Ardalia

The Republic of Ardalia

Republika Ardaska
Flag of Ardalia
Flag
StatusIndependent
Capital
and largest city
Hran
Official languagesArdalian
Recognised national languagesStandard Caropsyne
Religion
Catheric Church
Demonym(s)Ardalian
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic
• President
Lenar Orvos
• Premier
Tereza Darvas
LegislatureNational Assembly
History
• Kingdom
1000
• First Republic
1910
• Letzek Regime
1945
• Second Republic
1983
• Third Republic
2000
Area
• Total
168,630 km2 (65,110 sq mi)
• Water (%)
1.80
Population
• 2020 census
15,890,448
GDP (nominal)estimate
• Total
$205.09 billion
• Per capita
$12,907.00
Gini33.7
medium
HDI0.620
medium
CurrencyArdalian Lita (ARL)
Time zoneUTC +2
Date formatdd-mm-yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+12
ISO 3166 codeAR
Internet TLD.ar

Ardalia (Ardalian: Ardaska), officially the Republic of Ardalia (Ardalian: Republika Ardaska) is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic in Southern Thearea. It borders the Caropsyne Pontanore to the northwest, Rygaria to the east, Loslakia to the northeast, and Prassia to the southeast, and shares maritime borders with the Pontanore and Prassia. Its capital and largest city is Hran. The country has a population of 15.8 million. In total, Ardalia covers an area of 168,630 square kilometers organized into fifteen districts.

For over nine hundred years, the country was ruled by a unbroken line of monarchs from the House of Mazga. At the start they were seen as benvolent leaders but with each successive century, they had turned into cruel autocrats. The monarchy was overthrown in a popular uprising in 1910 which brought about the establishment of the First Republic. Ardalia's first Premier, Frenc Letzo, led the country over its first decade and oversaw a new golden age. The nation suffered from economic and political instability during the thirties. While it ended in 1935, Ardalia joined Caropsyne Pontanore and her other allies in the Great War in 1938 when Loslakian soldiers were spotted preparing to invade the country. After the war, General Frelno Letzek a staged a military coup and toppled the First Republic. He would go on to rule Ardalia with an iron fist for thirty-seven years before being removed from power in 1983 following the disastrous loss in the Ardalian-Caropsyne War. The Second Republic was formed in the aftermath, marking a high point for the country (including the full restoration of relations with the Pontanore) but collapsed in 1996 due to the outbreak of the devasting Ardalian Civil War. After four long years of bloodshed, the nation remained intact and the current Third Republic was established.

Due to Ardalia's geographic location, it has long been considered a crossroads between eastern and western Thearea enabling it to create a unique and vibrant culture. It is a land of rich fertile plains, snow-capped mountains, and illydic scenic coastlines. The Republic is classified a developing middle-income country. Ardalia's economy is largely dependent on industry and agriculture, particularly grains, livestock, minerals, and timber. Tourism has grown over the decades due to its warm sandy beaches, breathtaking mountains, relaxing spas, and charming old cities. While known for its relatively high gender equality, Ardalia suffers from a high crime rate (attributed mostly to drug usage, drug trafficking and corruption). It's a member of the Council of Nations, the Thearean Community and other major international organizations.

History

The Kingdom of Ardalia (1000-1910)

The people of modern-day Ardalia originally organized themselves around dozens of small territories led by a chieftain. Each of these focused around a river valley or basin with the villages in it, bound by the surrounding elevated terrain. They farmed and herded animals on the rich plains and fished along the coast. Several chiefdoms formed a principality with the four most powerful being Hran, Taerisz, Kanryk, and Greszin. Through a combination of shrewd diplomacy and fights against his rivals spanning a five year period, the Prince of Hran Elek Mezga, had secured the entirety of the country. He would be crowned on the first day of 1000, formally creating the Kingdom of Ardalia. The House of Mezga would go on to rule for over eight hundred years. Four years into his reign, the entire Ardalian people were converted to the Catheric faith.

As the centuries passed, the monarchy kept the Ardalian people safe, protecting her from the ambitions of neighboring Caropsynes and Loslakians. Though the borders of the Kingdom remained unchanged, the Ardalian kings could not ignore the growing Empire to their west. The Lindites of Carops in the span of three decades took possession of the island of Casona, established colonies in Polythia, and subjugated the Jaj. King Nandor V decided that Ardalia could not afford to stand by. In 1749, he claimed the Forlæan Islands in the Thearean Sea as soverign Ardalian territory. He also attempted to compete for colonies in Polythia but none of them were successful.

By 1843, the last Caropsyne King, Olimand the Great, agreed to the downgrading of the monarchy from a Royal Family to merely a Royal House, enabling a democratic government to manage the country's affairs. Ardalians observed the progress being made across the border and calls for a elected Assembly (which would transition Ardalia into a constitutional monarchy) to take a dominant role in leading the nation grew rapidly. The Megzas would not give in and their once benevolent leadership turned to one of outright cruelty. Throughout the remainder of the their reign, the Kings would put down riots with lethal force but still provided the common people with some notable reforms during the 1860's and 1870's including a national education system, the first state-sponsored health clinics, limited workers rights, and the formation of an independent judicary. Railways connecting Ardalia with Loslakia, Carops, Prassia, and Rygaria were all constructed during the final decades of the Megzas.

One of the most horrendous acts by the monarchy occured in 1905 where three-thousand individuals were massacred in Hran, all of whom were peacefully requesting the right to participate in the governance of their country. Up to that point, only a very small minority of people wanted to remove the monarchy even in light of the limited rights they possessed. The events on that dark day would seal the fate of the monarchy. In the wake of the Hran Massacre, pro-democracy movements (including one such cell led by Frenc Letzo) secretly rallied military resources and stirred up the public. For five years, there were regular riots and worker srikes, all of which were put down by the King's army. As the time approached to spark their coordinated revolution, secret contact was made with the-then Caropsyne Premier for support following the demise of the Mezgas.

On a bright sunny morning in the fall of 1910, a hundred-thousand individuals descended upon the Royal Palace in Hran, holding banners demanding the King's abdication and calling for a free democratic Republic. The crowds get right up to the edge of the palace but the guards did not react: they held their positions at the gates and along the walls. Inside, the King's advisors urged him to appease the masses outfront and give them their elected parliament, but he would not budge. He felt betrayed by his people for going against their 'father,' a viewpoint the Megza Kings had always maintained throughout their reign. The monarch called in military reinforcements to disperse the crowd but unknown to him the soldiers surrounding Hran had been persuaded to defect and join the revolution. Their commanders had lost control of them and informed him that other forces were barely hanging onto control in other cities where other protests had broken out or defected to local revolutionary groups elsewhere in the country. Night befell the capital when the King gave up.

A three sentence proclaimation announcing his abdication was drafted by his personal secretary and he proceeded to sign it. With a stroke of a pen, over nine hundred years of monarchical rule was ended. He emerged from the palace with his family. He called out to the crowd and asked them to select one individual to speak for all of them. The gates were opened and Frenc Letzo, the leader of the largest pro-democracy movement, approached him. No words were exchanged, just the signed proclaimation. He nodded for him to take it and go back to the crowds in front of the palace - a cascade of microphones and megaphones were hurried to the front so he could read it aloud. Before he could finish, cheering broke out. Several minutes later, he and his family were escorted from the palace and taken to one of their estates along the Dracian Coast to await their fate.

The following day, the leaders of the ten largest movements met in the former Royal Palace and convened a constitutional committee to write Ardalia's first-ever constitution. Letzo invited Caropsyne scholars to help guide them as they outlined their new republic's fundamental principles, individual rights, and political structure. At first snow, the nation's first-ever election was held to approve the 1910 Constitution and determine the composition of the first Assembly. Letzo's Democrats won a solid majority, making him Ardalia's first premier. On the last day of 1910, the First Republic was officially born. The fate of the royal family remains unknown to this day though some suspect that Premier Letzo secretly ordered their execution.

Early Days of the First Republic (1910-1938)

The newly-seated Assembly convened at the start of 1911 and got to work. One of their first acts was the creation of a new currency and to cease using the old coinage and banknotes of the Mezga Kings by the end of the year. The currency that would become legal tender would be known as the Lita. The National Bank quickly took steps to set a reasonable exchange rate to ensure a swift transition as desired by Premier Letzo and his Democrats. The Lita was put into circulation at the beginning of 1912. At the same, the Assembly decided that they needed a new building to convene their meetings, giving democracy a everlasting momument. While their building was under construction, they would use the vacated Mezga Palace - eventually moving into their new chamber in 1913.

