exists as an entity but as a bunch of independently-ruled city-states.
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! gives us a Planet of one City; Shuggazoom City is the only one on the planet of the same name, with the rest of the planet being a vast wasteland.
- Spoofed in the Family Guy episode "E. Peterbus Unum" when Peter turns his house into the nation of Petoria.
- Monaco and Singapore are Real Life examples, while the Vatican takes it Up to Eleven by being an enclave within the city of Rome. That makes this trope Truth in Television.
- The Italian peninsula also has San Marino, made notable by being the last survivor of Italy's ancient city states and the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world (as the continuation of a monastic community traditionally founded on September 3, 301), with the oldest republican constitution still in effect (ratified in 1600, beating the runner-up, the US Constitution, by 189 years)
- Similarly, Hong Kong and Macau are not exactly states, but they're self-governed enough to be considered as such.
- In spite of their name, Ancient Greek city-states incorporated numerous surrounding settlements and townships. They were only city-states to the extent that power was concentrated in the hands of the eponymous cities, such as would also be the case with medieval and renaissance Italian city-states like Florence and Venice.
- Also many of the smaller states that made up the Holy Roman Empire. Fully 51 were officially deemed Freie und Reichsstädte (Free and Imperial Cities) as of 1792; while a number of the monarchies, prince-bishoprics, and abbeys sharing representation in the Imperial Diet were often even smaller than most of said cities. There were even five Reichsdörfer directly under the emperor's authoritynote on record as of 1803.
- The Italian city-states mentioned above were also part of these, as the vast majority of them lay in what was officially Imperial territory (the Holy Roman Empire technically controlled the northern part of the Italian peninsula ending at the borders of the Papal States and the Byzantine Empire), the only exceptions being Venice (nominally Byzantine territory) and those south or inside the Papal States.
- This also applies to some of the states that made and make up the successors of the Holy Roman Empire. For instance, one of the cantons of the Swiss Federation is the self-explanatory one of Basel-Stadt (Basel city, as opposed to the canton of Basel-Land (Basel countryside)). The Federal Republic of Germany contains three city-states, of which Berlin and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg consist only of one city, and the third, the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen consists of two (Bremen proper and Bremerhaven). This is also reflected in the fact that these three states do not have a Ministerpräsident (prime minister), but a Bürgermeister (burgomaster or mayor).
- There are numerous first order administrative divisions worldwide (States, to use a US-specific example) that are made up of a single city. They all qualify for this trope to whatever extent the central government permits them to handle their own affairs. Berlin/Hamburg/Bremen are good examples, while others might be in doubt.
- There are also numerous examples of such divisions which are much larger than their largest city, but which have a significant majority of their population in said city which also has an overwhelming influence on the state and outsiders' views of the state. One notable example is New York City, which also has the same name as the first-order division containing it, and is a city which stretches among multiple second-order divisions (counties).
- "Free cities" Gdansk (Danzig), Fiume, Memel (Klaipėda) created after WW1 and Triest after WW2. Only Gdansk/Danzig stayed independent more than a few years, though. West Berlin wasn't officially called that, but it probably qualifies too.