|Allied Provinces of Laeral|
Anthem: The Laeralite's Song
Laeral (in light blue) in the Eastern portion of Hespia, in the IDU
|Official languages||French, Mandarin Chinese|
|Recognised national languages||English|
|Ethnic groups (2010)||38% Mixed-Race|
|Government||Federal Semi-presidential Republic|
• Prime Minister
• First Allied Provinces of Laeral
• Republic of Laeral
• Second Allied Provinces of Laeral
|490,499 km2 (189,383 sq mi)|
• 2017 estimate
• 2015 census
|161.5/km2 (418.3/sq mi)|
|Currency||Laeralian Mark (LRM)|
|Time zone||GT +2|
|Drives on the||right|
The Allied Provinces of Laeral, commonly called Laeral, is a federal semi-presidential democracy in the continent of Hespia in the International Democratic Union. It is bordered by Philosophical Pandas to the west, by High Fells to the north, and by Libertas Omnium Maximus to the south, while the Albarine Sea is to the east. Laeral covers 1.71 million square kilometers, and is composed of 33 provinces, with a population of 79.2 million. Laeral is best known internationally for its progressive outlook and policies and cultural and political influence.
Laeral was originally settled by the Danxing Empire around 1200 BCE, followed by a succession of dynasties. There was extensive conflict during this period, and during the Falling Leaves period Laeral was ruled by the Gao people of modern-day High Fells. When the warlord Sun Liang freed Laeral from the Gao and established the Sun Dynasty, Laeral entered an extended period of prosperity. French colonists arrived in the early 1700s, and eventually conquered the country by force. The colony, known as Fells-Haute, became independent under Arrivée minority rule until the 1840s, when the Laeralian War of Independence occurred. The Allied Provinces of Laeral, a weak confederation of provinces, was established until the 1920s, when reformists known as the Gang of Five took power during the Laeralian Civil War and established the Republic of Laeral, which following a failed coup known as the Bloody Summer was reorganized into the modern Allied Provinces of Laeral.
Laeral has only become an influential nation recently, serving as World Assembly Delegate of the International Democratic Union from 2017 to 2018. It is a major tourist destination, with traditional industries such as textiles and tea production coexist with media production and the service sector. The government and populace are known for their social tolerance, but tradition continues to play a major role in the lives of many Laeralites. Culturally, Laeral shows both its French heritage as well as the culture of its native Rén peoples. Laeralian culture has become well-known internationally through popular cultural exports such as film.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Environment
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Religion
- 7 Government
- 8 Foreign Relations and Military
- 9 Economy
- 10 Culture
- 11 Infrastructure
Laeral is pronounced Lay-ruhl, and likely comes from the Old Laeralian word laer, likely meaning 'silk'. It is combined with the suffix 'al', meaning 'land of' or 'territory of'. An alternate etymology posits that the term comes from "lehwal", or 'river-dweller'. The term is first recorded in the 1500s. The former etymology is used for Laeral's name in Chinese, 絲綢之鄉, meaning 'silk country'.
The standard way to refer to a citizen of Laeral is as a "Laeralite." The term 'Laeralian' is archaic and now rarely used. Two terms often used to refer to people in Laeral are 'Rén' (Ren) and 'Arrivée' (Arrivay, or Arrivee). These are racial terms used in Laeral. The former refers to the native Laeralites. The latter refers to those descended from the French and other white settlers who arrived from the Colonial Period onward.
Humans likely arrived in modern-day Laeral in the paleolithic period, as evidence has been found of cave dwellings with artifacts dating back to that time. Laeral was inhabited by scattered nomadic tribes of Rén descent until around the 7th century BCE, when the first permanent agricultural settlements were developed. Cultivated grains have been found dating to that time. Around 1200 BCE, settlers from the Danxing Empire arrived in Laeral, conquering and intermarrying with the local population and founding Laeral's first cities. These coastal cities were the places where writing and toolmaking first developed, and are the birthplaces of Laeralian civilization. It was around the year 400 BCE when Laeral was first unified, under the Nan Dynasty, which in fact only controlled the coastal areas of Laeral. They were succeeded by the Gan dynasty around 100 BCE. They were followed by several other dynasties, including the Liu Dynasty (100 BCE-300 CE), which was known for its artistic ability, the Jin Dynasty (300 CE-500 CE), known for its relative stability and promotion of culture, the Bei Dynasty (500-600 CE), which was unstable and chaotic, and the Guang Dynasty (600-1000 CE).
The Minjian Faith, a religion originating in modern-day Peichen around 260 CE, was adopted as the national faith in 370, under the Jin Dynasty. In the early centuries of the religion, religious conflicts were common, notably in the War of the Three Lanterns, a religious conflict between followers of opposing Minjian sects around 575 CE. Notably, the Bei Dynasty fell due to the chaos caused by the Tang Uprising of 597, when the peasant leader Tang Guohui declared himself to be a Minjian Luminary and led an uprising against the Bei Emperor.
