Civilization V Guide to Civilizations
Civilization V features more than dozen Civilizations you can opt to choose and play online. Means tough days for us ahead as we plan to cover all of them separately in our strategy guide.
That said, it would be an add on bonus if you know the strengths, the weaknesses and the bonus units/buildings associated with each of them. Also every Civilization in Civilization V is unique and balanced by advantages and disadvantages at the same time.
Civilization V Civilization Guide
Following is a list of all the available civilizations and leaders in Civilization V, with their detailed their traits and unique abilities.
The Muslim Empire of the Caliphate — also known as the Islamic Empire or the Arab kingdom, came into existence after the Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632 AD, created by Mohammed’s disciples as a continuation of the political authority he established.
During its six-hundred-year existence, the Caliphate would grow to enormous size and power, dominating Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, Anatolia, the Balkans and Persia, ruling an empire that at least rivaled that of the Romans at the height of their power.
Leader: Harun al-Rashid (763 – 809 AD)
Harun al-Rashid (which translates roughly as “Aaron the Rightly Guided”) was the fifth Abbasid Caliph, ruling the Arabian Empire from 786 to 809 AD.
During his reign the Caliphate stretched from Spain in the west to Anatolia in the north to India in the east, and it was the largest and most powerful political entity in the world.
Harun was an able ruler, and his reign was a time of scientific and cultural advancement and prosperity for his subjects.
Trade Caravan: +2 Gold from each Trade Route.
The Aztecs were a Native American civilization that dominated central Mexico for roughly one hundred years in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Aztecs ruled a mighty empire and possessed a rich culture, producing some of the most impressive pre-Colombian architecture in North America.
Today the Aztecs are best remembered for the bloodiness of their religious practices and rapidity with which they collapsed in the face of external assault, but at the height of their power they were indeed a mighty empire.
Leader: Montezuma (c. 1397 – 1469 AD)
A mighty warrior and leader, Montezuma I helped propel the Aztec nation to greatness and glory. (He should not be confused with his unfortunate grandson Montezuma II, who watched helplessly as his empire was dismantled by Spanish Conquistadors.)
He expanded his empire, personally led his armies to victory, and worked hard to improve the lot of his people. He certainly was a bloody man, personally sacrificing thousands of prisoners to his thirsty
But his religion said such barbarity was necessary, blood was required to ensure that the sun would rise, the crops would grow, and the Aztec nation would continue to prosper and under Montezuma it did prosper greatly.
Sacrificial Captives: Gains Culture for the empire from each enemy unit killed.
China is a civilization spanning some six thousand years and comprising a large fraction of humanity. There is evidence of man’s prehistoric ancestors living in China some two million years ago, and modern man has lived in the area for at least 18,000 years, possibly much longer.
A creative and innovative people, the Chinese have given the world some of the most important inventions in history, including paper, gunpowder, the compass, and movable type. Once the self-proclaimed “center of the world,” for many centuries.
China looked inward only, ignoring as much as possible all that went on outside of its borders. Having survived centuries of foreign colonial intervention and domination, today China has again become a great economic and industrial power.
Leader: Wu Zetian (c. 625 – 705 AD)
Like most civilizations, China has been male-dominated throughout much of its history. Until very recently, women were afforded few rights, and direct power was all but totally denied to them. For a woman to attain the rank of Emperor, to become the most powerful person in China, was almost unheard of.
Only one person in the entirety of Chinese history was able to do so. That person was Wu Zetian, one of the most remarkable rulers, the world has ever seen.
Art of War: Effectiveness and birth rate of Great Generals increased.
Few civilizations have left such an indelible mark on history as that of Egypt. Living astride the mighty Nile River for some 5,000 years, Egypt is one of the oldest surviving civilizations on the planet. Among many other firsts, Egypt is credited with the invention of writing around 3000 BC.
Using sophisticated mathematics, Egyptian scholars plotted the movement of the planets with great precision. And of course, the Egyptians were the ancient world’s greatest architects, creating monuments and temples that still awe and inspire us today.
Leader: Ramesses The Great (c. 1303 – 1203 BC)
Ramesses II is considered to be Egypt’s greatest and most powerful pharaoh. Taking the throne in his twenties, Ramesses ruled Egypt for more than 60 years. Ramesses is remembered as a great military leader as well as for the extensive construction programs he instituted.
