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[[quoteright:345:[[Literature/NineteenEightyFour http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sfempire_2151.jpg]]]]

When writing alternate timelines or playing around with maps, [[AlternateHistory counterfactual]] historians sometimes don't see the point of coming up with lots of different countries, especially for regions they know little about. There may also be a need to make sure that the entire earth is PVPBalanced in more warlike stories. So what they do is just fill the map with large polities, even when [[AlternateHistoryWank there would be little plausibility to a single empire ruling these territories]]. This is referred to as a Space Filling Empire.

The number of empires will be at least three, the [[RuleOfDrama minimum number needed for alliances and betrayals]], and popularised by the pictured setup of ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''.

This trope is so prevalent that the AlternateHistoryDotCom wiki even has [[http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php/alternate_history/space_filling_empire its own page]] for it.

Contrast BalkanizeMe. See also RiskStyleMap and SpreadingDisasterMapGraphic. Several types are found in UnitedEurope, ExpandedStatesOfAmerica, and MiddleEasternCoalition. Can lead to OneFederationLimit. May not leave much room for SettlingTheFrontier.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In ''CodeGeass'', the world is divided into three main superpowers; the [[UnitedEurope European Union]] (all of Europe, Russia, and Most of Africa) the [[UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire Holy Britannian Empire]] (North and South America, Parts of Africa, most of the Pacific) and the [[ChinaTakesOverTheWorld Chinese Federation]] (East, South and Central Asia, including Indonesia and India). There is also Japan (independent, but invaded by Britannia in the opening of the first episode) and the [[MiddleEasternCoalition Middle-Eastern Federation]] (taken by Britannia in the first season). Australia is the only one to stay uninvolved for the entire series. Predictably, almost all of the important events take place in Japan.
* ''{{Gundam 00}}'' has the world largely split into three power blocs, at least in the first season: The World Economic Union (the Americas, Australasia, and Japan, dominated by the United States); the Human Reform League (Russia, China, India, most of the rest of South, Southeast, and East Asia except for Japan, dominated by China); and the Advanced European Union (current-day EU plus Turkey and Israel/Palestine).
* ''LightNovel/HeavyObject'' has the Legitimacy Kingdom, the Capitalist Corporation, the Information alliance and the Faith Organization. Unique in that location has no bearing on which country belongs to which group meaning there are constant skitmishes between neighbouring countries belonging to different groups.
* ''Anime/ValvraveTheLiberator'': The militaristic neo-Prussian Dorssian Military Alliance controls Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia. The nominally democratic ARUS controls the Americas. Western Europe, and the western half of Africa. They both run significant areas of the DysonSphere where most of humanity now lives.

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* In ''Comicbook/AmericanFlagg'', the Plex represents the former governments of the USA and USSR, but (particularly since the Plex seems to be largely abandoning Earth for its Mars-based "temporary" headquarters), the world's true superpowers are now the fascist Brazilian Union of the Americas and the communist Pan-African League, which has also conquered Italy.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* The best-known example is ''[[Literature/NineteenEightyFour 1984]]'': The world consists of just three countries, Oceania (the Americas, the British Isles, Australia, and Southern Africa), [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Eurasia and Eastasia]]. The remainder of the world (the northern half of Africa, the Middle East, Southern India, Southeast Asia, the polar regions, and the Pacific islands) is a permanent buffer zone with control constantly shifting from one side to the other, and where the three powers wage endless war against each other so as to divert resources and attention away from domestic reform. Alliances constantly shift so no side gains an advantage, but officially [[InternalRetcon Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia]]. [[UnreliableNarrator But who knows for sure?]]
* The United States of Africa from the StarTrekExpandedUniverse.
* ''Literature/TheDraka'' series: OK, the Draka empire's insane growth [[VillainSue is sort of the whole point]], but areas like South America seem to randomly agglomerate for no real reason except to cut down the number of polities in the final wars.
** This is mentioned in one book. Someone from the Draka universe comes over to an Earth like ours and is astounded at how many countries the modern world has. It's taken for granted due to their world's experience that as the world develops an inevitable result is the reduction in individual states as they all merge.
* ''JenniferGovernment'' has the Corporate States of America spanning several continents.
