Friday, July 4, 2008

Forgotten Lands: Zagria & Bahar


This is the final installment of the Forgotten Lands project.

All sixteen of the Forgotten Lands -- their entries here on L&TM5K, Cartophiliac's maps, and anything else that might happen to them in the future -- are now indexed here.

If your own Remembered Land is having its national holiday today, I hope you have a great one!!


Population: 6,734,232 (1995 Census)

Economy: Zagria is an agricultural exporter, especially of grains, apples, grapes, and cheese. A coal/steel based heavy industrial sector suffers from aging and obsolete factories and facilities and from international competition. Oil fields underlying the southern plains of Svisla province provide Zagria’s most important source of foreign exchange.

Zagria is an anomaly in Eastern Europe. In this region of the Earth, as in no other, countries represent the territorial aspirations of cultures. The Poles have their Poland, the Slovaks their Slovakia, the Magyars their Hungary, and the half-dozen former Yugoslavs their half-dozen former Yugoslav republics. Yet within this mosaic of nation-states sits heterogeneous Zagria. Polyglot (Hungarian, Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian), religiously inclusive (Catholic, Orthodox, Islamic, and, surprisingly, Lutheran), Zagria is easily as culturally diverse as any other similarly sized piece of land on Earth.

For all of this, many observers find Zagrian society is disappointingly prosaic. Its many ethnic groups have neither walled themselves off into discrete enclaves, nor exhibited an unusual degree of mingling or intermarriage. There is little sense of animosity or contention between the people of this land, but neither is there any widespread sense of patriotism or national unity (Menillini, The New Nationalism).

Since independence, Zagria has gone through prime ministers at a rate of more than one per year, with parliamentary coalitions in constant flux and no political party able to maintain a stable majority. Post-communist economic stagnation and a widespread culture of corruption and bribery have created fertile grounds for a shadow oligarchy of ostentatious gangster-businessmen and their well-dressed thugs. To the average Zagrian of any culture, such things have long since ceased to excite much anger. “In Zagria,” wrote Brevograd’s great novelist Gnadyy Zvori─ç, “public life is as constant as weather, and as fruitfully cursed.”

Flag: Based on the shields of the medieval dukes of Zagria, the flag is a simple black diagonal through a field of dark green.

Capital: Djiranda
Population: 2,200,000 (1996 estimate)

Economy: Major exports include Meditteranian agricultural products (grapes, dates, wheat), fish, and some oil. There is a growing industrial sector, of which leading products are glass, machine parts, and sporting equipment.

A fertile coastal land nestled against the mountains of Asia Minor, Bahar has always been, as Woodrow Wilson once observed, “too rich to be free. She is forever coveted by her mighty neighbors” (Greenberg, American Mediterranean Policy and Practice, 1900-1940). Throughout recorded history, Bahar has been subject to a parade of empires: Greek, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, British, French, Italian (during the Second World War), and finally, until 1971, the British again.

Because of this “Colonial Tradition,” neither the world at large nor the native inhabitants are accustomed to thinking of Bahar as an independent country. Still absent on most modern maps, Bahar is one of only four countries not to host a U.S. diplomatic mission in 2008. Even within the capital, Djiranda, one sees few national flags or symbols, and “arguments in the tobacco bars and town plazas are more likely to be about the relative merits of football teams or fishing grounds than about national politics” (Fisher, Bahar and the Colonial Tradition).

Djiranda is one of a string of walled, white-washedk towns built along the Mediterranean shore. Although modern stores and factories have been built inland, the streets and buildings within town walls look much as they have for centuries. Few tourists know to look for Bahar, but those who have visited typically rhapsodize over the beauty and charm of these ancient but vibrant ports.

Wine pressed from the grapes grown on the south facing slopes of Bahar’s coastal hills has been declared among the world’s best by many leading authorities. Unfortunately, because production is still small-scale and largely structured to supply the domestic market, few enthusiasts have had a chance to sample these vintages.

Flag: he three colors of Bahar’s flag are green, white, and black. The green and white represent, respectively, Islam and purity. The black field, according to government literature, represents “our national mourning for four millennia of imperialist oppression.” When informed of this symbolism by this writer, one typical Baharian shrugged and replied “independent or not, it matters little.”


Anonymous said...

Is it wrong to want to vacation in Bahar? You've drawn a lovely picture fo it and Zagria.

Zagria makes me laugh a little. It seems a bit like the old SCTV versions of Canada where knock knock zoom zoom was the national pass time.

Love the citations too! I do think that if someone were to stumble across these that he or she would totally believe they are real.

Michael5000 said...

@Boo: We might see you there. Mrs.5000 wants to go too.

Aviatrix said...

I dare a student to knowingly do a school project on one of these countries, or on an entirely made up country of his or her own choosing. The challenge is to do it well enough that the teacher is too embarrassed to call it, for fear of admitting ignorance.