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The Empire of Belhavia
Motto: God, King, Country
Anthem: The Imperial March
|Location of the Empire of Belhavia (green) In the world (gray)|
|Official languages||None at federal level|
|Recognised national languages||Belhavian English (de facto)|
Yiddish (de facto)
|Ethnic groups||Jews 70.4%|
|Government||Federal presidential constitutional monarchy|
|Eli Goldman (C)|
|Ian Settas (C)|
|January 15th, 1454|
|February 18th, 1650|
|March 3rd, 1715|
|December 6th, 1812|
|May 23rd, 1945|
|January 1st, 1949|
|2,439,300 km2 (941,800 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
• 2015 estimate
• 2010 census
|GDP (nominal)||2015 estimate|
• Per capita
|Currency||Belhavian shekel ($)|
|Time zone||UTC+13 to +16|
• Summer (DST)
|+12 to +17|
|Date format||mm/dd/yyyy CE|
The Empire of Belhavia (commonly called Belhavia or the Empire) is a federal presidential constitutional monarchy that is organized as an imperial federation of 25 provinces and 10 territories bound by common heritage, ethnic and national bonds, and personal union with the dynastic Imperial House Solomon.
The Empire is an island-nation located in the far northeast of the continent of Lusankya. The nation proper has no direct land boundaries, although it has maritime borders with Estovnian Norse Republic to its northwest. It has a maritime border to the east with the Republic of Anikatia through its crown territory of New Shelvoy. Its only land border is with Asanga through its crown territory of Tobia in Ashizwe.
At 2.4 million km2 and with 132.95 million people, it is one of the larger nations in the world by geographic landmass but holds a more upper-middle tier ranking in terms of population.
The current structure of government came into being in the 1812 Constitution drafted by the 1811 Provisa Convention and signed by Emperor Harold IV. It has strong philosophical influences from Emmeria's Articles of Constitution and Rodarion's theocratic constitutionalism. The Empire is governed by the Imperial Government, currently led by the Goldman administration, from the Imperial seat of government in the capital city of Provisa.
The Empire has a powerhouse, export-led national economy with an estimated 2015 GDP of $6.99 trillion. Throughout nearly all of its history under the 1812 Constitution, the Empire followed an economic model based on classical liberal economics. It has been the center for the Neoliberal Revolution, which heavily influenced the political economy of the rest of the world. Belhavia is one of the lightest, least-direct, and regressively taxed nations in the developed world. It has often been discussed by some scholars as a form of "market state".
It was a leading anticommunist power in the Cold War. According to the WC annual report "Powers of Pardes," since 1986, Belhavia is a Major Power in the world. It is credited as a major geopolitical actor in the Free World and the Neoliberal Revolution. It is a member of the Central Defense Initiative, the World Council, an informal "permanent member" of the World Council Grand Tribunal, the Global Monetary Fund, the International Trade Assembly, Southern Partnership Commerce Initiative, and the EG4.
- 1 History
- 2 Government and Politics
- 2.1 Branches of government
- 2.2 Fourth Party System
- 2.3 Foreign Relations
- 2.4 Military
- 2.5 Provinces
- 2.6 The Empire: Colonial Holdings Overseas
- 3 Economy
- 4 Geography and Climate
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Culture
Government and Politics
The Empire is a federal presidential constitutional monarchy whose structure arose from the 1811 Provisa Convention, which created the 1812 Constitution from a mix of Arthuristan Enlightenment ideals, most importantly on Lockean theory of social contract and natural rights, as well as theocratic ideals emanating from Rodarion. There are three branches of government purposefully designed to ensure that the Emperor has substantive executive authority that is tempered by a system of checks and balances with the President of Belhavia, Imperial Senate, and the Imperial judiciary each possessing concentrations of responsibilities to counter abuse by either the monarch or the elected government. This division of power, duties, obligations, and responsibilities are outlined in the Imperial Constitution, which is considered the supreme law of the land throughout Belhavia.
The Imperial Constitution is the founding document of the current political state, and from which all laws are derived. This is in contrast to the predecessor state, the Kingdom of Belhavia (1650 - 1715), and the pre-1812 Empire that was organized as an absolute monarchy; both of which relied upon the theory of the divine right of kings as the source of all laws propagated under the state. The Constitution lays out the duties, purview, and powers of the Imperial government in relation to the monarch, the Imperial citizenry, and the provinces and territories.
The Permanent Statutes preface the Constitution and describe inalienable rights and protections, such as individual property rights, the scope of the government in the economy and towards individual initiative, and the supremacy of the monarch's hereditary right to rule. Nothing in these statutes may be altered by future constitutional amendments.