He is also remembered for building a new capital city, Pi-Ramesses. Some historians believe that Ramesses is the pharaoh in the biblical story of Moses.
Monument Builders: +20% Production speed of Wonders.
Replaces Chariot Archer
England is located on Great Britain, a “green and pleasant” island off the western coast of Europe. It is the largest member of the political entity known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Historically a seafaring people, for much of the past 500 years the English have used their incomparable navy to project their power into Europe and across the globe.
Queen Elizabeth’s reign saw the first British colony established on the New World, while the powerful British navy protected the growing British interests across the world.
England’s earliest colonial interests lay in the Caribbean and North America, but over time they expanded into Asia and the South Pacific as well, and Britain would come to dominate the entire Indian subcontinent, the “Jewel in the British Crown.”
In the late 18th century Britain lost control of much of North America to the Thirteen Colonies (later, the United States of America) in a long and difficult revolution. While this was a great blow to British prestige, the Empire continued to expand unabated, and by the early 20th
century the British Empire was the largest and most powerful in history, encompassing one quarter of the Earth’s landmass and human population.
Although Great Britain lost most of its empire following the desperate struggles of World Wars I and II, the country has recovered much of its energy and pride in the years since. In the early 21st century Great Britain remains a powerful force in Europe and around the world.
Leader: Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603 AD)
Elizabeth I was a remarkable woman living in a remarkable age. Beautiful, brilliant, and as tough as nails, she survived and indeed thrived, ruling in an era when most women were little more than chattel.
Born with an unerring survival instinct and flair for self-promotion, her personal charisma and courage matched those of the strongest rulers in history.
No better words can serve to describe her than her own: “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”
Sun Never Sets: +2 MPs for all ocean-going naval units.
Ship of the Line
Located in Western Europe, bordering six (or seven, depending upon
how you count them) European countries and with coasts on the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean, France has long been one of the great political, military and cultural powers of the Western world.
Born of Roman occupation, first unified by Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire, France achieved the height of its military power under the brilliant general Napoleon Bonaparte, following the catastrophic, worldshaking French Revolution.
For ten years, France fought off the combined powers in Europe, singly and in groups, its armies seeing brilliant successes across Europe, an astonishing feat of arms even if ultimately unsuccessful.
Today France is a major power in the European union. It remains one of the great centers of culture on the planet, and its food, wine, and art have conquered the world, even if the Emperor could not.
Leader: Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821 AD)
It is virtually impossible to overstate the military genius of Napoleon Bonaparte. He moved his troops with astounding rapidity, and he always knew exactly where to strike in order to cause the most damage.
Domestically he turned out to be an able administrator and imaginative ruler and France flourished under his control (until his endless wars sapped her strength and will to fight).
An Army general to his core, he never was able to create a navy able to seriously challenge Great Britain’s dominance over the oceans, and this weakness eventually destroyed him. Had there been a land bridge connecting England and Europe, they’d probably
be speaking French in Piccadilly Circus today.
Ancient Regime: Provides +2 Culture per City until Steam Power.
While various “Germanic” peoples have occupied northern-central Europe for thousands of years, the modern political entity known as “Germany” is extremely young, created almost single-handedly by the brilliant Prussian politician Otto von Bismarck some 140 years ago.
During its brief existence Germany has had a profound effect for good and for bad on human history. Following the catastrophic World Wars of the first half of the 20th century, its firm alliance with its historical rival, France, has allowed it to concentrate its energies on rebuilding its technological and economic base, and Germany has rebounded into a major European power once more.
Leader: Otto Von Bismarck (1815 – 1898 AD)
Otto von Bismarck, also known as the “Iron Chancellor,” is perhaps the most significant figure in German history. An able ruler and brilliant and cunning diplomat, during his long political career Bismarck unified Germany and founded the German Empire; Germany was transformed from a weak and loose confederation of states into a powerful united country that would dominate continental Europe for years to come.
Furor Teutonicus: When a Barbarian encampment is destroyed, there’s a 50% chance of gaining 25 Gold and a Barbarian unit joining your side.
It is difficult to overstate the impact that Greece has had upon Western culture and history. Classical Greece has given birth to some of the greatest artists, philosophers, scientists, historians, dramatists and warriors the world has known.
Greek warriors and colonists spread their culture throughout the Mediterranean and into the Near and Far East. The heirs to Greece, the
Romans, further promulgated Greek thought throughout Europe, and from there it spread across the oceans and into the New World.
