Straight to the matter: is it possible that a faction in a science fiction world rises up while completely ignoring the concept of villages as a whole?

Let me explain.

While it's specific for my world, I guess it's applicable to many others: planets are colonized from a single site, with its initial population heavily relying on that single site. Usually these become cities and eventually capitals.

And then they start spreading.

But not anywhere, obviously. Depending on the faction itself, there are basic, as well as extra needs to be fulfilled.

Is it a realistic scenario that, due to the large resource requirement, new settlements are always so large that they can be considered cities immediately, without ever going through the farm and/or village phases?

Either way, what are the implicit "requirements" for such a "nation" to exist? I'd assume cultural reasons but I don't really understand, what villages tell about us as a nation.

If that help narrowing the scope of the question, I primarily aim an approach from the so-called Western culture, so Europe and to an extent, the US.

To help further narrowing the scope, by "village" I mean settlements with relatively small population that while provide basic infrastructure (e.g. clean water), lack many of the more advanced ones (e.g. sophisticated transportation like airplanes) and rely on proper cities for those.

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    $\begingroup$ What is a village and what has been granted city status is mostly historic / a legal question / completely arbitrary / a combination of those. Could you define your minimum size instead of stating "village" and "city"? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jan 24 '18 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 I'd define it through the available infrastructure, and the population size. Sadly both are context-dependent, but I have some absolute ideas: little access to transportation (roads only, spare bus schedule), lack of schools, very small commercial services, cheap infrastructure only (e.g. IRL no or slow access to web) $\endgroup$ – Zoltán Schmidt Jan 24 '18 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I meant local schools. Several villages have no school, children are going for that to near cities. Same for transportation: capital cities have railroads, subways, trams, airports...villages lack that. $\endgroup$ – Zoltán Schmidt Jan 24 '18 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you mean by rises up? The major difficulty in avoiding villages would not be for a technological time, but for the time before that. Do you mean that they would ignore that hundreds or thousands of years ago they lived in villages, or that they did never live in villages? $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Jan 24 '18 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ Related to worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/95428/6781. My answer there is pretty similar to ZioByte's answer here - the planet needs to be difficult enough to settle at the given tech level that small settlements can't handle it. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Jan 25 '18 at 20:12

Is it a realistic scenario that, due to the large resource requirement, new settlements are always so large that they can be considered cities immediately, without ever going through the farm and/or village phases?

There are two questions here:

  1. Can we build a city from scratch?
  2. Can we avoid villages?

Let's take them one by one.

Can we build a city from scratch?

Yes, and it makes perfect sense. See Brasília - planning started in 1957, it was planned as a capital city, and resources were, just as you want, one of the major reason for this move. So this one is definitive yes.

Can we avoid villages?

There is a saying "some villages are built only because you can't have any more fields without interruption". And that's exactly the case. If you have rich farmland, you do not want to burn dozens of square kilometers to raise a city, and then have people travel 10 hours to work every day. So this is tech level dependent. If your farms are autonomous and you can have a technician on his speeder visit farm 100km away in half an hour if needed, you can avoid having villages. You don't need them. If your farms are not that autonomous and need people every day, it all depends on the cost (monetary and time) of people traveling to work. The higher it is, the denser your villages will need to be placed. So this one is maybe.

Note that there are another kinds of villages, but your nation can live without mining villages or gold gold seekers villages. Or artistic villages. It can't without food. This is the only function you can't ignore and can't easily replace.


Nation is not really universal, long time thing. There is no consensus if what we call nations even really existed in medieval times. First thing that was for sure a nation appeared around 16th century. Before that? Cities and surrounding villages were bound together, because cities needed food and villagers needed protection and products from craftsmen. It was important who is your liege lord, of course, but that's about it. Forming of nations as we know them has a lot to do with communication and politics, and very little urbanization level, as far as we know.

