Lower Columbia

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Federal Kingdom of Lower Columbia
Royaume Fédérale de la Basse-Colombie
Förbunds-Konungariket Nedre Columbia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Omnia in modo, fide excepta
(Latin: All things in moderation, except for faith)
Anthem: Jerusalem
Royal anthemGod Bless Holy Columbia
CapitalKendall
46°13′N 123°34′W / 46.217°N 123.567°W / 46.217; -123.567
Largest city Nyhaven
Official language(s) English
Recognised national languages English, French, Swedish
Demonym Lower Columbian
Government Federal parliamentary
constitutional monarchy
 -  King Zachary
 -  Lord of the Council Todd Curtis (F)
 -  Lady of the Assembly Jennifer Kurtz (C)
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Council of States
 -  Lower house Federal Assembly
Formation
 -  Monarchy founded 22 August 1712 
 -  Constitution 4 February 1715 
 -  Government formed 1 October 1715 
Area
 -  Total 1,548,153 km2 
597,745 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.7
Population
 -  2016 Q4 estimate 54,094,000 (8th in AIN)
 -  2015 census 53,555,022 
 -  Density 34.59/km2 
89.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 -  Total $2.759 trillion (4th in AIN)
 -  Per capita $51,504 (2nd in AIN)
HDI (2015) 0.927 (very high) (5th in AIN)
Currency Crown (₡) (LCC)
Time zone (UTC-9 to -7)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC-8 to -6)
Date formats m/d/yy (AD)
Drives on the right
Simlympic code LCO
Internet TLD .lc
Calling code +1

The Federal Kingdom of Lower Columbia is a federal constitutional monarchy composed of 16 semi-autonomous states. The nation is located in western North America, along the Pacific coast. Its neighbors are the United States of America to the southeast; Canada to the northeast; the United Kingdom of Kingston and Boyce to the northwest, across the Alouette Channel; and the Federal Republic of Escambia to the southwest, across the Strait of Duwamish.

While indigenous peoples have inhabited the territory that now comprises Lower Columbia for thousands of years, most of the kingdom's population is of European or Asian ancestry, the descendants of thousands of settlers seeking religious freedom. Today's Lower Columbians, as descendants of those settlers, are among the most devout citizens of any AIN nation, along with those of Cattala. They have built a deeply devout nation dedicated to God and free market economics, and have become one of the wealthiest but most philanthropically-minded populations in the entire AIN.

Geography

Lower Columbia from space, summer
Lower Columbia from space, winter

The heartland of Lower Columbia lies along the lower portion of the Columbia River, from the eastern end of the river's famous gorge west to the Pacific Ocean. The country also includes all of North America west of the Continental Divide between 42°N and 54°40'N, as well as the Saint Catherine Islands and part of the Canadian prairies. Lower Columbia's highest point is the summit of Mount Rainier, 14,411 feet (4,392 m) above sea level; its lowest point is the Pacific coastline. The AIN nation of Kingston and Boyce lies across the Alouette Channel from the kingdom; less than 20 miles separates the two countries at the channel's narrowest point. Escambia is a similar distance from the Lower Columbian mainland, though further south, and across the Strait of Duwamish.

Climatic conditions vary depending on what part of the country one is in. West of the Cascades, it is mostly a temperate rain-forest, with high annual rainfall, thick vegetation, warm summers and cool winters. Snow rarely falls in the cities in this region, owing to their low elevations. Further east, conditions more closely resemble a steppe climate, with lower annual rainfall and a wider range of temperatures. Unlike the west of the country, cities in these regions often receive snowfall in the winter; compare the two satellite photos at left to see the seasonal differences between different parts of the kingdom.

The most common natural hazards in Lower Columbia are volcanic eruptions; in addition to the many potentially active volcanos of the Cascade Range, the Yellowstone supervolcano straddles Lower Columbia's border with the United States. Forest fires and flooding are also common hazards. Less common are earthquakes, severe storms and tsunamis (although a major earthquake and tsunami struck the coast in 1700, shortly before the country was formed).

