(This page is for Classic ruleset. For Cities in the Multiplayer ruleset click here.)

A city is created when settlers are given the build city command on suitable terrain (any terrain except Glaciers or Ocean), removing the unit from play to provide the city with its first citizen. A city may grow to include dozens of citizens, some working within the city while others are dispatched as new settlers. Famine and war kill citizens and reduce population; with the loss of its last citizen a city disappears. On the Freeciv map each city is labeled with its population, also called its size.

Cities are your sole instrument for developing natural resources and channeling them toward expansion, technological progress, and warfare. After describing how city citizens extract natural resources, we will examine how cities themselves may be developed and cultivated to increase their value and productivity.

Sometimes in the manuals "city tile" means "the city center tile" (where the city's icon is displayed), but in other cases it may mean "any tile within the city's working radius" (see below).

Working land[]

An example city

Each city may work terrain within the 5×5 region centered on the city, minus its corners. To extract resources from a square you must have a citizen working there. The example city shown on the right has all four of its citizens working in nearby squares; each active square is labelled with the number of food points, production points, and trade points it is generating every turn. By taking one or more of these squares out of production, the player could choose other squares for his citizens to work, or place his citizens in other roles entirely.

Review the section on terrain to determine how the output of each square is affected by the terrain, the presence of special resources such as game or minerals, and improvements like roads, irrigation, or mines.

Note that the square on which the city itself rests - the city center - gets worked for free, without being assigned a citizen. The city's square always produces at least one food point and at least one production point. It also gains whatever advantages the terrain offers when irrigated (because cities come with water systems built-in), but this may not be used as a basis for irrigating other squares; for that, workers must explicitly irrigate the square. City squares are also automatically developed with roads (except if on a river before Bridge Building is known, in some rulesets) or, when technology has made them available, railroads (because cities come with transportation built-in). If the city has a Supermarket, its square additionally gets any food bonus associated with farmland.

You cannot begin working a square which a neighboring city is already working, nor can you work terrain upon which an enemy unit is standing or terrain inside another player's borders. Thus you can simulate conditions of siege by stationing your units atop valuable resources around an enemy city. Units can also be ordered to pillage, which damages improvements. Workers, settlers and engineers could even transform the terrain to make the square less productive, like the Romans sowing the fields of Carthage with salt.

Buildings and wonders[]

Cities may be enhanced with a wide variety of buildings, each with a different effect; each city may have only one of each building. Buildings are listed and described here. Some buildings require others — as when you must have a Marketplace before building a Bank. Most buildings become available only when you achieve certain technologies, while technology makes others become obsolete.

It costs production points to construct buildings — often taking several turns — and, once completed, many buildings require an upkeep of several gold pieces. You may dismantle and sell a building, receiving one gold piece for each production point used in its construction. If a turn comes on which you cannot pay the upkeep on all of your buildings, some of them will be automatically sold; obviously this should be avoided as the buildings chosen might not be ones you would have preferred to sell.

Great wonders are unique structures that can each be constructed by only one civilization per game. Players often race to be the first to complete a coveted wonder. While buildings affect only their own city, many wonders benefit their entire civilization. And while buildings must be built using local production points, caravans and freight built in other cities can contribute their full cost in production points towards the construction of a wonder (simply disbanding units returns only half of their cost). Wonders can't be sold or destroyed any way unless the city itself perishes.

There are also small wonders that each player with sufficient technologies can build but only in one city per nation. Almost all rulesets have at least one small wonder: Palace, which marks the player's capital. The Palace appears in the player's first city for free and, moreover, is relocated to a random other city if the old capital is lost. Small wonders can not be sold but the player usually may relocate them by simply building a new one in another city; all shields of the previous buildings are just lost in this case.

Also we should mention so-called special buildings that are counted as city improvements in the process of their production but will never actually be placed in any city: A Mint just converts all shields invested in it into gold, and spaceship parts go to the player's Spaceship.


The first citizens of each city are usually workers, each toiling to yield up the resources of one terrain square. But there are several other roles citizens may assume once they are relieved of having to work terrain. In fact, taking another role is the only way they can stop working. Watch carefully when you remove a citizen from one terrain square and assign him to another — you will see him briefly become an entertainer in the moment when he is not assigned terrain.

