Glacia

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The flag of Glacia, known as "the Ice Sun"
Flag
Motto: Flumina mento praecipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba.
Rivers fall from his ancient chin, and his shaggy beard drips with ice.
Anthem: Home Sea Song
Capital
and largest settlement
Instead
Official languagesEsmeiran, Estmerish, Gaullican, Kirenian, Rahelian, Senrian, Soravian, Weranian
Working languages
Estmerish, Gaullican
Demonym(s)Glacian
GovernmentInternational condominium
• President of the Glacia Council
Josef Gatt
LegislatureGlacia Council
International territory
• Establishment by the Trusteeship Council
1935
Area
• Total
10,000,000 km2 (3,900,000 sq mi)
Population
• 2021 estimate
5,000 to 10,000 (seasonal)
• Density
0.001/km2 (0.0/sq mi)
CurrencyGlacis
Time zoneUTC+3 (GSST)
AntipodesBoreal Ocean, North Pole
Date formatyyyy-mm-dd
Driving sideright
Internet TLD.gl

Glacia is the southernmost continent on the planet of Kylaris. Its landmass is roughly circular in shape, centred on the South Pole, being located entirely below the Glacian Circle, and a significant distance from any other large landmasses. Its surface is almost entirely covered in the Glacian Ice Sheet. Its capital, and largest and only permanent settlement, is Instead.

The Glacian Ice Sheet is the largest and oldest ice sheet in the world, storing a majority of terrestrial freshwater. It is about 10 million square kilometres in size. The largest geological feature of Glacia is the Avernines, a massive volcano mountain range on the edge of the continent which is roughly south of Coius, the highest point being Mount New Najadhabuo.

Much of the biota of Glacia is endemic to it, because of its unique climactic conditions, and its great distance from other land. Some notable instances include species of penguins, gulls, mosses, lichens and extremophilic microorganisms. There is, however, on the whole, not much metabolism in Glacia, because of the very low energy input it receives from the Sun, being so far south. There is virtually no biotic land cover in Glacia, and based on the level of precipitation, almost the whole continent can be classified as a desert.

The continent, formally as the International Territory of Glacia, has been administered by the International Condominium of Glacia, a Community of Nations-affiliated organisation, since 1935. It is the only remaining territorial agency of the Trusteeship Council, and controls activities in and around Glacia with an eye to promoting culture and science and preserving biodiversity and heritage. The continent was uninhabited aside from a few transient outposts until the end of the Great War, when the International Condominium was established. Activity and population have gradually grown since 1935, and at present the population swells to nearly ten thousand during summer in Instead, and around two hundred and fifty people are classified as permanent residents. Most activity revolves around research and tourism.

Etymology

A large iceberg calved from a Glacian ice sheet, circa 2002

Glacia was named by Euclean explorers for its overwhelming glaciation, from Classical Solarian glaciēs, meaning "ice". Sailors spoke of the "Glacial Ocean", cold and with vast icebergs, before the continent of Glacia itself was sighted and named. It should be noted, however, that the demonym for Glacia is Glacian, not "Glacial".

Archaic names for Glacia include Glaciana, Australia, from Classical Solarian austrālis meaning southern (though the term is used to an extent in tectonic and geological studies) and Antiborea (from "anti" + "boreal", as in the northern Boreal Ocean).

History

Discovery

Glacia was for several millennia the only continent without a human population. Rumours and legends in southern Coius circulated about icy southern lands as far back as the 11th century CE, but it is likely that at least most of these were about the Sunahamas, the most southerly substantial landmass other than Glacia. The first confirmed sighting was made by x of x near the x for x, in 1811.

From that time, Glacia was very occasionally stopped off at by various ships, including whalers, fishers, sealers, explorers and mail-ships, for restocking, repairs, or even just sightseeing and rest. Some structures were built at various points for those stopping over, but were not generally inhabited outside of these rare visits. Stories of hermits or exiles in Glacia have not been confirmed by historical research. In 1869, the x began to go down, limping to an uninhabited settlement that became known as x Cove. The crew and passengers of the x sheltered there for more than a month, almost all surviving, before being rescued.

The x which charted much of the coast of Glacia, in Glacian waters

National claims and exploration

Owing to the development of more reliable and longer-range ships, and the decline of the whaling industry, visits to Glacia itself became largely the pursuit of scientists and explorers past the turn of the 20th century. The 1901 expedition of Anders Søren Hammar, a Scovernois adventurer was the first to seriously attempt to reach the South Pole, setting out from Devastation Point (Pointe Dévastation), but it turned back after passing the halfway mark, with most of the party dying on the way back, including Hammar. In 1913–4, a multinational expedition led by Lyubomir Bogomilev succeeded in reaching the South Pole and making it back.