Gunpowder and paper were both discovered around the same time in the 10th century CE, ushering in a new era in both warfare and culture. The stable and prosperous Guang Dynasty ruled the nation. At this time, the city of Guangzihua, considered the birthplace of technology in Laeral, became a center of learning and knowledge, and home of many wonders such as the Great Library of Guangzihua. Arts and culture were sponsored by the ruling Bei dynasty. Around 980, the city of Guangzihua was devastated by a fire and never rebuilt; the Guang Dynasty fell soon after.
Falling Leaves Period and the Sen Dynasty
During the Falling Leaves period beginning around 1000, an increasing population meant that the city-states were forced to expand and take over weaker rivals. Many warlords created pocket empires during this time, only to see them fall apart within years. At this time, both gunpowder weapons and bladed weapons proliferated, resulting in a land in chaos as warlords and their followers battled for territory. Warriors wandered the countryside, looking for plunder and a lord to serve under. In the late 13th century, one warlord, the famous Jiang Hui, united Laeral through military might, diplomatic skill, and strategic marriages. The epic saga of his dynasty, the Jiang Dynasty, is told in the classic Laeralian work of literature, The Cycle of Ascendancy. Those kings had many wars with the Gao Empire, in modern-day High Fells, who had become similarly unified around the same time. While Jiang Hui and his descendants were not especially gifted with kingly qualities, they often were able to prop up their respective regimes by cultivating a body of trusted advisers. However, the Jiang Dynasty fell apart sometime around 1430, when Emperor Xiaowen's incompetent leadership and backstabbing advisors led to a disastrous war with the Gao Empire, a militaristic kingdom ruling over modern-day High Fells. Another work of Laeralian classic literature, The Years of Woe, tells of loyal Jiang Dynasty military commander Han Guiying's attempt to resist the Gao invasion and defend Laeralian sovereignty. However, while he was able to repel the invaders successfully, Laeral enjoyed only a decade or so of freedom, as the Gao underwent a period of political turmoil, which eventually resulted in a new Gao dynasty establishing itself and taking over Laeral.
At one point, all of Laeral was under the control of the Gao. They ruled Laeral for several generations with an iron fist, while resistance groups were quietly formed and plans of revolution quietly made. The city of Anjian, the Jiang capital, was razed. This period of time, known is Laeral as the 'Time of Sacrifice' still impacts the Laeralian national consciousness today. Dozens of resistance groups formed, plotting to overthrow Gao rule. Their leader was Sun Liang, a former warlord who assembled a group of secret societies to oppose the Gao occupation. This coalition consisted of many former enemies, who cooperated to defeat Gao forces.
Laeral ultimately threw off Gao rule, and enjoyed freedom for several centuries. Sun Liang established himself as an Emperor, and created the imperial capital at Lanxiu, in modern day Corday. He and his descendants embarked upon a series of reforms, ultimately establishing a powerful central government, a bureaucracy, and allowing many innovations to spread quickly throughout Laeral. The Sun Dynasty cracked down on the power of warlords, and brought stability to Laeral. This time is often thought of as the 'golden age' of Laeral, when Laeral's internal organization, stability, and technological advancement were far ahead of those of its neighbors.
In 1689, Dutch settlers arrived in the Xianhai Gulf, and quickly established a trading post where they traded muskets, beads, and advanced equipment such as spyglasses for textiles, beads, and pottery. This marked Laeral's first contact with Europeans. This trading post, however, run by a Dutch corporation, was unprofitable, and the several hundred people residing at the trading post never really explored the interior of the nation. At this point, Laeral was under the rule of Emperor Tei, a member of the Pei Dynasty, originally high-ranking advisers to Shei Wu who had seized power during a civil war. The Dutch settlement remained for decades, trading with the Rén, before being destroyed in battle with the Pei Dynasty in 1698. In 1700, the French explorer Gabriel Nicolas de Albarine (second son of the Comte de Albarine, who later settled in Laeral) led an expedition which mapped the coast of Laeral; the Albarine Sea is today named for him.
The modern nation of Laeral was founded in 1703 along with present-day High Fells as a French colony governed by French nobles. With around 5800 supporters, forces under the Duc d'Tesse conquered the area around the coast. The area was home to thousands of Rén, who were largely forced to retreat away from the French due to military defeat and disease. Many died, and many abuses and massacres were committed. This was a time of great change in Laeral, as ruling elements of Laeralian society were violently forced into submission before foreign conquerors. The Duc d'Tesse set himself up as Duc Jean-Baptiste I and ruled the land as the Duchy of Fells-Haute.
After razing the imperial capital, he ordered the creation of the city of Laeralsford to serve as the new capital, as well as establishing four immense palaces around the country, each of which his court would spend one season a year at. These remain major historical sites, although it is said that the construction of these palaces was only accomplished by slave labor and crippling taxation. He introduced European technology, but also treated the natives poorly, instituting forced agricultural labor and high tithes. Duc Jean-Baptiste I was a canny ruler, playing off his political opponents against one another. He was assassinated in 1732.
