When building a civilization, develop a few cities to maintain a decent level of happiness (-3 at most) – and then calculate how many settlers you will need to cover the rest of the territory you want.
From there – develop all the settlers you can before encountering competitive pressure or your own territorial boundaries, and then – and only then – establish cities with the settlers simultaneously (to counteract any control based constraints). This rapid expansion leads to a very high level of unhappiness in the cities you oversee, which stirs up the programmed revolutionary types. Invariably, these self-funded revolutionary types are too weak to overthrow a city and don’t remotely threaten the government, but they are strong enough to make it a problem for anyone entering your territory without you having to pay for troops.
If you maintain a high level of unhappiness in your country, these revolutionary types will eventually fill up your entire region.
So IF a foreign government attempts to enter your territory as you’ve done this, or they attempt to take over your cities through religious missionaries, or declare war, the first – and very very strong resistance they will encounter is the revolutionaries, who actually accumulate experience. This also tarnishes the image of their religion and makes any religion you establish as much more palatable.
No matter who or where you are in the world – if you can’t afford a standing army but are standing the potential of being overthrown or deposed by other countries, then just piss off your local residents by investing in non-entertainment and non-warfare oriented sources – I know, it sucks, but this is your only real offense and you’re actually doing this to help you and your community. The revolutionaries and militia WILL fight tooth and nail for your country and the sovereign land you establish, maybe not for you per se, and they will inevitably extend across all your territory and even spill over into your adversary’s territory.
YES, they and your opposition will on occasion attack your cities in higher profile calculated areas to attempt to destabilize the entire government or key regions they want control of, this is what led to 9/11 and the conspiracies entailing it, and you can see this on an ongoing basis with the infrequent attacks and shootings in the United States and her allies.
The population WILL heal, keep this in mind, they may not understand why this is happening and how difficult it is to mitigate this risk considering what we suppress from them for sanity’s sake, but the damage these disenchanted individuals and groups do compared to the benefit they provide is incalculable, particularly when you do not have a budget for military operations.
They WILL arm themselves and leverage any tool necessary to destabilize.
So my advice to any foreign government is to let a black market take place to a limited extent, lightly oversee it, manage and provide some intelligence oversight on your black markets, and use it to test out your own products and services.
That’s ONE of the many responsibilities of intelligence, and in particular – embedded operatives who are there to monitor and provide limited guidance for illicit supply chains.
Recovery? Information age with the inclusion of advanced collaborative forms of AI and robotics partnering in secret with humans.
On a final note:
Another strategy is to develop impassable mountains completely around your area and keep the deity at bay, letting you build up your civilization unhindered, and letting the deity move FAR past you technologically so as not to cause you problems (you will be surprised what you learn).