Interest in Glacia and the waters around it for scientific, military, imperial and fishery activities grew as technology made it more accessible and it was better documented, but mostly national efforts were piecemeal, still being seriously hampered by the inherent environmental difficulties in Glacian exploration and colonisation. Several powers made claims, but did relatively little to act on them; Senria claimed all land between about 180°E (the westernmost point of the Senrian archipelago) and 105°W (the easternmost point of the Sunahamas); Estmere claimed an area still known as King Edward's Land between 0° and 108°E (named after King Edward V), envisioning a penal colony and/or naval base, establishing Jamestown in 1935; and Gaullica made claims as well. The Great Collapse of 1913 saw most Glacian efforts lapse, and interest wane, and there was virtually no attention paid to Glacia during the Great War from 1927 to 1935.

Establishment of the International Condominium of Glacia

The building in Kesselbourg where the International Condominium of Glacia operated from for a number of years

In the aftermath of the Great War, interest in Glacia picked up again, with renewed civilian economic activity, technological advances, and relative global stability. In a global atmosphere of international cooperation, the Trusteeship Council of the Community of Nations agreed to create the International Territory of Glacia, which was overseen by the International Condominium of Glacia. This body would have ongoing oversight from the Trusteeship Council, and had exclusive jurisdiction over Glacia, to the exclusion of all previous and future claims. Most countries relinquished their Glacian claims around 1935, though there were some holdouts, such as Senria (though it did not actively obstruct the activities of the International Condominium, merely waiting to see if it was viable), and Satucin, which claimed to inherit the Gaullican claims. The International Condominium's remit over all terrestrial activities in Glacia was given the aim of preserving natural heritage, and promoting scientific research and understanding.

For a time, the International Condominium of Glacia existed almost only on paper. Permission was granted to only small and temporary scientific missions for a few decades, with interest in other activities remaining relatively low. In this period, regulations on biodiversity protection were developed in detail. However, Community of Nations trust territories gaining independence created a large pool of competent staffers, and freed up Trusteeship Council resources. The aftermath of the Solarian War also created a new atmosphere of international consolidation. In 1950, ground was finally broken on what had been decided as the future capital and main base of Glacia, Instead. The flag, which became known as the Ice Sun, was also designed and adopted in this period.

Photograph of Instead, circa 1990s

Growth

Instead was established at the base of the Avernines, being shielded by the mountains from ice sheet flows, having access to a deepwater harbour, and being near locations of interest such as Blood Falls. At first, it was only a particularly substantial scientific base, but over time, it acquired a permanent population, the only one on Glacia. Since 1971, it has never been uninhabited. Technological developments such as the Internet, satellite imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles and big data have seen activity particularly accelerate since the 1980s.

Activity in Glacia has intensified overall, and there are more bases and researchers in Glacia now than in any previous decade.

Disputes over tourism and the extent of its commercialisation or compatibility with objectives like science and preservation arose from the 1980s to 1990s onwards. By the 2000s, however, highly regulated small-scale commercial tourism was operating regularly to Glacia, generating public interest and providing a source of revenue; though far from mass tourism, the extent of this practice continues to grow.

Geography

Glacia is distinctive as a large, isolated landmass which is substantially frozen and glaciated, notably by the Glacian Ice Sheet, which covers a majority of its 10 million square kilometres of land. These characteristics mean it has a unique biotic regime, though little land cover, and is unique among the other continents. Volcanic activity is, however, another distinguishing characteristic of Glacia, notably at the Avernines. The South Pole is located near the middle of Glacia.

The geography of Glacia is substantially natural, as it is by far the least developed and least populous continent, and preserved in this state. The International Territory of Glacia is the biggest jurisdiction (by area) in the world by a large margin, both in terms of land and waters.

Climate

A near-sunset in Glacia

Glacia, as a consequence of its position in the far south of the planet, receives little sunshine, and only at a very oblique angle; it is very consistently cold, and a majority of the land is ice cap climate. As a large landmass, it also does not have the circulatory effect of water to moderate its temperatures over much of its landmass. The Glacian Ice Sheet, which dominates the continent, is only able to form because of the consistently and extensively cold temperatures.

The location of Glacia also means that the day-night cycle is unusual; the sun does not move very much relative to the horizon in the sky, merely rotating about from a perspective on Glacia. The result is months-long days and months-long nights for some areas.

The aurora australis near the South Pole

Precipitation is very low across most of Glacia, owing to low temperatures preventing significant moisture being held in the air. What precipitation there is, however, is generally in the form of snow, contributing to the Glacian Ice Sheet. Blizzards, it should be noted, are generally not a form of precipitation, but only existing snow being blown up into the air. Significant circumpolar winds and moisture from surrounding seas affects coastal areas.

