Is it ok to make up a secret rich country?

NRuhwald

Scribe
Well Marvel made up Wakanda, a secret rich African country. Why not? As long as your world-building is solid, you can do what you want.
 

Chasejxyz

Inkling
The thing that's very "hrmmmm" about Wakanda is that some, uh, stuff happened in Africa that they did nothing to prevent. Yes, it's possible that they DID attempt to do things, or they had conversations about doing things but decided it was in their own best interests not to, but the optics of this fictional country in this alt-history choosing not to prevent centuries of Absolutely Awful Stuff happening looks really bad!

I don't know if your fictional country is also insanely powerful (Wakanda has had superior tech for thousands of years, almost comically* so), so them choosing not to do anything during the various events that took place in SE Asia would be suspect. Unless you want this country to look bad, which is also a choice. If it's a more modern invention (like some crazy rich guy decides to make his own country and he paid off politicians to get away with it), then that gets rid of a lot of these possible issues.

*This wasn't meant to be a pun
 

Queshire

Auror
Short answer is yeah, sure, nothing wrong with it.

Long answer is that along with what Chasejxyz said the isolationism required for such secrecy has historically not worked out that well for technological advancement. The isolationist period of Japan is a good example of that.
 

Eduardo Letavia

Troubadour
That nowadays some country is able to put up some sort of front that fools all the intelligence services around the world about its own prosperity... Really, really hard to buy. I mean, just by seeing the lights at night from space, you can judge the development of a country (the contrast between North Korea and South Korea is a good example). And some small countries or territories that are making it big nowadays (Singapore, Luxembourg) is because they rely on global trade and international relationships. Also there's the food factor. If your territory is tiny, either you become really creative with your space (and require fancy inventions from abroad to improve your farming capabilities), or you'll need to import a lot of your food, which also will reveal your wealth.

And regarding the Wakanda example... That country is an afrofuturistic fairyland kingdom, not really believable when you give it two seconds of thought, at least regarding how it has been presented on film.
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
If you're keen on an idea, you never have to ask for permission to do something in fiction. You just have to figure out how to make it work the way you want it to work. Fictional countries, cities and geography are littered throughout fiction. Google "fictional countries". At the end of the day, all that matters is if the story is good.
 

CupofJoe

Myth Weaver
Does it have to be a single geographic location?
It might be more believable that a multination company had state like enclaves in existing countries. Think of a convergence of Native America tribal lands and mining concessions.
 

Insolent Lad

Maester
There's a long tradition of made-up countries even in non-fantasy fiction. Ruritania and Graustark and their like, little nations tucked a way in central Europe, were popular over a century ago. Evelyn Waugh created a rather large island nation, the Azanian Empire, off the coast of Africa for 'Black Mischief.' Plenty more like that, sometimes thinly disguised 'real' countries with some changes (even Joseph Conrad did it). I created a fictional Central American country, 'El Plantio,' for my mainstream-ish adventure/spy novel, 'The Dictator's Children.' I had some misgivings about it, I'll admit, as I was writing it, but it was the way to go for the book. In fact, I suspect I'll revisit it in a sequel someday.
 

Miles Lacey

Maester
This would take place somewhere between Thailand and Malaysia, and be set in the present or near future.

That is actually quite achievable. I know some history of the border you're planning to create a country along. The current border was established in 1909 between the (then) Siamese and British governments. Several times before then the border states changed hands several times.

You could make this country a secret country in two ways:

Accidental: Due to poor cartography or oversight the state was left off the maps used during the various border Treaty discussions and, by the time the mistake had been discovered, both the British and Siamese governments felt it would be better just to leave it off the maps. When Malaysia became independent in 1957 they agreed to follow the convention established by the British.

Deliberate: For certain reasons known only to the Siamese, British and this country's governments it was agreed they would make the country "disappear" from the maps. When aerial photography reveals that there's actually a chunk of land not officially showing on maps they claim that it was a photographic error or ghosting that caused this area to appear.

Also, don't forget that even real countries get left off maps and people think that certain real countries aren't real. This happens a lot with small countries and even larger countries like New Zealand! If that can happen in real life I'm sure you can create a plausible secret or fictional country that people think is real.
 
I'd say go for it. People are willing to accept strangers premisses and the geographical knowledge of a lot of people is scetchy enough to get away with a lot of things.
Also there's the food factor. If your territory is tiny, either you become really creative with your space (and require fancy inventions from abroad to improve your farming capabilities), or you'll need to import a lot of your food, which also will reveal your wealth.
I disagree. How self-suficient your are food-wise doesn't depend on size. The only factor is population density. If you're a tiny country but also sparsely populated then there's more than enough room to produce food. Also, technology can make up for a lack of space. The Netherlands sits in the top 10 of food exporters in the world, and yet it's tiny and one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
 

Eduardo Letavia

Troubadour
I disagree. How self-suficient your are food-wise doesn't depend on size. The only factor is population density. If you're a tiny country but also sparsely populated then there's more than enough room to produce food. Also, technology can make up for a lack of space. The Netherlands sits in the top 10 of food exporters in the world, and yet it's tiny and one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Point taken... But that happened because they reformed their agrarian sector to be that successful. And notice that, to be successful exporters, you cannot be an extremely secretive country. Even China, with all its authoritarism, has to give data about its economy so it can attract foreign investors. So, yeah, you can be a small reclusive country and feed your people as long as your population doesn't explode in number and their diet is enough for survival, but you won't become Wakanda-rich that way.
 

