Alternate History

Cities (1983: Doomsday)

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In a nuclear war, it is the cities that are going to be the major targets. In order to neutralize the enemy, an offensive would strike at the "control centers" - the major cities, the transportation hubs, the communication hubs, and of course the military bases. As a result, most of the megalopolises of the northern hemisphere, as well as the three in Australia, were destroyed on September 25th and 26th of 1983. This left surviving cities on four of six inhabited continents in disarray, and those in Africa would in many cases soon follow as global order and trading networks collapsed, leaving South America as the only continent largely intact. Population centers shifted as resources were allocated by make-shift governments that by necessity often became socialistic in order to manage the crisis.

In the years leading up to the disaster of Doomsday, the United States of America was the major superpower in the world. Second behind it was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was these two superpowers that brought about the world as seen in these pages. With that in mind, the lists of largest cities will begin with the most affected continents. The nation of Canada will be included with the USA in the list of the surviving cities of North America, while Mexico will be included in Central America. And, while its cities will be included where possible on the lists for Europe and Asia, the Former USSR will receive its own list, for much the same reason as with the Former United States and Mexico.

Today, the largest city in the world (and Asia) is believed to be either Mumbai, in the Union Interim Parliament (U.I.P.) controlled areas of India and their headquarters, at roughly 12.5 million, or Karachi, in Pakistan, at roughly 12 million. Most believe Mumbai to be larger, as its records would indicate, though it is a topic for dispute in some corners. The cities of Berlin, Toledo, Lagos, Brisbane, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo are the largest cities in Europe, North America, Africa, Oceania, Mexico and Central America, and South America, respectively.


Whereas North America received the bulk of the missiles fired from the USSR, Europe was hit by both the USSR and the USA as both superpowers neutralized the defense groups known as NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Most of eastern Europe had been under the control of the USSR, and along with the Socialist Republics in the USSR were reduced to scattered cities west of the Ural Mountains. Western Europe was the first to get hit by the missiles launched from Soviet silos and bombers. England and Wales in the UK (with almost every city with a population over 120,000 destroyed), as well as Germany, were hit especially hard, but Spain and France were devastated almost as badly. Berlin, the divided city, was spared due to it being home to people from both sides of the conflict. It would become united under "new management" of the nation of Prussia as it rose from the ashes of Doomsday, and is the largest city in Europe today.

Largest Survivor Cities in Europe

City Nation 1981 pop. 2010 pop.
DublinCeltic Alliance525,882830,000
ZurichAlpine Confederation369,522430,000
PoznanWest Poland552,900310,000
GrazAlpine Confederation243,166270,000
BiałystokEast Poland224,200245,000
BelgorodRussian Confederacy239,814220,000
GenevaAlpine Confederation156,505205,000

Former USSR

Prior to the events of Doomsday, the USSR covered vast stretches of the continents of Europe and Asia, with many large cities. Today, given its areas of control, it is usually called "Siberia" internationally, and it is largely confined to areas east of the Ural Mountains, though it also controls areas in what was once the northern sections of its European territory. The vast majority of these cities, as seen across the northern hemisphere, are now long gone.

In areas not part of Siberia, many ethnic and regional groups took the opportunity given them by the events of Doomsday, and threw off the shackles put upon them by the USSR, declaring independence.

As Siberia expands into its claimed territory, these independent states are increasing both in power, and influence, with the goal of retaining their independence. How this all plays out remains to be seen.

Most surviving cities of any real size lie within Siberian territory, but not all. Yet, no cities inside the former USSR, except for a few in Europe, are large enough to rank on any continental lists, being far smaller than those in other areas of Asia. Thus, while all cities in the former USSR lie in either Europe or Asia, neither grouping presents an accurate look into the region and its surviving cities. Currently, the largest city in the region is believed to be the Siberian capital of Krasnoyarsk.

Largest Survivor Cities in the Former USSR

City Nation 1981 pop. 2010 pop. (est.)
BelgorodRussian Confederacy239,814220,000
VolgodonskDon Republic91,313150,000

North America

On Sunday, September 25, 1983, the list of top 50 cities in the United States lost all but one to nuclear bombardment, the city of Toledo, Ohio, had been 40th on that list with a population of about 355,000. Today, as the capital of the Toledo Confederation, it tops the list of largest cities in North America (north of Mexico).

As the list below illustrates, cities in North America saw shifts in urban and rural populations in the attempt to survive. For the most part, cities became self-sufficient for years as the hubs of developing city-states. Some among these became the capital cities of larger confederations - some even calling themselves "nations" in their rebuilding of a new world.

