Nations as People

Clockwise from top left: Norway, Sweden and Denmark

This is a particular type of Anthropomorphic Personification that depicts a country (or some other sociopolitical or geographical unit) as one person, using that person's actions and foibles to make a comment on the country's politics and history. Sometimes this "person" is an animal or landmark (like the Statue of Liberty). While it is Older Than Dirt with precedents going as far back as The Middle Ages if not Ancient Greece (the myth of Europa and Asia), this technique has been closely associated with newspaper political cartoons for the past few hundred years, and nowadays can be found in webcomics as well. As such, it may be considered a genre of comic, though it's been known to appear in other media (such as the anime of Axis Powers Hetalia) once in a blue moon.

     Classic Characters of this Type 
  • Britannia - Britain
  • John Bull - Britain (or occasionally England, with his sister Lil representing Scotland and his brother or cousin Jonathan representing the USA)
  • Johnny Canuck - Canada
  • Rodina or Rodina Mat' or Mother Russia - Russia
  • Uncle Sam - USA (representing the American government)
  • Columbia- USA (representing the American state and nation)
  • Marianne - France (Which eventually replaced the Gallic rooster as the symbolic embodiment of the country)
  • Michel - Germany (see German Peculiarities)
  • Germania - Germany (counterpart to Britannia, not normally seen nowadays)
  • Bharat Mata ("Mother India") - India (this one's politicized even within India, so handle with care)
  • Helvetia - Switzerland
  • Hunnia - Hungary
  • Cossack Marnay - Ukraine
  • Srulik - State of Israel
  • Mother Svea - Sweden

Works That Use This Trope:

Anime and Manga
  • Axis Powers Hetalia, as stated above, uses anthropomorphic personifications of various nations across the world as the main characters, using typical stereotypes to create the exaggerated personalities. It's considered by many to be the Trope Codifier.
    • And by extension, the fanworks the State-tan Project and I Am Matthewian, which expand on APH with personifications for the US states and Canadian provices, respectively.

  • Marianne leads the French people on Eugène Delacroix' painting "Freedom Leads The People".

Comic Books
  • Uncle Sam is an actual comic book superhero from the 40's (currently owned by DC Comics, and best known for being the leader of the Freedom Fighters superteam.) He is the literal embodiment of the Spirit of America, created by the Founding Fathers using a magical talisman.

  • One of the scariest and most disturbing uses of this trope can be found in the 1991 Soviet\Russian film House Under the Starry Skies. Valentin Komposterov, the antagonist, is heavily implied to be the anthropomorphic representation of the accumulated 70 years of Soviet history and ideology. Unsurprisingly, he shrugs off rifle rounds and procures fantastic weaponry out of Hammer Space, all while alternating between gloating in front of his victims and spewing communist ideology.

  • In a nod to the Punch cartoons mentioned below, the frontispiece of Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment is an in-universe political cartoon of Borogravia kicking Zlobenia in the crotch, while Morporkia (the personification of Ankh-Morpork, looking like our world's Britannia) sarcastically looks on.

  • Punch's political cartoons helped popularise some of the classic personifications.
  • Private Eye sometimes uses them.

Mythology, National Legend
  • The personification of Great Britain as Britannia, a stately robed woman in Greek helmet and carrying a trident, symbolic of Britain's association with the sea. She only recently ceased to appear on the currency, something that caused angst to nationalists. Britannia goes back over two thousand years; a kingdom of northern England was called Brigantia, and was corrupted to "Britannia" by the Romans. Its patron Goddess was conflated with Juna, in the way of Roman religion. And persisted.
  • Marianne, the national symbol of France, often depicted as a woman with disarrayed robes and Phyrigian cap, storming the Bastille during the revolution. she used to appear on French currency in pre-Euro days but is still on the stamps. Every mairie has a bust of her and periodically the image is refreshed by selecting an actress who is held to embody French beauty. Post-holders have included Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve.
  • The Statue of Liberty has a similar place for the USA, at least as a female personification. The gimlet-eyed and stern Uncle Sam might be a male version.

Sketch Comedy
  • Not quite nations, but in the Australian sketch comedy show News Free Zone, the "88 Australia Street" segment was about a share house occupied by anthropomorphic embodiments of the Australian states.
  • Studio C has two sketches featuring this, "International Relations" and "National Relations: Republicans vs. Democrats".

Web Comics

Web Original

Web Video
  • United Queendom represents the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum using the gay couple Scott (Scotland) and Adrian (England), and, in one episode, ‘the Scandinavian Model’ (Scandinavia).

  • This art book (Link is NSFW due to advertisements and thumbnails in the sidebar) depicts 74 countries as teenage girls, including North Korea.

Fan Fic
  • Paris Burning is set in a world where cities have anthropomorphic personifications.