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Population of the Final Empire

Phantom Monstrosity

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I'm trying to piece together just how big the Final Empire was. The annotations mention that it was hard to give a sense of scope, so I'm trying to figure out a rough estimate.

Here's the information I have so far:


"there are nearly a million workers in and around Luthadel."

Kelsier said, looking over the city with its hundreds of thousands, barely a handful of whom would dare fight.

Breeze is right, Vin thought. How can we fight something like this? The Lord Ruler is Soothing a hundred thousand people at once

The capital, once home to hundreds of thousands, seemed empty. Wind blew through Vin's rain-wetted hair and she felt a shiver. The mists, as usual, stayed away from her—pushed aside by her Allomancy. She was alone in the largest city in the world.

So... roughly 800-900k as Luthadel's population seems reasonable. The Garrison was 20k people, which is a high ratio for a lawkeeping organization - but that makes sense.

This is, incidentally, considerably smaller than Rome was during its Empire.

Some other quotes that don't help much:

Sometimes these abilities appear in skaa—but only if that skaa has noble blood in his or her near ancestry. You can usually find one Misting in...oh, about ten thousand mixed-breed skaa

The vast majority of Allomancers are Mistings, who can burn only a  single metal. By the last days of the Final Empire, about one in every 100 nobles, and one in every 10,000 skaa, possessed the ability to burn each metal. Rarer still are Mistborn, who comprise about one in every 100 Allomancers (or one in every 10,000 nobles), and who can burn all Allomantic metals. These special  individuals are the subjects of great awe and wonder, worshipped and feared for their versatile and deadly gift

Have you counted the koloss in my army, Vin? Ruin asked. I've made them from your people, you know. I've gathered hundreds of thousands.

"Twenty thousand men is hardly a 'small' number," Breeze said.
"It is on a national scale," Kelsier said, holding up a finger.
"The Lord Ruler keeps most of his troops on the edges of his empire"

The Lord Ruler and the Steel Ministry could marshal literally millions of troops if the need arose.


Getting 130 mistings for the soothing stations in the Capital was enough to take virtually all of them from the central dominance. Note that it's probably just the three seekers in each five-misting base shift that was the issue - so that's actually 78 mistings of each type across the whole central dominance in ministry control. Roughly.

I'm not sure what fraction of the nobles abandon their titles to join the Cantons, or how good the bloodline purity is within them. Still, that puts the Central Dominance as having about 64,000 canton members (and thus, about 6 mistborn).  Assuming the central dominance is vaguely representative, about 600,000 members across the whole empire, 60ish mistborn, and 6000ish mistings of each variety.


Similarly, with the one million to two million number cited later in the thread for Luthadel's population, there are roughly 100 to 200 skaa mistings.


There were also about forty or so Steel Inquisitors across the whole empire, and each of those requires you to kill off about ten allomancers (give or take). 

The Keepers had recorded over 300 religions (and 500 different sects). Not sure how useful a metric that is.

Possibly metaphorical:

“My friends, you’re not alone in your tragedy. There are millions, just like you.

"What I don't understand is why you chose me. You had a thousand years and hundreds of thousands of people to choose from.

Now, we know that Luthadel is the biggest city in the Empire. We have this quote:

"Cett was the most powerful nobleman in his area, so he needn't worry about tradition and propriety. He did what he wished, and the local nobility pandered. There were a hundred different courts with a hundred different little 'Lord Rulers' in the empire, each region having its own political dynamic."

Which is interesting, in terms of scope.

So, as a high end estimate, I think that we can put the population as somewhere around 100 million or so. That assumes that all the cities are roughly Luthadel sized when you include their surrounding lands (which is an obvious overestimation), but it seems to be the closest option.

Ruin had to use five people per Koloss, which means he killed millions and millions for his army at the end of Hero of Ages. That's a few percent of the pre-collapse population... which I think is a reasonable ratio, especially considering the very low survival rate as the books went on. With generous assumptions, you could estimate that Ruin turned about a quarter of the remaining humans into Koloss.

Anyone have any other quotes about this? Or suggestions for how to improve my estimate?

Edited by Phantom Monstrosity
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So they can marshal together millions of troops if they need to. That means at least two million, probably not 10 million. So 2-9 million.


Militaristic countries range from having 1-40% of their country in the military.

So 5-900 million.

If we eliminate the countries with heavy militaries and heavy conscription, 8-10% seems more realistic. Lebanon is the first one without conscription. So

20-900 million are possible numbers.

When people say millions they normally mean something not too close to ten million.

So perhaps we could say four million soldiers.

So 20-400 million.

I don't think we can go much further in terms of assumptions than that. Less than a half a billion, more than 19 million. It would be entirely reasonable for any of those numbers to be used.

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Very good. Very good! Kind of eerily astounding how much lower Scadrial's total planetary population was with only the poles hospitable and who knows how much death. Like Darnam, I'm impressed.

Describing the world as having been dieing for a thousand years, as of the end of HoA, is not an exaggeration. This is just one more symptom of that.

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I'm pretty certain that it takes live humans to make a koloss. And considering their frenzy, I'm sure koloss armies kill a lot more people than they incapacitate. Therefore there must be at minimum as many dead people as there were kolossified.

Also from Lord Ruler's death onwards, there were a lot of war happening in the background between dozens of upstart kings. There was a mention of a village where all men and food were taken for some warlord's army (who all subsequently died in a war somewhere), which was I assume a regular event in the countryside. While these individual warmongers' a few thousand bodycounts wouldn't be that impressive compared to millions from koloss, there were a lot of those guys. Adding in the starvation and banditry and general anarchy, that'd mean whatever population Final Empire had, a large fraction of it didn't survive.

(And all of this is only on bodycount, we don't think too much on what sort of nonmassmurdery crap people would be doing to each other in an end of the world setting where all rules of society are gone. Mistborn is a very grim story.)

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One note on the numbers of mistings, its actually considerably higher, the number of 1 in 10k is for mixed breed skaa. Nobles have have a much higher percentage of mistings and the number of mistborn (from memory 1 in 10k skaa allomancers is mistborn, but I can't remember where I heard that) is also comparatively higher. Other than that I would agree with a figure around 500million for population of the final empire.

Edited by dj26792
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  • 1 month later...

I emailed Brandon about it, saying that we 17thsharders requested his aid and got this reply. He is a totally awesome author to know all this stuff.

Blast. I've got that in my records somewhere. It's been a while, now. Off the top of my head, I believe Luthadel was the biggest city with around two million. (Peter might have a better read on this.) I was shooting for 1920 London, but with a slightly better flow of food in because of the imperial structure an absolute monarch offers. It was the biggest city by a long shot, though. Others would have trouble topping 100k. Probably a 25%/75% split urban rural, weighted on rural, through the entire empire. Scope is relatively small. Smaller than the US. Bigger than Korea. If you email [email protected], he might have the actual scale.


Now all roleplayers should have a better idea of how many soldiers you can recruit.

South Korea has a population of 50m and North Korea a population of 25 million, the USA has a population of 313m.

No reply from Peter sadly.

Edited by Nepene
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I was trying to cconsider it from the perspective of fertile soil. Assuming that only above 60 degrees the planet can sustain human life, assuming that it is as big as our heart, assuming the farms would produce less because of the ashfalls... I still got nothing. I don't really want to go look how to calculate the area of a section of sphere, but anyway we don'0t know how much was cultivated land, how much was sea and how much was wilderness. around 100 millions, within a factor of 3 (so between 30 and 300 millions), seems the best eestimate anyway.

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