|8, 54.1083109.8114, 109.8114|
|Principality of Meridonia|
Meridonia di Pricipalitas
|• Regional languages||Karolian, Ingerish, Haadic|
|Ethnic Groups||Meridonian, Karolian, Elhadian|
|• Crown Prince of Meridonia||His Excellency Crown Prince Eduardo Gomassori|
|• Prime Minister||Benite Lavato|
|• Upper house||National Assembly|
|• Lower house||None|
|• Estimate (2014)||46,000|
|• Total||$3.13 billion|
|Currency||Karolian Korona (KKO)|
|Drives on the||right|
The Principality of Meridonia is a microstate in central-northern Uletha. It is located completely within Karolia and shares currency and infrastructure with the country. Its capital is Masbar-Citte. The country is a constitutional monarchy with Prince Eduardo Gomassori as head of state since 1979.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Government and politics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Transport
- 6 Arts and culture
- 7 Sport
Meridonia is located in the eastern arm of the Taamras mountains, around 100kms north-east of Vasireii. The territory is approximately 16km east-west and 20km north-south at its widest points, and the entire country lies at least 500m above sea level. The landscape is dominated by the relatively narrow valley of the Vaarlis river in which Parta is located, and the mountains to the north of it, with the capital of Masbar as a near-enclave in the extreme east of the country. Away from the mountain peaks, the terrain is mostly comprised of woodland and rocky outcrops, with the rest more fertile valley and grasslands. Sheep farming has been practised for many centuries. There are small mineral and limestone deposits in the country.
Considering the terrain, Meridonia is a surprisingly urbanised nation: almost 20% of its land area is built upon (by comparison, Karolia is only 1.2% urbanised, including road surfaces) and the average population density is quite high.
Meridonia has sixteen peaks over 2500m, with the highest being Alta va'Meridonie at 3400m forming the top of a range to the north of the country. Other important peaks are Monse' da Garde (3015m);
Meridonia experiences a temperate continental climate with a moderately wet winter and warm summer. The Taamras range creates regular rainfall in the country throughout the year, and there is snow on the highest peaks all year round. Snowfall can be severe in winter.
Only 63% of residents were born in the country. The remainder are Inglish, Karolians, Darcodians and other overseas nationals, although many have one or both Meridonian parents of grandparents. The official number of citizens is not a perfect figure for the number of residents in the country as many citizens have temporary residences, dual nationality, or are migrants on temporary work permits. An estimated figure for the number of permanent residents is around 32,000.
There are at least 3000 Elhadian migrant workers in the country, mostly engaged in low-skilled service and manual jobs and many of whom commute from Karolia where they can get residence more easily. The Meridonian and Karolian governments have yet to finalise legislation relating to the rights and legal status of these individuals, as their exact employment status is often grey.
A seemingly contradictory aspect of Meridonian demographics is that the country has a large number of ex-pats abroad descended from refugees from the wars and poverty of the eighteenth century, despite the modern state attracting wealthy residents from abroad.
The area was settled by tribes from prehistoric times and the main industry seems to have been wool and goat herding. Gold coins and other objects found near Parta suggest that the culture was very similar to that of the rest of northern Karolia and that there was a trade route using or following the river from at least the fourth century BC. In early medieval times the castles at Parta and Masbar were built and subsequently enlarged under the rule of the kings of Aerasmaa and towns grew up around them.
Meridonia often claims it is 'the world's oldest state' as the country is held to have existed since at least 1500BC. However, this is disputable as there was no definite 'kingdom of Meridonia' until AD632 and the territory changed hands after this time.
Meridonia as a modern sovereign state was one of a large number of small states to emerge during the period of the Wars of the Baronacies (c.1300-1450) in the area that is modern Karolia, taking its name from the first dynasty of ruling princes from 1345. As the wars waged, the Meridonian army were able to use the stronghold at Masbar as a base to rule an area of land considerably larger than the modern country for around fifty years, but in 1407 they were defeated and forced back to the borders that stand today. In more peaceful times, the country became an important trading stop due to its location on the river (the mountains to either side were almost impassible) and was able to prosper by charging levies for passage through the country by goods from the north. This, along with the high price of wool from the country, allowed them to remain independent during the Unification of States that formed Karolia in 1794. By the mid-nineteenth century the river and wool trades had severely diminished with the advent of the railways and the country dipped into much poorer standards of living. For a number of years negotiations were attempted to join Karolia, but these were rejected. However, in 1813 a state Meridonian bank and life insurance corporation were established following the ideas of financier Sami Vailii, which was able to produce huge profits lending to new businesses being established in Karolia and Darcodia. At that time clauses in an obscure Karolian law intended to offset the cost of ship passage through Meridonia meant that any Karolian money paid to Meridonia could be exempted from certain tax in Karolia, which meant that profits from Karolian companies would be largely tax-free if payment back of a loan from Meridonia was involved. Even after the Karolian government repealed this, the foothold in the financial market gained by Meridonia and the continued financial trade with Rogolnika was sufficient to be able to develop into the powerful industry of today.
