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aka: Banana Republic

Description official descriptions

Tropico is a real-time strategy game that mixes elements of Sim City, the various Tycoon games, and even a little of the Sims into a city-building, managerial type game in a unique location.

You are the recently elected/installed/victorious (depending on how you achieved office) president of a small Caribbean island named Tropico. Before you lies a small community of people and a lush, rich island to improve or exploit at your will. You can become a benevolent ruler who brings this third world country into the realm of economic superpowers or you can be a ruthless dictator whose sole goal is to leech as much personal wealth as he can from the populace before they get the courage to rebel.

Using a modified engine from their previous game, Railroad Tycoon II, PopTop Software utilizes isometric graphics on a 3-D terrain to represent the island. Clouds float overhead, sometimes throwing lightning down, people walk from their homes to their chores, and hills and forests get leveled in the name of progress. All this happens at the user-specified speed and its the main user interface as players specify new construction, lay down edicts, and keep tabs on their citizens.

Each citizen is his or her own entity, with their own names, relationships to other citizens, wants and desires. Some feel the need to excel in studies, others seek religious enlightenment, some just want a good time. They even take political affiliations and work towards those ends. The citizens of Tropico do not blindly follow orders, they must be persuaded through meeting their desires, or just pure greed or terror. If you wished, you could follow the life of a citizen from childhood through his/her teenage years, through the course of several jobs, all the way to retirement and death.

A single-player only game, there are both set scenarios and random islands to play through, with various difficulty levels including a sandbox mode that allows you to play around without worrying about money or political ramifications.


  • Тропико - Russian spelling
  • 热带岛国 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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The European version of the cover has a Castro-ish dictator standing on the island.

Designer diary

Tropico designer Phil Steinmeyer contributed a running series of articles to Computer Games magazine throughout the game's development. His topics ranged from play balance to determining and managing system requirements. He even mentioned designing the box and the reasons for the general/no general versions.


The game comes with a collection of biographical sketches of (in)famous world leaders such as Fidel Castro and Eva Peron.

Lou Bega

Lou Bega, a German musician and songwriter, appears as playable dictator. He also contributed a song which is exclusive to the German version.


The game was meant to be named Banana Republic (in reference to the real life Banana Republics), but it had to be changed to Tropico since there is a clothes brand named Banana Republic. Tropico means Tropic in Spanish (duh).


  • Computer Gaming World
    • April 2002 (Issue #213) – Best Music of the Year

Information also contributed by ClydeFrog, Jiguryo and Scott Monster.

Related Games

Tropico: Master Players Edition
Released 2004 on Windows
Tropico 3
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Tropico 3: Absolute Power
Released 2010 on Windows
Tropico: Paradise Island
Released 2002 on Windows
Gray Zone
Released 2020 on Windows
Released 1996 on DOS, 1997 on Windows, Macintosh
Released 2004 on PlayStation 2
Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
Released 2003 on Windows, 2005 on Macintosh
Deathrun TV
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Related Sites +

  • Official Webpage (Mac)
    The official product page for the Mac version of <em>Tropico</em> on the publisher's website, which provides a profile of the game, as well as ordering information, among other such details.
  • Tropico
    Official game website

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 3937


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ray Soderlund.

Macintosh added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Kasey Chang, Kic'N, Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, Zeppin, Klaster_1, Patrick Bregger, daniel celtic.

Last modified February 27th, 2023.