History

The Pacific Northwest has been occupied by a diverse array of Indigenous American peoples for millennia, beginning with Paleo-Native Americans who explored and colonized the area roughly 15,000 years before Europeans arrived. With a history of human occupation spanning many millennia, and the incredible richness of Pacific Northwest fisheries (salmon, etc.), it is not surprising that the tribes who occupied the area historically were some of the most complex hunter-gatherer-fishers in history. They lived in large villages or towns, built plank houses and large canoes, and had sophisticated artistic and technological traditions. They were notable for being one of the few cultures to develop sedentary villages without practicing agriculture. In the former states of Gudland and in Southeast Alaska, for instance, maritime tribes like the Tlingit and Haida erected the large and elaborately carved totem poles that are iconic of Pacific Northwest artistic traditions.[1]

The first permanent European inhabitants of the area that would become Lower Columbia arrived in 1560, having sailed across the Pacific Ocean along the North Pacific Drift. As more of them arrived in the ensuing century and a half, they mostly settled along the coast and in the major river valleys, in the process founding most of Lower Columbia's current major cities. While the settlers were initially few enough in number to get by without the need for formal systems of government, by the early 18th century, the need for large-scale regional government was apparent. Three of the regional states that had already formed in the region elected Edward du Loup as their first king, forming the Federal Kingdom of Lower Columbia; the other states refused to accept him as their king and would later unite under a democratic government to form the Republic of Gudland.

King Edward and his successors spent much of the first two centuries of Lower Columbia's existence shaping their country's populace and expanding its borders. The kingdom engaged in no fewer than seven wars and other military campaigns that resulted in it taking on its present extent, conquering two other countries in the process. A third country, the Principality of Saint Catherine, was annexed through peaceful means, its last reigning princess marrying a Lower Columbian crown prince and passing her title on to their son. In addition, the royal government twice conducted internal "purification" campaigns designed to expel political and moral undesirables from the kingdom, drawing the ire of the neighboring kingdom of Kingston and Boyce as a result of the second such campaign (however, the ensuing war between the two nations ended in a stalemate and produced no permanent rift between them).

Government

Organization

Map of Lower Columbia's states

Lower Columbia uses a federal system of government, with sixteen semi-autonomous states united under a national government. At all levels, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. This structure is codified in the national constitution.

Federal government

The head of state in Lower Columbia is the king. His main duties are to execute the laws of the kingdom, to negotiate treaties with foreign nations, and to appoint national officers. He also has the power to either grant royal assent to bills, thus making them laws, or veto them by withholding assent. In addition, the king serves as Lower Columbia's main representative abroad. The position is hereditary and for life; however, Parliament can vote to exile the king and elect a new one if they feel it necessary for the benefit of the country. Both houses of Parliament must vote with a 2/3 majority in order to exile the king; if he is exiled, a new king is elected from among the members of the Council of States. The royal family receives its income from a special tax, which has resulted in the accumulation of a large royal fortune. The king does not belong to any political party, although several past kings have been known to favor one party over the others. To date, there have been 14 kings, with King Zachary being the 14th. He was crowned in 1985.

Parliament is the national, bicameral legislative body. The two houses of Parliament are the Federal Assembly, which is the lower house, and the Council of States, the upper house. Assemblymen are directly elected by citizens over the age of 21 who have at least begun their military or civil service; states are allotted a number of assemblymen in proportion to their population. Each assemblyman represents approximately 100,000 citizens under current law. State governments each elect seven councilors to serve on the Council of States when they come to power after elections. Those elections (which include both federal and state elections) can be a maximum of five years apart, although in practice, most parliamentary terms are shorter than five years. Parliament is led by the two Lords of Parliament, one over each house. While the Lords of Parliament are appointed by the king, in practice they are always the leaders of the ruling parties of each house.

Members of both houses are limited to a maximum of five terms total, though they need not be consecutive. They each can belong to one of the country's political parties, or they can choose to be independent. Parliament can override a royal veto with a 2/3 majority vote in both houses. There are currently 512 assemblymen and 112 councilors; there are thus 624 total members of Parliament, and the Conservatives and Firsties are the Government. A political party must have a simple majority of parliamentary seats in each house to claim a mandate to govern; otherwise, the two parties with the most seats must form a coalition. Single-party mandates and coalitions have been equally common in recent decades, but mandates were more common before the current three leading parties formed.

