In all fantasies that I'm aware of, the setting is in the northern hemisphere (noted by frozen north and barren south). So... Could advanced civilizations exist on a continent that's located in the southern hemisphere instead? Meaning a continent where south is cold and north is warm.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How do you define Quasi-Europe, exactly? You may be interested in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 25 '18 at 19:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you were to flip our planet so what we call the northern hemisphere is now the southern, assuming everything worked the same such as weather patterns and so forth, there'd be little difference. As long as the resources were all there to allow it, everything would be roughly the same, in theory. $\endgroup$ – Sora Tamashii Oct 25 '18 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ It's all a question of planetary tilt, landmass distribuition and most important latitude or do you think there's not cold/tempered climates in the south hemisphere? $\endgroup$ – jean Oct 25 '18 at 19:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Are you saying that Australia is the opposite of advanced by any chance? $\endgroup$ – Renan Oct 25 '18 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ This is only a matter of geographical location. So, of course, it's plausible. Most writers favour putting their imaginary lands in the Northern Hemisphere, because they have the misfortune to live there. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 26 '18 at 1:26

Comment by Sora Tamashii is correct - you can have same climate and environment if you flip geography from north to south. In fact, placing North on top of the map is a matter of convention, and it was not always done that way: http://mentalfloss.com/article/58426/why-north-always-maps So all you are doing is renaming the compass directions.

I also hope you realize that creation of advanced civilization requires more than just climate. There are all sort of factors used to explain the rise of European civilization:

  • Mountains and rivers that prevented easy colonization into a single empire

  • Christian faith, as a source of common culture, language (Latin), basic laws, a way to settle disputes, etc.

  • Technology and culture left over from Roman empire. Both for direct use, and as inspiration and proof that progress is possible.

  • Great Migration in Europe, perhaps influenced by climate events: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migration_Period

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, the direction we call north and which way the map faces actually has no bearing on the actual development of the civilization. We simply do it because that is what we are familiar with. If the Inca had not been wiped out by disease and conquest they likely would have become nearly as advanced as the rest of the world despite it being colder to the south of them. $\endgroup$ – TitaniumTurtle Oct 26 '18 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yay! I got an honorable mention! (Had to comment since I was named. lol) $\endgroup$ – Sora Tamashii Oct 27 '18 at 3:34

The other answers don't quite get at the point I'm going to make.

We don't have a quasi-Europe in earth's southern hemisphere because the corresponding latitudes are almost all ocean. There is no reason some other Earth-like planet couldn't have a different distribution of land & water so that there is at least one substantial continent in the 30 to 60 degree south latitude region, as well as the 30 to 60 degree north latitude region. Earth in other geologic era's had such continents, eg: Australia has drifted north over the last few 10's of millions of years & used to be where the temperate zone cyclones moved west to east over it bringing it much more rain than it now gets.

BTW for some interesting world building that to some extent addresses your question see http://www.worlddreambank.org/P/PLANETS.HTM


The Earth is a sphere rotating on an axis, so there are two poles and an equator. The north pole and the south pole are cold, the equator is hot.

  • In the real world, there is a great landmass on the northern hemisphere, followed by water towards the pole. So one can walk northwards from temperate areas and it gets colder and colder. Vikings can come from the north. This influenced European myth.
  • There is a polar continent on the southern hemisphere, but that is generally too cold to live and it is separated by an ocean from temperate areas in southern Africa and America.

To get a cold south and a warm north, one would have to set the story on the southern hemisphere.

It is not realistic to get two warm poles and a cold equator. One warm pole would be possible if it is tidally locked to the star, but then the planet will be quite uninhabitable.

  • $\begingroup$ ...what happened to, say, Australia? Did I miss something? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 26 '18 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ @αCVn, that little continent has no land bridge to walk south, either. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Oct 26 '18 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ You mean, world's largest prison island that eventually formed its own government? $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Oct 27 '18 at 3:17

If you are talking about a fantasy world and not an alternative history Earth, then "North" and "South" are just conventions. The only inherent differences about these two ends of a planet's roation axis is:

  • whether the sky (sun, moon and stars) rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise around the polar axis
  • The direction of the coriolis force, which has very little effect on everyday life, not even the direction in which your sink drains (common urban myth). And even where it has an effect, the difference between north and south is just the direction in which it acts, which makes very little difference.
  • the magnetic polarity of the poles, and to even understand what that means in a physical sense you need 20th century physics knowledge.

That's it.

Everything else being equal, there is no reason why climate or natural resources would be any different just because you are in the northern or southern hemisphere of a planet.

Now there are lots of things which can be different on different hemispheres. The water to land ratio, the way continents are positioned in different climate zones and the amount of natural resources resulting from asteroid impacts can all vary between hemispheres and cause very different life circumstances for the inhabitants. But all these have completely random causes which aren't influenced by the rotation direction of the planet.

If you would create an alterntive history Earth where the only difference is that North and South are flipped, then the only difference is where the sun raises and sets. That's it. And if you also mirror east and west, not even that would change. The stars on the night sky would change, which might affect heraldry and astrology, but those shouldn't have very interesting effects.


So why did Europe invade South America, and not the other way around?

In reality, so many factors contribute to the development of advanced civilisations. Jarrod Diamond, the author of Guns Germs and Steel, made the conclusions that the following are causes of why this happened on Earth:

  1. Geography: South America is primarily North South, with many climate zones and terrain types preventing easy interaction between cultures. Europe and Asia are East-West, so interaction between cultures was common, spurring military, cultural and artistic development.

  2. Crops: Although there were some crops in Papua New Guinea and South America, these had insufficient yield to support large cities over lengthy periods of time. In contrast, wheat and other northern hemisphere crops were able to be cultivated to enable the formation of large cities. Australia although a large landmass had a distinct lack of crops and domesticable animal stock (Kangaroos cannot really be farmed), so living there was restricted to hunter-gathering.

  3. Germs: Large swathes of Europe were decimated by plagues and sicknesses throughout the sub-continent. Because of the integration of Europe, all residents developed immunity to these diseases. In contrast, the isolation of Australia, South America and Africa meant viruses and bacterial disease was contained an immunity not widespread. When Europeans discovered southern lands, local populations were instantly halved or more from this alone.

  4. Steel: Warefare was common throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and several times throughout history empires (Mongols, Romans, Ottomans etc.) spanned vast territories. Militaries were subsequently very well developed, in contrast to Australia and South America, where no wide-spanning such empire was possible.

Although only a theory it does assist in reasoning why there was such a disparity in our history.


Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.