|Motto: Omnia in modo, fide excepta|
(English: All things in moderation, except for faith)
|Anthem: God Bless Holy Columbia|
|Official language(s)||English, French, Swedish|
|Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
HM King Zachary (1985-present)
-Consolidation under one king
-De facto independence
22 August 1712
4 February 1715
1 October 1715
• 2011 est.
• 2010 census
49,913,000 (- in union)
• Per capita
$2.175 trillion (- in union)
$43,578 (- in union)
|HDI||0.963 – very high|
|Currency||Coulomb (₡1 = US$2.20) (|
The Federal Kingdom of Lower Columbia is a federal constitutional monarchy comprised of twelve 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 and the United Republic of Illu'a to the west, across the Adraman Channel.
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.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 2.1 Before founding: 1560s-1715
- 2.2 First dynasty, the House of Nyhaven: 1715-1799
- 2.3 Second dynasty, the House of Salem: 1799-1881
- 2.4 Third dynasty, the House of Astoria: 1881-present
- 3 Government
- 3.1 Organization
- 3.2 Political parties
- 3.3 National ministries
- 3.3.1 Ministry of Justice
- 3.3.2 Ministry of Religion
- 3.3.3 Ministry of Defense
- 3.3.4 Ministry of Commerce
- 3.3.5 Ministry of Finance
- 3.3.6 Ministry of Foreign Relations
- 3.3.7 Ministry of Transportation
- 3.3.8 Ministry of Education
- 3.3.9 Ministry of Health
- 3.3.10 Ministry of Natural Resources
- 3.3.11 Ministry of Energy
- 4 Economy
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Culture
- 7 Military
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 the remainder of the Columbia's course, a large portion of the Cascade Range, the entirety of the Snake River Valley, the coastal areas surrounding Puget Sound, the arid regions east of the Cascades, a portion of the Rocky Mountains, and part of the Canadian prairies and American Great Plains. 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 Illu'a lies across the Adraman Channel from the kingdom, at an average distance of about 100 miles.
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. Further east, conditions more closely resemble a steppe climate, with lower annual rainfall and a wider range of temperatures. The most common natural hazards in the nation 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.
Before founding: 1560s-1715
Beginning about 150 years before the proclamation of Lower Columbian self-rule, in the mid-16th century, the Pacifc Northwest experienced an influx of persecuted Christians, mostly from Europe and East Asia, who sought safety in the area. These early immigrants were mostly converts to the new Protestant churches who were fleeing the Counter-Reformation, although there were also some Eastern Orthodox migrants; those who ultimately came from Europe arrived by way of East Asia, where they had begun making converts. Most of these settlers were originally sailing to the island that would later become Illu'a, which had first been settled some three decades earlier, but they were blown off-course to the North American mainland. They increased the populations of native villages, but also founded many settlements of their own, including the country's current largest city, Nyhaven (in 1580).
This wave of immigration continued for decades; as it continued, the need for regional governance became more and more apparent. Between 1648 and 1759, a series of early states styled as "Believers' Commonwealths" were organized along regional lines. In all, seven such commonwealths were established, from Willamette in the south to Fraser in the north. Their governments were councils of civic and ecclesiastical leaders with an elected governor as the chief executive. These commonwealths would become the basis for the states of Lower Columbia and Puget-Fraser.
During the 1700s, Great Britain, France, Spain and Russia were all jockeying for power in North America, claiming different parts of the continent. The settlers of the Pacific Northwest, however, wanted nothing to do with any of these colonial powers, whom they viewed as their ancestors' oppressors. In 1712, three years before sovereignty was proclaimed, the approximately 1.1 million inhabitants of the commonwealths agreed that it was time to form a larger nation, a confederation. Although the commonwealths were already republics, the people of Pacifica, Willamette, and Rainier decided to establish a monarchy instead, motivated by a desire to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. Nevertheless, it was necessary to begin this monarchy by electing the founder of the first royal house. They chose a strong, seemingly natural-born leader, named Edward du Loup, to be their first king. Edward accepted, although he disliked the concept of wielding absolute power. The other four commonwealths, however, disdained the new monarchy and rejected Edward as their king.