His successors ruled as Dukes until the Laeralian War of Independence. Their reign was characterized by a tiny minority presiding over the subjugation of the Laeralian people and the theft of Laeralian heritage; the establishment of a fairly rigid racial hierarchy meant that Rén had little hope of advancement in society and were treated as second-class citizens. During the French Revolution of 1789, Laeral experienced a population boost, as emigre nobles and monarchists fled to the Duchy, where they hoped to muster an army to retake France. However, the Duc d'Tesse at the time, Louis-Philippe, died in 1809. He left a son and three daughters. Upon hearing of the Duc's death, the eldest daughter, Marie-Therese, knowing that she would not have been allowed to take the throne, moved to consolidate power.
By winning the support of the military, she had her brother executed, and restructured the government. Duchesse Marie-Therese would remain a forward-thinking ruler for 27 years. She created a legislature, known as the National Assembly, reduced the power of the individual nobles, and also supported equality between the European settlers and the Rén peoples. She also created the city of Queensgrace, in modern-day High Fells, to serve as the new capital. Her regime was also noted for the establishment of many grain storage facilities located around the country to guard against famine.
Upon her 1836 death, her daughter, Louise, a hard-line conservative, took the throne as Duchesse Louise I. She was unpopular among the native peoples as well as among the middle-class for her rigid monarchism, traditionalism, and her anti-Enlightenment views. The years of her reign were characterized by harsh repression: the 1841 Vanoît Massacre, the 1843 An Heng Rebellion, and 1844's Blue Cockade Uprising were all brutally suppressed. As Duchesse Louise became gravely ill in 1848 due to mysterious reasons, intellectuals, anarchists, liberals, and a number of others convened secretly in the coastal city of Althea to discuss. Among them were the future founders of Laeral. This meeting was called the Provisional Assembly, and was governed by a Provisional Council of 12 members, all of whom would be remembered in Laeral as the 'Founders'.
After weeks of discussion, they ultimately decided that her daughter, Louise II, would be even worse for the nation than her mother, and after many months of discussion, ultimately decided to rebel in order to form a democracy. This day, July 17th, 1848, is remembered as Laeral's Founding Day and is celebrated annually. They quickly assigned leaders to a resistance group in each province, arranged to purchase weapons and supplies, and named Emil Lematre as leader of the newly founded Free Laeralian Army. They also released the Binding Charter, an agreement that resistance groups would put aside their differences in order to defeat the royalists.
The Laeralian War of Independence began with mass uprisings on March 4th, 1849, with the rebels triumphing. However, the poor training and disunity of rebel forces allowed Royalist troops to drive them back, inflicting losses on the rebels. Sensing defeat, rebel general Georges Emmanuel Lematre used a large loan from Dutch banks to reorganize the scattered rebel groups into a single army, the Free Laeralian Army. In 1855, the High Fellsian sused for peace, establishing Laeral as an independent nation.
First Allied Provinces of Laeral
Laeral was founded as a sovereign nation practically cutting High Fells off from the ocean, leaving High Fells with a grudge against Laeral and a continued period of absolute monarchy. These conditions were agreed upon in the 1855 Treaty of Meilun. As part of the Treaty, Laeral was obligated to choose their first Prime Minister as a person of "noble birth and good breeding". While the High Fellsians had intended that this clause would force the Laeralians to select a pro-High Fells leader, although they had to make concessions in order to do so. After the treaty was signed, Laeral quickly established a constitution, known as the Binding Charter, which was ratified in 1858. It established a weak central government consisting of an Assembly of Commons, which was elected using a first-past-the-post system from districts within each province, and a General Assembly, which would have three members from each province appointed by the provincial government. The Assembly of Commons would select a Prime Minister, who would be the chief executive.
When it became time for Laeral to select it's first Prime Minister, Adrienne Lematre revealed that she was illegitimately related to the High Fellsian royal line, and was appointed Prime Minister in a Provisional Assembly vote, and proceeded to symbolically lead the country for a week before turning over power to her husband, Georges Emmanuel Lematre. His acts included eliminating many immigration restrictions and promoting Laeral's international relations. Laeral's capital was established at Althea.
Laeral's first major test came during the Outbreak of 1861, as cholera spread throughout Laeral. Although thousands died, the new nation largely avoided chaos through the government's skillful handling of the crisis. Georges Lematre also implemented nationwide paper currency in 1865. Prior to this, individual provinces issued their own currency. In 1866, Georges Lematre's term came to an end and he peacefully stepped down in favor of Jean-Paul Gauvain, the third Prime Minister. Several other Founders succeeded him as Prime Minister. There was a famine in 1872, which led to many farmers moving to Laeralian cities in search of jobs and food. Although the government tried to reduce the problem, starvation was a constant problem in Laeral for decades. In 1881, the Bank of Laeral was established in order to unify the production of paper money, which had been established on a nationwide basis in 1865.