Frenc Letzo, Ardalia's first Premier, faced numerous challenges during his first tenure as the leader of the newborn Republic. The introduction of the Lita was generally successful but it would take three years before there was sufficient confidence in both the domestic and international currency markets. At the same time as he was trying to ensure the country remained as one. Regular protests broke out across Dracia by those who believed the new central government in Hran had done nothing to improve their lives since the fall of the monarchy in 1910. The Premier attempted to calm tensions but little progress was made and as elections approached at the end of 1915, Dracian leaders took it one step further and threatened secession if their demands were not met. The Government could neither afford a war so early in their new Republic's life nor would they permit the entire region to leave Ardalia as it would result in the country becoming landlocked. In the week leading up to the vote, Letzo and his Democrats passed legislation that would permit the District Councils some devolved responsibilities.

As the Lita's stabilized and the threat of secession subsided, Letzo was able to continue holding the Premiership. Ardalia was finally in a positive to make expansive reforms in land, education, healthcare, and worker's rights. An influx of foreign investment and increased confidence in the Lita enabled the Government to undertake a program of aggressive industrialization in the nation's largest cities. A cultural and intellectual revolution took hold in Hran which saw a wave of intellectuals, scientists, and artists move in. The University of Hran became one of Thearea's most notable institutions for philosophy while the National Gallery became the center of experimental cubist artwork. Farmers taking advantage of the land reforms passed by the Assembly and utilizing the latest in agricultural technology and horticultural science managed to reap some of the great harvests the plains of Central Ardalia had produced in over a hundred years.

Letzo decided to not run for reelection and there was a changing of the guard in the Democratic Party. Despite their leader's retirement, they would continue to maintain control of the Assembly and Premiership throughout the twenties and early thirties. An global economic recession broke out in 1931 which put the Lita in trouble. It was taken off the gold standard in 1932 and immediately transitioned to a fiat currency backed by the credibility of the Government. While this helped shore up confidence, Factories and mines still shuttered, tax revenues declined and austerity measures had to be implemented to protect vital services as best they could. The Democrats were a precarious position during the depression but managed to retain control of the Assembly, even if they had to establish unofficial cooperative agreements with other parties to get some policies through.

While Democracy still lived in Ardalia during these challenging times, the unelected upper house of the Caropsyne legislaure, the Fostana, seized power using ancient emergency powers in 1933 justifying their reasons for navigating the economic depression and to prevent the far left from destroying Caropsyne heritage. This alarmed the Ardalians and any attempt to convince them to reliquish control fell flat. This would test relations between the neighbors for years to come. The world began seeing the end of the depression in 1935 but the peace would be destroyed in short order as Loslakia (and those in their bloc) increased their aggression towards other nations in Thearea and around the world.

The Great War (1938-1942)

The Great War broke out in 1938. At the start of the conflict, Ardalia was a non-participant while neighboring Carops was. Public opinion was mixed with many desiring firm neutrality. Emissaries from the Fostana requested the-then Democratic Premier Vernez to join the war against Loslakia. They shared with him intelligence their own forces had obtained stating that their northerly neigbor and her eastern ally were preparing to invade Ardalia soon. This was backed up with photographs and maps showing armored columns heading south towards the Canthasian Mountains. He politely sent the Caropsyne emissaries away and discussed the information with the Government - who were also mixed. They recommended it be brought before the entire Assembly for a full discussion.

It resulted in chaos and created a political stalemate. The Loslakians took advantage of the situation, and moved their tanks within five miles of the Ardalian border. After four days of debate, there were calls for early elections. Before the motion could be made, the Premier was informed of the Loslakian armored columns proximity to their mutual border and stood before the Assembly. He called for an emergency unity government, made up of all seated parties (including the single socialist), as war was eminent. He shared the news with his colleagues and the chamber was silent. From where the Loslakians were, they could be in Hran in two weeks. Action was taken an unity government was immediately created.

The Premier was quickly reelected and affirmed by the President. His first act was a general moblization of the Republic's forces and instituted conscription (the first of only two times in the nation's history). Following that, he called for an meeting of the Government to discuss his previous conversation with the Caropsyne emissaries. The meeting went well into the night about allying with the Pontanore in the rapidly-approaching war. All of the political parties were on the record condeming the Fostana dissolution of democracy in Carops a few years earlier. Some of the more right-wing parties believed Ardalia could face the Loslakian threat on its own. The alliance with Carops was only made possible by the passionate speech of the Moderate Party leader stressing that while they could not ignore the Fostana's actions, the threat of Loslakian dominantion of their homeland and all of Southern Thearea could not be tolerated. They could deal with their political disagreements with their ally after the war had been won. The council uanimously agreed, and the Foreign Minister was instructed to inform the Fostana that the Ardalian military would be beside their forces.

The Loslakians and their allies declared war when news broke of the alliance between the Pontanore and the Republic. In the first twenty-four hours, the majority of Ardalia's standing army had been deployed to the shared borders between Loslakia and Rygaria. The Ardalians took an aggressive posture and took advantage of the momentum and began to drive into Loslakia. Once they had gained control of the entire mountain pass between them, they began to fortify their position. The Caropsyne counterparts would attack further north and attempt to cut the enemy forces in half. They were not successful and before long, the war became into a stalemate requiring more and more men committed to the fight.

The front lines would not change for over two years - and over a million Ardalians and Caropsynes would lose their lives in the slog. Things changed for the better in the third year of the war when General Frelno Letzek's 5th Army had been ordered to throw the Loslakians stationed in Balakovo off guard so as to enable the Caropsynes to advance towards the capital of Kilow. Letzek divided his tanks into two separate pincers and had the infantry come in from behind. His entire plan required secrecy. Double agents back in Hran transmitted fake information to counterparts abroad and convinced them at the Ardalian 5th Army had been turned eastwards to Novikov. Confirming that the deception had worked, Letzek sprung his trap on the city and completely surrounded his enemy. Caropsyne military forces then charged northeast towards Kilow. The battle would mark a major turning point in the war and the General's success would lead to the end of the conflict a year later.

The Fall of the First Republic (1942-1945)

Peace returned to Thearea but not within the halls of Ardalia's Assembly. Premier Vernez decided he wanted to retire from politics and called early elections since he believed that under his leadership during the war that his Democratic colleagues would be able to win two-thirds or more of the chamber. The results from the election would say something completely different: while the Democrats held a pluraity of the seats to retain the Premiership, they did not have enough to form a Government. Right-wing parties for the first-time ever made up almost a quarter of the chamber. Three separate attempts were made to form a coalition between the Democrats and more moderate parties but none held. This prompted another round of elections in both 1943 and 1944 and with inconclusive results, effectively paralyzed the country. Despite this, Ardalia did join the Council of Nations in 1944.

Members of the military, led General Frelno Letzek, could see the burning desire for strong leadership to guide the nation in the aftermath of the war and that Ardalian culture was being subplanted by foreign influences. To add to the mixture, fears over a potential communist revolution with support from the defeated Loslakians was circulating in many parts of the country, stoked by the Government's inability to function. Over the course of 1944, the general met with other senior commanders who also shared his concerns for their nation's future, all but one said that they'd join a possible coup to restore order and bring the leadership the people wanted.

Letzek unveiled his hand during the last week of 1944 when he announced the creation of the Ardalian Restoration Movement. He ordered his soldiers and those of the units who had pledged their support to him to leave barracks and move on Hran. The-then Premier proclaimed him an enemy of the state and called for his arrest. He attempted to order soldiers to comply but every military unit, except for the Hran garrison, joined the coup. Letzek swifted encircled the capital within a week. The local garrison were quickly routed letting Frenlo march in. By the end of the day, a press conference was assembled where he said his actions were being taken for the good of the nation's security and that it would only be temporary until political stability could be achieved. As he carried on with his speech, the President was removed from office, the Assembly dissolved, and the Constitutional Court replaced with loyalists. Letzek proclaimed himself Ardalia's sole ruler. It was clear it would not be temporary - democracy would not return for nearly forty years.

