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Airstrip One

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"Area 11... the defeated and once proud nation of Japan was rechristened with a mere number."
"Even the names of the countries, and their shapes on the map, had been different. Airstrip One, for instance, had not been so called in those days: it had been called England or Britain, though London, he felt fairly certain, had always been called London."

So The Empire has conquered a number of unfortunate countries and crushed the citizens under the weight of oppression. But it just isn't enough for The Empire. They've got to rub their newfound authority in the subdued province's face. How best to humiliate them? Take away something they strongly value, something that symbolizes their very identity—their name! The Empire will show how evil they are by re-branding the area with a label and a number. It also adds to the overall military atmosphere of a piece, even though Real Life militaries' very reason for using codes rather than common place names is operational secrecy, and replacing the latter with the former for public use would be missing the point.

Other evil rulers prefer to rename cities after themselves. Compare to Monument of Humiliation and Defeat. See also Please Select New City Name.

For replacing people's names with numbers, see You Are Number 6.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Code Geass, the various lands conquered by the Holy Britannian Empire are identified by numbers. Japan is renamed "Area 11." Furthermore, the people themselves are renamed, so, for example, the people of Japan are called "Elevens." Full citizens of Britannia also use "Numbers" as shorthand for everyone from the Areas.
  • Frieza in Dragon Ball Z named all the planets he conquered "Planet Frieza #(insert number here)"

    Comic Books 
  • In Judge Dredd there is Mega-City 1, Luna-City 1, East Meg 1 and East Meg 2. There used to be Mega Cities 2 and 3 as well, but Dredd nuked Mega-City 2, and Mega-City 3 broke away from the union following the Atomic Wars, becoming Texas City instead. Other nations include Euro Cit, Pan Africa, Murphyville and Brit Cit.
  • Captain Britain: The Captain Britain Corps - a gathering of the counterparts of Captain Britain from every alternate version of Earth - includes a Captain Airstrip-One who seems to hail from a world very similar to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Aperture Science 3007 Colony and Land of Life and No Death (theoretically Lithuania and Poland) from Portal: The 4th Millennium franchise.
    • Even though most other modern countries are referred to by their actual names. The author probably just hated his own home country that much.
  • In Tales of the Hunger Games, the second incarnation of the Capitol manages to annex Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Isle of Man for about twelve years. They name the region "District Fourteen", before splitting them into multiple zones labelled after alphabetical characters.
    • In Panem Reborn, the third incarnation of the Capitol also manages to capture the entire country of France and renames it to "District Fifteen". They also split the country into four sectors labelled A-D, each of them focusing on a specific product like their continental counterparts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Megiddo The Omega Code 2, Stone Alexander becomes the head of the European Union and quickly turns it into a One World Order, separating the world into zones. He pressures the US to join this new global community, consistently calling it the North American Zone, which infuriates the President.
  • District 9 has the eponymous ghetto where the aliens are forced to live. In the epilogue it's shown that they've been moved to (larger and nicer, but still segregated) District 10, but it's never made clear exactly what the districts are or where the first eight are. It can be assumed that the whole city, assuming the human parts, is divided into administrative districts, but the alien area is the only one referred to by just its number.
    • District 9 is District 6 turned upside down; District 6 was a colored residential area in Cape Town, where "coloured" residents were moved after being forced from their homes. The squalid conditions shown in the film are not exaggerated.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four has the entire United Kingdom given the pitiful title of "Airstrip One," a reference to the Americans referring to it as "an unsinkable aircraft carrier" during World War II when the Nazis had overrun most of continental Europe.
  • Ixia's Military Districts (MD-1 through MD-8) in Maria Snyder's Ixia and Sitia books. The Commander isn't actually evil though, just a military man who hates any show of extravagance relating to the royal family he ousted.
  • In Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, when Buzz Windrip of the fascist Corpo Party takes over the United States, he abolishes the old 48 states and their elected governments, and divides America into eight provinces, each province divided into numbered districts, each district divided into lettered counties, each unit ruled by a commissioner appointed by himself. Even the hostile newspaper editor Doremus Jessup is forced to admit these new administrative divisions make a certain amount of sense.
  • In Taylor Caldwell's The Devil's Advocate, the totalitarian Democracy of America has replaced the states with numbered Sections. What was formerly New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania is only "Section 7".
  • In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the "North American Directorate" appears to have replaced the states with "Managerial Areas".
  • In the Horus Heresy novels the planets conquered by humanity during the great crusade have their original names replaced by a numeric designation based on the code number of the fleet that conquered it, followed by a number that shows which order it was conquered in. Thus the 10th planet conquered by the 25th fleet is known as 25-10. These planets are then given proper Imperial names later.
  • In the 31st century as depicted in the Doctor Who New Adventures, the Earth Empire has renamed all Earth's cities "Spaceports". Original Sin is mostly set in Spaceport 5 Overcity, which seems to be London.
  • In The Hunger Games, the Capitol has renamed all of the subdued areas Districts 1-13 and segregated them by industry.
  • In Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, that city-state has been renamed Lower Corte, after its neighboring bitter rival. Please Select New City Name thus equally applies.
  • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, regions conquered by the Lord Ruler get renamed after their location relative to the capital, Luthadel and its surrounding areas, the "Central Dominance" - the four main surrounding "Dominances" (provinces) are named for the four cardinal directions, while those farther away are given names to suggest their distance ("Farmost Dominance", "Remote Dominance"). Most have been subdued so long the people no longer remember the names of the nations that were once there. The only exception is the Terris Dominance, which bears the name of the region's original nation for reasons no one quite understands. It's because the Lord Ruler was originally a Terrisman. Even then, it's a Red Herring—there's an important magical nexus located in the ancient Terris lands, but those lands are actually under the capital. The Terris Dominance are simply a random area where he put the Terris.
  • In Left Behind, the ten regional global districts under the control of the subpotentates were originally called United [Regional Area] States, but eventually were just referred to by Nicolae Carpathia and his Global Community top brass by their regional codes.
  • In Star Wars Legends, the Empire officially renamed planet Coruscant "Imperial Center" shortly after the end of the Clone Wars, though plenty of people still refer to it by its original name.