Soon after his coronation at Astoria, the new King Edward sought individuals across the region who were willing to assist him in the fledgling government. After two years, they convened in Nyhaven with the intent of drafting a complete constitution. Over the summer and autumn of 1714, they developed what is now the current form of Lower Columbian national government, with King Edward wielding limited, though still considerable, power and presiding over the upper house of the national Parliament. They also agreed that no existing city should be chosen as the new national capital, and selected a low-lying plain several miles west of Nyhaven as the site for the new capital of Kendall. For the first fifteen years of the city's construction, they agreed that Parliament and the king would rule from Nyhaven, and then move to Kendall.
The convention presented the populace with their final draft of the constitution on January 7, 1715. After a period of four weeks, during which the people could review the document, the constitution was ratified in a referendum held on February 4 by a nearly 4/5 majority, more than the required 3/4 vote. Once the constitution was ratified, the convention delegates and several volunteers worked to prepare the country for the upcoming first parliamentary elections. Candidates were given one month to declare their candidacy and about seven months to campaign within their respective districts. On September 30, 1715, those elections were held nationwide; the following day, the results were announced and the first national government was proclaimed. Since then, October 1 has been celebrated as Proclamation Day, the effective date of independence for Lower Columbia, and parliamentary elections have been held on the last Monday of September. With no easy way to counter the new nation's territorial claims, the European colonial powers formally recognized Lower Columbia's sovereignty within a few years of these elections, as did the remaining independent commonwealths.
First dynasty, the House of Nyhaven: 1715-1799
The first priority of many citizens of the new nation was reshaping its demographics according to their own preferences. By this time, most of the population was both Christian and conservative; the more liberal denizens were then ill-liked. Several people took it upon themselves to travel the nation recommending a rather revolutionary course of action: purify the land in the name of God and the King. To do that, they advocated expelling those who were considered "impure," which generally included indigenous people who rejected the Christian gospel, atheists, those practicing any sort of sexual immorality and persons espousing liberal beliefs. Their message did not fall on deaf ears; in fact, they garnered widespread support for the concept of "purification". Indeed, this proposal even gained interest among members of the new government, including King Edward himself. He went so far as to encourage Parliament to let the people decide whether or not to carry out what would become known as the First Purification.
In 1719, in a national referendum, an overwhelming majority of the population voted in favor of a ten-year program to expel liberals and other so-called "undesirables" from Lower Columbia. This was no blank slate for widespread terror and genocide, however; rather than engage in a liberal witch-hunt, the members of Parliament who drafted the referendum placed strict limits on who could be considered for expulsion from the country and when the use of force was permissible. The greatest use of force committed in the course of the First Purification campaign was the razing of the native settlement of Multnomah; it was widely agreed that the city had been irreparably tainted by all the evil done in it, so once all willing citizens had departed, the fledgling military and a number of volunteers destroyed the old settlement in the summer of 1722. Those former residents who were not expelled from the kingdom moved to the city of Portland, not far down the Willamette River from the former site of Multnomah. Although the international community decried the First Purification, no nation went so far as to rescind its recent recognition of the kingdom's sovereignty.
The campaign was concluded in 1729 - just in time for the national government to move to Kendall. The remainder of King Edward's rule was uneventful. He was, however, widely mourned following his death in 1736. His son was then crowned in the new National Cathedral, making him King David I. The main focus of David's reign was territorial expansion: until that time, Lower Columbia's territory only covered little more than the Columbia River valley from the start of the Gorge westward and the Willamette River Valley. He twice led campaigns to extend the borders of the country, first up the Snake River (1748-57) and subsequently along the Pacific coast and into the interior as far as the crest of the Cascade Range, as far as the present-day Californian border (1762-68). Unfortunately, at the conclusion of the Pacific Coast Campaign, the king, who led the military forces in person, suffered from a wound which proved fatal.
