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Clockwise from top left: Norway, Sweden and Denmark
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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 
  • Adelita - Mexico
  • Britannia - Britain
  • John Bull - Britain (or occasionally England, with his sister Lil or Peg 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 used to be one, but Lady Liberty seems to have overtaken her in popular consciousness.
  • Brother Jonathan, the earlier representation of the USA, until Uncle Sam replaced him. Sometimes considered to be an earlier version of Uncle Sam.
  • 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)
    • There are also many female personifications of German states and cities, e. g. Bavaria, Berolina (Berlin), Borussia (Prussia), Hammonia (Hamburg), and Saxonia. The city-state of Bremen is traditionally represented by the Bremer Roland, a 15th century statue of one of Charlemagne's paladins.
  • Bharat Mata ("Mother India") - India (this one's politicized even within India, so handle with care)
  • Helvetia - Switzerland
  • Hunnia - Hungary
  • Cossack Mamay - Ukraine
  • Srulik - State of Israel
  • Mother Svea - Sweden
  • Holger Danske - Denmark (another paladin of Charlemagne)
  • Mermaid of Warsaw - Warsaw
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Works That Use This Trope:

    open/close all folders 

     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.

    Art 
  • The Statue of Liberty represents the democracy of America, which offers the torch of enlightenment to all the "poor and huddled masses" of the world. Meanwhile, Uncle Sam represents the US government (hence the trope of him wanting you to do something for him), and it used to be customary for the United State as a whole to be depicted as Columbia.
  • Marianne leads the French people on Eugène Delacroix' painting "Liberty Leading The People".
  • Germany and Italy nuzzle together in Friedrich Overbeck's "Italia and Germania".
  • An 18.5 metres tall bronze statue of Bavaria overlooks the Theresienwiese in Munich, where the Oktoberfest is held.
  • The Niederwalddenkmal near Rüdesheim was erected to commemorate the German unification of 1871. It is topped by a 10.5 metres tall bronze Germania.
  • Volgograd has The Motherland Calls atop Mamayev Kurgan. This personification of the nation is the world's tallest statue of a woman (91 metres without the pedestal).

    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.
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    Fan Fic 

    Film 
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • Monstrous Regiment has an in-universe political cartoon of Borogravia kicking Zlobenia in the crotch, while Morporkia (the personification of the city state Ankh-Morpork, who resembles Britannia) sarcastically looks on. This a nod to the Punch.

     Live Action TV  

  • Spoofed in El Chapulín Colorado, whilst Chapulin seems to be the personification of Mexico (or sometimes Latin America as he's call the "hero of Latin America"), his bitter rival is Super Sam (mix of Uncle Sam and Superman) whose main weapon is a bag of money.

     Magazines  

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

    Music 
  • In Rammstein's music video for "Deutschland", Germania is presented as a black woman, played by German actress Ruby Commey.

    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 Phrygian 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 town hall 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.
  • Germany, especially in the Imperial German era, is often depicted as Germania, a young, winged angelic maiden holding a pike with an iron cross on it, and a winged helmet. Notable depictions include the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Pillar in Berlin.
  • Mother Russia. Exemplified at Stalingrad with a huge statue of her raising her sword to lead her children to war.
  • Scotia: wears green tartan, likes mountains and rain and horses and singing.
  • Bulgaria in its modern history is referred to as "Mother" or depicted as a young woman in a dress holding a sword in one hand and a banner in the other. After the initial project for its restoration was scrapped in 1878, Thrace and Macedonia, left out of its borders, were typically depicted as "sisters" of Bulgaria proper, weaponless and dejected. Notably, a painting commemorating the 1885 union of Bulgaria with Thrace as the two sisters standing side by side, with Bulgaria wrapping her cloak around Thrace's shoulders.

    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 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1761 seems to be the personification of a country that doesn't exist. Or he may be a former human who somehow became a country. Or perhaps he is just a delusional Reality Warper who thinks he is a country.

    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).
  • CGP Grey videos depict countries (as well as other political entities like states or territories and NGOs like the International Olympic Committee) as female stick figures starting from "How Many Countries Are There?" Their skirts contain the patterns of their country's flags to identify them, and some countries get other features drawn on as well: the US carries a gun holster, monarchies like the UK wear crowns, Russia or the Soviet Union sometimes wears an ushanka, etc.
  • Alternate History Hub uses colored human figures with their flags on their stomach, with some other differences (USA is blue, has Sunglasses and the flag is in the shape of a star, the Soviet Union is red and wears a ushanka, etc.)

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

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