Greece and her people are credited with an astonishing number of inventions and discoveries, including the first theatrical performance, work of history, and philosophic treatise. The Greeks provided the West’s first recorded sporting event, poem, and building dedicated
to theatre. In politics, the Greeks created the world’s first known democracy and republic.
Greek influence is still all around us: today’s doctors still take the Hippocratic Oath, and modern architects still look to classical Greek forms for inspiration. To a large degree, Western civilization is Classical Greek civilization.
Leader: Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC)
Alexander the Macedonian is unquestionably one of the great warlords of all time. In 17 short years he marched his army to victory after victory across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, conquering every civilization he could reach.
Alexander’s conquests allowed Hellenic culture to spread across most
of the known world, and Greek would become the language of culture, art and science for centuries to come.
With the exception perhaps of one or two religious leaders, no single man has had such a great effect upon western civilization as did Alexander the Great.
Hellenic League: City-State influence degrades half as slowly as normal, and it recovers at twice the speed as for other civilizations.
The Republic of India is the second most populous country in the world and the largest democracy. A land of contrasts, India contains great wealth and grinding poverty. It possesses high-tech cities and primitive villages. In it one can find beauty and squalor, hope and despair.
It is one of the oldest civilizations on the planet, and a people of deep faith and boisterous energy. Having emerged from the shadow of Great Britain and survived a wrenching loss of the people and lands that comprise Pakistan, India is once again assuming its rightful place as one of the world’s great powers.
Leader: Gandhi (1869 – 1948 AD)
Mohandas Gandhi was an Indian patriot who led India’s nonviolent independence movement against British Imperial rule in the early to mid-twentieth century.
He pioneered “satyagraha,” or resistance to tyranny through
mass civil disobedience, a ploy used to great effect against the British raj. Today Gandhi is considered to be one of the great figures in human history.
He is recognized as a courageous and tireless champion for justice and moral behavior, in South Africa fighting just as hard for the rights of other downtrodden people as he did for fellow Indians. He is also acknowledged as a brilliant political leader who organized a successful independence campaign against one of the most powerful empires the
world has ever seen.
Of him, Martin Luther King said, “Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma
Gandhi the tactics”.
Population Growth: Unhappiness from number of Cities is doubled, and Unhappiness from total population is halved. (Build fewer, bigger cities!)
Replaces Chariot Archer
According to tradition the Iroquois Confederation came into being around AD 1570. The Confederation was a union of five (later six) Native American tribes. With a population that probably never exceeded 20,000, lacking a written language and possessing no manufacturing base at all, for two centuries the Iroquois managed to hold their own against the French, English, Dutch, and later Colonial Americans, proving themselves to be some of the most accomplished irregular fighters in history.
Leader: Hiawatha (c. 1450?)
Hiawatha (or “Ayonwentah”) is the legendary chief of the Onondaga Indians who, with the equally-legendary Chief Dekanawidah, formed the Iroquois Confederacy.
Little is known about Hiawatha the man; according to Iroquois tradition he taught the people agriculture, navigation, medicine, and the arts, using his great magic to conquer all of man’s supernatural and
Hiawatha is also believed to have been a skilled orator who
through his honeyed words persuaded the five tribes — Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, Senecas, and Mohawks — to form the Five Nations of the Iroquois.
What little the West knows about Hiawatha is usually seen through the prism of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s remarkable epic poem, Song of Hiawatha.
The Great Warpath: Units may move through Forest and Jungle tiles as if they were roads when in friendly territory.
The islands of Japan are born of the unimaginable violence of plate tectonics, arising as the Pacific Plate is ground beneath the Eurasian Plate. The result is a mountainous land of great beauty and peril, where the people live and thrive in a narrow corridor between volcano and sea.
For much of its history, Japan was divided into many small kingdoms which expended huge quantities of time, energy and effort warring with each other. Betrayal was common, as was deceit, backstabbing, and cold-blooded assassination.
The violence would lead to the rise of the Samurai professional warrior class, would end only when the great Oda Nobunaga and his heirs unified the country in the 16th –17th centuries.
In the modern era, Japan has survived the unimaginable catastrophe of World War II, nuclear attack and Western occupation, emerging to be one of the great economic and cultural powerhouses of the late 20th – early 21st centuries.
Leader: Oda Nobunaga (1534 – 1582 AD)
Oda Nobunaga was a 16th century Japanese warlord. Both a brilliant general and a cunning politician — as well as an early adopter of new technology— Nobunaga fought and backstabbed his way to domination over nearly half of feudal Japan.