The Constitution delineates further powers and rights in Articles I - X of the Rights and Privileges section. These protections incorporate Enlightenment virtues, such as the pursuit of happiness, the writ of habeas corpus, free assembly and the ability to petition for a redress of grievances, the right to a trial by a jury of peers, judicial review by the Imperial Judiciary, and freedom of speech, although through later constitutional amendments and the landmark 1869 Supreme Court case Winters v. Communist Party of Belhavia (CPB), qualified limits have been placed on some political activity that is deemed to fall outside of the protection of this right.
Being in many respects a decentralized, federalist state, there are three levels of government: Imperial (national), provincial, and local. All provincial and local governments are strongly influenced by and share many structural similarities to the Imperial government, deriving their respective powers from Imperial, provincial, and local constitutions.
Branches of government
The executive powers are divided between His Imperial Majesty the Emperor and the elected President. The Emperor is the head of state by his hereditary right to rule and is formally the Imperial commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the national representative of the Belhavian people. The chief executive of the Empire is the President, who is aided in his administration of the Imperial bureaucracy by the Cabinet, who are appointed by and serve at the President's pleasure. The reigning Emperor is Aaron III. The current President is Eli Goldman.
Since the 8th Amendment in 1943, the President has been endowed by His Majesty as the Supreme Commander, making the President the effective commander-in-chief of the Imperial Armed Forces on a day-to-day basis.
The President also has the power to sign or veto legislative bills passed by the Imperial Senate. He appoints his Cabinet as well as a bevy of senior and mid-level administrative and regulatory posts throughout the Imperial Government.
The president serves a term of four years, and cannot run more than twice, and both the president and vice president must run on the same ticket. The president is elected through a plurality majority popular vote by eligible, registered voters in a first-past-the-post electoral system.
|Foreign Minister||Daniel Nobelstein||Conservative|
|War Minister||Zalman Yitzchak Katz||Conservative|
|Justice Minister||Seth Grossman||Conservative|
|Interior Minister||Helsan Bramowitz||Conservative|
|Treasury Minister||Eli Roth||Conservative|
|Transportation Minister||Jacen Kalian||Libertarian|
|Colonial Affairs Minister||Nias Kominsky||Conservative|
|Chief Education Commissioner||Piero Ferrari||Liberal Democrat|
|Business Regulatory Agency Director||Alexander Delan||Libertarian|
The legislative branch of the Imperial Government consists of the unicameral Senate. The Senate is charged with lawmaking, declaring war or authorizing military force, the power of the purse, creating or eliminating public services, the oversight, investigation, and impeachment of sitting Imperial officials, ratifying international treaties, and providing the advise and consent for presidential appointments.
The Senate contains 70 members, two from each of the 25 provinces and ten territories. Each Senator serves a term of four years, and the chamber is organized so that approximately one-third of seats are open for election every other year. Senators enjoy the ability to run for re-election indefinitely without term limits.
The current Senate Majority Leader and President of the Senate is Ian Settas.
The Imperial Supreme Court and subordinate Imperial courts comprise the judicial branch of the Empire.
The Supreme Court is highest authority for interpreting Imperial law and jurisprudence. It is empowered by judicial review - a tradition dating back to the medieval Rabbinic Courts after the Landing of the Jewish Settlers in 1301 that lasted over two centuries, eventually brought under aristocratic heel during the Grand Duchy of Provisum.
It has ultimate (but largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all Imperial courts and over provincial, territorial, and local court cases involving issues of Empire-wide law, and original jurisdiction over inter-provincial (and territorial) conflicts and cases of diplomatic legal disputes (most notably cases of the Empire in legal dispute with foreign nations).
There is a Chief Justice of the Court and a number of Associate Justices as determined by the Senate; currently, there are eight Associate Justices. This is modeled after the Emmerian judicial model. Each justice is appointed by the President, approved by the Emperor, confirmed by the Senate, and when seated serve life for life until they resign, retire, die, or are removed after impeachment.
Under the Supreme Court are district courts. There are Imperial courts divided by geographic location across the Empire that handles jurisdiction of Imperial law and appellate jurisdiction of provincial and local court decisions. This arose out of the tradition of judges rotating through the so-called judicial circuit in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Each judge is appointed by the President, approved by the Emperor, confirmed by the Senate, and when seated serve until age 70 unless they resign, retire, die, or are removed after impeachment, at which point, none of the former having passed, they may be appointed for additional five-year terms until such actions or events previously outlined come to pass. Each Court has three judges.