The state bank invested the profits from the loans in gold reserves which were able to be used as securities. In this way the state of Meridonia ended up financing some of the largest projects of the world in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the Mecyna canal, the New Karolian Railway in the 1850s and the foundation of numerous large companies.
In the twentieth century the country became increasingly affluent and standards of living have been amongst the highest in the world since 1920. The banking industry has enjoyed the close cooperation of the state which has also encouraged the development of high-end tourism to the country.
Government and politics
Main article: Monarchy of Meridonia
Meridonia has been a monarchy since its foundation, although today the ruler has more limited legislative powers than historically and must seek the approval of parliament, which they lead. Since 1608 the Gomassori family have ruled continuously. The current head of state is Prince Eduardo Gomassori, who ascended to the throne in 1979 after the death of the previous monarch, Princess Carolina II. The throne may pass the to the eldest child of either sex.
The National Assembly (Assembla Nacionala) is comprised of forty-five members in a single chamber who are elected using a first-past the post vote every five years. They are lead jointly by the Prime Minister (Primo Ministero) and the monarch.
Meridonia is divided into seven counties; Agosta, Campe Merida, Cavello, Masbar, Parta, Pilazo, Poste Briannon and Val Trentago. These are further divided into a total of forty-five parishes by population, each returning a member to the national assembly.
Meridonia has cordial diplomatic relations with most countries and tends to limit its involvement in foreign affairs to business that affects the financial industry. The usually friendly relationship with Karolia have occasionally involved the issue of tax avoidance due to the vastly different economic models of the two countries, but since Meridonia is reliant on the larger state for its currency and defence and Karolia for loans these have never caused any serious tensions. Indeed, the two states have one of the longest official alliances in the world, have no border controls and share at least two common languages. The Meridonian government tends to share an office in Karolian embassies worldwide.
Today, most of the Meridonian economy is based around banking and financial services, with some small industry, farming and tourism. Meridonia has one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in the world and contains one of the highest concentrations of private banks. Personal income taxes are also lower than most equivalent economies. The standard of living is rated as one of the highest in the world and the country has a HDI rating of 0.91. The country has been in a currency union with Karolia since 1931 but mints its own designs for the reverse of all denominations of Korone coins and notes, although all designs are valid in both countries.
There are currently 246 banks registered in Meridonia, along with nearly 500 insurance and other financial organisations. Luxury property is also a lucrative trade in the country.
The financial system in Meridonia has been criticised for allegedly aiding international money-laundering, helping multinational corporations and individuals to avoid taxes, and for artificially inflating the value of their gold reserves. The state refutes all three.
Meridonia contains two ski resorts. Tourists are also attracted by the castles in Masbar and Parta as well as smaller historical sites, wineries, the Masbar Casino and other high-end pursuits. Some of the best chefs in the world have restaurants in the two main cities.
There are about 230km of roads in Meridonia. There are no double-width highways other than a short stretch near Parta and the national speed limit is 100km/h. National roads are numbered with an 'E' prefix. Due to the affluence of residents and the high instance of car ownership (88% of residents over 18 own a vehicle), public transport is limited and is mostly comprised of tourist buses from the stations at Masbar and Parta. Several taxi companies run in Masbar and Parta.
Railway service in Meridonia is provided by the Karolian RVK/KSF: the only station in the country is at Parta, which is owned by Meridonia. Masbar is served by Stacione Masbar-Porte, a station on the Karolian side of the border with a connecting bus service to the town. There are very few long-distance services: regional trains run to and from Vasireii.
There is no fixed-wing airport in the country, partly due to the undulating terrain. Visitors normally arrive at Vasireii airport, or the smaller private airfield to the north-east of the city. There are, however, two heliports in Masbar: one on the roof of the city hospital and one a short way out from the city. The latter is used extensively by business customers.
Arts and culture
The only full-time professional ensemble in the country is the Royal Corps of Trumpets who are part of the Royal Guard. There is a semi-professional orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfonia va Meridonia, in Parta, as well as an associated youth orchestra.
There are three professional football teams in Meridonia; all play in the Karolian national leagues. As there are only two football pitches in the country that currently meet standards for professional fixtures, games must be organised so that one team is playing away every week. FC Parta currently play in the second division of the Karolian Liiga 2.
Meridonia fields a national team for international fixtures, however they have never progressed beyond the second qualifying round of the football World Cup. They did qualify for the Archanta Cup in 1996 but failed to leave the group stage. Despite the indistinguished national team record, a few high-profile footballers have been born or taken up residency in the country.
The Royal Course near Masbar is a noted golf course and hosts the annual Meridonia Royal Series international tournament.
Professional tennis player Roberto Salen was born in Meridonia.