The Dictatorship of General Frelno Letzek (1945-1983)

A reign of terror eveloped Ardalia as tens of thousands of left-leaning individuals were arrested by the military and sent to forced labor camps in the Canthasian Mountains. Hundreds of others suspected of potentially being involved in plotting a communist revolution were killed in cold blood. Military forces were deployed in all of the country's major cities to maintain control over the populace. Though the neighboring Caropsyne Pontanore was controlled by its unelected upper house, the Fostana, these aristocrats still held some belief in democracy and condemned Letzek at first for the coup, and then threatened diplomatic and economic sanctions for his actions against the populace. The General was never fond of the Caropsynes and believed that they were responsible for the destruction of Ardalia's ethnic heritage and culture. He banned the learning of Standard Caropsyne in schools, closed every church except for those of the Catheric faith, and suppressed artistic forms that were deemed radical. The Fostana proceeded to withdraw its embassy, ceased all financial assistance to Ardalia, evacuated their expatriates, and promolgated strict rules concerning border crossings between the two countries. Over hundred thousand of Ardalians were expelled from the Pontanore. The wartime alliance was essentially dead by 1950.

As relations between Ardalia and Carops were on the rocks, Letzek and his innermost circle of advisors had been secretly meeting with Loslakian officials for over six months. Both nations had decided that they would privately settle their differences from the war. In exchange for General Letzek granting clemency for many 'low-risk' left-wing individuals he arrested during the first years of his regime (by using a cover story that 'new evidence had been uncovered by authorities showing they are not a threat to domestic stability') and providing Loslakia with an undisclosed amount of resources for a period of five years, they would provide the country with financial support and technical experts to assist the country in building critical infrastructure. Both leaders announced the positive shift in their relations in 1952. Everything about this arrangement was a matter of political expediency and not one of genuine commitment.

The 1952 agreement enabled the border between the countries to be reopened since they were closed back in 1937. The timing couldn't have been better for the General as it completely eliminated possible outcry from the populace as they would quickly see improved economic conditions. When western relations crashed, Ardalia's economy shrunk considerably. Though Letzek was still seen as a tyrant, the clemencies he issued did gain him positive response. Keeping their end of the deal, the Loslakians sent hundreds of well-trained engineers and technicians to transform Ardalia's national infrastructure. Ardalia reestablished relations with Rygaria in 1954 which increased demand for Ardalian goods and prompted development of new industrial developments and mines.

Over the next decade and a half, a frenzy of construction projects were undertaken and largely financed with Loslakian rubles. The Ardalian Railways saw its trackage increase three-fold with many lines expanded with double-tracking. The mainline was increased to four tracks and electrified. Tens of thousands of regional and local roads were paved, many of which were nothing more than dirt paths for longer than a century. Letzek's road construction program would spur more and more individuals to drive prompting the development of the national motorway system. Hran saw all three of its metro lines constructed - its stations adorned with patriotic mozaics and lavish lighting installations. Letzek was a fond environmentalist and took steps to move Ardalia away from coal with the construction of the Sirok Hydroelectric Dam in 1964 along with four others (today providing over half of all electricity in the country). Throughout this entire period of time, hundreds of thousands of state-supported housing units were constructed. Several all-new cities were built including Vaposk and Ustane.

From 1952 to 1977, General Letzek experienced no threats to his rule, thanks in large part to the effectiveness of the secret police. While he released thousands with the signing of the 1952 Agreement with Loslakia, he still would send over seventy-thousand individuals to forced labor camps, some left-wing individuals but most were anti-Letzek dissidents. He would manage to establish a degree of a personality cult and was able to some extent be perceived as a benvolent dictator (made possible by Loslakian funds). Meanwhile in Fostana-led Carops, they continued to keep their easterly neighbor far away but came to an understanding with Letzek which allowed the Caropsyne ambassador to return to Hran in 1974. However relations between the two countries would remain nigh non-existent until 1983.

By 1977, the General believed that his standing agreement with Loslakia had reached its limits, but not before he had purchased several billon Marks worth of weapons, armored vehicles (including artillery), and aircraft. He invited the Loslakian Secretary-General to a state dinner and accused him of secretly organzing communist cells to rise up against him. According to the evidence (which had been fabricated by his political advisors), he stated that he had sent them weapons, money, and military trainers to stage a communist revolution later in the year. What was supposed to be a friendly dinner because a full-on fist fight by dessert. Ardalian-Loslakian relations completely dissintergrated overnight. Rygaria followed suit. Fearing an attack from both the non-existent communists within Ardalia and those across the border in Loslakia, he deployed his military along the shared border. In neighboring Carops, the Fostana did not issue a statement but privately greeted the separation of the Loslakian Bear and the Ardalian Wolf.

Claiming the nation was more at more at risk now since the days of the Great War, his paranoia grew and thousands more were sent to the labor camps. The paranoia he felt prompted him to shift funding priorities away from some of the domestic programs he had introduced to maintain his grip on power in the earlier days of his rule to bulking up the military and spending the nation's dwindling tresaury on pet projects including the construction of an ornate 88-room residence for himself and his family in the capital and the challenging and expensive Kanryk-Odrgez Railway. Ardalia's economy was declining once more and the people began to grumble. 1980 saw the worse harvest in sixty years and his advisors informed him that the nation was on track to potentially experience a food shortage. The General needed a distraction to hold onto power. One arrived but it would lead to his own demise and death. The Caropsyne Fostana secretly got in contact with anti-Letzek organizations and helped them organize his ouster through their embassy.

Ardalian-Caropsyne relations had been more or less frozen since 1950, thawing only slightly in the mid-1970's with the Caropsyne embassy was reopened. Clouds gathered over Thearea in late 1981 when a series of senseless killings were carried out in the city of Ariatra by Ardalian extremists originating from the Forlæan Islands. They had killed sixty-one and injured hundreds more over a span of a week. The Fostana was outraged and immediately undertook an investigation. Three months later, there was circumstantial evidence pointing to General Letzek's possible involvement. He denied any responsibility and expelled the Caropsyne ambassador. Caropsyne forces were mobilized towards the frontier. Unbeknownst to him, forces were conspirating against him: the Fostana had brought their old enemy on side and resolved their long-standing differences and there were small anti-regime forces gathering support waiting for the right moment to strike. Early in May 1982, a final ultimatium was issued and Letzek refused, sparking the Ardalian-Caropsyne War - the only conflict to ever occur between the two nations in their entire history.

The Caropsyne and Loslakian forces crossed the border and won a string victories culminating in the fall of Taerisz four months into the conflict. In their advance, they caused considerable damage to farms, mines, and small villages like Litka. Losing the heart of Ardalia's industrial production caused a decline in troop morale. Despite being outnumbered 2 to 1 (and lacking in the latest military technology), Ardalian soldiers did managed to capture thousands, sending most to POW camps set up in the Canthasians. The Ardalian Army would fight a tactical retreat and set up a defensive parameter around the capital. The opposing navies engaged off the Forlæan Islands but having long been neglected, Ardalia's fleet of ships were completely sunk to the bottom of the Thearean Sea. By first snow, the combined might of Carops and Loslakia were within twenty miles of Hran. After a two-week battle outside Hran, the capital fell to the Caropsyne forces in January 1983. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Hran resulting in Ardalia's loss of the Forlæan Islands to the Pontanore. All Ardalians on the islands were expelled from their homes.

Most of his power evaporated in the aftermath of the conflict. Anti-regime forces took full advantage and rose up against him. Refusing to accept the end was at hand, he ordered the military to fire upon the people but no commander compiled. in the wake of the conflict, most units announced their intention to join the rapidly-growing uprising. Only the intelligence service remained by his side but they were quickly overwhelmed. He was forced out of his stronghold after two days and arrested by the soldiers, tried for his various crimes against Ardalia and executed in Republic Square. Members of Letzek's secret police were hunted down and arrested. General Letzek's thirty-eight year regime was over. The Second Republic was formed with a new constitution. Elections for the first National Assembly in many decades were held in mid-1983.

The Second Republic (1983-1996)

TBD

The Ardalian Civil War (1996-2000)

TBD

The Third Republic (2000-Present)

TBD

Geography

Ardalia is located in Southern Thearea. The country has a total area of 168,630 square kilometers (65,108 square miles). The country lies between latitudes 45°N and 47°N and longitudes 15°E and 19°E. It shares land borders with the Caropsyne Pontanore to the northwest, Loslakia to the northwest, Rygaria to the east, and Prassia to the southeast, and maritime borders with the Pontanore and Prassia. Ardalia has a coastline of 700.70 kilometers (or 435 miles) along the Thearean Sea.