Largest Survivor Cities in North America
City Nation 1980 pop. 2010 pop.
Toledo Toledo Confederation 354,635 430,000
Victoria Victoria 64,379 305,000
London London 283,700 295,000
Lincoln Republic of Lincoln 171,932 290,000
Lexington Kentucky 204,165 245,000
Saskatoon Provisional Canada 154,210 225,000
Charleston Virginia 63,968 220,000
St. Catherines Niagara Falls 124,018 215,000
Ashville Blue Ridge 54,022 210,000
Kitchener Waterloo 139,734 190,000
Niagara Falls Niagara Falls 133,700 190,000
St. John's Canada 83,770 160,000
Reno-Sparks Sierra Nevada 141,536 150,000
Fort Collins, CO United States 65,092 145,000
Fargo-Moorehead Dakotas 91,381 140,000
Billings, MT United States 66,798 135,000
Evansville Kentucky 130,496 130,000
Midland West Texas 70,525 125,000
Greenville Piedmont Republic 64,834 120,000
Roanoke Virginia 100,220 110,000
Waterloo Waterloo 49,428 105,000
Olympia Victoria 52,411 105,000
Sioux Falls Dakotas 81,343 105,000
Manchester Vermont 90,936 105,000
Sarnia-Port Huron London 84,873 105,000
Lynchburg Virginia 66,743 105,000
Salem Oregon 89,091 105,000
Huntington Virginia 63,684 105,000
Sault St. Marie Superior 96,697 100,000
Cambridge Waterloo 77,183 100,000


While the vast majority of the continent of Asia did not lay within the territories of either of the superpowers, except Siberia, many areas were hit irregardless. Many strikes on military bases belonging to either side occurred, and several countries, such as Japan, were also hit for their connection to one side or the other. The USSR also launched its arsenal at China at the same time as the USA, destroying that country and killing much of its population as well. Today, the majority of the population of the Asian continent is concentrated in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Middle East, though sizable remainders do exist in Siberia as well as isolated parts of China and Japan. The Indian city of Bombay, headquarters of the Union Interim Parliament (U.I.P) of India, is believed to be the largest city on the continent today, though the Pakistani city of Karachi is neck and neck with it. Most of the largest cities on the continent are also in India.

Largest Cities in Asia

City Nation 1980 pop. (est.) 2010 pop. (est.)
BombayIndia (U.I.P.)7,894,74312,580,000
DelhiIndia (U.I.P.)4,758,5528,900,000
CalcuttaIndia (U.I.P.)3,527,4995,140,000
BangaloreIndia (U.I.P.)2,196,3194,220,000
AhmedabadIndia (U.I.P.)1,236,7203,850,000
ChennaiTamil Nadu3,329,0033,840,000
RiyadhSaudi Arabia1,109,4443,610,000


Although Africa was spared the nuclear fires of Doomsday, the Israeli strike on Cairo in the late 1980s during the Egypt-Israeli war brought destruction and irradiation to northern Africa. With the destruction of that city and irradiation of much of the Nile Delta, the stability of North Africa crumbled. With great potential the continent would prove to be largely as lost as its neighbor to the north.

Though there eventually would an increase in deaths from cancer in some regions because of very light fallout carried by winds from Australia and China, what did hurt the continent was not hellfire like elsewhere. Rather, it was the abrupt halt in foreign aid, and the severe disruption of trade. The resulting social and political chaos in many areas was just as bad, or even worse, than what happened in Europe or North America because of the nuclear detonations. On the southern end of the continent the legacy of racism proved fatal to what had been an improving South Africa, bringing that European transplant to a tragic end.

With the destruction of much of Egypt and South Africa, today the largest cities in Africa are mostly in the West African Union. Currently, the largest city on the continent is the Nigerian city of Lagos. Nigeria is also the most populous country remaining by far.

Largest Cities in Africa

City Nation 1980 pop. (est.) 2010 pop. (est.)
AbidjanIvory Coast1,451,2163,850,000
Addis AbabaEthiopia1,312,5752,290,000
OuagadougouRepublic of Upper Volta414,969998,000


On Doomsday, several nuclear strikes occurred in the region, vaporizing three Australian cities - Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne - along with obliterating several smaller islands. Luckily, the majority of the Australian Government, as well as the New Zealand government and other smaller ones, remained intact, greatly helping to hold the region together. It was to here that the surviving American government fled the fires and chaos in North America and resided before its dissolution in the 1990s. A Union between Australia and New Zealand, along with other nations, referred to as the ANZC, was also established, and is by far the most powerful country in the region.