The Courts of Appeals have appellate jurisdiction over cases of Imperial law as determined by superior Imperial district courts. The only avenue of appeal of these courts' decisions is the Supreme Court.
The so-called Special Courts were created by Imperial decree or Senatorial legislation. These courts have original and appellate jurisdiction over narrowly defined areas of law. Examples include the Imperial Tax Court, Imperial Court of Bankruptcy, Imperial Court of International Trade, and many others. All are based in the capital city of Provisa.
Fourth Party System
The Fourth Party System (1955 - present) has been characterized by a de facto two-party system but a de jure multiparty system; on the right, the Conservative Party, and on the left, the Liberal Democratic Party. The Libertarian Party is a minor, third party that is competitive in some provincial and local elections. Historians and political scientists categorize the new party system arising from the disintegration of the old rightist Federalist Party and reorganization as the Conservative Party in 1955. The Liberal Democrats, although the major left-leaning political party of the contemporary era, was actually formed in 1922 in the late stage of the 3rd Party System (1858 - 1955) by a merger of the Liberal Party and Democratic Party.
For the first half of the current party system (from 1955 to the 1980s), the Empire went through cyclical patterns of two- or three-term majority control of the presidency and the Imperial Senate by both parties. Between 1946 and 1961, the Liberal Democrats (often referred to colloquially as the "Lib Dems") had controlled both the executive and legislative branches. Between 1961 to 1969, the Conservatives retook control. From 1969 - 1981, the Lib Dems held onto the presidency and Senate majority. This "flip-flopping" between parties was usually closely contested, except for the 1950s and the early 1970s.
After 1980, the political climate shifted back to what many people believe is the nation's conservative nature in at least some part due to the rise of the New Right from the Cold War and the emerging Neoliberal Revolution, with the Tories dominating national politics for most of the last 34 years. Political historians call the "Liberal Heyday" period (1946 - 1981) the "Liberal Aberration," noting the roughly 35-year-period came into being because of unique events and attitudes in the middle-late 20th century. With the "Blue Wave" of the 1980s throughout the wider world, many nations receded from the peak of leftism and statism from the early-middle of the past century, a result many credit to the Settas Doctrine.
Since 1981, there has only been one Liberal Democratic President, Garret Holleran (1993 - 1997; 2001 - 2005), though throughout the early 2000s, the Liberal Democrats have come close to winning back the Presidential Palace and Imperial Senate, though under Eli Goldman's presidency (2009 - present), the Conservatives' have dominated elected offices across the Empire.
The Empire is active in world affairs and maintains embassies and official foreign relations with nearly every nation throughout the world. Belhavia is a member of the global World Council and World Council Grand Tribunal.
Belhavia maintains close ties and free trade agreements with many nations in or sympathetic with the Central Defense Initiative, of which it has been a member-state since 1993. In particular, the Empire has special relationships with the United Republic of Emmeria, Union of Westonaria, and the Western Confederacy. However, diplomatic relations have become complicated in wake of the dissolution of the WCS into the former states of the Western Confederal States due to the transition of government in the Western States from an elected government into a coalition of corporate and business organizations, though ties remain strong. Consequently, the Emmerian-Belhavian special relationship has been strengthened.
Relations with eastern neighbor Tippercommon are strong, dating back since the 18th century. They dipped during the Galarian years, but recovered sufficiently when Belhavia aided the Sussex government in the 1986 Tippercommon Civil War. The Belhavian-Tippercommoner authorities have fairly smoothly run the jointly administered territory of Ayton-Shelvay, a shared condominium since 1893, over the last century and a quarter, with slight tensions during the Second Shelvay War in the 1930s and the geopolitical tensions over the Ulthrannic Civil War in the 1940s (See: Tippercommon-Belhavia relations).
The Empire is cordial with many Middle and Eastern nations, including Anikatia, Prestonia, and Ulthrannia. Belhavia has a long history of close trade, cultural, and economic ties with Skandera, particularly Temuair, Karinzgrad, and Austrasia.
Belhavia has cordial-to-friendly relations with the Empire of Tarsas, despite ongoing simmering CDI-RCO disagreements. Tarsas and the Empire maintain strong import/export networks, especially in kosher wines, foodstuffs, and other agricultural products, as well as capital goods such as vehicles.
Currently, relations with Rodarion are mildly cordial, and remain complex at many geopolitical levels. (See: Rodar-Belhavian Relations). Belhavia has cordial relations with Bogoria since its Blue Revolution of 1999 that overthrew the long-standing insular and oppressive communist regime, and supports the Bogorian Republic in the country's ongoing crisis.