There are two predominant mountain ranges in the country: the Canthasians in the north which define Ardalia's borders with the Pontanore, Loslakia, and Rygaria while the Dracians separates the interior from the coastline. Between these ranges lies the fertile Ardalian Plain. Ardalia's highest point is Mount Borzas (2,169 meters or 7,116 feet) and its lowest point is the seaside resort town of Odrgez. The longest river is the Koros (449.15 miles or 722.84 km) which flows from the Canthasians south through the central plains on its way to the Thearean Sea. The Drina, Pusta, and Rasina are the three other important rivers which also flow from north to south.

Climate

Owing to Ardalia’s geographical location and geography, the climate varies. The Dracian Coast experiences warm dry summers and cool rainy winters. On the Central Ardalian Plain mainly experiences a continental climate with cold winters and warm to hot summers depending on the prevailing western winds. Central Ardalia's climate is very favourable to agriculture which has helped the nation earn the nickname as "Thearea's Breadbasket." The average temperature on the plains is 11 °C (52 °F) and 16°C (61°F) along the coast.

Environment

Ardalians hold environmental sustainability close to their hearts. The majority of the nation's electric power is generated by renewable hydroelectricity. Although a small amount is generated from fossil fuels, imported from abroad, the current Government is committed to eliminating those sources by the end of the decade. Due to the important role agriculture plays in Ardalia's economy, there is always the threat of occasional river flood caused by excessive rainfall due to climate deivations influenced by the western winds. There are twenty-five national parks and 74 landscape protection areas making up 10% of total the land area. Ardalia's forests are primarily in the mountainous northern areas, taking up 19% of the land area.

Politics and Government

Political Structure

The Ardalian Republic is a democracy which consists of the President, the National Assembly, and the Judiciary. Hran is the capital of the Republic.

The President of Ardalia is the nation's Head of State and symbolizes the unity of the Ardalian people. The Constitution empowers them to oversee the democratic functioning of state institutions. They are the commander-in-chief of the Ardalian military but the Government, chaired by the Premier, decides on the deployment and operations undertaken by the armed forces. The President may accept or veto legislation by the Assembly or request the Constitutional Court to check a law's conformity to the nation's founding document. They can initiate national referendums and call general elections. They are responsible for the convening of the legislature and can dissolve it. With the agreement of the government, the head of state "exercises the right of individual pardon", "decides matters of organization of territory" and "cases concerning the acquisition and deprivation of citizenship." The President is elected by the Assembly every five years by secret ballot. The current President is Lenar Orvos.

The Premier is the Head of Government in Ardalia. The Government, led by the Premier, is collective accountable for their policies and actions to the Assembly, to their political party, and ultimately the electorate. The current holder of the office is Tereza Darvas, leader of the Socialist Party, who has served since 10 January 2020. She is both the youngest and first female to ever hold the Premiership. Constitutionally, the President is required to nominate the leader of the political party who wins a majority of seats in the National Assembly as Premier. If there is no party with a majority, the President holds an audience with the leaders of all parties represented in the Assembly and nominates the person who is most likely to command a majority in the Assembly, who is then formally elected by a simple majority of the Assembly. In practice, when this situation occurs, the Premier is the leader of the party winning a plurality of votes in the election, or the leader of the senior partner in the governing coalition. The Premier invested with the de facto executive power in the Republic to 'define the general policy of the Government.' He or she selects the members they wish to serve on the Council of Ministers (the Government) who are first accepted by the Assembly and then approved by the President.

The National Assembly (Ardalian: Vuszt Skupstina Ardaska) is the unicameral legislature of Ardalia. There are 386 deputies elected to five-year terms. The composition of the body is determined by proportional representation. The deputies elect a Speaker who presides over sessions. There are 24 standing committees to debate and report on introduced bills and to supervise the activities of the Government. The Constitutional Court has the right to challenge legislation on the grounds of constitutionality. The Assembly originally met in the Mezga Palace before they moved into their own building in 1912. Prior to the current building's construction, the Assembly met in the vacated Mezga Palace. There are several major political parties who have seats in the chamber: the two largest being the left-wing Socialists and the center-right Moderates who have controlled Ardalian politics since the beginning of the 1990's.

The Ardalian people were given an independent judicary by the late Mezga Kings after a series of strikes rocked the country in the 1870's. The judicary's independence was continued with the establishment of the First Republic in 1910 and reaffirmed when democracy was restored in 1983 following the fall of the dictator Frenlo Letzek. While the nation's highest civil court is the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court is in fact Ardalia's highest judicial authority. They are empowered to review and adjudicate the constitutionality of laws passed by the National Assembly - their decisions are final. The Constitution defines them as the protectors of the Constitution and the guardian of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the People. The fifteen members are nominated by a special committee of the legislature consisting of one member of each seated political party, and elected by the entire Assembly for a single ten-year term. Ardalia's legal system is based upon the principles of civil law.

Military and Law Enforcement

The Ardalian military (Ardalian: Vojna Ardaska) is responsible for ensuring the soverignity and territorial integreity of the state and to defend against any possible aggression made by air, land, or sea, and carry out non-traditional tasks such as humanitarian support during floods, fires, and other natural disasters. The military consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Special Forces. The President of Ardalia is the commander-in-chief of the military but decisions pertaining to their use are made by the Government led by the Premier (when seated as the National Defense Council). The military is a full-time, professional fighting force with currently 51,904 on active duty, far smaller in size than during the four years of the Great War or under the Mezga Kings. Besides the Great War, conscription has only been instituted over the course of the Ardalian Civil War.

The Ardalian National Police (Ardalian: Vuszt Polipija Ardaska) is responsible for all local and national law enforcement. They are also charged with the control and security of the Republic's borders. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There are 28,765 uniformed officers stationed throughout the country. The Police have a dubious reputation for sometimes being willing to look the other way for the right price.

Foreign Relations

Ardalia has a degree of influence in central and eastern Thearea and is considered a middle power in international affairs. The nation's foreign policy is grounded in the mutual alliance and security arrangements it has with the Caropsyne Pontanore spelled out in the Treaty of Taerisz. Policy is also built on the principles of furthering co-operation, economic development, and integration with the other member states of the Thearean Community. Ardalia has been a member of the Council of Nations since the end of the Great War, the Thearean Community, and other international organizations.

Since 1983, the nation's top foreign policy goal was improving relations with the Pontanore and its other neighbor states. In 1994, Ardalia signed basic treaties with Loslakia, Rygaria, and Prassia in which they renounced all outstanding territorial claims in their respective countries, laying the foundation for constructive relations. However, the issue of Ardalian ethnic minorities and their rights in these three countries peroidically cause bilateral tensions to flare up. Since 2000, Ardalia has dramatically increased its commitment to implementing the reunification of divided families and is considered the best in all of Thearea.

Although the Republic is relatively peaceful, there are a number of international disputes it is currently engaged in including:

  • Illicit drugs: due to Ardalia's geographic position, it is a major trans-shipment point for eastern heroin destined for other parts of Thearea; and shipment of amphetamines and methamphetamines from other nations.
  • Ardalian minority rights: Ardalian-Prassian relations have deteriorated for the past four years over the issue of rights afforded to Ardalians residing in Prassia and claims that certain legislation passed by that nation's legislature violates Thearean Community directives.

Economy

Generally considered a developing economy, Ardalia has a GDP of $205.09 billion as of 2020 ($12,907.00 per capita) and an average Human Development Index score of .620. The country has been historically dependent upon exports, mostly of agricultural or mineral goods; while these exports provided hard currency and substantial revenues in times of international prosperity, they left Ardalia dependent upon volatile global market trends, limited self-sustaining economic growth, and resulted in a highly unequal distribution of income. The last Mezga Kings recognized that if they did not improve the economic fortunes of their countrymen that their own rule would be threatened. They invested not only in the people but also in fostering industrialization in the nation's largest cities. Following their overthrow, the newborn Republic was far more aggressive with its industrial policies which in turn encouraged rapid urbanization.