Even small cities can support entertainers, which each produce two luxury points per turn for their city (whose effects are described in the next section). When cities reach five citizens in size, two other specialists become available, which your user interface will probably let you select by clicking on your specialist citizens. These other two specialists contribute toward your civilization as a whole rather than to their own city: each tax collector provides three extra gold per turn for your treasury, while each scientist adds three points to your research output.

When your cities grow and produce new citizens, the game starts them off as workers — even if this throws the city into disorder as described below! The game assigns new workers to the terrain that is generally going to produce the fastest growth. You may want to inspect cities that have just grown and adjust the role in which the new citizen has been placed. If all land is in use then new citizens become entertainers.

Three buildings allow you to multiply the research produced by your city:

B.library Library

cost:60 upkeep:1

requires:Writing University

cost:120 upkeep:3


B.research lab Research Lab

cost:120 upkeep:3


Other buildings enhance the efforts of your entertainers and tax collectors:

B.marketplace Marketplace

cost:60 upkeep:0

requires:Currency Bank

cost:80 upkeep:2


B.stock exchange Stock Exchange

cost:120 upkeep:3


Civilization and its Malcontents[]

Main article: Happiness

Unfortunately city growth produces crowding which makes it difficult to maintain worker morale. Each citizen is either happy, content, unhappy or angry. Only the first four workers are naturally content; the rest are naturally unhappy, which is quite serious as even one unhappy worker can throw the city into disorder. Cities in disorder produce no food or production surplus, science, or taxes; only luxury production remains. They are also more prone to revolt, and prolonged disorder in a democracy can even result in national revolution.

It should be stressed that only workers vary in morale — entertainers, scientists, and tax collectors enjoy enough privilege to remain perpetually content. Thus one solution to the problem of an unhappy worker is simply to assign that citizen to the role of a specialist. But if cities are ever to work more than four terrain squares at once, the problem of morale must be confronted more directly.

There are two means of saving large cities from disorder. Most of the buildings and wonders that affect morale (all are listed in the next section) merely make unhappy workers content, which does prevent disorder but is without further benefit. The more interesting option is to produce happy workers. These can balance the effect of unhappy workers — a city will not fall into disorder unless unhappy workers outnumber happy ones — but can also produce other desirable effects.

Cities with three or more citizens celebrate when half their citizens are happy workers and none remain unhappy. Under monarchy and communism this gives terrain around the city the trade bonus (one point for each square that produces any trade on its own) normally available only under representative government. Under a republic or democracy the effect can be even more spectacular — the city enters rapture and grows by one citizen each turn that the city produces a food surplus (otherwise it refuses to grow for fear of starvation). Without rapture, large cities can grow only by struggling to produce a food surplus — which can be difficult enough — and then wait dozens of turns for their granary to fill.

Managing Happiness[]

For some technical details, see Happiness

Workers are made happy when you provide them with luxury. For every two luxury points a city produces, one content worker is made happy (or if there are no content workers left, one unhappy worker becomes content). Besides the luxury points produced by entertainers, cities receive back some of the trade points they produce as luxury points when you allocate some of your trade points for luxury.


Military units can affect city happiness. Under authoritarian regimes this is helpful, as military units stationed in a city can prevent unhappiness by enforcing order. Under representative governments the only effect is negative — citizens become unhappy when their city is supporting military units which have been deployed into an aggressive stance. This includes units not inside your borders, a friendly city (including the cities of your allies), or a fortress within three squares of a friendly city; however, field units (missiles, helicopters, and bombers) cause unhappiness regardless of location. See the section on governments for the number of workers affected by each of these factors.

All of the above discussion assumed that cities can grow to size four without unhappiness, with the fifth worker being the first unhappy. This limit actually decreases as you gain large numbers of cities, to simulate the difficulty of imposing order upon a large empire. Different governments can support different numbers of cities before encountering this limit for the first time; see the section on government for details.

Continued empire growth may lead to further penalty steps, with the precise details again being dependent on government. In empires that grow beyond the point where no citizens are naturally content, angry citizens will appear; these must all be made merely unhappy before any unhappy citizens can be made content, but in all other respects behave as unhappy citizens.

