Vascania, formally known as the Vascanian Empire (Rajutti: Vasakani Sāmrāji; Kalam: Vacakani Pēraracu), is sovereign country comprising of the mainland of the Vascanian continent and several nearby islands. It is the most populous country in the world and the largest by area as well. It is located south of Kurageri and south-west of the Dovani continent. It has no land borders, however shares maritime borders with Kurageri to the north and Medina to the west.
Vascania has been inhabited for around 30,000 years, having been settled repeatedly by hunter-gatherer groups from Dovani. The various groups have intermixed to create one of the world's most internally genetically diverse nations. Settled life in the area began around 6000BCE, eventually developing into the the Voras Valley civilisation by 3000BCE. Several hundred years later, a group from the Majatran continent speaking an archaic form of Ekalkit migrated to the continent and settled on Kayal Island. The Vanashishu people were slowly pushed north into modern Vanakalam, while the new Kalkali people established caste-based kingdoms in the south and on the eastern coast.
By the dawn of the common era, Vascania was variously split into various Daenist and Geraja kingdoms, the most powerful of which was the eastern Ekalkit-speaking Kingdom of Shakthan. The Shakthan kings would later consolidate hegemony over the smaller princely states in the south, while the King of the Kalamese took control in the north. Both Kingdoms were shattered by foreign invasions and periods of colonisation during the early modern age. After the end of colonisation, the nation was split into a Vanashishu north and a Kalkali south, which existed for many hundreds of years before being united by a series of conflicts known as the Vascanian Wars.
The Vascanian Empire is a psuedo-theocratic constitutional monarchy operating on a federal system. It is governed federally by a unitary parliament and at a state level by smaller unitary assemblies. The Empire has seen steady economic growth in the last few centuries, however certain regions continue to face economic stagnation and inequality. The Imperial Family maintains a number of claims to divine lineage, supernatural powers and righteous ownership of nearby nations - claims that are not scientifically endorsed but are supported by the majority of the Vascanian people.
Vascania is a highly diverse and pluralistic nation, home to dozens of ethno-linguistic groups - although the Kalamese and Rajutti are the largest of these groups. The majority of Vascanians are followers of Sundarata, a polytheistic and highly syncretic religion mixing various indigenous and eastern spiritual practices. Geographically, the Vascanian Empire is classified as megadiverse, with five biodiversity hotspots and a large amount of forest cover. Culturally and religiously revered, Vascania's environment and wildlife in particular have been protected from damage for centuries by extensive conservation efforts.
There are numerous theories as to the etymology of the word 'Vascania', but it most likely comes from the ancient Ekalkit words 'vaśa', meaning power, and 'kanyā', the word for a virginal woman. The original meaning of the word is thus likely to be something like 'a powerful but pure woman', likely representing how the Ekalkit people viewed the land on which they lived.
Alternate theories stem from the word 'vaśaga', meaning an obedient partner, suggesting an opinion that the land was to be made obedient to the people who lived upon it - though this stem is widely discredited among current scholars. Further theories consider the lemma 'kanaka', which is the name for a type of plant.
By 30,000 BCE, humans had started to inhabit the Vascanian continent - migrating from Dovani across the Sangoran strait. These original inhabitants were hunter gatherers who slowly defused south and east over the following 10,000 years. By 6000 BCE, archeological evidence indicates the beginning of domestication for food crops and certain types of animals, such as the cow and the pig. Sites around the Voran valley suggest the storage of agricultural surplus and permanent structures developing around this time in settlements that would later develop into the Voran valley civilisation in modern Rajavant. This was the first major urban culture in the region, flourishing during the second and third millenia BCE.
The Voran valley civilisation likely spoke a variety of an ancient Vanashishu language, as evidenced by the written record they left behind, which have yet to be fully decoded. The Voran valley civilisation traded with other civilisations across the seas, trading in coins and pottery. Two similar civilisation would develop around this time: the Solava culture in modern Avidangana and the Daronishta culture further south in Rajavant.