The nation's economy situation did not recover from either the economic depression of the thirties or the Great War of 1938-1942 until well into the fifties when Ardalia was under the military dictatorship of Frenlo Letzek penned an agreement with Ardalia's former foe, Loslakia which not only generated extensive resources to invest in the nation, but generally improved ordinary Ardalians fortunes. The agreement would also dissolve any serious threat to his rule for decades. But Ardalia's true economic boom would start when the Treaty of Taerisz was signed with the Caropsyne Pontanore in 1994, establishing a free trade zone between the two countries. Ardalia's economy was devasted during the later half of the 1990's due to the Ardalian Civil War but the Socialist Governments from 2000 (and with generous economic aid from the Pontanore), Ardalia's economy has been the strongest it has ever been.

It may be better off, but inequality remains elevated, with an estimated Gini coefficient of 33.7 and there are still a small minority making less than $10 a day. The country's unemployment rate is estimated at 5.1% in 2020; however, this figure fails to account for underemployment, which continues to be a challenge for the Government to recitify. Ardalia has a mixed economy with a degree of state regulation of business and an extensive social welfare system. This is due to the perceived failure of neoliberal policies adopted by the Moderate Governments of the 1990's.

As of 2020, it is estimated that roughly 55.2% of Ardalia's gross domestic product comes from the service sector, which employs approximately 51.6% of the workforce. Tourism has become a major source of economic growth over the last two decades. While agriculture only makes up 10.4% of the nation's economy, it still employs 24.7% all Ardalians; manufacturing composes 34.3% of the GPD and provides 23.7% of the workforce.

Ardalia's currency is the Lita.

Agriculture

Agriculture has traditionally been Ardalia's most important economic sector, due in part the nation's favorable geographic and climatic position in Thearea. The overall importance of agriculture to the economy has shrunk consistently over the past several decades as the country has industrialized and diversified economically, with agriculture now only representing 10.4% of Aucuria's GDP, but it continues to provide nearly a quarter of the country's jobs and constitutes 31.7% of the country's exports as of 2020. Ardalia continues to hold the nickname of "Thearea's Breadbasket" due to rich fertile soils found on the Central Ardalian Plains which make up over two-thirds of the nation. Ardalian agriculture is virtually self-sufficient.

Ardalia is a major producer of important staple crops such as wheat, barley, maize, corn, potatoes, rye, sugar beets, rapeseed, soybeans, sunflower, canola, and a wide variety of fruits (notably apples, grapes, plums, olives, peaches, watermelon, etc.). Ardalia has a niche viniculture in Dracia. Livestock and animal products are an important subsector of the nation's agriculture production. Poultry, beef, fish, shellfihs, and pork are all produced in Ardalia, as are eggs, dairy products, wool, and leather. Both sweet and hot paprika, a symbol of Ardalian cusine, is harvested and is regarded as Thearea's foremost producer.

Historically, the majority of agricultural production occurred on small family farms. During the Moderate Governments of the 1990's, the number of foreign and domestic agribusinesses grew dramatically sparking concerns as to the livelihoods of family and traditional farmers. In addition, there was increased attention to potential environmntal concerns related to destruction of animal habitats, monoculture, and the use of pesticides and syntheic fertilizers (i.e. the impact upon the already rich soils of the plains). Our Homeland, the successor of the now-banned Nationalist Front, have found strange allies in the Socialist Government in protecting Ardalia's agricultural sector.

Mining and Forestry

Mining is a important sector of the Ardalian economy, rivalled only by agriculture for much of the country's history. Ardalia is a producer of lead, zinc, iron, tin, bauxite, and various clays. The country also exports salt, lime, glass, ceramics, gypsum, quartz, stone, quicklime. There are proven reserves of both petroleum and natural gas within the maritime and land borders of Ardalia but these have not been tapped since most fossil fuel is imported from Loslakia.

Forestry, in particular the felling of trees for timber, is also economically important for Ardalia. 19% of the country is covered by forests. These are located mainly in the foothills such as the Foothills, the Forest, and the Canthasian Mountains. The composition of forests is various; mostly oak or beech, but the rest include fir, ash, willow, acacia and plane. The felling of trees to produce charcoal is economically relevant in some rural regions, and Ardalia is also a noteworthy producer of pulp, paper, and furniture. Efforts to expand the country's timber industry further are contentious, with opponents arguing that these efforts would result in serious damage to the natural environment.

Industry

The main sectors of Ardalian industry are heavy industry (mining, metallurgy, tool, machine and steel production), mechanical engineering, chemicals (pharmaceuticals and plastics), food industry, trucks and autombile production, textiles, building materials, and wood products (including furniture). The Socialist Government has been committed to further expanding the nation's domestic industry. Industry in Ardalia comprises of over a third of the economy and nearly a quarter of the workforce.

While the growth of industry in the country has been linked to economic development, concerns exist about the links between Ardalia's industrial sector and both water and air pollution in the country. Due to Ardalia's ability to tap into clean hydropower, much of the nation's industry is powered by renewables. The nation's mineral wealth, located beneath the Canthasian Mountains, helps to reduce the need to import from Loslakia, Rygaria or Prassia to keep the factories supplied. The biggest industrial centers in the Republic of Ardalia are Hran, Taerisz, Greszin, Vaposk, and Zirdek.

Tourism

The tourism sector has grown by leaps and bounds since the Thearean Community was established and began with the signing of the Treaty of Taerisz with the Caropsyne Pontanore. Ardalia offers visitors a rich historical and cultural heritage and natural beauty. Visitors can explore a variety of landscapes from the snow-capped peaks of Canthasia, to the sunny beaches and scenic coastline of Dracia, and the wide open plains of Ardalia. In 2019, over 42 million tourists visited Ardalia - a large percentage from other Thearean nations (especially the Pontanore), contributing a fifth of the nation's GDP. Ardalia's tourist season is generally from April through October. July and August are the best tourist months.

The nation's capital, Hran, is a tourist destination itself. Major attactions include Saint Kozak's Cathedral, Republic Square, the National Gallery, the historical city center with its mixture of Art Nouveau and Baroque architecture, the Thermal Baths, and the elaborate Mezga Palace. The city is well known for its vibrant nightlife and immense selection of bakeries, bars, and restaruants. There are also many festivals and events throughout the year, including the continent's largest open-air music concert offering tens of thousands of attendees everything from classical to electronic to jazz and rock and roll in summer. Taking a short train trip or driving a short distance outside of the capital, visitors will find opportunities to go horse riding, cycle the countryside, fish the many rivers, or hike in the many national parks.

To the south lies the mountanious and scenic coastlines of the Thearean Sea in Dracia. The center of tourism in this region is the seaside resort town of Odrgez offer visitors sandy beaches, casinos, and yachting. Throughout the mountain chain, individuals can find numerous spas (like Kiszar and Rezek), scenic vistas to observe the beauty of the sea from above and even Frelno Letzek's expansive summer home in Mavas. This area was only reachable by car until the height of Frenlo Letzek's regime when he ordered the construction of a railway through the mountains and down to the coast. This railway is perhaps the most positive legacy from his time leading Ardalia. Night trains between Hran and Odrgez are offered and almost always sold out. This has prompted the National Railways to evaluate the feasibility of offering more trains during the height of the tourist season. The Forlæan Islands can be reached by ferry to Fazona from Odrgez. Nuum, a coastal town near the border with Prassia, is the last preserved medieval port city still encircled by its original walls. It is a designated world heritage site by the Council of Nations.

Meanwhile far to the north in the Canthasian Mountains, tourists can take in the beauty of the peaks that separate Ardalia from the neighboring countries of Loslakia and Rygaria. Dozens of mountains have been molded to enable skiing. Much of the nation's forests can be found here giving those who enjoy hunting a chance to track down many beasts including deer, bears, and lynx. Located at the foot of Ardalia's second-highest peak is the spa town of Urzok.

Infrastructure

Transport

Ardalia has long served as a critical link in connecting all corners of Thearea. The Republic is well connected to by roads, railways, airports, and seaports. The Socialist Governments, with continued financial aid from the Pontanore, have been investing billions into maintaining, expanding, and optimizing the system.