Aurora australis is a phenomenon which exists over Glacia, comparable to the aurora borealis in the north of the planet, resulting from the interaction of Kylaris' electromagnetic field with that from outer space; it causes a distinctive, visible, shifting glow in the atmosphere (specifically the magnetosphere).

Geology and topography

A photo of Mount Saint Fiacre, near the edge of the Avernines

The geological study of Glacia is hindered substantially by the thick ice covering most of it. However, it is generally accepted that it moved to its present southerly position relatively recently, slowing down tectonically in the last five million years. Glacia is substantially comprised of a single, large tectonic plate, known as the Glacian or Australian Plate, most of which is the Glacian Craton. This area is fairly flat, largely composed of silicate stones and metal-poor, and including the South Pole. Most of the Glacian Ice Sheet is located in this area, also; it is understood that the ice sheet exerts a pressure which depresses the Glacian landmass significantly, though most ice-covered land remains above sea level even so. Significant erosion, owing to glacial flow, occurs in some regions. Many of these facts were established as a result of the New Geological Survey in the 1970s.

The most significant feature outside of the flat craton area is the Avernines, a massive range of shield volcanoes, some still active, running east-west in the region roughly south of Coius on the northern edge of the continent. They are believed to be a cluster of hotspot volcanoes, though they are larger and more active than any other hotspot group anywhere on the planet, or known in geological history; it may be that the unusual circumstances of the size, thickness and pressure from the ice sheet of the Glacian plate cause this. The Avernines are, as a consequence of the processes of their formation, largely basaltic. The highest point in the range, and on the continent, is Mount New Najadhabuo (named after Mount Najadhabuo, the tallest mountain in Dezevau).

A meltwater stream on the Glacian Ice Sheet

Hydrology

Glacia is dominated by the Glacian Ice Sheet, covering almost all of the continent of over 10 million square kilometres. Being more than a kilometre thick in most places, it is the largest reservoir of freshwater on the planet, and the largest ice sheet by both area and volume, and plays an important part in regulating the planet's climate through its reflection of warming solar radiation. It is also a valuable source of information about the past of the planet, as a source for ice cores.

A number of unique hydrological features occur in or in connection with the Glacian Ice Sheet. The dynamics of its accretion, movement and calving notably cause bodies of water and waterways inside and underneath the sheet. Blood Falls, by the Zasada Glacier, are a result of iron-rich water, melted by the pressure of the ice, being forced out from the ground to the surface. Underground rivers are common, especially in heavily glaciated, steep areas of Glacia near the edges of the Avernines; the largest underground river by volume and length in Glacia is known as the Styx. The bulk of the Avernines largely prevents the Glacian Ice Sheet as well as waterways from reaching the sea in that region; rather, flows are outwards from the centre of the continent to its other coasts, though of course affected by smaller, local topography. In general, however, liquid freshwater is rare above the surface in Glacia because of low temperatures.

Biota

Emperor penguins in Glacia
A blue whale in Glacian waters

Glacia's isolation from other landmasses means that its land biota are largely endemic. Its climate, however, means that the biological density is not very high; there is not very much energy or primary production, and particularly not many plants. Much of the life on Glacia ultimately gets its energy from the sea as a result. The seas around Glacia are also a unique reservoir of biodiversity.

Fauna

A range of animals are present on Glacia. Penguins are perhaps the best-known, including species such as the emperor penguin and the Adélie penguin. Other birds include the snow petrel and the albatross; Glacian birds generally feed from the sea, whether they are flightless or not, and migrate long distances, some to landmasses outside of Glacia (such as Coius and Asteria Inferior) for climatic reasons.

Mammals include seals and whales, such as the Weddell seal, Ross seal, blue whale, minke whale and right whale. Humans are of course also present on Glacia, and other introduced mammals such as the black rat have been in the past, but biosecurity and extermination campaigns mean that there are almost none today, beyond some pet dogs, cats, guinea pigs and such. There is a general policy against bringing any animals to Glacia which, if they escaped, could easily form a viable population.

The seas around Glacia are rich in fish, though relatively few species predominate, perhaps reflecting the uniformity of the aquatic terrain. The food chain in Glacian waters relies on the Glacian krill, a crustacean which may be the most substantially distributed animal species in the world.

A variety of insects live in and around Glacia, including those flying, burrowing and swimming; they play an important role in decomposition in Glacia relative to many parts of the world. The midge Flamica glaciana is the largest purely terrestrial animal in Glacia.

Flora

Plant life is comparably sparse in Glacia, because of low temperatures, little sunlight, and lack of growing substrate. The only terrestrial plants on Glacia are mosses and liverworts, though none form significant ground cover. In the waters around Glacia, algae is very significant in terms of its distribution and role in the food chain.

Rhizocarpon geographicum, the map lichen

Fungi

Lichens are the most significant fungal species in Glacia; many globally widely distributed fungal species do not exist in Glacia for a lack of sustenance, given the substantially abiotic land cover.