David I's successor, King Nicholas, was quite content to maintain the status quo during his 25 years in power. His main achievement was granting citizenship to all indigenous peoples of the kingdom; until his reign, only descendants of Old World settlers could be citizens. His son Michael I, however, is much more widely remembered, though not as fondly. Following his accession in 1793, little was seen of him. He rarely ventured outside the royal palace in Kendall, while delegating many of his royal responsibilities to his staff. Furthermore, he strongarmed the weak Parliament of 1795 into passing laws that placed much of the country's economy under his control. Those laws are infamous for creating Lower Columbia's first economic crisis with their rise in taxes and government control over banking and transportation. The people became alarmed when news of this crisis was first publicized, in the summer of 1798. However, when people began criticizing Michael I's actions, he issued a decree criminalizing lèse majesté. This decree only infuriated the public more; they then saw the king as a tyrant. Some radicals called for a revolt, but most people simply wanted to replace the ruling government peacefully. They overwhelmingly voted against incumbents in the next parliamentary election, held the next year. That Parliament exiled Michael I, elected a native Salemite named Brandon to replace him as king, and repealed his laws and decrees, all in the same year. The new Parliament also drafted a charter of rights to prevent future abuses of power similar to Michael I's; this charter was ratified as an amendment to the constitution known as Article IX.
Second dynasty, the House of Salem: 1799-1881
Like David I before him, King Brandon I focused on expanding Lower Columbia's borders, this time pushing eastwards to the Continental Divide in the 1800s and southwards to the edge of the deserts of the Great Basin in the 1810s. The new land, rich in resources, helped the economy recover some of the energy it had lost under King Michael I. Brandon I would later sign the first treaty establishing real borders for the kingdom when he sent his Minister of Foreign Relations to take part in the negotiations that produced the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819. Brandon is best remembered, however, for opening Lower Columbia to foreign nations; previous kings starting with Edward had adopted an isolationist policy in order to safeguard the country in its early years, but King Brandon I judged this to no longer be necessary. His first diplomatic and trade missions to other Pacific nations were conducted in the early 1800s, before the start of his military campaigns.
After his death in 1835, his son John was crowned. King John presided over a second progressivization period, much like that which Michael I had encouraged. John, however, sought to stop or at least slow the process; unfortunately, Parliament often disregarded his admonitions. After the nation's economy underwent its worst panic ever, though, citizens recognized what he had been warning about and voted for a Conservative-Libertarian coalition government in the 1845 elections. Within two years, the economy was well on its way to unprecedented levels of prosperity. Sadly, King John did not live to see those prosperous times; he met an untimely death in 1848, after a mere 13 years on the throne.
Unlike John, who had been a pacifist, his successor King David II favored territorial gains. Since Michael I had established a rival kingdom at Upper Columbia after his exile, the new king sought to eliminate this potential threat. First, however, he wanted to reduce the governmental burden that previous kings had created. Two years after his coronation, in 1850, he inspired Parliament to drastically cut government spending and shrink the bureaucracy, resulting in the smallest government in state history. Seven years later, after a massive buildup of troops, he led the Lower Columbian military over the border with Upper Columbia, by the banks of the Columbia River, thus beginning the Columbia War. After another five years, in 1862, Upper Columbia was no more, its territory absorbed into Lower Columbia. Although the kingdom now contained the entire course of the Columbia River, its name remained the same.
In 1873, David II's son Brandon II came to the throne. He was a highly reclusive king, and many feared he would be similar to Michael I. However, this turned out not to be the case; like his father and grandfather, King Brandon II favored the free-market capitalism that had made Lower Columbia wealthy. Eight years later, however, everyone was at a loss to explain King Brandon II's sudden disappearance. Rumors abounded as to his whereabouts; many claimed that the unmarried king had gone to South America to find a wife, although this was pure speculation. Nevertheless, Brandon II never returned to Lower Columbia. With no better option, after a few months Parliament voted to replace him with King Tristan, thus beginning the third and current royal dynasty.
Third dynasty, the House of Astoria: 1881-present
Second Purification and the Puget Sound War
- Main article: Puget Sound War
Tristan was somewhat more fanatical than his predecessors; this, coupled with his desire to bring "greater glory" to the nation, led him to invade and conquer the previously-ignored Republic of Puget and Fraser, which consisted of the Olympic Peninsula, the coast of Puget Sound, the Fraser River valley, Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver, between 1885 and 1889. There were many liberals in the former republic, some descendants of those who had been expelled during the First Purification over a century and a half earlier. As such, a second purification campaign was needed and implemented in the new territories, beginning in 1892. However, this second campaign was less radical than the first, and no cities were destroyed in the process.