The Empire maintains cordial relations and some trade agreements via SOPCOMM with its neighbors of Estovnia and Tippercommon. Despite the large cross-border trade and cooperation on many local and regional issues, Belhavia and Estovnia have been at times at odds geopolitically and ideologically.
As Belhavia is the homeland of world Jewry, it - along with Rodarion and Ariyadh in a unique tripartite system - have a strong and close connection to Canaan, the ancient home of the Jews as well as a holy land for the world's Catholic and Muslim faiths.
The Imperial Foreign Minister is Daniel Nobelstein, who was confirmed on February 12th, 2014.
The Empire aims to keep all of the world's oceans stable and to ensure international shipping lanes remain open for Belhavian and other flagged merchant ships to use so that the free flow of commerce is uninterrupted by conflict or piracy.
Belhavia actively opposes governments of various leftist varieties; the Goldman Administration has embarked on what it called its "Anti-Communist Project" to geopolitically oppose, undermine, and defeat repressive regimes, particularly those led by Communist, socialist, or similar ideologies. This is a legacy of Belhavia's efforts as one of the leading anticommunist powers of the Cold War.
The Great Southern War of 1715 established the Empire as an imperial power and afforded it its first colonies at the start of the 18th century. Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, the nation fought dozens of colonial wars with powers such as Belfras, Ulthrannia, Estovnia, and Sieuxerr, particular in the Far East and Near East.
In the early 1930s, the Empire was embroiled in an ostensibly local colonial rebellion, the Second Shelvay War, in Ayton-Shelvay that was a de facto proxy war with the UTR. This would later lead to the Ayton-Shelvay Proxy War of 1940-1945.
From the emergence of the Cold War with the rise of the Otterup Pact, Belhavia became a leading anticommunist power, alongside Emmeria, Rodarion, and others, to contain, counter, and defeat OttPact and its members.
In the 1980s, Belhavian intelligence and military forces under the Settas Doctrine took part in the Myrdesia War (1978 - 1986) and the South Ashizwe Border War (1986 - 1993). In 1986, the Empire became a belligerent in the Tippercommon Civil War, where it launched a supportive interventionary force to aid the defeated Tippercommoner government.
Imperial Armed Forces
There are 25 provinces and ten territories in the Empire. They are varied in terms of geography, climate, population, and possess distinct regional, cultural, social, and political identities.
Raffen province in the northwest is the most northern province, while South Adrania is the southern-most. Both provinces are good case studies on displaying the wide variation in features through Belhavia. Raffen has a cold temperate ecozone and local climate, with extensive agricultural production.
In the polar south, South Adrania is divided with the southerly parts being mostly sub-Arctic tundra with a nearly-yearlong snow cover. It is mountainous on the interior, and with expansive taiga forests on the northern area of the province.
Template:Standard table ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Province ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Provincial Capital ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Population ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Largest City ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Provincial Initial |----- | Freeport || Freeport City || 5,561,096 || Freeport City || FP |----- | North Dakos || Dakos || 39,178,199 || Dakos || ND |----- | South Dakos || Tel Dakosia || 5,877,033 || Eastburg || SD |---- | West Dakos || Netanyana || 4,905,904 || Ashkelon || WD |---- | East Dakos || Ruthen City || 4,661,234 || Levantia || ED |----- | Raffen || Raffenburg || 688,482 || Raffenburg || RF |----- | Provisa || Provisa || 1,476,665 || Provisa || PA |----- | Asland || Asland City || 4,564,003 || Bukenia || AL |----- | Weissman Islands || Weisstown || 855,418 || Weisstown || WI |----- | Judenia || Rishon Av || 17,466,022 || Ben-Judea || JA |----- | Braunswig || Braunston || 4,332,844 || New Altonia || BG |----- | Kellsmont || Everan || 6,234,071 || Kellsmont City || KT |----- | Anaheim || Beit Elon || 8,551,645 || Beerteva || AM |---- | Westland || New Franklin || 13,009,632 || New Viridia || WD |---- | Janskor || Benadin || 2,067,453 || Joshuatown || JR |----- | Vannen || Berlan || 3,956,123 || Dania || VN |----- | Arkania || Kiryat Gos || 990,433 || Netiyot || AA |----- | South Adrania || Adrian City || 451,209 || Adrian City || SA |----- | Norvenia || Memel || 1,775,211 || Vilnia || NA |----- | Shelvoy || Ohr Rahat || 6,463,887 || Rehovot || SY |----- | Aviv || Mas'gia || 3,335,334 || Tel e Afov || AV |----- | Joshualand || Tirras || 2,056,418 || Tel e Yehuda || JL |----- | Latveria || Latveria (City) || 10,490,712 || Kiryat Elona || LV |----- | Rustonia || Ruston || 18,607,331 || Bresion || RA |----- | Southern Reaches || Vizonia || 9,168,897 || Vizonia || SR |----- |}
The Empire: Colonial Holdings Overseas
The colonial empire that gives Belhavia its namesake has become, in effect, additional provinces of the homeland. Each "Crown Territory," as they are known, elects a pair of Imperial Senators to the Imperial Senate like any other province, as well as elects its own colonial legislature by popular vote.