The supreme judicial authority in the kingdom is the Federal High Court. It is composed of nine justices, including the chief justice. Its main role is to review the laws of the nation and ensure their compatibility with the constitution.

State governments

Like the federal government, each state has an executive (its premier), a legislative body (the state assemblies), and a supreme court. Each state also has a viceroy, whom the king appoints as his representative after each election, and who rarely wield the reserve executive powers they hold. The Constitution of Lower Columbia guarantees each state a republican form of government. However, Saint Catherine is legally a principality for historical reasons, although the Prince of St. Catherine (who is always the Crown Prince of the kingdom) has only reserve powers and delegates everyday executive powers to the state's elected premier. Premiers and assemblymen are both elected to terms whose lengths vary by state. States are allowed a great deal of freedom in their self-governing abilities, with state assemblies making laws to regulate many areas of everyday life. However, all state laws must not contradict the constitutions of the nation, or of the state where they are enacted; if any party brings a case against the constitutionality of a law, that case may be decided by the Federal High Court if the losing party appeals the verdict given by the state supreme court. In addition, the federal constitution requires state elections to be synchronized with federal elections, due to state governments' role in electing Councilors.

Political parties

Parliament House in Kendall

Lower Columbian voters and members of Parliament can either be independent or belong to one of seven political parties. Three of these parties enjoy widespread support among voters, two others have small but substantial contingents in Parliament, while the other two generally do not get enough votes to have more than a handful of members of Parliament elected. Despite their names, all major parties are rather conservative; their political stances are described elsewhere. In addition, each party is traditionally associated with a color, which serves as its nickname in everyday speech. Finally, each party enjoys the most support in certain regions of the kingdom.

National ministries

The national government is also divided into several ministries or departments, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of governance. Their ministers, along with the Lords of Parliament, form the king's Cabinet, with which he meets frequently. The king appoints ministers after each general election from the members of Parliament; the positions therefore usually change hands after each election.

Economy

Lower Columbia has a capitalist economy based mainly on services, which make up 69.4% of the gross domestic product. Industry makes up most of the rest of GDP, led by manufacturing. Its GDP was just under US$2.4 trillion in 2011, placing it among the top AIN member nations. The largest sector of the economy by net income is manufacturing, with vehicle manufacturing earning more than any other business group, followed by arms manufacturing. Automobiles are Lower Columbia's biggest export; vehicles produced by Buechner Ltd. are sold in every AIN member state, as well as in several non-member nations. Lower Columbia also manufactures most of its military hardware, and its shipyards are major employers for the Vancouver, Astoria and Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan areas. Nyhaven is the kingdom's financial capital, where most of the country's banks keep their headquarters. Agriculture dominates the country's eastern regions, although it makes up less than 1% of the GDP. Before the reign of King Michael II, Lower Columbia was dependent on imported food, and food prices were very high; that monarch's expansion of the kingdom into the prairies finally made the country self-sufficient in food supplies.

The kingdom boasts the lowest unemployment rate in AIN, with only 3.8% of the population currently unemployed. It also has the highest median household income, which was ₡21,825 (US$46,925) in Q4 2011. 9.6% of all households live in poverty. Individual income taxes in Lower Columbia are fixed at 20% for income levels of 150% of the national poverty line and greater (with no tax on dividend income), while corporations pay a 25% income tax rate. These tax rates are among the lowest in the developed world, although sales taxes tend to be higher than in other industrialized nations to compensate. The country had a labor force of 31.7 million people in the fourth quarter of 2013, of which 83.7% had jobs in the service sector. Labor unions are unpopular in Lower Columbia due to the prevailing pro-free-market economic views of the populace; only 7% of all workers are unionized.