    Video Games 
  • By the time of Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars in 2047, the spread of Tiberium across the planet has led to the collapse of all the world's nation-states, so the Global Defense Initiative and Brotherhood of Nod are the only factions able to provide any sort of governance. There are presumably administrative regions within the groups' respective territories, but for the most part the world is categorized based upon the degree of Tiberium contamination. GDI-controlled "Blue" zones have sparse if any uncontained Tiberium, and enjoy the highest standards of living. "Yellow" zones, home to Nod and outcast groups like the mutant Forgotten, are arid badlands with an obvious Tiberium presence. "Red" zones are more or less xenoformed hellscapes of mutagenic alien crystals, and extremely hostile to terrestrial life. Zones are separated both by borders with other colors and by the oceans, so each piece is often referred to by a letter-number code for brevity — for example, the Blue Zone that stretches across the Eastern Seaboard of the United States is B-2, while the Red Zone that takes up much of the Amazon Desert is R-6.
  • Midgar's sectors in Final Fantasy VII. Jesse mentions that the areas on the ground used to have real names
  • Half-Life 2 takes place in a coastal city in Eastern Europe (as evidenced by the architecture and abundance of Cyrillic script), known only as City 17. A City 14 is also mentioned by a passer-by, and several more are seen on a train station timetable.
  • Dr. Regal from the Mega Man Battle Network series comes from a place called "Nation Z", referred to as an "infamous military country".
  • XCOM 2 is set twenty years after a successful Alien Invasion, and the ADVENT Administration that now rules Earth has dissolved the nations of the "Old World" in favor of sixteen administrative regions. They're alternately referred to by their Sector number, their formal name (the Chilean Controlled District, the Eastern European Ward, the West Asian Corridor, etc.), or briefer descriptions like the New Arctic or East Africa. XCOM wearing old-world flags on their armor is thus another sign of defiance.
  • XCOM: Chimera Squad is set in a metropolis designated as City 31 five years after Earth was successfully retaken from the Elders, the alien overlords that gave the city this name. It has since become a symbol of peace and coexistence between humans and the various alien slave races left behind by the Elders after their defeat, but for some reason, its new inhabitants still haven't come up with a proper name yet.