The nation possesses a roadway network totaling 231,571 kilometers of which 37,937 kilometers (23,573 miles) are national roads (including 4,215 kilometers of motorways and 'B' express roads). 156,902 km are local roads maintained by local and district authorities with the remainder being private though these are considerably of less quality (some of which are even unpaved). The number of road vehicles has risen steadly since the early 1960's with traffic across international borders growing especially fast following the restoration of with the Caropsyne Pontanore. Today there over 5.3 million cars registered passenger cars or appoximately 1 car per 2.9 inhabitants. Coach transport is very extensive: almost every place in the country is connected by buses, from the largest cities to the tiniest villages. These services are scheduled to operate in coordination with the railway timetable.

The railway network consists of 12,740 km of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge track, 100% electrified at 25 kV AC. A majority of the tracks laid and operated on today were originally built during the late 19th century. Rail links exist with all of Ardalia's neighbors though there is a break of gauge with Loslakia and Rygaria due to them using a broader gauge of track. Ardalia is home to what was one of the most challenging railway lines in Thearea: the mountainous Kanryk-Odrgez railway constructed at the height of Frelno Letzek's regime. Both freight and passenger services are operated by Ardalian National Railways. The Hran-Fornænda high-speed service is one of the the most-ridden on the continent. The Darvas Government is actively exploring the feasibility of building a coastal railway from Odrgez to Nuum via Dras.

Although Ardalia is a coastal country, the Dracian Mountains forms a wall between the sea and the plains of the interior. There are three major ports: Kasza, Dras, and Odrgez. Of the three, Kasza handles the bulk of the container freight traffic. This port also posseses a ferry terminal for services to Fazona in the Forlæan Islands and the Caropsyne port of Lazana. Fish disembarkation and processing is centered on Dras. The continual growth in the tourism sector encouraged a Moderate-led Government to open a cruise passenger terminal in Odrgez.

Ardalian Airlines is the national flag carrier and has a complete monopoly on domestic air travel. It posesses a fleet of 18 narrow-body aircraft, connecting the capital with the largest regional cities in the country and notable international destinations primarily in Thearea. There are 18 airports across the country though Hran Frenc Letzo Airport (HRN) experiences the most traffic and serves as the main aviation gateway into the country. The airline offers seasonal services to small airstrips along the Dracian Coast during the summer months.

Tranzitna Hran operates the capital's extensive network of trams, buses, and metro lines. Outside the capital area, urban public transit is primarily composed of buses. The Hran City Council and the Government are currently planning the construction of a fourth metro line in the metro area. Outside the capital, the Government in investing in a large-scale expansion of the small tram networks in Ardalia's second, third, and fourth largest cities.

Energy

53% of Ardalia's electricity is generated by hydroelectric dams high up in the Canthasian Mountains. A further 13% is solar and 10% wind. The remaining 14% is by fossil fuels like coal. Ardalia is a signatory of the Tarkhos Accord passed by the members of the Thearean Community to have all energy produced by renewables by 2035.

Communications

Radiotelevizija Ardaska (RTVA) is the national broadcaster, operating 3 radio and 4 television channels. A small number of private channels exist though they are generally catering to regional audiences. 95% of Ardalians possess a radio and nearly 99% have a television.

Ardaska Telekom is the government-owned company which provides telephone and internet services throughout the Republic. The number of fixed land lines have dropped considerably since the mid 1990's with the introduction of cellular phones. 95% of Ardalians own and maintain a cellular line. Most can access stable 3G service, though faster 4G are primarily in focused in the capital region. The trend towards cellular connectivity aligns with other Central and Eastern Thearean nations over the past two decades. There has been consistent growth in the use of internet since 2000 with 50% being connected to fixed broadband networks, but many rural parts of the country still have dial-up only. Ardalia's calling code is +12 and its top-level internet domain is .ar.

Ardaska Posta is the postal service of Ardalia. Besides normal mail delivery, it also offers logistics, banking, and marketing services. There are post offices in every community. Posta makes use of the national railways to move letters and parcels swiftly across the country.

Demographics

Population and Ethnicity

Ardalia's population is 15,890,448 per results of the 2020 census, making it the x most populous country in Thearea and a medium-sized member state of the Thearean Community. Population density stands at 94 inhabitants per square kilometer. A little over a fifth of the entire population lives in the Hran metropolitan area, 42% of the entire population reside in cities and towns overall. According to the 2020 census, there were 14,937,021 (94%) ethnic Ardalians, 635,617 (4%) Caropsynes, and 317,810 of other ethnicity including Prassians, Rygarians, Corsimenians, wandering Pirez, etc.

Urbanization

Education

Education in Ardalia is publically-supported and overseen by the Ministry of Education. The very first schools were established in the 1860's during the late Mezga Kings as a way to not only prepare the nation for industrialization but to reduce the possibility of individuals rising up against their rule. Preschool-kindergarten education is compulsory and provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is also compulsory until the age of sixteen. Primary education usually lasts for eight years. Secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the Gymnasium enrolls the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the secondary vocational schools for intermediate students lasts four years and the technical school prepares pupils for vocational education and the world of work. The system is partly flexible and bridges exist, graduates from a vocational school can achieve a two years programme to have access to vocational higher education for instance.

Most of Ardalian universities are public institutions, and students traditionally study without fee payment. The general requirement for university is the Matura. The Ardalian public higher education system includes universities and other higher education institutes, that provide both education curricula and related degrees up to doctoral degree and also contribute to research activities. Courses in higher education are not only taught in Ardalia but also in Standard Caropsyne and Loslakian, attracting many international studies every year. Ardalia has a long tradition of higher education: the University of Hran is one of the oldest in Thearea, having been established in 1412. Over the decades it has become one of the continent's most prestigious intitutes of science and technology.

Religion

Historically, religion in Ardalia has been dominated by the Catheric faith as far back as the Kingdom's founding in the 11th century. Contemporary Ardalia has no official religion. While the constitutions of 1910 and 1983 "recognizes Catheric's nation-building role", freedom of religion is declared a fundamental right. According to the 2019 Thearean Community Study, 65% of Ardalians are Catheric, 20% have No religion, 10% are Reformed Catheric or other rites, 3% follow other faiths, and 2% are undeclared. Though these figures may look like the Ardalian people are very religious, amongst those in the 16-29 age group, three out of every four stated they were not religious. This follows a trend seen across Thearea where attendance and participation in relgious congregations are on the decline.

Languages

Ardalian is the official and predominant spoken language in Ardalia. Ardalian is one of the working languages of the Thearean Community. Outside Ardalia it is also spoken by communities of Ardalian people in neighboring countries and diaspora communities worldwide. Standard Caropsyne is an recognized language and is used in business, government documents, road signs, and so forth. It is the de facto second language for most Ardalians who learn it in the educational system. Loslakian primarily spoken in communities close to the shared border.

Healthcare

Ardalia has a universal healthcare system built on the Caropsyne model but its origins go back to the establishment of a small chain of medical clinics by the late Mezga Kings in the 1880's. Life expecenties have increased three-fold since the Frikasz Health Reforms in 2002. Although people are living long than before, Ardalia is still experiencing sub-replacement fertility resulting in both a declining and ageing population. Exccessive drinking and drug use are still major health problems that must be confronted. Smoking has dropped considerably since 2014 when the first Raszan Government consolidated all tobacco sales under state control. Health in general is poorer in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

One of the more controversal policies implemented by the Raszan Government to help increase the nation's birth rate was to provide lifetime tax-free status for women who The Raszan Government attempted to increase the birth rate with a focus on ethnic Ardalians by providing lifetime tax-free status for women who have four children or more and offering mothers 3 years of maternity leave with nearly all of it paid for by the state. Additionally, they offered finanicial incentives to newly-weds to create families. This set of controversal policies is still in effect today but it has proven to work. A steady increase year over year has been seen since 2017.

Culture

Ardalia's geographic position at the crossroads of all corners of Thearea, combined with the long-spanning history of the Ardalian people, has produced a truly beautiful and unique culture.

Art

The artistic traditions of Ardalia originate with the nation's conversion to the Catheric faith in the early 1000's. Paintings scupltures were in the Caropsyne Gothic style featuring complex iconography. Frequent depiction of animals, and use of contour rivalry were also important. Despite this, traditional Ardalian folk art with its painted pottery and vibrant textiles and embroidery would remain largely undisturbed until the 1800's. The Age of Empire in the Pontanore was largely centered on the Renaissance style, Ardalian painting and sculpture would instead be more associated with the baroque movement. There was still religious undertones, but there was great depiction of the depiction of local wildlife and landscapes, a lack of perspective, the widespread use of gold and silver leaf, and the application of watercolor on top of metal leaf to provide a distinctive sheen.