Many of the people who became refugees as a result of the Second Purification fled across the Adraman Channel to Illu'a, where many of them had family; their horror stories, though likely exaggerated, infuriated the Illu'an populace and government, who sympathized with the refugees. Their government frequently demanded an end to the campaign, but King Tristan and Parliament ignored each of these petitions, believing that they were carrying out God's will for the conquered lands. Diplomacy having failed, Illu'a declared war on Lower Columbia in 1895, with the intention of returning the conquered territories to their former inhabitants.
Illu'a's first moves were the creation of a naval blockade of Lower Columbia's ports to cut off trade and the deployment of spies in the kingdom's major cities. These spies worked with resistance fighters to cause havoc within the nation, and one of them almost assassinated Tristan on February 16, 1896. Following a terrorist attack at a fort at the entrance to Puget Sound, Illu'a sent troops to invade the Puget Sound region, and they landed to the north of Seattle on September 13, 1896. Although this invasion gained ground in its first few months, the Royal Army was able to halt the Illu'an advance, and the enemy was eventually driven back into the sea, in November of 1897.
Emboldened by the army's success at ending the Illu'an invasion, King Tristan directed the military to mount an invasion of its own, of Illu'a Island. The invasion force set sail from the naval base at Tongue Point, outside Astoria, on April 25, 1898, headed for the beaches of Illu'a. However, at a naval battle in the Adraman Channel, many Lower Columbian ships were sunk, including a majority of the transports, and several others were badly damaged. The fleet was therefore forced to return to Lower Columbia, humbled and defeated. After this disaster, King Tristan and President Henry Edwards of Illu'a agreed to end the bloodshed and signed the Treaty of Daloa. This treaty included a condition that Lower Columbia would never engage in another campaign like the Purifications, thus safeguarding the population from further government-sponsored harassment.
Michael the Great: the people's hero
King Tristan's successor, Michael II, was crowned in 1901 and is, by far, the most famous and beloved king in Lower Columbia's history. In fact, Michael II is the only Lower Columbian monarch to be posthumously called "the Great." For much of his reign, he led a major campaign to improve the nation's cultural facilities and bolster a sense of a national culture and identity. He often spoke of Lower Columbia as a chosen nation, situated in the Pacific Northwest by God for a special purpose. In pursuit of this purpose, he expanded international relations, both within and beyond North America. He also made the first international arms purchases, beginning trade relations with several major arms dealers. Furthermore, in the early 1910s he used some of those weapons to expand into the Great Plains which had previously belonged to Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
King Michael the Great is also partly responsible for healing the mutual animosity between Lower Columbia and Illu'a in the mid-1920s, earning him the nickname "the Great Reconciler". After the Puget Sound War, the people of both countries remained hostile toward each other; Illu'ans thought of Lower Columbians as intolerant and uncultured, while Lower Columbians considered Illu'ans meddlesome apostates. The prairie campaign only added to these feelings, although Lower Columbia honored the terms of the Treaty of Daloa and did not conduct another mass banishment program in the conquered region. This was partly due to Michael II's desire not to further anger Illu'a and partly to the lower number of liberals residing in the plains territories, making any potential purification more costly than beneficial in the government's eyes.
Convinced that it was the kingdom's duty to show brotherhood to its neighbors, Michael II set up a meeting with his counterpart in Illu'a, at which the two heads of state were able to overcome their differences and reopen formal relations between their nations. Following this meeting, he helped organize the Pacific Exposition, held in Vancouver in 1926 to celebrate the cultures of the two nations. As a result of this exhibition, Lower Columbians and Illu'ans began to see each other in a more positive light, and from then on, mutual trust gradually built between them until the present day.