    Web Comics 
  • 4U City from Sluggy Freelance was founded by Hereti-Corp. 4U, by the way, is a reference to both "For You" and the four initials of their new public slogan.

    Web Original 
  • In Look to the West, this is how the Societist Combine renames its territories, in keeping with the Societist beliefs that acknowledging unique characteristics of different areas leads to division and war. Each zone is numbered, and each city has a "name" of the style ZonexUrby. They have actually worked out Zone and Urb numbers for the entire world, but the nationalistically blinded people outside the Combine stubbornly refuse to use them.
  • Played for Laughs in the If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device tabletop spinoff WarHams, where a party of Imperials are so disgusted by the Sickeningly Sweet name of Rumma Tum Tums Farm that they designate it Meat Place Alpha and make their native entourage refer to it as such. Although they don't permanently change the name.

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: When gems tried to colonize Earth, they divided it into numbered "Facets", which becomes part of the serial number for any gem made there (e.g. the Kindergarten Amethyst was made in is located in Facet 5, so she's "Facet 5 Cut-8XM"). The planet in whole is still called "Earth".

    Real Life 
(NOTE: Only generic labels count. Anything named after a geographic name or nationalities doesn't.)
  • After the American Civil War, occupied Confederate states, with the exception of Tennessee, were divided into several numbered Military Districts until the end of Reconstruction.
  • France had a lot of this going on starting in the French Revolution:
    • In 1793-1794, the town of Lyon in France was renamed "Commune affranchie", or "the liberated town", after the citizens rose against the Jacobins and were defeated.
    • Pretty much the same thing happened to Marseilles, which became "Ville-sans-nom" ("City without a name").
    • Also to Toulon, briefly known as "Port-de-la-Montagne" ("Port of the Mountain", which probably referred to the radical faction of the revolutionaries, who sat on the upper benches of the Convent). And the entire département Vendée, which after the suppression of the local guerilla war became "Vengée" ("avenged").
    • Today, the French cities of Paris, Lyon, and Marseilles are divided into municipal arrondissements (not to be confused with regular arrondissements which are subdivisions of French departments), all of which are known only by cardinal numbers. All three cities start their numbering with the first arrondissement in the center of the city and spiral outward in sequence (at least at first — in Marseille's case the numbering reverses direction at the outer arrondissments and Lyon's ordering jumps around at the higher numbers because they were created out of existing ones).
  • The Imperial Japanese had a policy of designating conquered peoples by numbers, which coincidentally served as inspiration for Britannia's naming system in Code Geass.
    • Singapore was renamed "Shouwa no jidai ni eta minami no shima" (meaning "Southern Island acquired in the Shouwa-era"), or "Shounantou" for short.
    • The city of Hanyang or Hanseong was renamed Keijou (Gyeongseong in Korean) after the annexation of Korea by Imperial Japan, which just meant "Capital City", as it was the seat of the colonial government at the time. It is ironic that after independence, the South renamed the capital city "Seoul", which was a Korean word that meant exactly the same thing.
  • After Nazi Germany conquered Poland in 1939, the area which was not annexed outright by Germany or taken by the Soviet Union was called the Generalgouvernment (General Governorate) to deny the Poles there an identity, and many references to Poland were deliberately suppressed.note  They were generally more inventive elsewhere, naming conquered territories after things like local rivers and similar.
  • Not necessarily evil, but in the book Soldier by Lt. Col. Anthony Herbert, he wonders how the Vietnamese feel about how the Americans divide up South Vietnam into AOE (Area Of Operations) Barnes, AOE Smith, etc., on the American maps.
  • Play along at home. See if you can guess which places these terms refer to before revealing the City name?
    • "M25 area" Greater London. Refers to the M25 motorway that encircles London.
    • "Zone 1" Central London; a reference to the innermost fare zone of the London Underground, but commonly used in other contexts. There are actually nine such zones, but Zone 1 has the highest concentration of notable landmarks.
    • "Area 495" Washington, D.C. Refers to the Capital Beltway, a notoriously busy highway encircling the city and numbered as Interstate 495.
