|Federal Kingdom of Lower Columbia|
|Motto: Omnia in modo, fide excepta|
(English: All things in moderation, except for faith)
|Anthem: God Bless Holy Columbia|
|Admission into League||July 13, 2009|
HM King Zachary (1985- )
-First king crowned
-First government proclaimed
22 August 1712
1 October 1715
• 2010 est.
• 2005 census
• Per capita
|HDI||0.963 – Very high|
|Currency||Coulomb (Ç1 = US$2.12) (|
The Federal Kingdom of Lower Columbia is a North American nation located primarily along the Columbia River, near the Pacific Ocean. It is also a founding member of the League of Nations.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government
- 4.1 Organization
- 4.2 Political Parties
- 4.3 National Ministries
- 4.3.1 Ministry of Justice
- 4.3.2 Ministry of Religion
- 4.3.3 Ministry of Defense
- 4.3.4 Ministry of Commerce
- 4.3.5 Ministry of the Treasury
- 4.3.6 Ministry of Foreign Relations
- 4.3.7 Ministry of Transportation
- 4.3.8 Ministry of Education
- 4.3.9 Ministry of Health
- 4.3.10 Ministry of Agriculture
- 4.3.11 Ministry of Energy
- 5 Economy
- 6 Military
The heartland of Lower Columbia lies, unsurprisingly, along the lower portion of the Columbia River, from about the middle of the river's famous gorge west to the Pacific Ocean. The country also includes 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, 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 League nation of Illu'a lies across the Adraman Channel from the kingdom.
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 include volcanic eruptions (the active volcanoes of Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, and Mount Saint Helens all lie within the Lower Columbian heartland), earthquakes, and flooding. Less common are severe storms and tsunamis.
Before founding: 1540s-1715
Beginning about 170 years before the proclamation of Lower Columbian self-rule, in the mid-16th century, the Columbia River Valley 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. 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 irreligious natives became increasingly concerned. Tensions between the established population and the newcomers became more and more strained, although there are few recorded instances of hostility or violence dating from this time.
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. In 1712, three years before sovereignty was proclaimed, the approximately 300,000 inhabitants of the Columbia and Willamette river valleys agreed that it was time to govern themselves. The people decided to establish a monarchy instead of a democracy, 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.
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, though not actually voting in, 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.
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 city in the summer of 1722. The city of Portland was established shortly thereafter, 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 west of the crest of the Cascades and the northern half of the Willamette Valley. He twice led campaigns to extend the borders of the country, first up the Snake River (1743-50) and subsequently along the Pacific coast and up the remainder of the Willamette Valley (1759-68), as far as the present-day Californian border. 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. He presided over the first few Parliaments dominated by the Libertarians. His main achievement was building hydroelectric dams in the territory his father had conquered, including the Grand Coulee Dam. 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 focused on his enigmatic expansion to the royal palace, with its strange architecture and high towers, while delegating many of his royal responsibilities to his staff. Furthermore, he presided over the first Progressive-dominated Parliament, which is infamous for creating Lower Columbia's first economic crisis with its rise in taxes and anti-business legislature. The people became more alarmed when news of this crisis was first publicized. They overwhelmingly voted Conservative in the next parliamentary election, held in 1799. That Parliament exiled Michael I, elected a native Salemite named Brandon to replace him as king, and repealed the anti-business laws, all in the same year.
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 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 judged this to no longer be necessary. His first diplomatic and trade missions to other Pacific Rim 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 shores of Lake Nicholas (which was formed by the Grand Coulee Dam), 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
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-untouched region north of the Lower Columbian heartland, the coast of Puget Sound, Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver, between 1885 and 1891. These areas harbored many liberals, 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; 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 on the Olympic peninsula, 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 both nations joined the League.
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-League countries.
In light of the condition of non-renewable resources, recent kings 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 Adam, successor to Michael the Great, 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, Adam focused on humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, continuing the tradition of royally-funded public housing that Michael II had begun late in his reign. Also, it was during Adam'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 Adam 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 the League of Nations. 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.