A slight reorganization as to what is part of Oceania has occurred since 1983 - Hawaii and other islands in that region, for example, were once considered part of North America before the blasts, and today are considered to be in Oceania. Today, the largest city is the ANZC city of Brisbane, and most of the largest cities in the area are in the integral territories of the ANZC itself as well, with the remainder being inside the Associated States.

Largest Cities in Oceania

City Nation 1980 pop. (est.) 2010 pop. (est.)
AucklandANZC(New Zealand)774,0001,400,000
Jervis BayANZC(Australia)500600,000
Gold CoastANZC(Australia)225,832405,000

Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

While the area largely escaped Doomsday intact, some areas were still affected severely. Cuba, Panama, and Puerto Rico all suffered strikes, and several cities in northern Mexico were essentially destroyed when their American sister cities, right over the border, were obliterated, and other cities were temporarily abandoned. Others, such as Costa Rica, either fell into civil war, or had one continue for much longer than it would have otherwise.

Today, the area is a region where the SAC, Siberians, Mexico, and the ANZC all compete for influence, though no one power can claim it dominates more than part of the area. The largest cities in the area can generally be found in Mexico, though not always. Unsurprisingly, the largest city is still Mexico City. On many lists, cities in this region are now separated from those in the former USA and Canada, unlike before Doomsday, simply because the list would show no information about either if that was the case.

Largest Cities in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

City Nation 1980 pop. (est.) 2010 pop. (est.)
Mexico CityMexico8,831,0799,580,000
Santo DomingoDominican Republic1,313,1722,315,000
Ecatepec de MorelosMexico220,0001,985,000
Ciudad NezahualcóyotlMexico1,341,2301,330,000

South America

Of all continents, South America was the one least directly affected by Doomsday. The nearest strikes occurred in the northern Caribbean, and along the Panama Canal, leaving the area mostly free of radiation as well, though the Panama strikes did deposit some in northern Columbia and Venezuela. Some breakdown in order did occur in some areas, but nowhere near on the scale of Africa - in fact, with the cession of illegal money from elsewhere, many of the problems of the continent disappeared shortly after Doomsday.

Today, the countries on the continent are members of the South American Confederation (SAC), one of the major players on the world stage. Guyana, after losing territory to Venezuela, merged with Suriname, and with the destruction of France, French Guinea became independent. Colombia regained eastern Panama, claims the rest, and the now-repaired canal there is under a five-member committee of the SAC. Argentina, Uruguay, and the Falkland Islands also merged into the United American Republic (UAR), with the British residents of the islands largely leaving for St. Helena or territories belonging to New Britain. Revolts and riots in Brazil following the events of Doomsday temporarily led to the establishment of a breakaway republic in the south - the Republica dos Pampas - and caused a fair amount of deaths, from 1986-1991. The Catholic Church, rebuilding since 1983, has also taken up residence in Rio de Janeiro. As has long been the case, the largest cities on the continent are often in Brazil, with the largest on the continent being the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

Largest Cities in South America

City Nation 1980 pop. (est.) 2010 pop. (est.)
Sao PauloBrazil8,493,22610,925,000
Rio de JaneiroBrazil5,090,7006,210,000
Buenos AiresUnited American Republic2,922,8293,075,000


As the frozen continent, Antarctica held no cities at Doomsday, and is not believed to have suffered any impacts at all, though a missile could very well have veered badly off target and hit it somewhere inland.

At Doomsday, all the continent held was a large number of research stations, many of which became tombs for the scientists as their supplies ran out, despite efforts of the future ANZC and SAC countries towards saving them. Several whaling and fishing vessels would use the continent as a temporary home for a few months that winter before heading to Australia or Argentina as well.

Today, research stations and outposts operated by the SAC, Siberians, ANZC, and New Britain exist in the continent.

Ten Largest Cities

With the massive destruction on Doomsday, most of the largest cities in the world were destroyed. Overall, these are thought to be the ten largest cities in the world today, as seen on the continental lists. Five are in Asia, one is in Africa, and the remaining four are in the Americas.

City Nation 1980 pop. (est.) 2010 pop. (est.)
BombayIndia (U.I.P.)7,894,74312,580,000
Sao PauloBrazil8,493,22610,925,000
Mexico CityMexico8,831,0799,580,000
DelhiIndia (U.I.P.)4,758,5528,900,000

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