Transportation

Standard federal highway sign in Lower Columbia
Major international airports in Lower Columbia

Most Lower Columbians travel by automobile in their everyday lives. In 2011 there were 627 automobiles per thousand residents. The kingdom has two major international airlines, ColumbiAir and Theta Airways. While automobile manufacturers, rail carriers and airlines are privately owned, most of the country's transportation infrastructure is owned and maintained by the government, and mass transit is built and operated by municipal or regional transit authorities. An extensive network of highways (officially called ricsways, from Swedish riksväg "highway") connects all major cities to one another and to many smaller towns in between. Commuter rail is popular in some major cities but not others, depending on the amount of railroad trackage present in each city. In comparison, rapid transit (both subways/elevated rail and light rail) is heavily used in most major cities, though rarely to the point of overcrowding. Ferries are also a significant mode of transportation in coastal cities. 28.8% of all work trips make use of mass transit, including buses, a figure intermediate between those of the United States and Europe.

Energy

Renewable and nuclear forms of energy dominate the Lower Columbian energy market, with a slight majority of electricity currently being produced by thorium-based nuclear power stations. There are many hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries, providing power mainly to cities in the western and central parts of the country. Another major renewable energy source is geothermal energy; there are geothermal power station on almost all of the volcanoes in the country. Lower Columbia has an active program of research into fusion power, led by researchers at Pacifica State University's main campus at Astoria. All future automobiles in the kingdom will soon be required to run on either electric or fuel-cell power, due to a program to phase out internal-combustion engines begun by King Zachary three years ago. Still, there remain a few power stations running on fossil fuels, although they are all scheduled to be replaced by either wind farms or geothermal plants within the next 20 years.

Demographics

According to the 2010 census, the population of Lower Columbia is 51,147,573. The kingdom is highly diverse, with many recognized ancestry groups making up significant portions of the population. Most Lower Columbians are of European descent; English, French and Swedish Columbians are the country's three largest ancestry groups. The largest minority group in Lower Columbia is the East Asian group, with about half of those with East Asian ancestry coming originally from Japan. There are an estimated 358,000 Lower Columbians of indigenous ancestry, of whom about 215,000 have exclusively indigenous ancestry.

Language

English is the most common home language in Lower Columbia, having emerged as the lingua franca of the region by the late 17th century. An estimated 51% of Lower Columbians speak English at home, mostly as a first language. In addition, English is widely spoken as a second language within the nation, with an estimated 38% of the people knowing English as a second language. Meanwhile, the large French and Swedish populations in the kingdom have largely retained their native languages, making French and Swedish the second and third most common first languages in the country, being spoken at home by 18% and 15% of Lower Columbians, respectively. Other commonly-spoken languages at home include Japanese, Arabic, Greek, Italian and Farsi.

Religion

Religion (2010)
Christian 87.5%
Pentecostal/Charismatic 32.5%
Assemblies of God 15%
Vineyard 8%
Nazarene 5%
Foursquare 4%
Calvary Chapel 0.5%
Mainline Protestant 25%
Baptist 11%
Presbyterian 5%
Methodist 3%
Seventh-Day Adventist 2.5%
Lutheran 2%
Anglican 1.5%
Non-denominational 12.5%
Orthodox 9%
Catholic 7%
Mormon/Latter-Day Saints 1.5%
Jewish 5%
Orthodox 3.5%
Conservative 1%
Reform 0.5%
Buddhist 2%
Muslim 1.5%
None 4%

The status of religion in Lower Columbia is complex. According to the kingdom's constitution, the federal government is officially Christian (though the constitution also prohibits the government from selecting a state church or denomination); all public servants at the federal level are required to submit statements of faith to the Ministry of Religion prior to taking office. The general population, however, is guaranteed freedom of religion, with only those religious groups which the government recognizes as cults banned from the country. Lower Columbians take their religious practice more seriously than people of most other nations do; a 2012 study found that religion was very important to 71.9% of Lower Columbians. In particular, religious Lower Columbians place a strong emphasis on following a moral lifestyle and helping make their communities better places. This second focus has resulted in Lower Columbians donating more to, and volunteering more often for, charity work and community service than their counterparts in many other developed countries. The kingdom's history of settlement by Christian refugees is reflected today in Christianity being practiced by seven out of every eight Lower Columbians. The extremely low population of non-religious residents in Lower Columbia is remarkable for such a wealthy, developed nation; only 4% of participants in one study reported being agnostics, atheists or simply having no religion.