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    $\begingroup$ @Katamori not always, but it is an only function you can't really replace or ignore. There were mining villages, or gold fewer ones. But your nation can live without that. It can't live without food. I can't edit now, but I'll have one thing to add, about nations. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 24 '18 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Katamori I'm not entirely sure what you're thinking if a city is not allowed to be planned, nor can it grow from a small start (i.e. a village). $\endgroup$ – Kamil Drakari Jan 24 '18 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ The origins of Rome as a settlement seem fairly clear: a cluster of villages on adjacent hilltops that conglomerated as they allied more closely, experienced economic growth, and population filled the space between them. $\endgroup$ – Nij Jan 25 '18 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ As both a resource requirement and a way to fix the food issue: Imagine a barren desert with one long, easily traversable river running through it. On the river an abundance of seafood and trade goods flows, everywhere else is burning death. The city might grow up along the banks of the river until it is considered a nation unto itself, claiming not only the fertile and prosperous river lands but also the burning wastes as part of it's dominion. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 25 '18 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Molot: Only answer I've got to that one is religion. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 25 '18 at 21:29

An easy way to justify large cities-only settlements is to have specific requirements that can't be scaled down too easily.

One example would be to need a domed environment, easier to maintain in large clusters and difficult for small detached locations.

Another example is need of a perimeter confinement to keep out "unwanted guests" (e.g.: large dangerous animals).

Yet another could be some chemical elaboration needed to sanitize water or to make the air breathable.

Usually, such plants are very economic if large, while smaller plants, if available, are much more expensive.



If you're colonizing a planet, it's taken you a long time to get to that planet. That means you've supported a large number of colonists through completely uninhabitable space for a significant amount of time. So if you you just land this ship on the planet, then it sounds like you've just made your own completely self sufficient city on that planet. If this happens more than once, you could even envision an entire nation starting like this.

  • $\begingroup$ Oh yes you're on the spot! And I'd assume that if new settlements are made by the arrivals, those are made in a similar fashion: one huge core large enough to sustain a literal city. $\endgroup$ – Zoltán Schmidt Jan 24 '18 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ Does not work in a hibernation scenario, but otherwise, nice catch. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 25 '18 at 21:31

If your planet's environment is not totally fitting to its occupant's needs, like humans on Mars as an example, then any settlement would require a very large physical plant to process and supply breathable air or other necessary environmental conditions.

The machinery to supply the needed environment could easily benefit from economies of scale or have some minimum requirements (A fusion reactor can only be built so small). These environmental and economic conditions could make smaller settlements infeasible and larger city-sized developments a requirement to support any long-term habitation on the planet.


Actually, this is pretty easy. Establish sustainability protocols that colonies have to fulfil.

So what's sustainability and why would that be a protocol? Well, perhaps overcrowding and squandering of resources where they came from has lead to this.

Sustainable cities are concerned with:

  • reducing urban sprawl, so your city will be compact
  • increasing walkability
  • establishing areas completely devoted to nature and not allowed to be developed at all
  • around and in each city food is grown for that city specifically

So you start with a full city and build that. Then the government sends out survey teams to scout locations ahead of time, building the initial infrastructure before population is permitted to move in. People in the old city can sign up for consideration, and specific housing ahead of time, and early sign ups will give them perks. They'll sign up for jobs as well, at the same time. The city will remain empty except for those building it or on maintenance, or the first farmers you will need, until the population sign ups reach a certain level. Also build an elevated train to take them from city A to city B. Determine who needs to be first in, and over the course of a few months, move them in.

  • $\begingroup$ So you mean protocols create new cities (and not villages) in order to ease on the already existing ones? Yeah that sounds great. $\endgroup$ – Zoltán Schmidt Jan 24 '18 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Katamori Yes, and with the first city send an advance team or automation to build the basics. It's a completely unnatural growth--has to be restricted. I wouldn't give them cars either. All public transport, or if not, very restricted. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Jan 25 '18 at 4:11

On the other end of the scale

Another way of not having villages is to have only isolated houses.

