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A depiction of Trantor, a fictional ecumenopolis from Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire

Ecumenopolis (from Greek: οἰκουμένη oecumene, meaning "world", and πόλις polis "city", thus "a world city"; pl. ecumenopolises or ecumenopoleis) is the hypothetical concept of a planetwide city. The word was invented in 1967 by the Greek city planner Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis to represent the idea that in the future urban areas and megalopolises would eventually fuse and there would be a single continuous worldwide city as a progression from the current urbanization, population growth, transport and human networks.[1] According to Doxiadis, it was the fifteenth level of ekistic units and the most significant one as the uppermost echelon of the classification.[2] This concept was already current in science fiction in 1942, with Trantor in the Foundation series.[3] When made public, Doxiadis' idea of ecumenopolis seemed "close to science fiction", but today is "surprisingly pertinent" according to geography researchers Pavle Stamenovic, Dunja Predic and Davor Eres,[1] especially as a consequence of globalization and Europeanization.

Doxiadis also created a scenario based on the traditions and trends of urban development of his time, predicting at first a European eperopolis ("continent city") which would be based on the area between London, Paris, Rhine-Ruhr and Amsterdam.[4] In 2008, TIME coined Nylonkong to link New York City, London, and Hong Kong as the eperopolis of the Americas, Euro-Africa and Asia-Pacific.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

Before the term had been created, the concept had been previously discussed. The American religious leader Thomas Lake Harris (1823–1906) mentioned city-planets in his verses, and science fiction author Isaac Asimov used the city-planet Trantor as the setting of some of his Foundation novels. In science fiction, the ecumenopolis has become a frequent topic and popularized in 1999 by the fictional city planet Coruscant in the Star Wars franchise, which is home to the Jedi Order.

The concept has been explored in the video game Stellaris, where players are given the option of transforming a planet into an ecumenopolis, which provides a great deal of housing and space for industrial production at the cost of making the planet's natural resources inaccessible. The first three novels by William Gibson are also known as "The Sprawl Trilogy”, the "sprawl" being the slang expression for the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, or BAMA, where some of the novel's events are set. BAMA is essentially one huge city stretching down the eastern coast of the United States, comprising the merged metropolises of Boston, New York, Newark, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Richmond and Atlanta. A central setting in the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000 is a portrayal of Earth in the far future, where it is known as "Holy Terra" and is described as having been transformed into a vast, gothic-style ecumenopolis sometime during the 30th millennium AD after its establishment as the "Throneworld", or capital, of an interstellar superpower known as the Imperium of Man. In Magic: the Gathering, the plane of Ravnica is an ecumenopolis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stamenovic, Pavle; Predic, Dunja & Eres, Davor (2015). "Transparency of Scale: Geographical Information Program (Google Earth) and the View from Beyond". In Vaništa Lazarević, Eva; Vukmirović, Milena; Krstić-Furundžić, Aleksandra & Đukić, Aleksandra (eds.). Keeping Up with Technologies to Improve Places. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4438-7739-8. Archived from the original on 2021-11-06. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  2. ^ Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 210.
  3. ^ Foundation Archived 2021-11-06 at the Wayback Machine By Isaac Asimov, page 9
  4. ^ Doxiadis, C.A. (1975). "Economics and the ekistic grid". Ekistics. 40 (236): 1–4. ISSN 0013-2942. JSTOR 43618525.
  5. ^ Elliott, Michael (2008-01-17). "A Tale Of Three Cities". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2019-11-11.

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