Education

There is no public education in the normal sense of the term below the collegiate level in Lower Columbia; most primary and secondary schools are officially charter schools, receiving funding from local governments, but with no mandated curriculum or frequent oversight. In effect, each primary and secondary school is administratively independent and run almost exclusively by its own principal and board of directors. Parochial schools are permitted to receive governmental funds if they operate under a charter. School attendance in Lower Columbia is not mandated by the government, but even most entry-level jobs in the country require either a high school diploma or regularly-submitted proof of progress toward earning such a diploma. Approximately 19% of Lower Columbian children attend a private school of some sort, while 6% are completely homeschooled.

Aside from private colleges and universities, most institutes of higher learning are government-run. There are many community and trade colleges in the kingdom, which are run by either state or municipal governments. Every state maintains its own system of universities, typically with multiple campuses. There is also one university system, Royal University, which is run by the federal government and receives a large endowment from the royal family. Among Lower Columbians at least 25 years of age, 87% have earned a high school diploma, 62% have attended some college, 33% have earned a bachelor's degree and 12% have earned a graduate degree. Lower Columbia's basic literacy rate is about 99%.

Health

Lower Columbia has a life expectancy of 78.2 years at birth, a figure between those of the United States and Western Europe. The nation's infant mortality rate of 4.97 per thousand live births is similarly intermediate within the developed world. At 8.1 per 1,000 women, the adolescent pregnancy rate is among the lowest in the entire developed world, and is little more than a tenth of the adolescent pregnancy rate in the US; this extraordinarily low rate is commonly attributed to the higher rate of religious service attendance and the higher prevalence of religious education compared to most Western nations. Unlike its neighbors, Lower Columbia has kept abortion illegal nationwide.

Universal health care is a highly contentious topic in Lower Columbia. Currently, health care is not universal in the country, nor is it mandated. The political minority in Parliament has tried for decades to change the status quo, but to no avail. However, health care costs are typically lower than they are elsewhere, and most Lower Columbians have signed up for health insurance of their own free will. Employer-sponsored health insurance is freely available and frequently utilized by employed Lower Columbians.

Crime and law enforcement

Most day-to-day law enforcement in Lower Columbia is carried out by local and state police departments, with the Royal Marshalls having a more specialized role. The kingdom's judicial system is built on common law, both at the federal level and in every state. Most criminal cases are tried before state courts, while federal courts mainly handle appeals from the state courts, in addition to certain crimes and challenges to the constitutionality of state or federal laws.

Lower Columbia has one of the lowest crime rates in AIN, a fact commonly attributed to the high funding which all police departments receive. Indeed, in some urban areas, the police can appear to be omnipresent due to the sheer number of police officers on patrol at any given time. Violent crime rates are especially low; nationwide, there were 0.86 murders per 100,000 people in 2012. This low rate has been steadily declining over the past 40 years.

With so few crimes committed in the kingdom, Lower Columbia has a low incarceration rate and a small prison population; fewer than 51,000 people, or 0.1% of the general population, were incarcerated at the start of 2010. Almost none of those incarcerated are juveniles, as there is hardly any youth-related crime in the country. This small prison population would likely be higher, though not by much, if the death penalty were illegal in the nation. Currently, the death penalty is a sentencing option for several federal and military crimes, in addition to certain high crimes in each state.

Culture

Lower Columbia's history as a haven for immigrants from across the globe has given it a rich and varied culture. As the largest ethnic groups in the country are English, French and Swedish, elements of those three cultures have mixed to produce the majority cultural traditions of the kingdom. In addition, Lower Columbians are fond of celebrating the traditions of its minority groups, and every major city has its own cultural center or museum that hosts traditional performances, holiday celebrations and ceremonies.

Popular media

Literature, philosophy and the arts

Food

Lower Columbian cuisine is mostly the same as in other Western countries. The primary grain is wheat. Fruit is very popular, especially apples; there are many apple orchards in the western parts of the country. Seafood, particularly fish, is also very popular, due to the nation's maritime origins and traditional indigenous practices. American cuisine is preeminent in the cities; many American restaurant chains are common in suburban commercial strips.