In 1875, Laeralian settlers who had migrated southward from the province of Bethune came into conflict with settlers from Libertas Omnium Maximus. After Bethune provincial militia fired upon the Maximusian settlers, the War of the Seven Provinces broke out. As Laeral possessed only a limited national military at the time, and many of Laeral's wealthier northern provinces opposed the war, only the forces of seven provinces ended up declaring war on the Maximusians. Laeralian forces were defeated, and the areas comprising modern Lematre and Brissac provinces were ceded to Libertas Omnium Maximus in the 1877 Treaty of Legrange.
In 1887, the government launched the New Laeral Movement, a ten-year program designed to modernize Laeral's industries. This program, championed by Prime Minister Pierre Courres, was controversial for putting many small businesses in dire financial straits and for expanding the power of the weak national government, as well as leading to alleged abuses and corruption. In 1894, Laeral's capital was moved to Laeralsford following a convoluted backroom deal. This was followed by the abolition of the Bank of Laeral in 1899 by Prime Minister Saulignac. The following years saw a swift backlash against such dealing, as well as the New Laeral Movement, during the so-called Worker's Movement. This worker's rights movement, championed by the nation's nascent unions, led to mass strikes and violent protests. This movement fell apart due to internal dissension and a harsh government response by 1903.
In 1903, Laeral also participated in the Golden Flag Rebellion, sending a large force of soldiers under General Albert de Saivigné to defend Laeralian commercial interests in the Shen Empire. This marked Laeral's first major foreign conflict, and was met with protests by Rén who sympathized with the Golden Flag cause. The conflict became a primary source of political division in Laeralian society; many intellectuals and the majority of Rén opposed the government's decision to intervene, and the ensuing occupation.
In 1911, High Fells declared war on Laeral over territorial disputes, with nationalistic feeling high on both sides. While High Fellsian forces had been hoping for a quick victory, advancements in weapons technology meant that battle lines stagnated into trench warfare. Heavy fighting took place in the mountains of southern High Fells; inadequate winter supplies meant that many soldiers on both sides froze to death. This war, known in Laeral as the First Fellsian War or la catastrophe, ended after five years in bloody stalemate, with nearly one million dying on the Laeralian side. Notably, airplanes, artillery, machine guns, and poison gas all saw use in the conflict. This war contributed to the unpopularity of the Laeralian government at the time, notably due to the army's use of forced conscription.
Republic of Laeral
Following the chaos of the First Fellsian War, many were dissatisfied with the current structure of government. Many of the reforms expressed in the Progressive Movement had not been met. Women were still denied the right to vote, the central government was weak, and labor conditions were appalling. Many lived in abject poverty. Ultimately, unionists, left-wing activists, and dissatisfied veterans staged a revolt, known as the Laeralian Civil War. It began in 1919, and led to the rise of several progressive leaders, including Réne Gramont, Jean-Philippe Salaun, and Élisabeth-Charlotte Cordé, known as the Committee for Democracy and Progress, and later the Social Democratic party. Their revolution was supported by a majority of the populace, and ultimately succeeded following several years of fighting.
Leaders of the revolt assembled in Gaolan, Neidong, to write a new Constitution. While Laeral had been governed as a relatively loose confederation under the Binding Charter, they were determined to reshape Laeralian government. Their work, the Laeralian Constitution, established the new Republic of Laeral. This Republic would have a stronger central government. Suffrage was expanded to all men and women over 22. The legislature consisted of one house, the Assembly of Commons. However, the Assembly of Commons would use both proportional representation and regional constituencies, rather than the previous first past the post system. The leader of the Assembly of Commons would become the Prime Minister, while there would also be a directly elected President. In 1922, Réne Gramont declared the establishment of the Republic of Laeral.
During the Republican Era, Laeral was dominated by the so-called Gang of Five, a group of Social Democratic leaders who promoted republicanism, reformism, socialism, secularism, and anti-imperialism through their modernization programs. While somewhat free and fair elections were held, the Social Democrats kept their hold on power through vote-buying and other dubious practices. The Gang of Five's wide-ranging battery of reforms, known as the Rose Revolution for the symbol of the ruling Social Democrats, had significant impacts across all areas of Laeralian society.
In 1925, a popular revolt by people of Laeralian descent in the Brissac region, controlled by Libertas Omnium Maximus since the War of the Seven Provinces from 1875-1877, led to Laeral declaring war on Libertas Omnium Maximus. Due to superior Laeralian leadership under President Réne Gramont and widespread public support for the conflict, the Laeralites triumphed, with the 1928 Treaty of Galline granting modern Lematre and Brissac provinces to Laeral. The unity created within Laeral by the war, and the Laeralian victory, contributed greatly to the stability of the Republic of Laeral and the popularity of Gramont.