These cultures would eventually develop into an iron age due to trade from overseas, with a number of major cities such as Haligaath developing around the Vora Lake. These cultures began to decline around 1500 BCE with the introduction of the Ekalkit peoples from Majatra, who migrated in a series of waves of the following centuries. These people brought with them domesticated horses and a form of the Geraja faith.
Around 600 BCE, the Ekalkit-speaking small states and chiefdoms along the eastern coast had consolidated into seventeen kingdoms, while the declining Vanashishu-speaking cultures in the west and north remained divided and largely unprepared for war. Within these kingdoms existed growing urban centres which allowed for the transfusion of syncretic religious movements including the Geraja and Daenist religions. Daenist religious movements grew in size and power among the lower castes of the Ekalkit system, which were often subjected to systematic oppression.
By the end of the third century BCE, the Kingdom of Shringava had consolidated power on the eastern coast and began to move inland to conquer and otherwise subjugate smaller Vanashishu chiefdoms. The kingdom eventually developed into the large Vataraka Empire, which controlled most of eastern Kalkalistan - though much of its territory was administered as semi-autonomous vassal states. Later Vataraki emperors became increasingly concerned with cultural development and internal stability, creating the first Vascanian golden age.
Around the turn of the first century CE, the kingdoms of Vascania had began to develop extensive trade networks with the empires of Majatra to the east and Yingdala to the west. At the same time, hardline Geraja kings established heavy patriarchal rule over their kingdoms, leading to an increased subordination of women. By the 4th century CE, the later Pracinaba dynasties had established a more enlightened theological tradition which focused on personal enlightenment. A complex system of administration and taxation was also used to maintain a large army, which could extract tribute from lesser rules on the continent. This period coincided with a second golden age and a major flowering of architectural and literary development, leading to medical and mathematic develops in the area.
The early medieval period in Vascania - from 600 CE to 1200 CE - is defined by the Saptara, a system of seven large kingdoms that governed diverse, regional kingdoms. Most of these kingdoms often retained smaller principalities as vassals. These kingdoms were the Sakarta, Durabaya, Manilu, Rhaka and Kanila in Kalkalistan and the Kanni and Nalima in Vanakalam. The Rhaka, who originated in Khond, attempted repeatedly to expand and establish a pan-Kalkali empire. These efforts were defeated first by the Durabaya to the north-east and then by the Manilu to the south-east. Ultimately, no leader in this period was able to assert imperial control for any significant period of time. During this time, the caste system was expanded as nomadism became less common - particularly on the eastern coast.
Around this time, in the north, the development of popular piety lead to a resurgence in the influence of religion and the growth of the Sundarata religious movement. The usage of devotional hymns and mantras diffused across political boundaries and lead to the nobility taking an increased interest in religious affairs. Large religious sites were constructed throughout the country's major cities, as well as many smaller temples in many villages. This grave greater influence to the priestly caste, which allowed them to wield political influence.
A new wave of urbanisation greatly increased trade in the area, as well as the national population. In the latter middle ages, the Sakarta dynasty was able to expand and thrive through trade with Majatra, from which they imported art, philosophy and architecture. Most significantly, however, the Sakarta converted to Ahmadism - a move that greatly influenced the religious nature of their home regions in Zaqrandi Pradesh and Utsal. These development were opposed in the north by the fiercely devout Kanni kings and in the west by the Rhaka, who began to reassert political influence through aligning themselves with the native religion and its hierarchy. This paved the way for a triumvirate between the outward facing, multicultural Sakarta, the philosophically-oriented Kanni and the religiously zealous, xenophobic Rhaka.
Early Modern History
By the early 16th century, the Sakarta dynasty had been weakened by a series of internal strifes among Ahmadi rulers. Eventually the dynasty was defeated by the half-Jelbic Raj Abalr Faatam after a major civil war which weakened the empire. The new Faatam dynasty was culturally tolerant and did not try to aggressively convert the cultures it ruled over. It used newly structured administrative policies to create a systematic and centralised rule, with local non-Ahmadi rulers having positions of authority on the condition that they submit to the Emperor. The dynasty also traded extensively with Majatra and imported many philosophical and technological advancements. Expanding commerce under Faatam rule gave rise to new commercial and political elites along the eastern coast. These groups gained military and administrative ambitions that, through fighting the Rhaka, gave them power and recognition.