However, each Crown Territory is still subject to Imperial decrees on certain economic and political issues, though His Imperial Majesty has usually declined to use such executive authority to limit local autonomy. As well, some Crown Territories were given the ability to elect their colonial governors, while others have their territorial executives handpicked by His Imperial Majesty.
Nearly forty percent (37%) of Belhavia's total population (approximately 49.95 million according to the 2010 Imperial Census) resides in "the colonies," and of that, composes much of the Empire's ethnic minorities.
Template:Standard table ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Crown Territory ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Territorial Capital ! style="text-align: left; background: #aaccab;"| Population |----- | Vestlinzel || Tel Avson || 47,116 |----- | Farfroyrnlender Island || Holon || 71,779 |----- | Salomon Islands || Kiryat Saba || 96,759 |----- | Narrow Sea Islands || Port Nesheri || 168,754 |----- | New Shelvoy || Port David || 35,609,149 |----- | Thule || North's End || 5,033 |---- | Ross Archipelagos || Port Solomon || 1,050,345 |---- | Tobia || Massada || 1,244,852 |---- | King's Island || Tel Nafesh || 11,590,287 |---- | Merrina || Port Jacob || 140,933 |----- |}
Geography and Climate
Belhavia has a varied landscape, stretching from woodlands forests, rolling prairies, and highlands in the north and center, while the south becomes more mountainous, populated by taiga forests, tundra, and ice sheets in the far south.
The climate is as varied as the geography. A continental climate exists in a narrow band of the north, mostly along patches of the coastal region and parts of the inland highlands.
Much of the rest of Belhavia - over 60% - is classified as subarctic. It runs from alpine climate and taiga in the middle and upper south to an arctic climate zone of ice, permafrost, and inhospitable mountain ranges in the so-called "Far South".
In the middle and southern regions of the country, vegetation is sparse. However, the country is filled with waterways, including the great north-to-south-flowing Zallos River and the Great Western River, part of which forms the border with Estovnia.
Reindeer, wolves, bears, foxes, rodents, hares, and sea and land birds are the main forms of animal life, in addition to a plethora of insects in the short, cold summer. Sea and river fisheries abound in the region, both north and south of the Taveria. SOPCOMM regulations against overfishing have helped maintain local fish populations.
Majority of the residents living in the Empire are Belhavian Jews, who constitute about 70.4% of the total population. Belhavian Jews are an ancient line of white Caucasians who are characterized by brown and dark brown hair, brown, hazel, and green eyes, and light or olive skin, depending on the lineage. Nearly all Jews speak Belhavian English as their native language, though some (nearly all in isolated, insular, urban Charedi neighborhoods) speak exclusively Yiddish and Modern Hebrew.
Ethnic minorities account for about 29.6% of the total population, largely due to immigration and Belhavia's extensive overseas colonial territories. The largest ethnic minority in Belhavia are Westerners (7.1%), followed by Rodarians (6.57%), Emmerians (6.3%), Ulthrannics (3.9%), Anikatians (3.8%), Eaglelanders (0.51%), Belfrasians (0.36%), Estovnians (0.043%), and Other (1.214%).
The population growth rate of Belhavia going into 2015 is 2.7%. This is due to the high fertility rates among Orthodox and Charedi Jews, the small-but-growing ethnic Rodar-Catholic population, the high-but-declining Muslim Emmerian community, and growing traditionalist Ulthrannic minority. From 2014 to 2015, the Empire gained slightly over 8 million new people, a large majority through new births.
Although there is no "official" language of Belhavia, Belhavian English and Yiddish are commonly spoken, followed by Modern Hebrew. English is the lingua franca, and almost universally understood, spoken, and used to communicate.
The Empire has a completely private education system that is directed by a limited public authority called His Majesty's Commission on National Education Standards. The education system is entirely run in private hands, with the CNES's oversight on curriculum requirements.
A universal voucher system funds the entire education sector; each family or individual is given a voucher each year, deducted from their local taxes, which is used to send their child or children to any local school of their choice. A publicly-funded Opportunity Grant program exists to ensure all children at the lowest socioeconomic levels have access to any school like their wealthier and middle-income peers.
