I recently learned a new word and it is “ecumenopolis“. It refers to a planet that has developed to a point where all urban areas on the surface have grown large enough to fuse together. The planet is essentially a single, massive city that spans the globe. The term was coined by Greek city planner Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis in 1967.

Fictional examples of ecumenopolis type worlds have existed for many decades but perhaps the most famous example is Coruscant. In the Star Wars universe, Coruscant is the seat of the Republic and subsequently, the Empire as well. The planet is featured prominently in the prequel trilogy.

The city-planet is always depicted to be grand, sprawling, and awe-inspiring. We never discover how such a planet would work practically however. Were there oceans on this planet before the cities? How did they build on top of them? How does the planet ecologically be in balance with all the urban areas? I am guessing technology overcomes many of these issues but none of Coruscant’s inner working are explained in the movies.

Our planet will never become an ecumenopolis. The Earth just wouldn’t be able to sustain the number of people that would come from that much development on the planet surface. There just wouldn’t be enough water and agricultural land to keep that many people alive and thriving. Just look at us now. We’re probably just a few decades away from climate and ecological collapse, and we’re still mainly just covered in oceans.

I do wonder though, have some of the aliens out there figured this out? Is there an actual ecumenopolis out there?

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