- 71% European
- 29% Scandinavian/Germanic
- 11% Swedish
- 6% German/Austrian
- 4% Norwegian
- 3% Danish
- 3% Finnish
- 2% Dutch
- 18.5% British/Celtic
- 12% English
- 4% Scottish
- 1.5% Irish
- 1% Welsh
- 10% French
- 6% Italian
- 3% Greek
- 2% Spanish
- 2% Slavic/Russian
- 0.5% Magyar
- 29% Scandinavian/Germanic
- 12% East Asian
- 6% Japanese
- 3% Korean
- 2% Chinese
- 1% Southeast Asian
- 6% Jewish
- 4.5% African
- 4% Middle-Eastern
- 2% Arab
- 2% Persian
- 2% Indian/South Asian
- 0.5% Native Columbian
- 87.5% Christian
- 32.5% Pentecostal/Charismatic
- 15% Assembly of God
- 8% Vineyard
- 5% Nazarene
- 4% Foursquare
- 0.5% Calvary Chapel
- 25% Protestant
- 11% Baptist
- 5% Presbyterian
- 3% Methodist
- 2.5% Seventh-Day Adventist
- 2% Lutheran
- 1.5% Anglican
- 12.5% Non-denominational
- 9% Orthodox
- 7% Catholic
- 1.5% Mormon/Latter-Day Saints
- 32.5% Pentecostal/Charismatic
- 5% Jewish
- 3% Orthodox
- 1.5% Conservative
- 0.5% Reform
- 2% Buddhist
- 1.5% Muslim
- 4% None/unorganized
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, making him equivalent to its speaker. He does not vote in parliamentary sessions, though he can participate in debates. He presides over the meetings of whichever house is in session on a given day, as the two houses of Parliament never meet on the same day. 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. 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 75,000 citizens. State governments each appoint ten councillors 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 three 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: 199 Conservatives, 190 Libertarians, 39 Progressives and two independents. There are also 120 councillors: 71 Conservatives, 40 Libertarians, five Progressives 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 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 three political parties. Despite their names, all parties are rather conservative; the approximate centers of their political stances are given relative to the Political Compass. In addition, each party is traditionally associated with a color, which serves as its nickname in everyday speech.
Political Compass center: Economic Right +9, Social Authoritarian +6
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 support territorial expansion and increased defense spending.
Political Compass center: Economic Right +8, Social Authoritarian +2
After the Conservatives, the Libertarians have had a mandate to govern most often. They are frequently identified with the mountains and the south. They are known as the Blue Party.
Political Compass center: Economic Right +5, Social Authoritarian +3
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.
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 the Treasury
Government revenues are collected and managed by the Ministry of the Treasury. 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 the Treasury 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 Agriculture
Agricultural subsidies are the main function of the Ministry of Agriculture. It also enforces quality controls on food products and manages the national park system. Vittorio Romano, PhD. is the Minister of Agriculture.
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 US$1.372 trillion in 2009, the second-largest in the League of Nations (after the more-populous Jiesan). 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 League member state, as well as in several non-member nations. 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 the League, with only 1.82% of the population currently unemployed. It also has the highest median household income, which was Ç28,172 (US$59,725) in Q4 2009. 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 almost 20 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. 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 west-central part 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.
Upon turning 18, all Lower Columbians must sign up for the country's selective service program. Once they have finished the highest level of education they intend to achieve, they are required to serve for a minimum of three years. As a result of this program, the Royal Military is composed of 2% 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 399,600 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 six divisions, two of which are armored. The mainstay tanks of these divisions are the DMG-made Beast MBT, Merkava Mk.4, Kriegzimmer-built Arca. IV Nakíl and the Behemoth III SHBT. One hundred seventy 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, four Carrier Battle Groups and 14 Amphibious Ready Groups. The first two of these groups are composed of the following similar complements:
1 flagship, either a battleship (SBG) or battlecarrier (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 Isselmere-built Ungforth-class
2 LSDs, Whidbey Island-class or Isselmere-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 Aequatian-built Viking landing craft may be loaded onto some of these landers.
All these ships are crewed by approximately 233,000 sailors and officers.
For information on the weapons and vessel classes listed above, please see their manufacturing nations' storefronts at the NationStates forums.
The Royal Air Force maintains 2,720 fighters in ten different classes, though over 400 of those planes are based on aircraft carriers. There are also 860 bombers in eight classes, with a smaller fraction of those based at sea. Over 700 helicopters are available for combat in a variety of tasks, and 170 heavy transports can take ground troops to almost any warzone on Earth, given enough refueling stops. The 8,325 pilots and crewmen of these planes are complemented by three times as many ground personnel, for a total of 33,300 soldiers in the RAF.
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