The Rhaka opposed these developments and lagged greatly behind the Faatamis technologically well into the 18th century. Instead, they insisted upon a culture of unwavering loyalty and a code of military honour - partially influenced by their contact with Seko and Yingdala, whom they traded with. As the Rhaka empowered the religion classes, they infused further aspects of Daenism into their religion, resulting in the modern Sundarata religion.
As the Faatam dynasty started to decline, foreign powers and the Rhaka began invasions into the territory. Many powers with whom the Faatam had traded soon invaded and established colonies in the dynasty's former territory. The Rhakas' exceptional military loyalty and zealous style of fighting, in particular under Queen Renuka, allowed them to maintain greater autonomy from colonial masters as trading companies from Artania and Majatra began to establish territorial claims on the continent.
Between 1800 CE and 3540 CE, Vascania was repeatedly invaded by large, colonial powers from overseas. These included Jelbania, Yingdala and a number of other minor players, who established colonial states on the continent. These states encountered significant native resistance, particularly from the Rhaka, and varied heavily in terms of size and power over the centuries of attempted conquest.
It was, however, Luthori and Zardugal who would have the longest lasting colonial influences on the nation. Luthori established a Raj in the southern half of Vascania, successfully conquering much of the Kalkali princely states and receiving the fealty of others around Bhaporistan, then ruled by the Prince of Durma. The Raj changed significantly over its period of imperial control, though certain areas were granted more autonomy than others. Zardugal also established a lasting colony in the north around Kalam Nadu, creating a federative system of local leaders that ultimately served the Zardugali Empire.
During these times, the consensus among the indigenous sub-ruling class was that it was best for native people to work within the system, as such there was little organized resistance. However, many more remote parts of the Raj in the south and the Federation in the north remained fiercely opposed colonialism, which grew less popular by the turn of the millenium in 3000 CE after a number of famines under colonial leadership.
After being granted independence by the colonial powers, the continent maintained a split between north and south, with the north becoming the Republic of Vanakalam and the south becoming the Federated Princely States of Kalkalistan. The Republic of Vanakalam was a primarily Vanashishu nation, with some Malivian and Zardugali colonial influence persisting in cities for decades after the end of colonisation. Kalkalistan, in this period, maintained a high degree of Luthorian influence and existed as an elective monarchy. The national leader was selected by a syndicate of the state's most powerful princely states.
After the 4000 CE mark, the two states remained generally underdeveloped and prone to political turmoil. For several hundred years, the two states continued to exist separately with little international influence and a stagnant political system.
In 4408, Vanakalam became embroiled in a large civil war after the election of a communist government under the leadership. After refusing to call new elections and implementing a series of radical governmental changes, the government entered into conflict with pro-democracy and anti-communist sectors in the military, led by the leader of the electoral commission - T. Sagana. Sagana gained military and international support, and was able to unite the anti-communist sectors of Vanakalam against the government. The communist state fell after a decade-long conflict, with Sagana soon after becoming the nation's President.
Under the leadership of Sagana, Vanakalam became increasingly concerned with the issue of unifying the continent, eventually culminating in the Vascanian War in which her government united with dissatisfied princes in Kalkalistan to overthrow the Kalkali emperor, Raghu of Kayal, and his wife Lakshmi of Bhapor. The combined internal rebellion and invasion from the north was able to collapse the mostly militia-based army of Kalkalistan. The veteran troops of Vanakalam were able to depose the monarch, and as such were able to create a new Vascanian constitution that united the two countries - supported by the Sagan government and the successfully rebellious princes.
Vascania is considered to be 'mega-diverse', referring to nations that have an exceptionally high degree of biological diversity and contain many species exclusively indigenous, or endemic, to them. Vascania is habitat to around a tenth of the world's animal species - even higher for birds and fish - and about 6% of its flowering plant species. Around 30% of the species existent in Vascania are endemic.
The Vascanian government operates an extensive system of wildlife reserves, national parks and animal sanctuaries - totaling to around 15% of the nation's total area. International organisations have also noted up to 42 special biosphere zones, such as several areas of registered wetlands in the states of Khond and Surasa.