* In John Birmingham's ''Wave'' trilogy a South American Federation controls an unknown number of formerly independent nations including Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay. By the third book, ''Angels of Vengeance'' there are hints of a grand alliance of the Anglosphere (Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the remnants of the US and Canada) coming together to replace NATO.
* German sci-fi series ''MarkBrandis'' has just two blocks left: The EAAU (European-American-African Union), with Australia as an associated member; and the UOR (United Oriental Republics), Asia except for the Asian parts of the former SovietUnion.
* The eponymous ''Vampire Empire'' by Clay and Susan Griffith is a subversion as it's only an empire in the eyes of the humans it's displaced. Yes it occupies much of the northern hemisphere including all of Europe, Russia, China, Japan and most of North America but in reality it's compsed of clans who rarely cooperate. Played straight however with Equatoria, descended from the Victorian British Empire which occupies India, the Middle East and the British Empire's African holdings, also with the American Republic which controls Central America, the Caribbean, the Yucatan and parts of South America and the Japanese Empire, relocated to Singapore and controlling Asia east of India and south of China.
* ''Half Crown'' in Jo Walton's ''Coins'' series involves a conference set in London in which Britain, Japan and Nazi Germany are negotiating spheres of influence, specifically the dividing up of the former Soviet Union and the potential divvying up of the US.
* In Taylor Anderson's ''{{Destroyermen}}'' series the Grik Empire controls, at least (the exact extent is unknown) India, southern Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Persian Gulf and most of the eastern coast of Africa. Meanwhile the Dominion controls Mexico, Central America and an as yet undisclosed portion of South America. The Alliance is heading in this direction, controlling the Philippines, parts of Indonesia and Australia and most recently, Japan and the Hawaiian Islands voluntarily and Sri Lanka by conquest.
** It now looks like North America has at lest two more countries one of which pushed the Dominion out of Mexico for a time and their rivals on their other border, plus there's another mystery faction with radio that may side with the Grik.
** And one led by some Czechen guy that's north of Girk controlled India.
* In ''The Martian General's Daughter'' by Theodore Judson the Trans-Polarian Empire controls North and Central America, Eastern Asia, Western Europe, the Baltic nations, North Africa and Turkey as well as Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and several asteroids. It's in a state of decay however. It used to control the entire northern hemisphere of Earth and by the end of the book the other world colonies have died due to a metal eating plague and both North Africa and Central America have fallen out of it's sphere.
* HarryTurtledove's ''[[{{Worldwar}} Colonization]]'' trilogy (the sequel to the ''Worldwar'' series) starts with Earth divided in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_the_World_Colonization.png only a few states]]. The [[LizardFolk Race]] controls all of Latin America, Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Poland, the Middle East, Australia, and most of Southeast Asia (including China and India). The US and Canada stayed the way they are, as did the USSR. The Greater German Reich controls much of Europe. Imperial Japan controls much of Oceania (except for Australia) as well as Indonesia and the Philippines. Britain only has the original island. "Free France" is made up of several islands in the Pacific. A few other countries are separate from these main players but they don't really play into the world politics.
* SergeyLukyanenko's ''Literature/SeekersOfTheSky'' duology takes place in an AlternateHistory where {{Jesus}} was killed as a baby and was replaced by a different Messiah. Thanks to the Redeemer's efforts, the Roman Empire never fell and remains stronger than ever to this day, now known only as the State with its ruler, the Possessor, having his capital in [[IstanbulNotConstantinople Lutetia]] (alternate Paris). The State controls most of Europe and has colonies in Africa and the Americas. Several vassal nations serve as the buffer zone between the State and its on-and-off enemy the Russian Khanate (Russia never threw off the Mongole yoke and becomes a mix of both cultures). The Chinese Empire is the most advanced nation in the world and controls most of Asia. The Ottoman Empire is the weakest of the major powers. Smaller nations are mentioned, such as the Aztec Empire that constantly clashes with the State's colonies in America, and Judea, which is a tiny vassal nation of the Ottomans.
* In the "An Orison of Sonmi-451" segment of David Mitchell's ''Literature/CloudAtlas'' Nea So Copros controls East and Central Asia and whatever is still inhabitable of Oceania (the Philipines and Indonesia are specifically mentioned). Colonies in Africa are also mentioned.