Sports

The major sports in Lower Columbia are based on European and American traditions. Baseball, American football, and soccer are the most popular sports played and watched in the country, although basketball and ice hockey are also popular. There are nationwide professional leagues dedicated to each of these five sports, and some Lower Columbian professional teams play in the international leagues under the SimSports umbrella. Lower Columbians are avid sports fans, making professional sports a major source of revenue for cities and leagues alike. Various equestrian disciplines and other outdoor sports are among the most-watched sports on television, besides the major sports previously mentioned. Internationally, Lower Columbian athletes are some of the most successful in the world. The nation has hosted one summer Simlympic Games (in Nyhaven), and its Simlympic athletes have collectively won more medals than those of any other nation.

Military

Upon turning 18, all Lower Columbians must sign up for the country's selective service program. Once they have finished the highest level of education they intend to achieve, they are required to serve for a minimum of three years. As a result of this program, the Royal Military is composed of 2.5% of the national population at any given time, though many soldiers do not make a career of the military, and only 25% of all troops are on active duty during peacetime. Conscription may be expanded in wartime, during which the minimum service term may also be lengthened as needed, up to a maximum of eight years.

Army

There are a total of 595,000 personnel in the Royal Army, half of whom are combat soldiers. The standard weapons for an infantryman are the M-16A2 rifle and the IMI SP-21 Barak pistol, with some units carrying 9mm Glocks instead. Soldiers are organized into the following hierarchy of organizational divisions, starting with the smallest:
Team (3-4 soldiers)
Squad (2-3 teams or 9-12 soldiers)
Platoon (4 squads or 40-50 soldiers)
Company (4 platoons or 150-200 soldiers)
Battalion (4-7 companies or 800-1,100 soldiers)
Brigade (3-5 battalions or 3-5,000 soldiers)
Division (3-5 brigades or about 15,000 soldiers)

There are currently 40 divisions, ten of which are armored. The divisions are, likewise, generally organized into major commands based on the needs of the Army. A total of four divisions (two infantry, one armored, and one cavalry) are dedicated to the training of new soldiers in both basic combat skills and advanced, specialized training; they are all part of the Army's Training Command, which is informally referred to as TRACOM. The Army's other major commands are generally geographic in nature, aside from such specialized commands as the Materiel Command, which generally serve support roles for the rest of the Army.

The mainstay tanks of the armored divisions are the Duvall Military Hardware-made Beast MBT, Merkava Mk.4, Krigrum Ltd.-built Arca. IV Nakíl and the Behemoth III SHBT. Two hundred fifty self-propelled howitzers provide artillery coverage. Logistics is provided via the army's HMMWV contingent, as well as its MK48 Logistics Vehicle Systems.

Navy

The Royal Navy is composed of one Surface Battle Group, four Carrier Battle Groups and five Amphibious Ready Groups. The first two of these kinds of groups are composed of the following similar complements:
1 flagship, either a battleship (SBG) or aircraft carrier (CBG)
2 cruisers
4 destroyers
4 frigates
3 submarines
2 support ships

Amphibious Ready Groups have the following composition:
1 assault carrier, Hornet-class
1 Intruder-class LC
1 LHD, Wasp-class
1 LPD, San Antonio-class or Keller Marine Architecture-built Ungforth-class
2 LSDs, Whidbey Island-class or Keller-built Valley-class
1 support ship

Troops are deployed from these ships via a combination of LCACs, Landing Craft Utilities, and Mechanized Landing Craft, depending on the capacity of each class of ship. Furthermore, a combination of M113A3 APCs and Eqvist Heavy Industries-built Viking landing craft may be loaded onto some of these landers.

All these ships are crewed by approximately 463,000 sailors, marines, and officers.

Air Force

The Royal Air Force maintains 2,000 fighters in ten different classes, though about 300 of those planes are based on aircraft carriers. There are also 900 bombers in eight classes, with a smaller fraction of those based at sea. Over 900 helicopters are available for combat in a variety of tasks, and 150 heavy transports can take ground troops to almost any warzone on Earth, given enough refueling stops. The Air Force is also responsible for Lower Columbia's space program and long-range missile stockpile. The 66,000 pilots and crewmen of these planes are complemented by three times as many ground personnel, for a total of 264,000 airmen in the RLCAF.

References

  1. Wikipedia, Pacific Northwest (this version)