The CNES establishes a baseline curriculum and mandates that all children must graduate high school.
The college, university as well as graduate and postgraduate education are both completely privately run and funded, with no public subsidies such as grants or scholarships. However, most schools themselves offer scholarships or work-study programs in lieu of publicly-funded programs of the like. Elite colleges in Belhavia include Almania College and Imperial Provisa University.
Since the early 20th century, Belhavia has become a prestigious and respected hub of higher education that attracts the wealthy and talented from across the world. In particular, many Emmerians, Westerners, Anikatians, Westonarians, Rodarians, and Austrasians come to be schooled in private academies for a high school-level education and/or undergraduate and graduate studies.
Emmerians and Westerners often study overseas in Belhavia because of close cultural, ethnic, and religious ties between themselves and the Empire; Westonarians and Rodarians often opt to come to Belhavia because of the country's socially-conservative veneer and culture. Specifically, Rodarians from the elite of the National Liberal Party of Rodarion many times choose to send their children to Belhavia to avoid the Church-run education system at home while being comfortable with the social conservatism prevalent throughout Belhavia; ethnic Rodarian Jews choose to come to Belhavia for better-quality schools or to study in the Jewish homeland. Austrasians have strong sociocultural ties with Belhavia and is a popular study-abroad destination for them.
Anikatians from more conservative, wealthy families are frequently sent to Belhavia because of the close proximity and the limited choice of higher education options in their nation. In addition to avoiding mainly state-subsidized colleges and universities, these students tend to be Anglo-Anikatians, notably ethnic Befrasians, who feel more comfortable in a neoliberal country such as Belhavia, which is heavily influenced and interlinked with Western Pardes and its shared culture and ways of life.
The Empire has a completely private healthcare system. In 2014, private insurance paid for 65.4% of personal health expenditures, followed by 34.6% by private out-of-pocket payments.
All hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers are entirely private. Because of political and social pressure on employers to provide at least minimal private health insurance, only approximately 13% of the public is uninsured.
As of 2014, national average life expectancy at birth is 81.6 years.
Conservative, Orthodox & Modern Orthodox, and so-called Conservadox denominations in Judaism are the mainstream of religious life in Belhavia. However, about one-in-five self-described "observant Jews" belong to more liberal denominations of Judaism. This is followed by modest Romulan Catholic, Christian, and Muslim minorities.
Unlike the rest of the Free World, religious attendance has seen only a modest drop since the 1950s, with periods of revival followed by slight decreases again. Outside of Rodarion and Eagleland, Belhavia is considered one of the most religiously-observant nations in the world. Since the mid-1990s, Belhavia has witnessed a new religious revival, concentrated among the Charedim, with synagogue attendance and Jewish institutional giving slowly increasing over the last twenty years. Charedim numbers have also nearly doubled in the last twenty years, from approx. 3.6% of the population in 1996 to 7.2% in 2015.
Belhavians are majority Jewish (75.1%), followed by Catholicism (7.9%), Islam (4.6%), various Protestant Christian sects (2.35%), Orthodox Christianity (0.5%), and Yeosindo (0.35%). A total of 9.2% are classified as various forms of irreligious: 3.9% secular, 2.7% no preference, 2.3% agnostic, and 0.3% atheist.
Among Jews, a thin plurality majority are Orthodox & Modern Orthodox (27.2%), followed by Conservadox (26.9%), Conservative (24.5%), Reform (14.1%), Charedi (an Orthodox subgroup) (7.2%), and Reconstructionist (<0.1%).
Belhavian cuisine is generally based on Jewish cooking and is internationally-renown for its spiciness. Kosher products are the mainstay of food offered, though in major urban metropolises non-kosher food can be found, particularly in secular and immigrant communities.
Beef plays an outsized role in the meal; a typical Belhavian meal in a restaurant or at home will include red meat or poultry in at least one course at dinner, if not more. Red meat from cows is the primary source of beef, followed by chicken and, in coastal areas, some fish. Because a supermajority of the population observes kosher dietary laws, shellfish is rarely consumed domestically, but it is a major food export market to other countries. Belhavian Southern Lobster and Polar Crab are popular in restaurants overseas, particularly in URE, Tarsas, and Belfras.
Because of the cold, snowy environment, only staple crops can be grown in the Empire; subsequently, most fruits and vegetables are imported, but they play an important role in the average Belhavian diet. In particular, Near Eastern fruits such as olives and dates are used profusely, especially in northern, urban Belhavian households. These foods are imported from abroad, specifically from Eagleland, Tarsas, Ulthrannia, and other similar locales. Local foods, especially in the largely agricultural center of the Empire, often use wholemeal products (rye, barley, oats) and berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries) grown in greenhouses.