K.S. Crooks

Maester
In comics there are a few prominent examples Black Panther rules- Wakanda, Doctor Doom rules- Latvaria, Black Adam rules- Kahndaq, . Also consider in real life how many countries in Eastern Europe alone have been dissolved or formed in the last 30 years.
 
A secret country is somewhat believable, if it is small.

A technologically advanced country that is also a secret country is more in the realm of fantasy.

The MCU's Wakanda is not a "secret country" per se. The whole world knows of the existence of Wakanda. What the world doesn't know is the technological advancement of Wakanda. You could say Wakanda is not a secret country but a secretive country, heh.

Having a country that presents one face to the world but is in fact quite different, like Wakanda's presenting a "poor nation" image while being rich and technologically advanced, is problematic. Extraordinary blindness in the rest of the world is required for that. It's easier to imagine a government that possesses secret advanced technology than a whole society that possesses and uses it on a daily basis.

I suppose you could invent a technology for the tale that masks or hides the society, similar to Wakanda's illusion-producing border technology; but making it so no one ever, ever crosses from within to without, who might reveal the secret to outsiders, is a problem. You'd almost need a totalitarian regime for that, a la N. Korea. Even in the case of N.Korea, info leaks to the outside world. Presumably, a society with extremely advanced technology might also have more efficient ways of policing the border. The society might be akin to a perfect, beautiful prison for its inhabitants.

Edit: But in the final analysis, a lot can be achieved through speculative fiction, and if the tale is told well, people will buy just about any premise.
 
Point taken... But that happened because they reformed their agrarian sector to be that successful. And notice that, to be successful exporters, you cannot be an extremely secretive country. Even China, with all its authoritarism, has to give data about its economy so it can attract foreign investors. So, yeah, you can be a small reclusive country and feed your people as long as your population doesn't explode in number and their diet is enough for survival, but you won't become Wakanda-rich that way.
For most of history, no one imported food on any significant scale. Maybe some non-perishable exotics, like spices, would be imported, but no country could feed its population on imported grain, let alone imported meat or produce, before the twentieth century. The means to preserve it so it could withstand shipment, and the means ship it very far before it went bad, even with preservation, didn't exist. So, a country's population could not outstrip its food resources. If it did, either there was famine and many died, or many emigrated, or both.

It's perfectly plausible that this made up rich country has a sustainable, self sufficient food system. This would be especially likely if it's never participated in the global market: no acquired dependency on imported foods, no straining its own resources to grow crops for export. If they have plenty of fertile land, sustainable farming, and their population stays to a sustainable level, their food supply ought to be stable.
 
I wonder if I was off-base assuming that technological advancement was part of the equation. Wakanda comes first to mind, so I went that direction.

What about secret and rich, not necessarily technologically superior?

I wonder how rich is defined. To me, it's a relative term, and I tend to think of economies interacting and creating relative richness vs poorness.How does a country become rich while being isolated? That's a problem. You could imagine a country where many things are made of gold and platinum, but the populace is so used to that, it's "normal" and not "rich" per se. [Just an example of the difficulty of defining rich in isolation.]

Also, if a country has such wealth, where are they going to spend it? Internally only? If they spend it elsewhere, won't the sellers elsewhere learn of its richness? How does it make money? If they sell elsewhere, won't other nations become aware of the resources and products they possess?

If everyone is rich in that country, who is going to be doing the work, y'know cleaning out the sewers and digging foundations and repairing things? I'm assuming here a level of technology that isn't particularly advanced compared to the rest of the world.
 
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but no country could feed its population on imported grain, let alone imported meat or produce, before the twentieth century.
There was Rome... Though technically the same country, they did move huge quantities of grain from Egypt to Rome to feed the population in the eternal city. So there's that. They were definitely an exception of course. But it makes it not completely unheard of.

The whole description brings to mind an image of Bhutan (though that's not actually a rich country as such). A mountainous kingdom, hard to reach, where few foreigners enter. The problem with the combination of rich and isolated is that then rich becomes meaningless. Being rich means that you've got the means to make other people do work for you. If you're secret, then the only people who can do work are those inside your country. And then being rich compared to outside countries has no meaning. It simply means that inflation was high and you now pay what foreigners would consider $1.000 for a loaf of bread. But someone still needs to grow the wheat for the bread and bake it and stuff like that.
 
The whole description brings to mind an image of Bhutan (though that's not actually a rich country as such). A mountainous kingdom, hard to reach, where few foreigners enter. The problem with the combination of rich and isolated is that then rich becomes meaningless. Being rich means that you've got the means to make other people do work for you. If you're secret, then the only people who can do work are those inside your country. And then being rich compared to outside countries has no meaning. It simply means that inflation was high and you now pay what foreigners would consider $1.000 for a loaf of bread. But someone still needs to grow the wheat for the bread and bake it and stuff like that.
In that case, being rich would mean the country is prosperous for itself. They have the natural resources to give everyone a pretty good standard of living, and they're probably distributing those resources more or less equitably. They may or may not have a monetary system, but if they do, money is probably not their primary measure of wealth. They're not comparing themselves to other countries, they're simply content, as a group.
 
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