I'll assume:

  • Your colons have efficient ways of communication, for instance improved Skype up to the point that you can’t notice that you’re not there in person.
  • The planet is (or seems) harmless, so your colons are not afraid to live in an isolated house
  • They have fast means of travel, so that they can go quickly to anywhere. Maybe even drones to send and get products.

So, when a colon family arrives to the new planet, some authority assign land to it. The family goes there and build a house. The next colon will be given another land, some kilometres away, and so on. Once all the usable land are given, it’s time to start colonizing the next planet.

If you need to buy something, just go online and buy it. Some drone will make a delivery. If you want to sell something, just do the same. You can work online as well, for instance answering questions on Stack (they pay you now). If you need to socialize, well just do it online or take your glider to the bbq party of your neighbour, few kilometres away.

Basically: Transportation and communication made villages obsolete (and cities too). People enjoy living in the countryside, clean air, little birds, no noisy neighbors.


Possible, but highly unlikely, at least if the world is Earthlike. (That is, not restricted to domed environments, &c.)

First, your cities need a hinterland to support them - food, raw materials, &c. The people who work in these fields aren't going to want to commute long distances from a city; they'll want to live close to their work. They'll need some support - grocery stores &c - so those will cluster nearby, forming a village.

Second, there are always (assuming your humans haven't been genetically modified or something) going to be people who just don't want to live in cities, and will avoid them unless driven by some necessity (e.g. jobs). These people will be the ones most likely to have joined in any colonizing venture, in order to escape an overcrowded Earth. Indeed, it's more likely for your colony to disperse into a large number of villages & small towns, rather than forming large cities.

Finally, why do you think you need "proper" cities for airplanes? All you need is a short stretch of fairly level ground to land it on. Check out any number of airports in the western US, some of which are hundreds of miles from cities. (Smiley Creek in Idaho is a personal favorite.)

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    $\begingroup$ haha I never considered people actually don't want to live in urban areas, that was a huge, huge mistake, thanks for bringing it up! Also, yes, airport was a bad example as given its need for space, it's better for rural areas. But it also needs a huge infrastructure that many villages miss IMHO. $\endgroup$ – Zoltán Schmidt Jan 24 '18 at 23:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Katamori: I've never understood why anyone would actually want to live in a city, other than the need to make money. As for airplanes, I'm not talking about commercial air travel (you might not want/need much of that in a frontier colony), but personal airplanes, mostly single-engine with propellors. Think Alaskan bush pilots here :-) Indeed, Alaska & the Canadian North might be a fairly good model for your colony. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 25 '18 at 4:38

Arcology, one of the main reasons that villages exist, or existed, was travel times to farming areas; you couldn't farm it if you could get there and home without losing too much of your day. An arcology integrates farming, industrial and living spaces within a single cohesive space. My feeling/opinion is that once established an arcology wouldn't spawn even suburbs so much as it would simply add full-function neighbourhoods as needed, either vertically or laterally; once you establish an arcology the only other places you need outside them are mining colonies for raw minerals and vacation spots for those who want to "get away".


One solution would be for the population to be primarily nomadic, but with reasons for specific locations to be highly populated - such as having large, localised, mineral/metal deposits which require lots of people and infrastructure to process.

So, you start off with everyone nomadic, following animals on migratory routes et cetera, and then one 'tribe' discovers large seams of iron and copper and coal in close proximity. They settle down and set up mines and forges, and start trading metal tools for animal products from nomads. If the mineral wealth and demand was high enough, you could rapidly expand past the village stage into a town or city.

Essentially you would have nomadic tribes/nations with a couple of 'hub' cities for items that were hard to acquire/produce on the move. Farming would develop after the city grew to a point where trading no longer provided enough food, instead of the farming driving the development of the village. Once the concept became ingrained, locations for new cities would be selected specifically for large-scale industrialisation, and the idea of anything as small as a village would seem alien.


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