|Free City of Carcosa and the Aurean Isles|
The Sublime Porte, the Golden Pillars, the City of Fountains
|Settled||est. 9th century BCE|
|Solarian conquest||251 BCE|
|• Type||Representative democracy|
Carcosa, officially the Free City of Carcosa and the Aurean Isles, sometimes referred to as the Sublime Porte, the Yellow City, the City of Fountains, or simply the City, is a sovereign city-state in Southeast Euclea and Northern Coius. It lies in the middle of the Aurean Strait, on a collection of over 100 islands and islets. Over the centuries, extensive land reclamation has joined and expanded many of these islands by a considerable amount, and also raised their average elevation.
Carcosa had emerged in some form as an urban settlement as far back as the 9th century BCE, growing until the 6th century BCE into an increasingly important regional center. Around this time, the Invasion of the Sea Peoples occurred throughout the modern Solarian Sea, and the so-called Sea Peoples established themselves in Carcosa and began the city's meteoric rise to the cusp of imperial glory. After a long rivalry with Solaria and two hard-fought wars, however, Carcosa submitted, becoming the Solarian Empire's second city. The Empire's growing weakness in the 400s, however, eventually led the Carcosian aristocracy to throw out the last Solarian governor and give their own city senate control over a new merchant republic. Carcosa remained an influential state, especially in Northern Coius, Southern Euclea, and the Solarian Sea, throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance by virtue of its strategic position, great wealth, and large fleet, but as Euclean states centralized and grew, and developed more advanced militaries, Carcosa's fortunes began to wane into the 1700s. In the early 1800s, the city submitted to becoming a protectorate of Gaullica. As it became a key hub for trade going in all directions throughout the vast Gaullican Empire and Coius began to experience its own upheavals during the Ages of Industry and Imperialism, Carcosa grew as a destination for immigrants and refugees from around the globe and as a manufacturing center. During the Great War, the city was severely damaged, as Allied forces and Carcosian resistance fighters wrought havoc in their campaign to liberate it from Gaullica, and Gaullica ships, bombers, and artillery struck back in kind. Though many of its ancient and famous districts were left in rubble, the city rose from the ashes after the war, entering a frenzied rebuilding period and growing as a center for trade and finance under the aegis of a defensive pact with Negara. As its economy developed, however, and mainland Euclea rebuilt, Carcosa eventually moved back towards the Continent, becoming a member of the Euclean Community in the 1960s.
Carcosa is a global commerce, finance and transport hub. Known as a tax haven, it also has some of the world's busiest oil and container ports, and is a hub for international financial activities, with the Carcosa Stock Exchange among the world's largest and most valuable. The city's relaxed gambling, prostitution, and drug laws also make it a popular spot for short getaways for travelers from both sides of the Aurean Strait, and its ancient and famous sites and bustling streets attract more wholesome tourism as well.
About 45% of the population of Carcosa are permanent residents or other foreign nationals, and for convenience's sakes Gaullican is the city's primary official language, though the city's eight million plus residents speak several hundred tongues among them. The city is among the most diverse in Euclea or the world, both in ethnic and religious terms, with Solarian Catholicism and Salam winning out as the two largest religions in the city.
Carcosa is a representative democracy with a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Senate and the House of Tribunes. However, the greater power of the Senate and many of its ancient and less-than-democratic traditions, along with the city's high income inequality and the quiet influence of old and moneyed families in the corridors of power, have led some to remark the city is in some ways still more oligarchy than democracy.
Government and politics
All non-felon Carcosian citizens, born or naturalized, are able to vote in the city's elections for the Senate and the House of Tribunes. Tribunal districts are drawn to sizes such that each tribune represents as close as possible to 10,000 people (crucially, this includes non-citizens). The Senate's districts, however, change every ten years (the length of a Senate term) such that there are always 100 senators. These senators select from among their ranks the Princeps or First Citizen, who serves as head of state and government and is the city's chief executive. The First Citizen also controls the Cabinet.
Carcosian politics are known to be rife with corruption, with voter fraud (particularly passing non-citizens off with fake documentation) and bribery both major obstacles to those who seek to enforce regular democratic norms on the city. Strong party allegiances have given rise to both formal and informal paramilitary wings, which also regularly practice voter intimidation in some parts of the city.
At present, the main parties include the reigning centrist Democratic Party, their main opposition, the centrist Union for Prosperity, the leftist Popular Front, the conservative Sotiran Unity Party, the Carcosian Cooperativist Party, and the New Functionalist Party. Following the collapse of the Carcosian National Functionalist Front near the end of the Great War, the government was initially led by senior resistance figures, including a number of Cooperativists. However, the Security Directorate, the Carcosian aristocracy, and Negaran occupation forces, concerned about Althiran influence and the effects of Cooperativist ideology on the city, engineered the collapse of this government by 1938. Since then, the Democrats and the Unionists, occasionally in coalitions with the Popular Front or the SUP, have traded power between them, marginalizing political radicals, including the right-wing fringe that has revived National Functionalism in the city.
The Carcosian military is quite small, as the city largely relies on its deep security relationship with and membership in the Euclean Community to provide for its defense. Military service is not compulsory. Because of its small size, there is in fact technically only one branch- the Navy. The Navy operates several state-of-the-art fast attack craft and missile boats, along with a small fleet of helicopters and a small number of fixed-wing aircraft. Naval infantry comprise around 7,000 ground troops.