The 1800's was marked by the Neoclassicism as demands for democratic government were made upon the Kings. This type of art was overshadowed by romanticism and realism during the final decades of the 19th century. A strong nationalistic bent to the artwork continued, however, works often depicted the country's history, landscapes, and leading figures - on scenes of everyday life and local traditions. At the turn of the century, modernist, expressionist, cubist, and surrealist movements gained traction.

Following the Great War, abstract and contempory art spread throughout Ardalia but were supressed by the Letzek regime for being anti-nationalistc. His Government promoted paintings and sculptures that reminded people of their nation's natural beauty, strength, and patriotism. Letzek also actively promoted the blending of folk art with modernist stylings to create an Ardalian Nationalist artistic style. With his ouster in 1983, such 'radical' art forms were able to thrive once more.

Notable artists include Ilona Lovas (contemporary painter), Artur Vanka (abstract), Suzana Kadar (sculptor), Oskzar Lacza (painter), Janos Molnar (painter) and Viktor Seruga (painter).

Music

Ardalian folk music has long played a prominent part of the national identity. To this day, it has a major influence on every genre from popular to classical.

Until the early 1800's, the string and accordian music of the wandering Pirez people was considered to be the sole music out of the country. This changed in the middle of the century as more people became to be exposed to traditional Ardalian dances like the alternating tempo of the Verbunkas or the lively Priglasz through emerging classical works.

The nation's classical music has long been regarded as 'experimental,' incorporating both standard structure with traditional dance tones. Petar Vadas, a renowed pianist of the late 19th century, is widely regarded as Ardalia's most important classical composer due to his 22 Rhapsodies and 12 Dances. Elements of combining slow and fast segment pairs (with each set of greater length) can be heard in the compositions of many notable Thearean symphony composers of the late 19th and early 20th century. Other important classical composers include Jan Perko, Stefan Varga, and Sasa Kobal.

Popular music in Ardalia can trace its roots to Pirez songs and light operettas being performed in Hran, primarily by North Thearean writers. Livarska, the "Broadway of Hran," was a major center for popular music and boasted enough nightclubs and theatres to earn its nickname. In 1945, however, this era abruptly ended and popular music was mostly synonymous with the patriotic songs imposed by the Letzek regime. By the end of the fifties, the regime began to relax its resistance to foreign popular music trends provided that they incorporated Ardalian undertones. Jazz was tolerated, but rock was entirely different. Over the sixties and seventies, underground bands like Lambda were formed and listened to in droves by Ardalian youths at the ire of the authorities. Ardalian rock bands have grown since 1985 including progressive rock band Loksi, Republika, and Supersonic-12.

Electronic, hip-hop and Catheric music have niche audiences.

Hran holds Thearea's largest open-air music concert, spanning ten days, offering tens of thousands everything from classical to electronic to jazz and rock and roll. Megasztar is one of the most-watched musical talent shows on RTVA 2.

Architecture

Architecture in Ardalia has been severely influenced by the different periods of the country's history and those of its neighbors. The oldest preserved stone buildings date from the Catheric conversion of the Ardalians in the 1000's during the reigns of the first Kings. The original design of Saint Kozak's Cathedral, the biggest and oldest Catheric place of worship in Ardalia, was at simple but as the neigboring Lindites in Carops grew in power and wealth, their building style was adapted by the Ardalian nobility and the Church with Saint Kozak's Cathedral being the greatest example of Lindite Gothic design outside the Pontanore.

By the late 1400's and early 1500's, buildings embraced Renaissance elements that were seen in the gardens and palaces, as well as in the interior architecture and art of the churches. A fire in 1528 destroyed half of Hran and in the aftermath, the King proclaimed that would be no further wooden buildings in any city going forward. The Renaissance period of construction was relatively short-lived, as Ardalia all-in on baroque architecture influenced by its desires for an empire of its own in the 17th and 18th centuries. Once more, elements of Caropsyne stylings found their way into Ardalian buildings including the Second (and current) Mezga Palace.

19th century buildings saw a certain romanticism in designs and a burning desire to recreate the past threw the lense of the present day. This including a resurgance in domes and arches - heralding back to the days of the Kingdom and the civilizations before. Broad park-lined avenues appeared in many cities. Coastal cities (except for Nuum) removed large sections of their medieval walls and opened themselves up. Hran had become a more geometrical city and saw large public and social buildings constructed in the neo-Renaissance style like the National Theatre, the National Art Gallery, the Academy of the Arts, and the masterpiece that sparked the evolution of Art Nouveau (which forms much of Central Hran today), the National Library.

The beginning of the 20th century saw the creation of the "National style," inspired by Ardalian folk art and elements of Art Nouveau structures which would remained with Ardalia until the end of the Great War in the mid-1940's. Following the conflict and the usurption of power by General Frelno Letzek, he and his nationalists combined the previous Art Nouveau form with the modernism sparking in neighboring Loslakia and Rygaria to estalish Ardalian Utilitarism. This was extensive during the late forties, fifties and even into the middle of the sixites when his regime was rebuilding a large number of towns and cities across Ardalia, making use of prefabrication techniques. The greatest example of this is the planned city of Ustane. Architects today would classify Ardalian Utilitarism as a form of brutalism.

When Letzek was ousted from power in 1983, there was a quick transition to a gentler, more contemporary, modernist approach that continues today. Saint Kozak's Cathedral is still one of the tallest buildings in Ardalia. While there is a ban on buildings higher than six stories in most urban centers in the name of preserving their historic national charcater, areas in the middle and outer areas of cities have seen a boom in glass and steel skyscaper construction.

Cuisine

Ardalian cuisine is heterogeneous and is known as a cuisine of the regions, since every region has its own distinct culinary tradition. The differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those in mainland and those along the coast. Dracian cuisine bears influence from the Pontanore and makes use of the abundance of fish from the Thearean Sea while those of interior Ardalia and Canthasia are more characterized by Loslakian, Rygarian, and Prassian dishes who are heavy on dairy, cheese, and meats. Regardless of where you are in the country, bread is perhaps the most important part of the diet as it is eaten at every meal.

Goulash, a common dish throughout Ardalia, is a soup of meat (beef and pork in the interior or fish on the coast) and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. Its origins can be traced back to the days before the Kingdom to stews eaten by Ardalian shepards on the plains. More old-fashioned stews include fruits or are infused in the meats. Other notable dishes include fisherman's soup, beef tenderloin with pickled vegetables and potatoes, black risotto, peka, spit-roasted lamb with sauerkraut, and assorted fish on the grill. Ardalia is known for its pastries and deserts including flambéed pancakes with chocolate sauce and filled with nuts, jelly-filled donuts, along with a variety of buns and cakes.

The Dracian Coast is home to dozens of vineyards producing deep red wines rarely seen outside the country because of the dominance of Caropsyne vintages on the global market, however, Ardalian beers (the largest producer is located in Gerhan), liquours, and spirits are well-known. One such liquor, plum brandy, is a common after-dinner drink. In the Canthasian Mountains, there is a special respect for hot chocolate.

Sports

Sport in Ardalia consists of a wide range of team and individual sports. The most popular team sports are football, basketball, volleyball, ice hockey and handball. While the most popular individual sports are skiing, swimming, water polo, athletics, cycling, mountain climbing, fencing, and tennis. The country has been featured in several competitions both on the continent and worldwide. Due to its climate and terrain, water and mountain sports tend to be incredibly popular and the ones in which national selections and individual sportspersons gain the most international recognition.

As in most nation across the world, football is the most popular sport among Ardalians; FK Hran and FK Taerisz are the two most popular clubs, and both compete in the top-tier National Championship. Football in Ardalia is administered by the AFA. It is the one most played by the population as there are fields in every community and each municipality fields a local team. Recognizing the importance of football as a means of fostering unity, the Government actively invests resources into further encourage participation. The Falcons represent Ardalia internationally.

The Tour of Ardalia is a grueling week-long multi-stage cycling race held every June. It begins in Arsac at the base of the Canthasian Mountains, across the central plains, over the Dracian Mountains, before ending at the gates of Nuum in the far south. Thearea's most renowned sabre fencers compete in trials in the town of Porva.

