In my scenario, a tremendous war wipes most of the humanity. While pockets survive here and there, the biggest part lives in one city, totaling around 3000 to 5000 survivors. It is also important to mention that :

  • Most buildings are in a very bad shape or crumbling, except one fortified place with a farm capable to feed thousands easily.
  • There is a source of virtually unlimited power.
  • The technology is basically 1990s, with an excellent medical and military knowledges that surpasses easily our own.
  • There is no nuclear winter, radiation, or anything preventing people from living on the surface, but the flora is very prolific.

In such scenario, would the group be able to recreate a society and survive for more than a thousand of years, and develop space-related technologies? (i.e. being able to launch a station in space)

Thank you a lot for reading this and helping me out! :-)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure we've had some questions relating to this before. For example, What is the minimum human population necessary for a sustainable colony? could be considered a duplicate of this. Or try searching the site for "population size" and similar terms. I can't find an outright duplicate of this right now, but that might allow you to better focus the question so that it isn't a duplicate of any existing question. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 16, 2015 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ In terms of genetics and biology, there would be no issue with such a population recreating human society, but I assume that isn't the main issue here. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2015 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, @MichaelKjörling; I tried to find such a question, but my keywords weren't good! I will read the thread. :) $\endgroup$
    – Docteur
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ A LOT of.......'recreational' activity ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Apr 16, 2015 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ Would you mind elaborating on the "prolific flora"? $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Apr 16, 2015 at 15:55

3 Answers 3


The simple answer is yes.

They have food and power. With those they can build shelter and rebuild the cities.

The population is more than enough to avoid problems due to excessive inbreeding as discussed here: What is the minimum human population necessary for a sustainable colony?.

Unless there is some other unexpected existential threat the humans are in a far better situation than our ancestors were fifty thousand years ago.


The not so simple answer is no. The species will survive, the society will be changed beyond recognition.

Our society, as we know it now, combines strong capitalist/free market elements with state controls to curb the worst drawbacks of pure capitalism. With a few thousand survivors, market mechanisms would break down. You won't have choice between a dozen soap brands in the store, you will have one of the survivors making soap for all. Many specialized jobs will be monopolies. Either the state controls the monopolies or things will get interesting. ("The only plumber is on strike for higher salaries. What now?" "Pay him a thousand bucks per hour if he wants, but if he urgently needs the only dentist in town we can gouge him right back.")

Our society teaches the next generation in schools, universities, and a variety of apprenticeship/on-the-job-training schemes. If those 5,000 survivors are a normal mix of ages, you might have 200 primary school students, 400 middle/high school students, and 150 university students. A primary school with 200 students is probably viable. A middle school with 400 students is a bit small. An university with 150 students won't be able to produce the next generation of physicians, engineers, and teachers. Measures would have to be taken to prevent a steep decline in knowledge. It might be treason to drop out of your assigned graduate program and to pursue a liberal arts major instead.

Except that those liberal arts are part of our society, too. It wouldn't be the same without them.

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting point, especially your last part. While I was more looking for sustainability issues, you raise a very, very good pont. I will take it into account! $\endgroup$
    – Docteur
    Apr 17, 2015 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ You either misunderstand capitalism or human psychology. A person would not gouge others in such a small group - people are far too interdependent and the social ostracism of such behavior would be prohibitively costly. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2015 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ @pluckedkiwi, two points here -- 3,000 people are possibly to large for small-group social controls, cf Dunbar's Number. Also, I wrote about state control of those monopolies. Ostracism stoked by community leaders (elected or self-proclaimed) could be one form how this works. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 14:59

I believe if you have unlimited power, all these pre-processed materials, and a farm of immense size, all you lack are genes. However, the fun thing is you said they have medical technology beyond our own right? That could include a machine that corrects DNA sequences and can get rid of genetic diseases. This could lead to a "Adam and Eve" situation, where you could technically have as little as two people starting/maintaining a colony. Plus you have the included benefit of living for a good deal longer. Just make sure your two people like each other.

3000-5000. With this number, you can expect your colony to not only survive and grow, but also send out offshoot colonies and repopulate the earth.


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