Following the Brissac War, the Social Democrats were free to concentrate fully on the Rose Revolution, their ambitious program to reform Laeral along the lines of their 'Five Pillars': Republicanism, Reformism, Socialism, Secularism, and Anti-Imperialism. Réne Gramont, who served as President from 1922-1932, established a republic with universal suffrage regardless of gender, race, or class, while simultaneously ensuring that his own Social Democratic party would be the dominant force in Laeralian politics. During his ten years in office, Gramont promoted racial and gender equality, removing many of the most hated racial laws of the Allied Provinces era. Gramont also worked towards development and industrialization, promoting western-style higher education and industrialization of the nation. Gramont was succeeded in office by Jean-Philippe Salaun, who served two terms from 1932-1942, and added further secularist reforms to the Rose Revolution's reforms. Presidents Zhou Wei-lin (1942-1947) and Sun Jia-wei (1947-1954) continued the Rose Revolution's programs, in particular continuing to promote racial equality and socialist principles.
In 1947, the marquisate of Lienne, a state which had broken away from Park Yeong-gi's dictatorial regime in High Fells and become independent, petitioned for annexation by the Republic of Laeral in a bid for security from the Fellsian regime. In the Accession of Lienne, also known as the Second Fellsian War, Laeralian forces clashed with Fellsian-backed Gao militias in the province over nine months of outright warfare and around a decade of ensuing guerrilla warfare. Although the Park regime continued to claim Lienne until its overthrow, Lienne was functionally under Laeralian control, and became a full province in 1954.
Second Allied Provinces of Laeral
Following the coup, remembered as the Bloody Summer, the government took steps to decrease the power of the military, including reforming the Laeralian Army into the Laeralian National Security Force. However, the government's weak response to the crisis had shown that the governmental system was flawed, and the Republic's leaders were forced to accept governmental restructuring. In 1954, delegates from each province gathered in Laeralsford to create a new constitution, with the Republic's President Sun Jia-wei, other Social Democratic leader, and moderate and conservative members taking part in the drafting. This document, known as the Laeralian Constitution, established Laeralian government as it is today. The nation was renamed its original name, the Allied Provinces of Laeral, sometimes known as the Second Allied Provinces to distinguish it from the first. François Guiraud, a member of the moderate Congress Party, was elected as the Second Allied Provinces' first President, while Sun Jia-wei soon became Prime Minister, remaining at the head of the Social Democratic party. The coming administrations largely avoided the large-scale societal change of the Rose Revolution.
In the 1970s, a growing social and artistic movement known as the Meihua (Plum Blossom) Movement, rejected the notion that Laeral's racial issues had been resolved during the Republican period, and agitated for further measures towards racial equality. Supporting the pride and self-betterment of Laeralian Rén, the Meihua Movement eventually succeeded in creating government measures to promote racial equality, notably the system of government quotas for racial minorities. Immigration to Laeral also increased throughout the 1970s and 80s, including large-scale immigration from the Andhra Republic, creating Desi communities within many urban areas.
In 1983, the so-called 'Undeclared War' took place between Laeral and High Fells, in which a series of assassinations, terrorist attacks, and clashes took place between the two nations, which was eventually resolved after High Fellsian dictator Park Gyeong-Suk was overthrown in the June Revolution. This 'Third Fellsian War', while violent and generally regrettable, did not result in large casualties, and the widespread ground war many predicted did not occur.
In the late 1980s, Laeral's economy entered a protracted period of growth. A new export-based economic model, centered on exports of electronic equipment and textiles, produced economic prosperity which was well-distributed among the population. The government repaid its debts in full due to massive GDP growth, which reached at its height 12% annually. Economic growth continued until the late 1990s, while the government chose to invest the increased tax revenues into a new national education system, as well as a large fund for future shortfalls. However, the end of the economic boom in the late 1990s led to agitation and societal discontent; the Soulèvement or 'awakening' protests of 1994-1995 led to constitutional reforms, including a reduction in the powers of the General Assembly. A left-leaning government took power in the early 2000s, enacting social reforms including legalizing same-sex civil unions in 2005.
The nation was shaken by the impeachment of President Maurice Fesnau in 2006 following the investigation of a far-reaching corruption scandal, which resulted in the trial and imprisonment of many Socialist Party politicians. President Ganard, of the Laeralian People's Party, took power after a 2006 special election, only to preside over an economic recession in 2007, which damaged the national economy and brought the Progressives, under President Nicholas Brennan into power. Laeral acceded to the World Assembly in 2016 following extensive legal reforms meant to bring the nation into line with WA standards. Following the 2018 elections, Liu Mei-han was elected President, at the head of the new-founded, centrist New Democratic Alliance (Laeral).
Laeral has 33 provinces, or territorial subdivisions. Each of these provinces is self-governing, and shares authority with the federal government. Provincial borders are almost always set based on geographic features, rather than on latitudinal or longitudinal lines. The Laer-Zhonghui River, for instance, is a part of the borders of 10 provinces. The Beuvron River, which flows northward to meet the Zhongshui River in central Laeral also sets the borders of several provinces. Other major rivers include the Gaoming River (flowing southward to merge with the Zhongshui near Hanshui), the Guilin River (flowing along Laeral's southern border), the Vierge River (flowing into the Beuvron), and the Espoir River (flowing inland from the Albarine Sea).
