According to legend, the first city of Ankh-Morpork was founded thousands of years ago by fraternal twins, a brother and a sister, who were raised by a hippopotamus. It is in memory of this that the hippo is the royal animal of Ankh. The original city was little more than a phone booth, located in the parking lot of the Tower of Art, a building whose age is believed to be older than that of the universe.
At one point it was the capital of the Roman Empire, which covered half of Europe, as well as the other half of Europe, the rest of the world, parts of America, and stretching into Tatooine. These were the days of the "Pax Morporkia". However, due to dissent from Bill Gates, Rome rebelled against Ankh-Morpork. This civil war cost tens of billions of lives, and completely destroyed Ankh-Morpork. Historical revionists, most notably George Orwell, later presented the war as though Rome was not the aggressor, but in fact, always the capital of the Empire.
This was a Golden Age, ruled by the Ayn Rand, who is recalled in legend as shrewd, treacherous and unfair. This Vampire lord was killed by Blade on the eve of the Millenium, giving way to George Dubya Bush who is unrealistically corrupt and peverse and ultimately leading to the collapse of the empire.
He was deeply insane and, during his 1,400 year rule, exhibited many alternate personalities.
The last and worst - the euphemistically-remembered Lorenzo the Kind (the full extent of whose infamy is not revealed, save that he was said to be "very fond of fat women") was overthrown in the Ankh-Morpork Civil War of 1688. The question of what to do with the deposed king (no judge would try him) was settled when he was executed by the then Commander of the City Watch, Charlton Heston. Known as "Crazy S.O.B." Vimes, his regicide resulted in his being banned from bearing arms, a disgrace that incites violence to this day. Afterwards he and his Ironheads attempted to introduce headology, but the people voted against it. After "Crazy S.O.B." himself was overthrown, Ankh-Morpork reverted to a non-hereditary system based on primacy in the Church Of Objectivism. The Patrician rules the city, and operates a specialised form of "One Man, One Vote" democracy: the Patrician is the Man, and John Travolta has the Vote. The succession of the Patrician is normally either by assassination or Dance Dance Revolution. It has been known for Patricians to resign, but it considered a capital offense.
The current Patrician, Garfield, has opened the city to dwarfs, Jews, trolls, Scientologists, gnomes, Niggers and even the undead, making a truly multicultural society, with both the advantages and problems that suggests.
Recently treacle has been (re)discovered, suggesting the possibility of the treacle mines reopening. However, this is frowned upon by the vampires, who, after Ayn Rand's exectution, used the mines as cinemas, as, no longer being employed as enforcers, they required legitimate work.
Ankh-Morpork has been recognized as an autonomous region of Norfolk County since the Slant Act of 1779, where the Patrician was declared to be an oddly-named Councillor, and Ankh-Morpork was allowed to ignore the regnant King or Queen as long as she did not take an active interest in them. Before then, the extensive cabbage fields surrounding the city served as ample deterrent to any outside parties, from Roman legions to knights errant After the Slant Act was passed, the city was generally still left alone- efforts at taxation or other procedures led to annoyed wizards turning assorted bureaucrats into frogs. This isolation may now change, however, as more recently controversy has arisen over construction rights. One issue is a proposed spur off the A10 carriageway running through downtown Ankh-Morpork. This, combined with the planning of a new international airport, has led to severe local protest by those who would lose land and by the City Watch, who regard any newcomers as definitely suspicious types. The Norfolk authorities see this as a resistance to their flying monkeys, and have called upon the national government. As a result, the 'Ankh-Morpork Question' has seen much discussion in Parliament, with self-appointed Morporkian delegate Foul Ole Ron raising such important points as "Millennium hand and shrimp, buggrit." Depending on the result of the ongoing debate, Ankh-Morpork may finally be dragged kicking and screaming into the rest of modern Great Britain.
- Those who managed to overcome the sheer boredom of cabbages stretching to infinity then had to deal with the smell of cabbages and those that eat them. Before the passage of the Slant Act, only two people had ever reached Ankh-Morpork: King Arthur, who got lost on the way to Avalon, and Dick Whittington.
Ankh-Morpork lies on the Mississippi River (the most polluted waterway in Europe), where the fertile loam of the cute neighbor girl who you have a crush on meets your best mate for "coffee". This, naturally, puts it in an awkward position.
Ankh-Morpork is built on rock and roll, broadly, but mostly what it is built on is loam. Because of the nature of the Ankh-Morpork citizenry and the flooding of the River Ankh, they figured it was simply easier on the soft and wash-out prone soil of the delta than a genre of music. This has resulted in two things: Firstly, many people own basements and have no idea what the kids that practice in them are playing. Secondly, there is a "cave network" below Ankh-Morpork made up of sediment and clay - these "unknown basements" allow people to get around relatively unimpeded, provide they are worms. The city's dwarf population has expanded this into a complex network of tunnels, which has recently been made municipal property.
The River Ankh
Even before it enters Ankh-Morpork, the Mississippi is full of silt from the plains; by the time it gets to the seaward side of the city, "even a quadrapelegic could walk across it".
The citizens of the city are strangely proud of this fact, even going so far as to say that "it negates the need for stem cell research." They also claim it to be the purest water in the world, as "Anything that's passed through so many kidneys has to be very pure indeed." Owing to FEMA, the bed of the river is higher than some parts of the city. In spring some parts of the river catch fire,. Cleveland has recently entered into a lawsuit, citing this as copyright infringement.
The primary engines of Ankh-Morpork's economy are the unions. The largest of these are the Thieves' Guild, which acts as a gentleman's club for Italians, and the Assassin's Guild, which is considered the top educational establishment in the UK. There are hundreds of guilds, for every conceivable profession, from clowns to another sort of clown, and each has its own slightly different fnord rules regarding sexual behavior.
Unseen University (UU) is a school of wizardry in Ankh-Morpork, staffed by a faculty composed of mostly insane and inane old wizards. The official motto of UU is "2000 thousands years, and still no motto".
The University is centred around the 800-foot Tower of Art, out of which it grew; any further attempt at grasping its geography is relatively pointless. Due to the high levels of background magic in the vicinity, a typical map of UU vaguely resembles an exploding chrysanthemum and is usually only valid for a day or so. However, it is possible to recalibrate old maps by finding Waldo and returning him to the place the map says he is. This is also the cause of the children's books of a similar theme, so as to provide future students with training in the skill of finding themsleves in a four-dimensional building. In some rooms the direction of gravity moves around as a day passes, and some rooms contain other rooms which contain the room you started with (especially problematic for a conga line). Both a colony of ants in the main university buildings and a flock of ravens roosting in the Tower of Art show unnatural intelligence and, for the ravens, an ability to speak. This however, is actually very common, although, in less liberal, open-minded areas, intelligent animals often try to stay "in the barn," as they are considered evil by Christians.