In addition to this very small but reasonably advanced force, Carcosa's Security Directorate has a reputation as a fairly effective intelligence service dating back to its establishment in 1899, dedicated to helping advance the country's overseas priorities. Its portfolio and capabilities grew particularly as Carcosa navigated the delicate dance between the Euclean Community and Negara in the 1950s and 1960s and as various conflicts cropped up in Northern Coius and along the coast of the Solarian Sea.
Carcosa has been a full member of the Euclean Community since abandoning its defensive pact with Negara in the 1960s, and its relationship with mainland Euclea forms the core of the city-state's foreign policy. Euclean tourism, trade, and investment all are critical engines in sustaining Carcosa's economy, and the city also imports considerable amounts of vital food, water, and energy from the Continent. Despite this, Carcosian leadership has made a concerted effort to maintain Carcosa's own identity and self-sufficiency, fearing to become too dependent on the mainland as many argue the city did when it was a Gaullican protectorate (with disastrous consequences).
Geography and climate
Carcosa is situated on a group of islands in the Aurean Strait, with most of the city resting on five main islands- Maria, Flavia, Aelia, Portia, and Alcyia. The channels and enclosed areas between the five main islands are quite deep in most places, forming an enormous and superb natural harbor. A number of smaller islets, many inhabited and some empty, are scattered around and between the five main islands. The Insla Maria has some hills and small mountains, with the highest natural point in the country situated atop the Golden Pillar on the Insla Maria, at 2217 feet amove sea level. Besides the Golden Pillar and the Marian hills, most of the other islands are fairly flat. Carcosa is highly urbanized, with some of the outlying islands and the Marian hills having been set aside as nature reserves, but in recent decades the city has made more of an effort to develop public parks and green spaces in urban districts as well.
Protected from cold continental northerly fronts by mountains in Bokela, directly adjacents to the deserts of Badawiya, and situated at the end of the warm and shallow Solarian Sea as its warm currents flow northward into the Gulf of Assonaire, Carcosa is generally quite warm. The city also receives considerable rainfall, with a winter wet season as storms blow in from the north, and a summer dry season (though thanks to generally high humidity, the city still receives a generous amount of rain from squalls and thunderstorms in the summer).
Carcosa's economy is driven by trade and shipping and by the financial sector, which account for a significant portion of the city-state's GDP. It also has a large tourism industry, much of which is based on short trips by Coian and Euclean tourists to enjoy the city's permissive drug, gambling, and prostitution laws. It has emerged as a major center for entrepot trade, as well as one of Euclea's major financial centers. While the manufacturing and industrial centers have declined throughout the 20th century, Carcosa's shipyards also remain as an important part of the economy.
Carcosa has a highly developed transportation network, with the Carcosa Transit Authority's various public transportation systems being the primary mode of daily transportation for nearly three quarters of the population. In contrast, just shy of fifteen percent of Carcosians own a car. Motorcycles and mopeds are also popular among the city's residents as an alternative or supplement to mass transit and car ownership.
The heart of the transit network overseen by the CTA is the Carcosa Métro. With 429 stops, it is one of the most extensive rapid transit systems in the world and averages over six million rides a day on weekdays. The Métro connects directly four of the five main islands via tunnels and bridges, and to several outlying islands as well (the Insla Portia is disconnected from the main Métro, but has its own lines). Some larger outlying islands also have small Métro lines of their own, which are connected to the main Métro network by the city's ferries.
Carcosa also has a ferry and water taxi network with stops on every inhabited island in the country. The CTA oversees the Metropolitan Ferry Service, which employs large ferry boats between the five main islands and between some of the larger outlying islands, particularly those not connected to the Métro. The MFS, with a fleet of 32 ferries, carries most of its estimated 100,000 daily passengers between the Insla Portia and the other main islands, but also carries large numbers to several of the minor islands. The city also has a large number of private water taxi services, which are popular for coastal dwellers and in the minor islands, as well as for tourists. Some water taxi services and the MFS also provide service to the Euclean mainland and to Carcosian Coius on the Entalis Peninsula. The Port Authority of Carcosa also oversees busy commercial shipping traffic at several terminals located on the five major islands, several outlying islands, and the Entalis Peninsula.
The CTA has only established bus lines on the five major islands, known as the Quintus Network. The Quintus buses are double-deckers and provide comprehensive bus service at hundreds of stops on the five major islands.
West Entalia-October 18th International Airport, situated on a mixture of islands and reclaimed land off the tip of the Entalis Peninsula and connected to the city via an undersea Métro tunnel, the MFS's hydrofoil ferries, and water taxis, is a leading air passenger gateway and logistics hub in Euclea and Northern Coius and one of the world's busiest airports in terms of international passenger and cargo movement, serving nearly 50 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo every year. It replaced the overcrowded Insla Norta Airport as the city's primary airport in 1991, and more than 80 airlines operate out of it.
Carcosa's water supply was historically based off of the groundwater aquifer located beneath several of the main islands, but as the city's population has grown, this aquifer has become depleted to the point where many of the springs it once fed no longer flow. The city has taken steps to protect it, and gone to great lengths to develop rainwater catchment reservoirs and desalination systems, as well as using reclaimed water. Natural streams and catchment areas on the mainland in particular are zealously guarded and monitored, and the city uses seawater to flush its toilets as an added method of conservation. Despite these measures, Carcosa still imports significant amounts of water via pipeline from Euclea, but the city's leaders have committed to "full water independence" by 2050.