Laeral has a climate similar to Central China, with cold winters and temperate summers. Northern provinces generally have a cool-temperate climate, while southern provinces are warmer. Coniferous and mixed forests exist in much of continental Laeral, while there are broad-leafed forests in southern Laeral. The area known as the 'Riverlands' (areas around the Zhongshui River) is extremely fertile, while other regions of Laeral are less fertile due to the existence of a 'shield' of igneous bedrock which leaches potential nutrients from the soil. As a result, the Riverlands region is more densely populated than other regions of Laeral, and a majority of urban centers are located along it.
Some areas of Laeral are very rainy, such as Aumont or Laeralsford (which each rain roughly one day in three). In most provinces, it snows several times per year. In some provinces, there is often snow on the ground for 4 months a year. Rivers are the lifeblood of Laeral, and rivers such as the Laer, Zhongshui, and Rellis often flow through major cities. These rivers also support a thriving fishing industry, as well as habitat for spawning carp and salmon. Laeral's climate also supports certain forms of agriculture. Rice is grown in many low-lying coastal areas, and fruit is sometimes grown in the interior. Silk is also grown by way of mulberry trees. As for natural disasters, Laeral most often suffers from floods or hurricanes.
Laeral's forests have diminished over the decades, although large swathes of territory remain largely forested. The Golden Larch, Maidenhair (Gingko), Umbrella Pine, and Chinese Plum are all major tree species in Laeral, with the plum blossom (meihua) of the latter being an important Laeralian national symbol. Bamboo also grows in southern portions of Laeral, where it is used as an important manufacturing and construction material.
Large wild animals in Laeral include the brown bear, lynx, 'snow cat' (snow leopard), Chinese mountain cat, and grey wolf, although these are widely hunted and now have a severely curtailed frequency and range. Other wild mammals include the Summer Dog (raccoon dog), the Iduvian red and water deer, the marsh deer (Pere David's Deer), and the marmot. Birds common in Laeral include various cranes, the snowcock, the heron, various swans, and various pigeons.
Laeralian meat raised for cultivation lacks large pasture animals such as cows. Farmers instead focus on keeping geese, ducks, chickens, grouse, pheasant, and pigs, as well as sheep and goats in mountainous areas. Carp are farmed in the Riverlands, and water buffalo and oxen are kept as plow animals. Notable foods grown in Laeral include rice, some grains, tea, and many types of fruits and vegetables, including lychees, almonds, citrus fruits, and other products. Flowers are also grown.
Laeral has a beautiful environment, with many areas preserved as national parks. Notable attractions can be found in some of the more rural provinces, as well as in some coastal provinces such as Althea. Environmental legislation protects environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands and old growth forests, and tourism and development are severely restricted into some areas. Some areas, conversely, are heavily developed, such as the Laeralford area and certain sections of Cenefort. Additionally, very strict environmental regulations govern water pollution, as fishing is one of Laeral's largest industries. This was not always the case; until the 1960s, the environment was not a major concern in Laeral. However, pollution remains an issue in many areas of Laeral's old industrial belt.
Laeral has a population of over 79 million people. The fertility rate is 2.34, slightly above the minimum 2.1 rate needed to replenish the population. Life expectancy is high in Laeral: 81.47 years for newborn girls and 79.08 for newborn boys. Ethnic groups present in Laeral include the Arrivée, the Rén, the Gao, and various minority groups. Laeral's ethnic makeup has also been shifted by immigration of minority groups such as Desi, who make up a growing percentage of the population. A large percentage of Laeral's population is mixed-race, largely the result of marriages between Arrivée settlers and Rén natives.
Laeralians tend to be on the small side, with hair ranging from light brown to jet black and pale complexions. They tend to be shorter than global average. Additionally, roughly 94% of Laeralites identify as straight. Laeral's population is increasingly aging, as the average life expectancy has increased. This is beginning to place a burden upon senior care services, and the government is currently hard at work on increasing funding for state-run senior care providers.
Laeralian culture is known for adhering to the Confucian paradigm of valuing education as a means to improve one's socioeconomic position in society. Heavy investment and a cultural valuing of education has consistently brought the nation to the top of global education rankings; Laeral is one of the top-performing countries in standardized tests of reading literacy, mathematics and sciences.
The Laeralian education system has been praised for various reasons, including its comparatively high test results and its major role in promoting Laeral's economic development while creating one of the IDU’s most highly educated workforces, with 67.1% of Laeralites going on to attend university. Higher education is divided between public universities and the prestigious and selective National Open Universities (Laeral) (NOUs). The NOUs have been criticized for alleged elitism; they have produced many if not most of Laeral's high-ranking civil servants, CEOs, and politicians.