His two lieutenants, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, would complete the job after his death. Nobunaga was a brutal man in a brutal time. But by helping to unify Japan he brought an end to the
brutal wars that had been ravishing his country for more than a century.
Bushido: Units’ attack and defense strengths remain at full, even when the unit is damaged.
The Ottoman Empire was born in Anatolia (in modern Turkey) at the start of the 13th century. It expanded into three continents and thrived for some six centuries.
At its height, the Ottoman Empire took on all of Europe and beat
it. It conquered Persia, Egypt, and North Africa, not to mention a goodly chunk of the Balkans. It destroyed the Byzantine Empire. Although relatively unknown in the West, this mighty empire deserves a place of honor alongside those of Arabia, Great Britain, and indeed Rome.
Leader: Suleiman the Magnificent (1494 – 1566 AD)
Suleiman I, known as “The Magnificent,” “The Legislator” and “The Grand Turk,” was the caliph of Islam and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, taking the reins of the Turkish kingdom in 1520 and ruling until his death in 1566.
During his rule Suleiman greatly expanded the Empire’s territory, earning the fear (and grudging admiration) of leaders across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
At the time of his death Suleiman was famous across the known world. In Europe he was envied for his unbelievable wealth, his magnificent treasury containing more riches than any other leader had possessed in history.
He was admired for his military prowess and respected for his fair treatment of non-Muslim subjects.
Almost everyone — Christian and Muslim alike — agreed that he was fully worthy of the title “The Magnificent.”
Barbary Corsairs: Whenever you destroy a Barbarian naval unit, there’s a 50% chance of instead converting it to your side and earning 25 Gold.
Born in 559 BC after a successful rebellion against the Medes, the Achaemenian Persian Empire survived and thrived in a dangerous neighborhood for some 200 years. At its height it dominated the land from India to Egypt, from Iran to the Balkans. It was an awkward and ungainly empire, spanning three continents with citizens speaking dozens of different languages.
At their best, the Achaemenian kings were lawgivers who treated their subject populations with clemency and fairness, interfering as little as possible with provincial internal policies as long as the subjects behaved themselves.
At worst, the Achaemenian kings were incompetent bullying backstabbers. Whatever else they were, the Achaemenian kings were survivors. Two hundred years is a long time for a single family to remain in power.
If they hadn’t lived next to Alexander and Philip of Macedon, two of the greatest military leaders in the entire history of the world, they might have remained in power another 100 years. Alexander the Great himself was a brilliant leader and warlord, but his own empire barely survived his death by a year.
Leader: Darius I (550 – 486 BC)
The son of a satrap (governor) of Parthia, Darius I forcibly took the throne of Persia upon the death of Cambyses II in 522 BC. An administrative genius, during his reign Darius reorganized the sprawling Persian empire, greatly increasing its wealth and power.
He also implemented many great construction works across Persia. He constructed roads, reorganized the Persian provinces and government, secured the empire’s borders, and generally treated his subjects about as well as or better than anyone in that time.
Although not primarily known as a warlord, he fought a number of successful campaigns against both internal and external foes.
Achaemenid Legacy: Golden Ages lasts 50% longer. Units receive a movement bonus and a +10% attack and defense strength bonus during a Golden Age.
The Roman Empire is the most remarkable and long-lived political entity in the history of Western Civilization. It was founded around the 8th century BC, and portions of it survived until the 14th century AD. The Romans were great innovators in some areas, and they were not shy about appropriating good ideas they found in other cultures.
The Romans were a warrior people. At the height of their power, the Romans ruled an empire which covered much of England, all of Western Europe, North Africa, Egypt, Greece, and the Middle and Near East. During their long rule of Europe and the Mediterranean, the Romans greatly shaped Western culture, law, art, architecture, religion, language, and warfare.
Leader: Augustus Caesar (63 BC – 14 AD)
Born Gaius Octavius, Augustus would become the first (and possibly greatest) Roman Emperor. He ended a century of civil wars and initiated two hundred years of the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) while overseeing a golden age of Roman literature and culture.
During Augustus’ long rule Rome flourished and the Empire came to dominate the Mediterranean basin. The policies he put in place kept the Empire running smoothly, so much so that Rome would continue to rule the entire known world for almost two centuries without any
major wars or other significant threats to its survival.