The national dish of Belhavia is Matzo ball soup. Soups are a favorite among Belhavians, especially the variety of chicken soups. Spicy chicken noodle is often a household favorite, and competitions have sprung up between competing recipes at local fairs and festivals.
Public attention to media is widespread throughout Belhavia. Since the 18th century, there has been a cultural emphasis on being well-read and well-informed. As a result, in modern Belhavia, newspaper readership, TV watching, and social media use are exceedingly high.
The Kalian Media Group, owned by the powerful Kalian family, is a massive conglomerate that owns nearly 40% of all media in the Empire. The Provisa Times, the most widely read national newspaper in Belhavia, is owned by KMG, as is the insider politics media outlet PROVISAINSIDER.com.
The Provisa Times has carved out a premier niche in the Imperial newspaper industry, but it has an adroit competitor in the Provisa Herald, its perennial rival. Every city has at least three major, daily newspapers as of 2014, and these media outlets often serve as the newspaper of choice in those metropolitan areas.
The Mesorah Broadcasting Company, another KMG subsidiary, is the largest broadcasting organisation in the country and flagships the television market. Cable and satellite TV companies compete fiercely to gain market share the other's expense; most homes in rural areas were covered by satellite television, but this has been encroached on by cable companies. However, cable television is the largest provider in most urban areas as of 2015.
Politics & Society
Belhavian society has often been described by academics as an anachronism of sorts that has oft-many contradictory impulses between modernity and tradition, conservatism and classical liberalism. Unlike most of the rest of Free Pardes, Belhavia is measurably more socially and culturally conservative, with the exception of Eagleland, which maintains a comparably conservative and traditionalist culture.
However, the interaction with modernity has created pockets of liberalism more analogous to other wealthy, developed, secular countries. Most major cities in the Empire have a left-leaning cosmopolitan culture and sociopolitical climate similar to that of Arthurista or Anikatia. However, most of Belhavia is thoroughly conservative: politically, religiously, socially, and culturally.
Despite this, the modern experience and the brief sway of moderate social liberalism in post-Galarian Belhavian politics of the late 1940s - early 1980s introduced changes in attitudes and modes of thinking among more liberal, secular, wealthier, highly-educated, and urban populations. Women have become more prevalent throughout the workplace; especially across all industries, and in business and social leadership roles. This comes, despite more traditional Orthodox Jewish notions of divinely-inspired separate realms for men's and women's work from the Torah and Talmud.
Belhavia has been described by many as an "immigrant society"; over 30% of its citizens have ancestry that is not ethnic Jewish or is tied to a foreign nationality. However, Belhavian society and government policy has a decidedly assimilationist posture that welcomes foreigners and converts but expects them to respect and obey traditional Jewish laws and lifestyle, though they are free to practice their religions and ethnic or national practices as long as it does not disrupt the dominant Jewish communal practice. Because the Orthodox and Charedi live stricter, religiously Jewish lives in explicitly Torahic-styled communities, most non-ethnic Jews tend to live in the cities and in the more secular north, where Jewish religious observance is somewhat more relaxed.
Belhavian Jewry's proficiency with finance and commerce is theorized by historians, economists, and anthropologists as emerging from higher-than-usual rates of literacy among the Jews of Pardesi antiquity. This frugality and millennia of understanding free markets has combined with more recent sub-arctic frontier experiences settling the snow-covered and taiga-rich Middle and Southern Belhavia, especially the arctic-like Far South, has primed Belhavians with attraction towards classical economics, neoliberalism, and rugged individualism; at the same time, however, this has been tempered by traditionalist communitarian Torahic and Talmudic ethics and laws that govern practicing Jews' communities. The clash of these influences - classical liberalism on the one hand, traditionalist conservatism and communitarianism on the other - has created the "modern contradiction of Belhavian life," according to philosopher Wesley Canvess.
The architecture of the Empire is varied, and has gone through cycling periods where one trend is adopted and later replaced by another school of thought.
In the contemporary period, Neo-Imperial style and Peterian style are the dominant trends in building construction. In residences preserved from the 19th century and early 20th century, Neo-Gothic style is prevalent.
Literature in Belhavia is highly bifurcated along social and historical lines. Writings, commentaries, and essays on varied Jewish religious texts and the Responsa were the dominant display of literary expression in antiquity, the Dark Ages, and the early modern era. This literary tradition is continued in the contemporary era among religious Belhavian Jews ("dati") and Christians.