Mandarin was historically the primary language of Laeral. When the French initially arrived, however, French became a language that all people were required to know, and inhabitants of the colony were discouraged from speaking Chinese. Under the Rose Revolution, Mandarin and French achieved equal prominence in the education system. The majority of Laeralites are multilingual, and diplomats and civil servants often learn another language. English is widely taught in schools. Linguistic diversity is a major political focus in Laeral, with all government documents required to be in Chinese, French, and English. The Académie Linguistique is a government agency responsible for regulating the practice and expression of language in Laeral; notably, Laeral switched from the older Wade-Giles system of romanization to the modern pinyin system in the 1980s.
According to the 2014 Census, Laeral's religious breakdown is:
Minjian Faith: 34.3%
Other: 8.4% The Minjian Faith is a dualistic religion which originated in Laeral; the Minjian High Conclave, the central organ of the faith, is located in the Laeralian city of Miaoshi.
In general, residents of the more rural, western provinces tend to be more religious than easterners. Laeral has never been as religious as its neighbor of High Fells, and many Laeralian clergy are relatively liberal compared to their foreign counterparts.
It is important to consider that even many who consider themselves agnostic often obey Rén traditions and superstitions, out of respect for Laeralian traditions and heritage. In Rén tradition, certain numbers, such as 3, 7, and 12, represent certain positive qualities, while other numbers, such as 4, 11, and 23, are unlucky, because they represent certain negative qualities. Additionally, around the date of the Lunar New Year, superstitious citizens will refrain from cutting objects and using knives, while they will make sure to eat certain traditional foods.
Although Laeral is technically a group of Allied Provinces, modern political power is largely vested in the national government. Each province is headed by a Governor or First Minister, as well as a provincial Legislature, to conduct self-governance. The leader of Laeral is the President of Laeral, who is currently Liu Mei-han. The President serves for 4-year terms, but can only be reelected to the Presidency once. The President serves as Laeral's head of state, although they have some power to delay bills and to speed their passage, assuming that a bill has passed the House of Commons by a 2/3 majority. Other than that, the President's role is only: 1. to name a Prime Minister and assist in government formation, 2. to break ties in any house of the National Assembly, 3. to decide Laeral's vote in international groups such as the World Assembly, 4. to assist in forming Laeral's Cabinet, 5. to serve as the face of Laeral and to represent the nation to foreign powers, 6. to execute various other official duties, 7. to assume more decision-making power in one of several strictly defined times of emergency. The Prime Minister is required to be officially appointed by the President, although the President will sometimes reluctantly appoint a PM selected by the National Assembly who is of a different party than the President, if the National Assembly is controlled by a different party than the President's own. They are responsible for overseeing the National Assembly, and can be voted out of office if they lose a majority in the National Assembly. Their unofficial roles involve ensuring that their legislative agenda is passed. The current Prime Minister is Nicolas Martin.
Laeral has a bicameral legislature known as the National Assembly, consisting of the Assembly of Commons and the General Assembly. The Assembly of Commons and General Assembly must vote with a majority in order to pass a bill on to the other Assembly. The bill needs a simple majority to pass. In the event of a tie, the bill fails. In order for a bill to become law, it must be passed by both Assemblies, although the President has some power to delay a bill. Additionally, a bill passed by a 2/3 majority of the Assembly of Commons does not need to pass the General Assembly if the President chooses to sign the bill. The Commons, consisting of 386 Representatives, is elected nationwide by party-list proportional representation, every two years. Two Delegates from each province are elected to the General Assembly according to a staggered six-year schedule, using instant-runoff voting.
Laeral has numerous major political parties, which tend to alternate power. Governments are almost always formed via coalition, although parties sometimes enter minority governments.
Laeral's judicial branch consists of a large network of local courts, a Provincial Court for each province, and a National High Court which tries criminal and civil cases appealed from lower courts, following a majority vote of it's 7 Magistrates, including a Chief Magistrate (currently Hua Jiang). Judges and Magistrates serve for 20 years. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court is the highest court in Laeral, responsible for ensuring that the constitution is upheld, and capable of nullifying laws and impeaching politicians. It has a large membership, with magistrates randomly assigned to try each case.
Foreign Relations and Military
Laeral is an active member of the World Assembly, and has full embassies with numerous nations; Laeralian foreign policy has traditionally focused on opposing imperialism and promoting cordial relations. Laeral generally has positive bilateral relations with members of the International Democratic Union, and generally supports multilateralism. Laeral's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially the Foreign Service, are considered very prestigious careers, and pay well. This represents a change from Laeral's inward-looking stance, which was the norm until the Republic period.
Laeral's military is divided into four branches- the Laeralian National Security Force, the Laeralian Navy, the Laeralian Air Force, and the Laeralian Gendarmerie.