While these events had already made Michael II extraordinarily popular, there was more to come. When the Japanese attacked the United States' naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941, the king recognized that, as a nation on the Pacific Rim, Lower Columbia was in danger of being the next target of the rapidly expanding empire. He realized that a Japanese invasion of Lower Columbia would open the door for them to directly attack the US and Canadian mainland. With the approval of Parliament, the king signed an agreement with the United States in early 1942, pledging supplies and medical personnel to aid the Allied war effort. Throughout the rest of the war, his inspiring radio broadcasts kept the people's spirits high and ensured their continued support for the war effort. Finally, shortly before his death in 1949, Michael II abolished the national income taxes that Parliament had created during the reign of King John, cementing his reputation as Lower Columbia's greatest king. Since then, the main sources of government revenues have been the national sales tax, property taxes and tariffs on imports from non-AIN countries.
Michael III and Zachary
In light of the condition of non-renewable resources, Michael the Great's successors have made moves toward minimizing or eliminating Lower Columbia's consumption of those goods. While the nation had long taken advantage of its immense capacity for hydroelectric power, King Michael III was not satisfied with the status quo. In 1982, near the end of his reign, he authorized the switch to completely clean energy sources for the nation, focusing on safer, thorium-based versions of conventional nuclear power plants, and funding research into geothermal and fusion energy production. Besides this, Michael III focused on humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, continuing the tradition of royally-funded public housing that Michael II had begun late in his reign. He also signed several defense agreements with the United States as a response to the Cold War, energizing the domestic defense industry and bringing its military technology up to date. In addition, it was during Michael III's reign that Lower Columbia captured the world's attention by hosting the Simlympics, in Nyhaven.
More recently, the current king, Zachary, signed a law requiring the country's extensive automotive industry to replace all internal-combustion engines in its vehicles with electric or fuel-cell engines over the course of 20 years. This move is expected to be completed in 2027. Like his father and grandfather before him, Zachary has also built public housing in the kingdom's major cities and donated to charities and the more philanthropy-oriented churches. In addition, Zachary used some of the immense royal fortune to finance the construction of Lower Columbia's tallest building, which was consequently named after him. King Zachary has also expanded Lower Columbia's presence on the world stage. While King Michael III was more isolationist in nature, Zachary has ordered the Minister of Foreign Relations to reach out to many foreign countries, and he has even signed the country onto new and preexisting alliances, most recently AIN. Since Lower Columbia's entry into the AIN, he has forged a close relationship between the kingdom and Cattala. He has also had the honor of appointing Lower Columbia's first representative to serve on the International Simlympic Committee, towards the end of 2009.
Lower Columbia uses a federal system of government, with twelve 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.
The head of state in Lower Columbia is the king. His main duty is to preside over Parliament's Council of States, making him its president. He does not vote in parliamentary sessions, though he can participate in debates. If the king is unavailable to preside over the Council of States, the crown prince (or an older close relative of the king, if the crown prince is not old enough) serves as its president pro tem. Parliament's other house, the Federal Assembly, has its own speaker, chosen from among the assemblymen of the ruling party or coalition. He also has the power to either sign bills into law or veto them. The king also 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 12 kings, with King Zachary being the 12th. 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 participate in the biennial elections; states are allotted a number of assemblymen in proportion to their population. Each assemblyman represents approximately 115,000 citizens. State governments each appoint ten councilors to serve on the Council of States when they come to power after elections. 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, which are described below; 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 430 assemblymen: 193 Conservatives, 185 Libertarians, 37 Progressives, five Republicans, three Greens, three Plainsmen, two Workers and two independents. There are also 120 councilors: 68 Conservatives, 36 Libertarians, five Progressives, three Republicans, two Plainsmen, one Green, one Worker and four independents. There are thus 550 total members of Parliament. 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 votes must form a coalition. As pluralities have historically been more common, so have coalition governments.
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.
Like the federal government, each state has an executive (its governor), a legislative body (the state assemblies), and a supreme court. Governors 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.
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, while the other four 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 below. 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.
The Conservatives, associated with green, have held parliamentary power the most in Lower Columbia's history. Their stronghold and common affiliations are with the national heartland and Puget Sound. They are most often identified as war-hawks, since they have historically supported territorial expansion and increased defense spending. They are also the most pro-business of the major parties, favoring free-market economic policies and as few regulations as possible. In addition, the Conservatives favor small government and fiscal responsibility, which together have resulted in Lower Columbia having a very small national debt. True to their name, their social policies are very conservative, with a heavy focus on patriotism as the motivating factor for continuing the compulsory military service program, tough restrictions on immigration and encouraging new immigrants to both acculturate quickly to the nation and seek to become citizens. The Conservatives also strongly support freedom of speech and gun ownership rights while opposing the establishment of a welfare state, legalization of abortion and recreational drugs, and disestablishment of Christianity as the government religion. Nationwide, about 41% of voters support the Conservative Party.