The Wonders which affect morale are the Oracle, Hanging Gardens, Michelangelo's Chapel, Shakespeare's Theatre, J.S. Bach's Cathedral, Women's Suffrage, and the Cure for Cancer.

The buildings that affect city growth and worker happiness are:

B.aqueduct Aqueduct

cost:60 upkeep:2


B.sewer system Sewer System

cost:80 upkeep:2


B.temple Temple

cost:30 upkeep:1

requires:Ceremonial Burial

B.courthouse Courthouse

cost:60 upkeep:1

requires:Code of Laws

B.colosseum Colosseum

cost:70 upkeep:4


B.cathedral Cathedral

cost:80 upkeep:3


B.police station Police Station

cost:50 upkeep:2




Pollution can plague large cities, especially as your civilization becomes more industrialized. The chance of pollution appearing around a city depends on the sum of its population, aggravated by the advances industrialization, the automobile, mass production, and plastics, and its production point output. When this sum exceeds 20 (-civstyle.base_pollution in game.ruleset), the excess is the percent chance of pollution appearing each turn; this percentage is shown in the city dialogue.

Pollution appears as gunk covering one of the terrain squares around the city or on city center. Some terrains may be defined with "NoPollution" flag (v.2.5 and earlier) or have no native "Pollution"-caused extras (v.2.6 and later), they won't be polluted, then pollution will probably go to another city tile[1]. The pollution can only be cleared by dispatching workers, settlers or engineers with the clean pollution order (which takes three settler-turns to carry out). A polluted terrain square generates only half its usual food, production and trade. Pollution on oceanic tiles, if defined by the ruleset, can be cleaned by Engineers or workers on transport ships, or even with Transports themselves.

When an unused square becomes polluted, there is the temptation to avoid the effort of cleaning it; but the spread of pollution has far more terrible results — every polluted square increases the chance of global warming. Each time global warming advances, the entire world loses coastal land for jungles and swamps, and inland squares are lost to desert. This tends to devastate cities and leads to global impoverishment.

Several buildings affect pollution:

B.hydro plant Hydro Plant

cost:180 upkeep:4


B.mass transit Mass Transit

cost:120 upkeep:4

requires:Mass Production

B.recycling center Recycling Center

cost:140 upkeep:2


B.nuclear plant Nuclear Plant

cost:120 upkeep:2

requires:Nuclear Power

B.mfg plant Mfg. Plant

cost:220 upkeep:6

requires:Robotics plant Solar Plant

cost:320 upkeep:4



Because of the crucial importance of cities for any civilization, most wars waged by the players have the target of conquering some or all enemy cities. See Combat for the bonuses the city center provides for units defending on it, now let's talk about what happens if the defenders were absent or were not successful in combat.

If a city is attacked by enemy unit of certain unit classes and the attacker does not lose to a defender (that includes attacks of all bombarding units of these classes, but note that currently one can't bombard an empty city), city population reduces by one (if the city is above size 1). This effect may be canceled by building City Walls but it is not always a good news. If there are no units in the city, a land enemy unit or a Helicopter may enter the city and proclaim it hereof the property of its owner; this event always reduces city population by 1 and cities of size 1 are destroyed (and you often better want to just lose a city than to provide the enemy with yet another base and to share a tech by conquest).

If a city is conquered and not destroyed, it claims land around to its new owner (but the claims are resolved much in favour of the cities that are not conquered). The conqueror loots about gold. City regular improvements have some (game option controlled) risk to be destroyed, which risk rises on 30% if the conqueror is a land barbarian; great wonders are never destroyed, small wonders always are (but some small wonders, notably the Palace, are automatically rebuilt in a random other city of the previous owner). Buildings obsolete for the new owner are sold if they survive the conquest; if the conqueror's tech level is that higher than the loser's, workers will gather in the city to build free roads.

All units supported by the conquered city are lost unless they are in their owner's another city's center in which case they are rehomed to that city.

If the conquered or destroyed city was a capital, the losing nation on certain conditions may suffer another grieves: the risk of a civil war, a loss of its spaceship. If the last defender was a Leader unit and the killer advances after the attack, the killer's owner gets the city before all another unfortunate civilization perishes.

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  1. Up to 100 attempts to place it on a random city tile is done until the bad ecology gives up.
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