Few if any leaders in world history could make the same claim.
The Glory of Rome: +25% Production bonus when constructing a building (in another city) that already has been constructed in the Capital.
As Winston Churchill once said, Russia is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery,
inside an enigma. It is a part of Europe and a part of Asia, yet separate from both. It is rich with natural resources, yet its people have historically been grindingly poor. It has been invaded and overrun by Goths, Huns, Mongols, French and Germans, yet remains uniquely Russian.
It has been a superpower and a nearly failed state, a monarchy, communist dictatorship and democracy – all within a span of 100 years. Indeed, Russia is one of the most fascinating civilizations in human history.
Leader: Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796 AD)
Catherine the Great ruled Russia during the latter half of the 18th century. She oversaw a great expansion of the Russian empire, adding tens of thousands of square miles of territory through conquest and shrewd diplomacy.
A beautiful and intelligent woman, she beguiled and seduced the best minds of Europe, making her court one of the centers of Enlightenment thinking on the Continent. Although born in Germany, Catherine is one of the greatest rulers in Russian history. Like Queen Elizabeth I of England, she proved that a woman could be smart enough and tough enough to lead a great country.
Mother Russia: Resources provide +1 Production, and Horses, Iron and Uranium deposits are doubled.
Located in Southeast Asia between Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, Siam – now Thailand – has a long and storied history. A beautiful and mysterious land of dark forests and ancient mountains, Siam has seen occupation and revolution, flood and famine, and the rise and fall of empires.
A romanticized view of Siam persists in the West, largely because of the entertaining and highly inaccurate musical, “The King and I.” The reality is much more interesting and has fewer lovable English governesses civilizing things.
In fact, Siam’s greatest triumph may have been its avoidance of European colonial domination,unlike that suffered by every other Southeast Asian country.
Leader: Ramkhamhaeng (1240 – 1298 AD)
In 1278, a prince named “Ramkhamhaeng” inherited the small and unimportant kingdom of Sukhothai. In twenty years, employing a brilliant combination of military genius and shrewd diplomacy, he expanded his country’s borders and influence to cover much of Southeast Asia.
Ramkhamhaeng is viewed today as a great leader and the first to rule over a united Siam.
Father Governs Children: Food and Culture gifts from friendly City-States are increased by 50%.
The Songhai Empire was a civilization that flourished in West Africa during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Songhai first appeared near the city of Gao, which was a vassal of the Malinese Empire.
In the early 14th century the Songhai gained independence from the Mali, and over the next two centuries it expanded, eventually becoming the largest empire in African history.
Like the Aztec empire, it fell to a relatively small band of invaders armed with markedly superior technology. This is an important lesson for all who play Civilization: “Never bring a knife to a gunfight. Bring an assault rifle and a stealth bomber.”
Leader: Askia (c. 1440 – 1538 AD)
Mohammad ibn Abi Bakr Ture, also known as Mohammad I Askia (reigned
1493–1528), welded the central region of the western Sudan into a single Songhai empire, the largest in African history.
Although he fought several military campaigns, he is primarily remembered for reorganizing, modernizing and bringing stability to the Songhai people, and his reign is viewed as a veritable Golden Age in Western Africa.
River Warlord: Receive double the standard amount of Gold when destroying Barbarian encampments and when pillaging Cities. Embarked units can defend themselves.
Mud Pyramid Mosque
United States of America
The United States of America is a world “super-power” (which more-or-less means that it possesses weapons capable of destroying everything on the planet).
A relatively young civilization, the United States formed in the 18th
century, nearly self-destructed in the 19th century, and became the most powerful and dominant military, technological, cultural and economical civilization in the 20th. One can hardly wait to see what it will become in the 21st.
Leader: George Washington (1732 – 1799 AD)
George Washington was one of a group of remarkable men who lived in
the American Colonies in the late eighteenth. Although not as pugnacious as John Adams, as imaginative as Benjamin Franklin or as brilliant as Thomas Jefferson, Washington had the capacity to lead, in war and in peace.
He led the Continental Army to victory against extraordinary odds, and by so doing he led his country to independence.
George Washington is known for good reason as the “Father of his country.” Possessing a great steadiness and courage in the face of adversity, he was able to get men to willingly
die for him.
Without Washington, it’s unlikely that the United States would have been born.
Manifest Destiny: Increases Unit sight and provides a discount on tile costs.