After the Conservatives, the Libertarians have had a mandate to govern most often. They are frequently identified with the interior and the south. They are known as the Blue Party. Like the Conservatives, the Libertarians favor minimal government control over the economy and maintaining a strong military. Where they are most different, however, is in their social policies; their support for lower restrictions on immigration has made them more popular over the past 20 years. Furthermore, they support most of the social policies that the Conservatives oppose, in addition to maintaining the lack of government control over marriage and broader freedom of expression. Approximately 38% of the electorate supports the Libertarian Party.
The red Progressives are the least popular party in Lower Columbia, as the few times they have been in power have generally resulted in economic downturns. They are most popular in the eastern regions and Vancouver. Much of their unpopularity is due to their support for stronger government controls over the economy and other anti-business policies, which together have been attributed with many of the country's financial slumps and recessions. While their support of most of the same social policies as the Libertarians has at times helped and hurt their popularity, their calls for stricter environmental regulations and secularism have generated the most controversy. The Progressive Party enjoys the support of roughly 11% of voters nationwide.
The remaining 10% of voters are split between independents (who make up four percent of the electorate) and four parties that, collectively, have only rarely held more than 30 seats in Parliament. Those parties are: the Green Party, whose environmental radicalism is widely scorned; the Workers' Party, made up of socialists and communists; the Republican Party, which demands an end to the monarchy; and the Plains Party, which seeks to return the two plains provinces of Calgaria and South Saskatchewan to US and Canadian governance. Those parties' colors are dark green, pink, orange and yellow, respectively.
The national government is also divided into several ministries or departments, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of governance. Their ministers form the king's Advisory Council, with which he meets frequently. The king appoints ministers immediately after his coronation and whenever one retires or dies; the positions are thus for life. The specific ministries are described below, in order of significance.
Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for enforcing federal laws and prosecuting violations thereof. It also operates the federal prison system. Its attorneys represent the federal government in all court cases in which the government is a party. Departments within the Ministry of Justice include the Royal Marshals, the federal police force, and the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, which protects the kingdom against domestic and foreign terrorist groups. Attorney General Louis Pellini is the current head of this ministry. Among all the government ministries, none has a larger budget than the Ministry of Justice.
Ministry of Religion
The Ministry of Religion is responsible for coordinating charity and disaster relief efforts administered by the nation's churches (Lower Columbia's official religion is Christianity, although this is largely a symbolic choice, as the constitution forbids the government from establishing a particular state church or infringing upon citizens' religious rights). It also organizes interdenominational events such as conferences and subsidizes the philanthropic efforts of individual churches. Bishop Gunnar Choi is the current Minister of Religion, having recently been appointed by King Zachary to replace Viktor de Blasis.
Ministry of Defense
The royal military is administered by the Ministry of Defense. The army, navy and air force are the main departments within this ministry. It also operates the nation's space program and military research and development program. The current Minister of Defense is John Retcliffe; he and the heads of each branch of the military form the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Ministry of Commerce
The Ministry of Commerce is responsible for promoting economic growth in Lower Columbia. It regulates domestic and foreign trade, establishes and enforces industrial standards, awards patents and trademarks, gathers data on the country's economy for advisory purposes and enforces labor laws. Ambrogio Fulham is the Minister of Commerce.
Ministry of Finance
Government revenues are collected and managed by the Ministry of Finance. It is responsible for collecting taxes and tariffs, producing currency, investigating and prosecuting smugglers and counterfeiters, enforcing tax laws and economic policy, supervising banks and stock markets and managing federal finances. The Ministry of Finance is run by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Peter Hakamoto.