Starting in the late 1600s, the emergence of the Haskalah in Belhavia from the Arthuristan Enlightenment influenced non-religious and secular literary authors to challenge the traditional Belhavian literature of religious thought and writings and prompted a new tradition of literary expression into social problems, politics, society, fiction, and other non-religious or divine-centered works. This literary meta-school of thought has continued to the present in secular society and among non- or less-religious "chiloni" Belhavians.
The start of the 18th century was characterized by a multitude of political and social writings as well as a nascent popular literary movement that focused on entertaining peasants and the middle strata. Between 1760 and 1830, with the transition to and firm establishment of the Industrial Revolution and its concordant disruptive social, political, and labor changes, a robust market for popular fiction, elite political journals, exchange of letters, and novels transformed the literary scene. This included controversial works, such as The Blue Ribbon by Yehuda Green, which was a fiction novel that explored adultery, premarital sex, and other sexual deviances.
In the aftermath of the failed 1854 liberal revolution, such literary expression into social taboos were increasingly prosecuted under the new White Terror laws' Subversive Social and Cultural Acts provisions. Many progressive literary figures went underground or left the country for more favorable locales such as Emmeria or Arthurista.
Nonetheless, literary writers adopted to the newfound conservative social and societal norms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with novels and short fiction moving from an elite and middle strata leisure activity and interest into the broader masses of society. The themes of honor, character, and morality as well as adventure, exploration, and foreign ideas each dominated the period, and led to a clash among writers and Belhavian society into reacting and reconciling the two divergent literary impulses. Works such as Yonoson Halperin's The Far Eastern Horizon, a set of loosely-related adventure stories by Halperin set in the 18th century Far East, and Joseph Ben Haim's The Soul Inside, a satirical novel that gave credence to popular cynical attitudes among Belhavians at that time, represented the dominant literary thought of the period.
By the 1920s and 1930s, the theme of disillusionment and despair was expressed by a new generation of literary writers. The chaos and violence throughout the world, emergence of radical ideologies and polarizing social and political attitudes, especially as the 1920s and '30s gave way to the 1940s and 1950s, along with the perception of perennial political dysfunction and gridlock and social control and embitterment at home, and later a pervasive sense of unease and uncertainty in the world, all sparked deep literary currents towards a darker, cynical, skeptical, and frightening world in fiction and nonfiction alike. Emmerian immigrant and larger-than-life author and literary writer J. Kost Wesleyan's landmark novel The Party for Mr. Friedman, about the shallowness of materialism, caught the public eye and national mood in the 1930s. Uzriel Cantor's primary works stressed antiwar and anti-authoritarian motifs in the late 1940s and 1950s.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, early postmodernist writers and novelists began to predominate, especially as higher education flourished and expanded in the '60s, '70s, and '80s as Belhavia arguably entered a post-industrial society. These writers expressed absurdist, impressionist, and critical themes and narratives that attacked prevailing modern and traditionalist social, societal, cultural, political, and artistic views held by Belhavian society. This literary movement, which had ideological affinities with ruling political and presidential leaders at the time, contributed to existing political crises that sparked a backlash among broader society to the New Left and postmodernity.
Since the late 1970s, Belhavian chiloni literature has expressed remodernist, neomodernist, and so-called "post-postmodernist" thought, themes, and motifs. Authors such as Bruce Margolis stress such themes in his contemporary line of popular fiction and nonfiction novels and short stories in the 1990s and 2000s.
Music and Film
Music in Belhavia is polarized, as is much of Belhavian society and culture, by the chiloni-dati divide. Secular music is by-and-large foreign-made and produced due to burdensome "morality concerns" affected under the Association of Music Quality and Values Control (AMQVC; pronounced "amk-vic"), a private music ratings and contents censorship organization funded by the Belhavian music industry, while there is a larger base of domestically-produced genres of religious and spiritual Jewish folk and modern music.
Secular music produced domestically in Belhavia is largely in the electro, soft hip hop, neo-disco, and so-called "Top 40 radio" music styles. The wordless genres (electro) enable little complain from the AMQVC, self-censored "soft" hip hop and neo-disco with relatively "clean" words often are approved without objection. Nonetheless, the Belhavian musical scene relies heavily on the nearby Skanderan musical market, especially Temuair, as a global hub of music, media, and popular culture. Most famous secular Belhavian musicians head to Skandera or Lusankya to have a successful global music career.
Despite state and private "controls," most young chiloni Belhavians illegally download megatons of unpaid-for and/or censored foreign music a year on their computers and software, marking Belhavia as the second-largest market of illegal music downloads in the world after Rodarion, a position its held since 2009.