Media

Ardalia has a long standing tradition of paper press and cultural media. In the regional context, the country ranks high on free press and speech rankings and counts with a variety of newspapers. There are approximately 38 newspapers and magazines registered by the Press Association of Ardalia, while most of these are written and printed the five largest cities, there are several regionally focused newspapers. The most important newspaper is Czin-Hlan which has been printed daily since 1872 and has over 2.9 million subscribers.

Most Ardalians have either cable or satellite TV, and radios. Radiotelevizija Ardaska, usually abbreviated to RTVA, is the national public broadcasting organization. Transmissions originate from Hran to the rest of the country, throughout Thearea, and around the world. RTVA has 3 radio and 4 television channels. Individuals must pay an annual receiving licence of 130 Litas regardless of the number of televisions or radios (or other devices capable of receiving signals). Businesses and the self-employed pay this amount for every set, and pay higher rates where they are intended for public viewing rather than private consumption. A portion of the licence fee finances the RVTA Symphony Orchestra and Big Band. RVTA is a member of the Thearean Union of Broadcasting.

Spa Culture

Ardalia has a strong spa culture due to the abundance of thermal springs across the country. This culture has been connected to the Ardalian people since the very beginning. Believing in the medicinal benefits and healing qualities the waters had, the Mezga Kings constructed many bathhouses in small and large towns. The biggest one until the start of the 19th century was the Grand Bathhouse of Hran. It was built in 1535 and is still functioning today. Advances in deep drilling technology and medical science provided a springboard to further expand bathing culture. The most notable spa towns are Kiszar, Rezek, and Urzok. The spas have become major tourist attractions, offering every type of balneal and physical therapy. It is not unusual to see friendly local pensioners standing in the warm waters, playing a game of chess on the edge of the pool or women checking out hot Ardalian men.

Literature

Ardalian literature can trace its origins to the strong oral tradition of the people in the form of folk songs, tales, and narrations that came with them when they first migrated from beyond Thearea. There are very remaining fragments of written records from the earliest days, all of which were scribed using a runic-like script. Upon the formation of the Kingdom and the subsequent nationwide conversion to the Catheric faith. The oldest document written in Ardalian is the Murga Manuscripts, estimated to have been written in and around 1010, to spread both the message of Catherism and that of the supreme authority of the crown, across the country. Most documents would be written in the language of the Church until the early 1500's. The invention of the printing press in the mid-1400's in Northern Thearea marked a profound shift as it would set in motion a worldwide transformation in the dynamics of religion. Printing presses were set up in most major cities, including Hran, by the turn of the 16th century. It unlocked a wave of Ardalian language literature including many of the most well-known folk songs, tales, and narrations finally transcribed to paper, poetic epics about love and war, religious texts on notable saints, and the first historical chronicles of early Ardalian history. In 1590, the first-ever Ardalian translation of the Holy Book (known as the Zambo Book) was printed by order of King Lazlo I who was locked in a bitter dispute with the Catheric Ecclesiarch over religious authority.

Over the next two hundred years, more works - either religious or foreign (especially Caropsyne) - would be translated into Ardalian. This prompted the creation of an Ardalian-Caropsyne dictionary. Some of the first scientific books were produced but these few and in between until the 1700's when the Ardalian language was finally reformed to make such documents feasible to not only write but clearly understood. When the Enlightenment, generating new ideas, were spread around the world throughout the 1700's, the monarchy's attitude to written works changed, especially those concerning politics. These compositions began questioning the very nature of absolutism and discussing the potential of involving the common man in the political process. This presented a red flag for the monarchy who saw this as a threat to their longstanding power.

Ardalian writers embraced the romantic style of writing during the first half of the 1800's. 1843 marked a shakeup in global politics when the Caropsyne monarchs agreed to downgrade themselves to a mere royal house and transferring all power to a democratic government to preside over the country's affairs. A number of Ardalian political philosophers called on the Mezgas to follow in their neighbor's footsteps and relinquish power to an elected assembly, but it was not to be. When they refused, strikes and protests broke out and ultimately crushed each time by force. The later half of the 1800's saw Ardalian literature gravitate to works using a hybrid style of writing mixing Caropsyne romanticism with Ardalian traditional folk epics and realistic depictions of rural farming life. The modern structure, grammar, and syntax of the Ardalian language was established with the publication of the first standardized school textbooks that coincided with the opening of the first publicly-supported schools throughout the Kingdom.

The modernist movement that unfolded at the turn of the 20th century did not blossom in Ardalia until fall of the monarchy and formation of the First Republic in 1910. Ardalian writers quickly embraced the boundless creativity and the theme of rebellion against the traditional disipline of life (this was also seen in the visual arts). International travel had been made possible during the later half of the 19th century with the introduction of railways and steamliners - the country had few visitors but this all changed in 1915 when the first comprehensive travel book was released. The twenties and thirties saw a new generation of futurist young writers began to appear, who placed expressive use of wording over formal structure. Works of the time saw stronger politicization of content which continue through to the end of the Great War in 1942.

General Frelno Letzek seized power in 1945 and banned all forms of art and literature that he and his Nationalists deemed 'radical' or 'polluting of the nation's unique heritage.' This resulted in the supression of the expressive and experimental literature of the previous thirty years and sigificant censorship of many foreign works, particularly those from the neighboring Caropsyne Pontanore - the nation he believed was the most responsible for Ardalia's cultural dilution. The Fostana (the unelected upper house of the Caropsyne parliament took control in 1933), reacted strongly. The Restoration Movement called for a return to traditional literary themes and placed favor on those writers who conformed and either arrested or forcibly removed non-conformers.

Once he felt his power was secured in the mid-1950's, he did permit some degree of openess on literary works provided that none criticized either himself or the regime, and that they generally did not stray too far from the line the Movement considered acceptable. The sixties and seventies saw the release of numerous fantasy and fictional works, as well as integrating so-called trivial genres (detective stories, melodrama) into high literature. One subversive political novel, entitled "Letzek's Picture," was written by an unknown author - who only revealed himself after Letzek's ouster, intertwined fantasy and allegorical narrative on how to deal with the individual's relationship with a totalitarian political system. This book is still read to this day. By the mid-seventies, Letzek's regime was on the decline and there were writings who were willing to challenge the system. Books touching on themes of feminism (which was directly in conflict with the nation's traditional patriarchial society) began appearing in underground circles. Ardalian expressive, experimental, and critical literature was allowed to blossom once more when Frelno Letzek was removed from power and executed in 1983. The present constitution reaffirms the freedom of expression.

Theater and Cinema

Fashion and Design

The nation's costumes are well-known for their bright colors, fine embroidery and sheer beauty. Men's costumes consist of a linen shirt, wide trousers, a bodice or vest, a brimmed hat, and black leather boots. For women, the costume varies on the region and even by the village based on their local definition of beauty, but generally includes a linen white blouse, a puffy printed skirt, a lavish apron, a bodice, a waistcoat or other outerwear, red leather boots, and a head covering piece (others may bun their hair and tie them gilded ribbons). While traditional clothing continues to be worn regually in rural areas, most Ardalians wear modern Thearean and Paradisian styles. Ardalian luxury clothing brands, mixing the color palletes and embroidery themes of the past with chic and experimental modernity, are only now starting to get attention by wealthy foreigners.

Holidays

Date Name Recognized? Notes
January 1 New Year’s Day Yes Marks the first day of the Gregorian calendar year.
March 8 Women's Day Yes Celebrates women and the women's rights movement.
March/April (varies) Easter Yes Catheric Festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jezus.
May 1 Labor Day Yes Celebrates the working class and the international worker's movement.
May 16 Saint Kozak's Day Yes Feast day of Catheric patron saint St. Kozak.
June 14 Remembrance Day Yes Dedicated to the cause of world peace and to honor veterans of the Great War and other conflicts since then.
Second Monday of October Harvest Festival Yes Gives thanks to the harvest.
November 7 National Day Yes Celebrates the Ardalian Republic.
December 24 Christmas Eve Yes Day before Christmas.
December 25 Christmas Yes Catheric Festival commemorating the birth of Jezus.
December 31 New Year’s Eve Yes Marks the last day of the Gregorian calendar year.