Ministry of Foreign Relations
The Ministry of Foreign Relations implements Lower Columbian foreign policy. All of the kingdom's ambassadors and consuls are employed by this ministry, and all foreign embassies and consulates in Lower Columbia interact primarily with it. It also administers foreign assistance, gathers foreign intelligence, protects Lower Columbians living and traveling abroad and assists Lower Columbian businesses in the international market. Erik Kessler is the current Minister of Foreign Relations.
Ministry of Transportation
Lower Columbia's transportation network is built and maintained by the Ministry of Transportation. It oversees the nation's federal highways and all airports, seaports and railroads. It also establishes design standards for all forms of transportation and is responsible for vehicle registration. The Minister of Transportation is Adam Paulopoulos.
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education is responsible for the educational system of the kingdom. It establishes standards for education at every grade level, administers the national standardized tests, manages the federal financial aid program, and operates the Royal University system, the only institutes of higher learning in Lower Columbia to receive a majority endowment from the royal family. Marie Dupont, PhD is the Minister of Education.
Ministry of Health
Although Lower Columbia has no national health care system, its hospitals are indirectly overseen by the Ministry of Health. This ministry establishes standards for private health care and insurance, handles domestic health crises and enforces workplace cleanliness and hygiene standards. The present Minister of Health is Dr. Helga Erikssen.
Ministry of Natural Resources
Agricultural subsidies are the main function of the Ministry of Natural Resources. It also enforces quality controls on food products and manages the national park system. Vittorio Romano, PhD. is the Minister of Natural Resources.
Ministry of Energy
The newest federal ministry, the Ministry of Energy is responsible for ensuring a constant and sufficient supply of energy to Lower Columbian homes and businesses. It constructs and manages the nation's hydroelectric dams, establishes safety codes for private energy companies and funds research into renewable energy sources. The Minister of Energy is Albert Rechtmann.
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 over US$2.0 trillion in 2009, 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 1.82% of the population currently unemployed. It also has the highest median household income, which was ₡21,825 (US$46,925) in Q2 2010. 9.6% of all households live in poverty. There are no income taxes in Lower Columbia for either individuals or corporations, although sales taxes tend to be higher than in other industrialized nations. The country had a labor force of 29.5 million people in the fourth quarter of 2009, 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.
Most Lower Columbians travel by automobile in their everyday lives. In 2009 there were 632 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 highway network 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.
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.
|Indian / South Asian||1.8%|
|Hispanic (of any race)||9.6%|
|Jewish (of any race)||6.2%|
According to the 2010 census, the population of Lower Columbia is 49,539,602. 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 347,000 Lower Columbians of indigenous ancestry, of whom about 232,000 have exclusively indigenous ancestry.
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.
|Assemblies of God||15%|
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 2007 study found that religion was very important to 71.4% 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.
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%.
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 Police 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 0.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2008. 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 50,000 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.
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.
Literature, philosophy and the arts
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.
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.
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 3% of the national population at any given time, though many soldiers do not make a career of the military. A draft may also be instituted in wartime.
There are a total of 973,000 personnel in the Royal Army, half of whom are combat soldiers. The standard weapons for an infantryman are the M-16 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:
Squad (10 soldiers)
Platoon (5 squads)
Company (6 platoons)
Squadron (5 companies)
Brigade (4 squadrons)
Division (5 brigades)
There are currently 16 divisions, four of which are armored. The mainstay tanks of these divisions are the Duvall Military Hardware-made Beast MBT, Merkava Mk.4, Krigrum Ltd.-built Arca. IV Nakíl and the Behemoth III SHBT. Three hundred eighty self-propelled howitzers provide artillery coverage. Logistics is provided via the army's HMMWV contingent, as well as its MK48 Logistics Vehicle Systems.
The Royal Navy is composed of three Surface Battle Groups, six Carrier Battle Groups and nine 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 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 524,000 sailors and officers.
The Royal Air Force maintains 6,100 fighters in ten different classes, though over 750 of those planes are based on aircraft carriers. There are also 1950 bombers in eight classes, with a smaller fraction of those based at sea. Over 1,560 helicopters are available for combat in a variety of tasks, and 380 heavy transports can take ground troops to almost any warzone on Earth, given enough refueling stops. The 18,750 pilots and crewmen of these planes are complemented by three times as many ground personnel, for a total of 75,000 soldiers in the RAF.
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