* In the ''Literature/VenusPrime'' series, most of Earth's nations have become part of either the North Continental Treaty Alliance (basically North America, Europe, and Russia) or the Azure Dragon Mutual Prosperity Sphere (China, Japan, and some of the Middle East). There's also apparently an alliance between South America and Africa, and a bloc made up of India and various countries in Southeast Asia.
* Although it's [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] because its not the main focus of the book, in the AlternateHistory classic ''Literature/ForWantOfANail'', the German Empire takes over most of [[UnitedEurope continental Europe]] and absorbs much of the [[MiddleEasternCoalition Middle East]] in a like manner.

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[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* Very early in its existence, the SciFiChannel produced a daily sci-fi/soap opera short called ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FTL_Newsfeed FTL Newsfeed,]]'' in which the Earth of 2142 has consolidated into five or so super-states.

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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Cyberpunk RPG ''[=NeoTech=]'' combines this with BalkanizeMe, some regions balkanizing (eg. North America) and some consolidating (eg. Europe). In Africa countries have been split and joined apparently at random.
* Done with the first map ever printed of the planet ''{{Mystara}}'', which depicted a major hunk of continent as "the Empire of Dorfin IV", and showed the Empire of Thyatis (whose actual boundaries were much less) encompassing the entire "Known World" region. Averted and {{Lampshaded}} by Bruce Heard's ''Voyages of the Princess Ark'' article series, which revealed this map to be a complete fraud, perpetuated by a DeadpanSnarker who'd named its various Space Filling Empires after his wife, his mistress, and his dog.
* Averted in the majority of the timelines of ''{{GURPS}}''. Even Reich-5, which was conquered by the Axis powers, is still full of minor nations that were too insignificant to directly take over and/or voluntarily joined the Axis.
* In the ''Film/LordOfTheRings'' SpecialEdition ''TabletopGame/{{Risk}}'' game, the 1-on-1 GoodVsEvil set up has roughly 1/3 of the territories (most of the unaligned ones) occupied by 2 neutral troops each. This is to help balance the game at the outset, creating enough of a hindrance that neither player can simply sweep across the board on the first turn, but also giving the players a chance to use their strategic defensive positions without having to conquer half the map first.
** The main Risk series also has this mechanic for two-player games, likely for similar reasons. The difference is that the two Powers choose their 14 territories, rather than going from a list.
* In ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'', the majority of the Inner Sphere is ruled by a grand total of five [[FeudalFuture Feudal Houses]].
* In ''TabletopGame/TwentyThreeHundredAD'', Mexico has absorbed all the other Central American countries with the exception of Panama (they also have large parts of California, Arizona, and New Mexico, [[MexicoCalledTheyWantTexasBack and for a while they held onto Texas as well]]).

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Done in the online game ''The Spectrum Wars'', dividing the earth up into major regional power blocs in order to lessen the disparity in power between major superpowers and the third world. For similar reasons, the United States and its military was usually split in half by a civil war in the backstory.
* Space-filling empires are the typical result of a game of ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}'' or ''SidMeiersAlphaCentauri''. Justified in the case of the latter, as there are only seven groups of human settlers, and a few of them usually get eaten up. ''Civilization'' will sometimes have "Barbarians", who may have cities, but they are always hostile, exist to get swallowed by larger civs and never appear beyond the early game.
*** The "minor civilization" mechanic originated in the Rhye's and Fall of Civilization mod, using them in place of pre-unification civilizations (such as with China), for people native to the Americas and Africa that don't fall into one of the base game's civilizations and the remainders of larger civs that fall apart from civil war.
** The Civilization IV expansion Beyond the Sword comes with a mod called "Next War". There are four states: the Pan-Asiatic People Co-Operative, [[OneNationUnderCopyright America Inc.]], The Great Southern Empire, and Europa.
* The Strangereal Earth of AceCombat is less exaggerated than other examples, but still has considerably fewer nations than our Earth. Notably, superpowers Osea and Yuktobania are approximately the size of South America, while the continent of Anea is divided into only three countries.
