Fictional countries are common in stories of early science fiction (or scientific romance). These countries are supposedly part of the normal Earth landscape although they are not located in a normal atlas. Later similar tales often took place on fictional planets.
Jonathan Swift's protagonist, Lemuel Gulliver, visited various strange places. Edgar Rice Burroughs placed adventures of Tarzan in areas in Africa that, at the time, were mostly unexplored. Isolated islands with strange creatures and/or customs were popular in these authors' times. When Western explorers had surveyed most of the Earth's surface, this option was lost. Thereafter utopian and dystopian societies have been usually placed on other planets, whether in human colonies in our Solar system or in societies on fictional planets orbiting other stars.
Superhero and agent comicss and some thrillers also use fictional countries as backdrops. Most of these countries exist only for a single story, TV series episode or an issue of comic book.
Fictional countries are often made to resemble or even represent some real-world country or used to present a utopia or dystopia for commentary. Writers may create a fictional version of a specific country or, for example, a stereotypical "European", "Arabic", "Asian" or "Latin American" country for the purposes of their story. Variants of the country's name usually make it clear what country they really have in mind.
Modern writers usually do not try to pass off their stories as facts. However, in the early 18th century George Psalmanazar pretended to be a prince from the island of Formosa (what is now Taiwan) and wrote a fictional description about it to convince his sponsors.
Fictional countries include:
- Aerican Empire
- Al Amarja, Mediterranean island state in Over the Edge roleplaying game
- Airstrip One, Oceania in Nineteen Eighty-Four
- Ardistan of Karl Friedrich May
- Babar's Kingdom
- Beninia of John Brunner: Stand on Zanzibar
- Calia in Modesty Blaise episode The Jericho Caper
- Country of the Blind of H. G. Wells
- Ecotopia of Ernest Callenbach
- Erewhon of Samuel Butler
- Freiland of Theodor Hertzka
- Gondor of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
- Gormenghast Castle of Mervyn Peake
- Grand Fenwick (pronounced 'fennick'
- Herland of Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- Lancre, mountain kingdom of Terry Pratchett's Discworld
- Latveria of Marvel Universe
- Maple White Land, land of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World
- Mardi archipelago of Herman Melville's Mardi and a voyage thither
- Moominland of Tove Jansson
- Mordor, mountain-girt land of evil in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
- Palombia of Spirou stories
- Pellucidar, one version of Hollow Earth
- Porto Claro
- Pottsylvania of Jay Ward's The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
- Qumar, from the television series The West Wing
- Razkavia, Germanic country in Philip Pullman's The Tin Princess
- Riallaro archipelago of Godfrey Sweven (Riallaro, the Archipelago of Exiles)
- Rohan, home to the horse-lords in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
- Ruritania of Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda
- San Lorenzo of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle
- Skull Island of King Kong movie(s)
- Sylvania, belligerent neighbor to Freedonia in the movie Duck Soup.
- Wakanda of the Marvel Universe
- Island of Sodor between England and the Isle of Man, the setting for the Reverend Awdry's "Thomas the Tank Engine" railway network managed by "The Fat Controller"
- The Shire, land of the Hobbits in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
- Tanah Masa of Karel Capek's War with the Newts
- Utopia of Thomas More
- Tarzan had adventures in: Ashair, Caspak, Castra Sanguinaries & Castrum Mare, London-on-Thames, Opar, Pellucidar, Pal-ul-Don and Xujan Kingdom
- Tintin traveled to: Borduria, Khemed, San Theodoros, and Syldavia
- Lemuel Gulliver stumbled upon: Balnibarbi, Brobdingnag, Glubbdubdrib, Laputa, Lilliput and Blefuscu, Luggnagg and the land of the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos
It is historically unclear whether the following countries were intended to be fictional or whether they actually exist (or existed):
- Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi: The Dictionary of Imaginary Places
- Brian Stableford: The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places