  • A lighter example is how the U.S. congressional district names go along the lines of [State]'s [Number] Congressional District - in contrast to the U.K., the country it descended from, which gives each of its 650 parliamentary constituencies unique names. You might think this is because the districts are often significantly redrawn after each decennial Census. However, it is quite possible, especially with computers, to draw districts with largely consistent boundaries, as the British do. The real reason for this is because most districts in the US are so gerrymandered that giving an accurate geographic name would be nigh-impossible. Some Americans actually advocate a switch to the named-district system in order to make the gerrymandering more obvious and hopefully discourage it.
    • Plus, the numbering doesn't follow any consistent scheme—the same area can be the 1st district one election and the 13th the next (this happened to substantial chunks of Detroit in 1992). And if a district becomes so redrawn its geography is warped, well, you can just rename it to fit the new boundaries. (This also happens in the United Kingdom.)
  • A modern day example is Canton 10 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which also does not have an official coat of arms or flag. Most of the population is Croat, the local government uses the old symbols of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia and still calls itself Herzeg-Bosnia but the national government has declared this unconstitutional as it does not include the Bosniak or the Serbs.
  • In London, areas are often referred to by their postcode designation, e.g. Wimbledon is called "SW19," Islington is "N1" and so forth.
  • Over in Dublin, the the pre-2013 postal codes can be used likewise e.g. Dublin 8 or D4.
  • The United States' Public Land Survey System: Township 1 South, Range 20 East, Section 13, Mount Diablo Meridian or T1SR20E S13 MDM
    • A similar system called the Dominion Land Survey is used in the Canadian prairies, giving land locations (which are used on things like driver's licenses) like "NE-20-52-25-W4" or "the Northeast Quarter of Section 20, Township 52, Range 25 west of the Fourth Meridian".
  • Also in the United States and Canada: Sometimes, people will refer to their home and the surrounding area by its three-digit telephone area code — usually in big cities, where several codes may be used in the same general region.
    • Sometimes professional wrestlers bring these up if they want to pander to a crowd in their home town. Rey Mysterio Jr's famous '619' finisher was named after the area where he grew up (San Diego) and Montel Vontavious Porter's less famous jumping reverse STO finisher was for a time named the '305' (after Miami).
    • The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is often referred to as "the 306" (even though it now also has the 639 area code).
  • After the 1990 invasion, Kuwait was named the 19th province of Iraq.
  • The gridiron-designed city centre of Mannheim in Germany has no street names, but designates individual city blocks by letter/number co-ordinates, leading to building addresses like Q3, 12.
  • Nepal's Constitution went into effect in 2015, dividing the country into seven provinces. As their boundaries were drawn up based on logistical and political convenience rather than historical significance or culture, these provinces only have numbers, not names when they are established in January 2018. As of writing (end of Aug 2021), five of them have been given proper names. Only Province No. 1 and Province No. 2 have yet to receive any.
  • In Russia the provinces are sometimes referred by their code numbersnote  (for example, Khabarovsk Krai is #27, Primorsky Krai is #25 and Moscow is #77), but this is not really universal, and, anyway, a region might have several code numbers — Moscow has eight , for example, mostly for the vehicle registration purposes.
  • One of the stadiums used in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Stadium 974. This name derives from (a) being made of 974 shipping containers and (b) 974 being Qatar's international dialling code.


Video Example(s):


Code Geass

Seven years before the beginning of the show's main story, the Holy Britannian Empire launched an invasion of Japan to secure that country's stocks of a rare mineral that makes a new energy source possible. During the conflict, Britannia introduced their Humongous Mecha, Knightmare Frames, into combat that became instrumental in defeating the Japanese. Soon, Japan became known by Britannia as Area 11, stripping the nation of its autonomy, its national identity, and even its name.

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