Around 25% of Vascania's landmass is covered in forest. Highly dense forest is common in parts of southwestern states of Khond and Paristan, as well as Hamal Pradesh. Moderate density forest accounts for around 10% of Vascania's land area and is common in the central regions and parts of the north-east. A further 10% is classified as 'open forest' and generally dominates in areas of southern Rajuttistan and Rajavant - though is also found in central Kalam Nadu. Among the most notable indigenous plants are neem, a kind of mahogany used in traditional medicine, and peepul which is often used in religious symbology.
Vascania is also notable for its lush animalian diversity, with an exceptionally high percentage of endemic reptiles and amphibians - generally thought to both be over 50%. Many species that were once on the verge of extinction, such as the Utsal tiger and the Vora dolphin, have been brought back to stable levels due to long-standing, community-led approaches to fight habitat destruction and poaching. There has been less success in rescuing the nation's once mega-diverse primate population, as several species have gone extinct in recent centuries.
Politics and Government
Vascania is one of the world's largest democracies. As a parliamentary monarchy with a multi-party system, there are four major federal parties and several other interregional coalitions focusing on agrarianism, localism or other shared positions. The largest parties historically have been the right-wing Action Party and the centre-left Social Democratic Party - the latter of which has now reformed into the Progressive Alliance. Both groups have traced their history to the Democratic Forum that dominated politics post unification, led by T. Sagana.
For most of the mid to late 4400s, the right-wing Vascanian Alliance held successive majorites due to high support in the north and east. By the 4500s, politics had developed into a dichotomy of the right-wing Alliance, led by the Action Party, and the left-wing Union, led by the Social Democrats. With few exceptions, such as the victories of Amandara Adwani, the Alliance was able to continuously win majorities and major regional, local and federal positions. In the 4600s and early 4700s, the Social Democrats had more success, holding a number of small majorities but ultimately failing to make much political impact.
In the 4700s, political unrest in the region of Bhaporistan led to a decline in the Action Party's popularity, resulting in several successive governments under the leadership of moderniser and internationalist Subhas Luitail. This redefined national politics away from conservative versus liberal and towards an internationalist and an internalist dichotomy. The modernisation of Vascania has led to opposition from both cultural reactionaries and economically nationalist, socialist elements of society.
Vascania is home to two major language families: Vanashishu (spoken by around 25% of the population, mostly in the north) and Kalkali (spoken by around 75% of the population, mostly in the south. The largest single languages are Rajutti, spoken by about 25% of the population as a first language, and Kalam, spoken natively by about 15% of the population. These are the two official languages of government, although individual states recognise other languages. These include Khoni, Utsari, Bhapori, Hamali, Rajavanshi and minor Vanashishu languages.
Luthori was once widely spoken among the middle class and aristocracy, but this ability has been in decline in recent centuries. Ancient Ekalkit is sometimes used for religious purposes.
According to the most recent nationwide census, 82% of Vascanians identify as followers of the Sundarata faith - which is the national religion and the religion of the Imperial Court. From research at the University of Kamalata, around 70% of these believers can be classified as following 'orthodox' beliefs as typified by the national religion. This is a polytheistic and syncretic religion mixing many Daenist teachings, dozens of Geraja deities and a great number of native customs.
A further 15%, mostly in Zaqrandi Pradesh and Bhaporistan, follow a more Ahmadi-influenced version of the religion, in which Ahmad and Akim are venerated as two of the highest Gods. This strain, also known as Tanzinid worship, also mixes in a variety of Ahmadi practices and social teachings. The remaining 15% follow varieties such as Vordic worship, which has a high degree of Hosian influence and is common in Vanakalam and Sanashtra, or Loghaari worship, which leans more heavily on Daenist teachings that other varieites.
A further 6% of Vascanians view themselves as Ahmadi rather than Ahmadi-influenced Sundarati. 6% views themselves as irreligious, 4% view themselves as Hosians and the remainder are mostly either pure Geraja or pure Daenist. There are significant minorities within each of these groups, however, that also follow very syncretic worship.