* The world of ''{{Earth 2150}}'' is dominated by only two nations: the United Civilized States in the West and the Eurasian Dynasty in the East, with the Lunar Corporation controlling all of the Moon. Granted, this is the aftermath of WorldWarIII, but there's no reason why there should not have been more smaller empires.
** There are still independent tribes. It just that they are not of real importance.
* ''{{DEFCON}}'' has the entire world split between [[AllNationsAreSuperPowers roughly comparable atomic superpowers]], even Africa and South America! The only land that sits out the war is Australia and New Zealand.
* Paradox Interactive go to great lengths to try and avert this one, typically releasing numerous patches to rebalance nations to stop, for example, France or Ming China devouring all of their neighbours as far as the Caspian Sea in ''EuropaUniversalis III''
** Not that this stops anyone from trying... or succeeding. One player managed to [[TakeOverTheWorld take over the entire world as the Xhosa]], a one province pagan minor country with a built-in technological handicap.
*** Recently, played straight. Paradox realised that they can't keep this impossible ''and'' keep the game fun for beginners, so they added an achievement for world domination... as [[JokeCharacter Okinawa]].
** In one PVPBalanced designed-for-multiplayer map in ''HeartsOfIron II: Doomsday'', the world is divided equally between six (or was it nine?) gigantic empires that each control an equal share of the globe. HilarityEnsues when the Russian Empire is fighting communist Europe.
* To historical sticklers, ''VideoGame/TotalWar'' is considered to be playing this trope despite the above-average number of factions it offers (in some games, upwards of 20). Prior to ''VideoGame/EmpireTotalWar'', "Independent" regions did exist, but were controlled by the "rebel" faction where each city/region was completely independent from all other "rebel" regions, was incapable of expanding (or even defending its territory properly), any diplomacy with the greater factions (or other rebel cities), and would generally be eaten up by the first empire to send a sufficient number of troops its way. By around 50-100 turns of game-start, there would normally be no remaining rebel territories - the world would be divided between all major factions.
** Also, smaller countries and/or city-states that in history were quite independent though sharing cultural resemblence to one another were often merged into single centrally-controlled empires. This happened to the Greek City States in ''VideoGame/RomeTotalWar'', and most Muslim factions in ''VideoGame/MedievalTotalWar'', amongst others.
** ''VideoGame/EmpireTotalWar'' changed this a little by introducing lots of "minor" nations that could be engaged diplomatically and would generally behave like the larger factions (with some caveats to prevent them from expanding). Of course, the number of Major factions (empires) vying for power was considerably smaller than in previous games as a result.
** Inverted in ''VideoGame/RomeTotalWar'' with the Romans of all factions: Instead of one unified empire, it was split into three houses with agendas in somewhat different areas of the map. Of course, all factions had to stay mindful of the wishes of the senate, but this was more of a guideline.
*** This was done (At least as far as I know) so that 1) The Roman faction wouldn't have to divert it's attention in three different directions at the same time (the Romans are supposed to expand into Gaul/Germania, Spain/Northeast Africa, and Greece/Asia Minor/Egypt/Near East), and the make the Civil war actually work.
** When the first expansion for the first game came out it had a bug which made the rebels into an organized faction. Since they started with more than half the map but didn't count as a faction when calculating victory it was possible to win by digging in in your capital with your starting units while all the other factions were overrun in the first few turns.
* The second ''{{VideoGame/XCOM}}'' game, ''Terror From The Deep'', has a multitude of countries creating empires. Notable examples include the United States apparently comprising all of North America, The European Union, Southeast Asia, and the Oceanic Alliance (Japan and Australia being the major participants). Notably, there's also a lot of ''empty'' space in the Geoscape, representing countries or alliances that aren't funding the X-Com project, and are therefore not particularly important or worth protecting.
* In the backstory for the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series, the USA had already annexed Canada and was invading Mexico with the goal of annexing it when the nukes started flying.
* ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar: Dark Crusade'' uses a RiskStyleMap to represent the twenty or so territories being fought over by seven different factions, occupying a single continent. Frankly ridiculous in Soulstorm, where the number of territories is roughly the same... but now spread over ''four planets''. Any given faction could conquer two territories and be ruling over half the planet.