The Laeralian National Security Force, restructured from the Laeralian Army following the Bloody Summer coup attempt of 1952, totals around 90,000 combat personnel. Their military doctrine concentrates on rapid strikes and flexibility; the LNSF often lacks heavy weaponry and armored vehicles such as tanks. During the Second Lauchenoirian Civil War, LNSF forces saw direct combat in an extended operation in Lauchenoiria, bolstering confidence in the LNSF's capability to conduct prolonged operations abroad.
The majority of Laeral's military budget goes to the Navy. Given Laeral's large coastline and the economic importance of Laeral's sea area, Laeral's navy is well funded, to the point that Laeral's indigenous shipbuilding programs have produced numerous ship classes and are in the process of building an aircraft carrier to aid in foreign force projection. In the meantime, the Navy focuses on smaller frigates for trade escort and coastal defense duties, focusing on bluewater operations. Laeralian naval ships can be found around the International Democratic Union. Laeralian shipyards have produced ships including the advanced Defiance-class.
The Laeralian Air Force, consisting of around 140 combat aircraft, is responsible for supporting the operations of other branches of the military and protecting Laeralian airspace.
The Laeralian Gendarmes are responsible for the protection of embassies and consulates worldwide as well as serving as elite special operations soldiers. Gendarmes, rather than the Army, are generally deployed to small scale trouble spots and secretive missions, and consequently have much more combat experience than the Army.
Laeral's economy is dynamic, thriving, and export-based, constructed partially along the principles of moderate socialism. The Laeralian economy is dominated by the tourism, fishing, and textile industries, with media, and agriculture close behind. All of those industries receive substantial subsidies, but are also heavily regulated- as are most Laeralian industries. Laeral's economy is doing extremely well, but challenges are posed by high structural unemployment and an aging population. Laeral is currently in a period of economic expansion. Laeral's export-based economy has led to an emphasis on free-trade agreements with foreign nations.
Laeral is a generally secular, multicultural nation with a growing population. The education system is considered among the best in the IDU, featuring an extensive network of public universities, capped by the prestigious National Open University system.
Laeral's film industry plays a significant role in the nation's culture and economy, with Jinhua province being a center of the industry. The 'Five Giants' are a quintet of film studios dominating the Laeralian film scene; Marion-Guichard Productions is known for favoring artsy fare, while Silver Harvest favors big-budget action movie reboots, spin-offs, and sequels. Laeralian literature, meanwhile, dates back to at least the year 1200, which is roughly the date of the oldest written work ever found in Laeral, a manual of farming practices. Famous Laeralian books include The Cycle of Ascendancy, a Laeralian patriotic tale; Drawn Curtains in the Silver Chamber, the story of a noble family in decline; Letters of a Lady's Hand, an intrigue/romance taking place around 1790; The Servant's Tale: Parables of Devotion, an anthology dating to 1827, and The Chens of Hanshui, a novel dealing with themes of race in the modern era. In fine art, the work of Élisabeth Vérène le Bonnaire is highly prized.
Race remains a significant dividing line in Laeralian society, with the historical weight of imperialism and subsequent systemic racism weighing upon the nation. With linguistic, religious, and cultural differences between Rén and Arrivée, racial tensions remain to this day. Interracial marriages have been fairly common throughout Laeralian history, leading to a large mixed-race population. For decades, government action has worked to reduce racial disparities; housing segregation has decreased, the civil service and politics largely match the nation's demographics as a whole, and the disparity in average household income has decreased.
Great strides have been made in gender equality as well, also due to government action. Laeral is highly ranked on measures of female workforce participation and in other measures of societal equity.
Football (soccer) is the most popular team sport in Laeral, and a football stadium is found in nearly every town or city. Laeral notably hosted the 2018 IDU Football Championship. Organized play is dominated by Ligue 1, which consists of the 20 best teams in Laeral. Play in that league is dominated by two dueling teams, Laeralsford AC and Ville Laeralsford, as well as teams such as Hanshui and Althea FC. There is also the Ligue Provincial, which is below Ligue 1 and consists of the teams relegated from that league, which make up the 24 second-tier football teams in Laeral. Other popular sports include basketball and handball. Laeral has experienced success at recent Olympics, notably in speed-skating, fencing, basketball, and football.
Laeral generally has highly developed infrastructure, although some rural areas do not have the same level of high-tech infrastructure as in urban areas. For example, 97% of Laeralites have internet access, practically every Laeralite has a phone connection, and the vast majority of Laeralian households have a television.
The primary method of transportation is through Laeralian Railways, Laeral's state-run high-speed rail system. Laeral has over 29,000 kilometers of track in total, although not all of this is high-speed. International airports exist in numerous large cities. Laeral also has eight deepwater seaports, which manage much of Laeral's import-export trade.
Laeral generates roughly 278 million KwH (Kilowatt-hours) of electricity per year, mostly for domestic consumption, although a small fraction of this is exported. Nuclear power generates close to 30% of Laeral's electricity, although the system is gradually being phased out as part of a transition to renewables. Fossil fuels continue to make up around 20% of Laeral's electricity mix; natural gas is extracted in the Xueyan Special Administrative Region.