* In ''VideoGame/EvilGenius'', the world is divided up between several NATO-like alliances with varying degrees of logic. The United States and Japan form P.A.T.R.I.O.T., Europe and her former colonies form S.A.B.R.E., Russia and Cuba are H.A.M.M.E.R., what's left of Asia forms A.N.V.I.L., and the oddest is S.M.A.S.H., an alliance of Africa, South America, and Antarctica.
* ''VideoGame/{{Homefront}}'' has North Korea steamrolling right over all of Southeast Asia just like Japan did in WorldWarII, despite there being several very strong armed forces in the area.
* ''VideoGame/{{Starsiege}}'', Dynamix's HumongousMecha RobotWar simulator, featured [[OneNationUnderCopyright Meta-Nations]], nations created from a fusion of countries and corporations in the aftermath of the ''first'' unspecified apocalypse. These "Meta-Nats" effectively ended up being entire continents with some sparse subdivisions. Canada, Greenland, the United States, and Mexico merged to form the North American Prefecture, while the rest of Central and South America formed the Inca-Brazil Axis. Everything West of the Ural Mountains became the European Alliance, because China had spread down to India and up to Russia to become Greater China. The response to this was Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and a slew of other oceanic countries (including a chunk of Alaska) uniting to form the Pacific Rim ([[NamesTheSame no]], not [[Film/PacificRim that one]]). Not to be left out, almost all of Africa formed United Africa. Finally, the entire Arabian Peninsula and its nearby countries like Egypt, Iran, and parts of both Afghanistan and Pakistan were claimed by the [[OneWorldOrder Great Human Empire]] as their Imperial Protectorate. Remarkably, there is fairly little of the expected squabbling or corporate warfare with seven such powerful groups on the planet, as they ''do'' have to worry about a [[AIIsACrapshoot homicidal supercomputer AI somewhere in space]] plotting [[OmnicidalManiac total extinction of all biological life on Earth]].
* ''VideoGame/RiseOfNations'' has the world conquest mode, which due to its effects on history, typically ends with 3-5 major empires dominating the map. For hilarity, there is nothing forcing these to be the ones that dominated in real life, nor are major monuments limited to where they're supposed to go, which can result in the Lakota invading Britain as a prelude to capturing the Great Pyramid of France.
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[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''LookToTheWest'': much of West Africa becomes officially known as the Space-Filling Empire after its main architects, a Mr. Space and a Mr. Filling.
* Yakutia in ''SuperpowerEmpireChina1912''.
* ''DecadesOfDarkness'' has this with the US which conquered most of the Americas, the Russian Federation which includes most of Eurasia and various member of the Restored Empire like Central Africa.
* The Literature/ChaosTimeline has the New Roman Empire, the Russias and the German technocracy. However, the trope is mostly avoided by introducing "Chaos" - wide areas of the world, esp. in Africa, where the governments change every few months and the borders every few years.
* ''The Aggluti'''nation''' and the Americans'' subdivides the world into 11 supercountries. The titular Aggluti'''nation''' (yes, the bolding is important) was the first to be created and, through various methods, conquered most of South America, southern Africa and parts of Australia, and others (including [[ExpandedStatesOfAmerica Hockey Stick!]], [=SuperMexico=], *Ia and others) united so they would be better-equipped to fight the '''nation''', once it was clear that the '''nation''' meant [[TakeOverTheWorld serious business]]. In addition, two countries, Russia and North Korea (which now renamed itself to simply Korea) avoided being conjoined into these supernational groups, and a small part of South Africa remains separate from the Aggluti'''nation'''. [[http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20101115103134/pasaruconworld/images/d/d2/2033_The_Mega_Manning_Begins.png Their world map looks like this.]]
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* The World and Europe before WorldWarI. Not only had large parts of the World been conquered by a small number of colonial empires, but also for the [[UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} Austro]]-[[UsefulNotes/{{Hungary}} Hungarian]], the [[DynastiesFromShangToQing Chinese]], the [[UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany German]], the [[UsefulNotes/{{Turkey}} Ottoman]] and the [[UsefulNotes/TsaristRussia Russian]] Empires, all much larger than each of their corresponding modern successor states and each including territories, which today are separate independent states.
* Europe after WorldWarII. Most countries were allied with (or {{Puppet State}}s of) either TheUnitedStates or SovietRussiaUkraineAndSoOn.
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