The globally propagating and at times extremophilic nature of some fungi has, however, been demonstrated, by the discovery of species which were new or previously thought not to be present when suitable substrates have been introduced (such as food, and organic materials such as wood).

Bacteria and protists

Bacterial life in Glacia is substantial, and many extremophiles among them are the subject of scientific study. They are believed to influence the albedo of some areas, and might live in high pressure, low temperature habitats in the ice, under high pressures under it or in the rock, or in toxic, high temperature environments associated with volcanic activity. Like on other continents, bacteria are omnipresent, in decaying organic material, in topsoil (where it is present), inside and coexistent with plants and animals, in clouds, in marine environments, and so forth. Protists are nearly as widely distributed.

Development

Glacia is by far the least populated and least densely populated continent, at under 10,000 for 10 million square kilometres (giving a population density of less than 0.001/km2). Owing both to its physical characteristics and its preservation through the administration of the Community of Nations, the vast majority of its landmass and seas are not touched by human influence, except indirectly such as through the composition of the atmosphere. What human presence there is is highly concentrated in a few locations, almost all near the coasts as so to be accessible by sea, with the South Pole Station being a notable exception.

Instead

Instead in the 1980s

Instead (pronounced /ˈɪnstəd/) is the capital of Glacia, and the settlement where the whole permanent population lives, as well as a majority of the temporary population (2,000 to 5,000). It is located coastally at the base of the Avernines, specifically near the y Gap, a pass through the Avernines, albeit not one which is of a low enough altitude to admit ice sheet flows from the interior of the continent (though it has been suggested that in the future, increased ice sheet thickness could cause ice flows through the y Gap that could pose a danger to Instead). It has a natural deepwater port, known as the Port of Instead, though ice piers are used at times when it is obstructed by particularly thick sea ice.

Instead has a general hospital, a meeting space called the Bogomilev Hall (named after Lyubomir Bogomilev), a public house called x, named after the ship x whose wrecked survivors took shelter on Glacia before being rescued, a cemetery, and other facilities. The World City Studies Institute works with the leadership of Instead to document and plan its development.

Instead uses UTC+3 for its timezone owing to its longitudinal location, even though timezones are not very helpful for predicting day and night, with frequent midnight sun and polar nights. This is the official timezone of Glacia, but some national bases opt to use unofficial local timezones.

An outlying station on an ice shelf

Other bases

A range of bases and stations are operated on Glacia apart from Instead, some directly by the International Condominium of Glacia which coordinates participants thereto, and others by countries or organisation with approval. They generally have a population of between five and thirty, and most are temporary in nature, being for the purposes of specific projects which cannot be undertaken from existing bases or offshore.

Galewski Station is one such station, located at x, operated by West Miersa, named after Wojsław Galewski. Ansan operates another two, Polar Research Station Hwang Myeong (summer-only) and Polar Research Station Seonggol Lee, which is large at about fifty people in summer and a dozen in winter. Jamestown is an Estmerish base, established in 1935 to be the capital of King Edward's Land but officially placed under the jurisdiction of the International Condominium of Glacia in the same year.

Government

Mary Belt, inaugural and longest-serving magistrate of the Glacia Tribunal (on the bench 1975-2001, President from 1989 onwards)

The International Condominium of Glacia is the government of Glacia. It is split into various organs; the International Condominium of Glacia Council, widely known as the Glacia Council, is the chief governmental body, fulfilling the role of a legislature as well as an executive, and managing overall administration. There is also a tribunal, the International Condominium of Glacia Tribunal, widely known as the Glacia Tribunal, which is a pseudo-judicial body; its members are appointed by the Glacia Council when vacancies open, but they have a kind of tenure. The Community of Nations Trusteeship Council resolution establishing the International Territory of Glacia is the primary document in terms of governance, acting as a constitution but most of what is applied and important on a daily basis are regulations and orders made by the Glacia Council and Glacia Tribunal (respectively).

Glacia Council

Since 1995, half of the International Condominium of Glacia Council has been elected by residents of Glacia (with all residents, but excluding short-term visitors, having the vote) for terms of five years. The Trusteeship Council still has the right to appoint or remove all members of the Glacia Council, but it has not exercised this right in regards of the elected members since the inception of the electoral system.

The Glacia Council is not officially partisan, and generally, an atmosphere of cooperation prevails. In general, however, commentators identify two rough factions: the socialists, who favour greater public investment and cooperation, and who are somewhat more often aligned with the locally elected Glacia Council members, and the liberals, who are more numerous, and who favour the involvement of more stakeholders, national, corporate and non-governmental organisational. Some commentators have also observed, however, that since the system of elections was instituted, the Glacia Council has become less partisan, and more cooperative.

In 2015, the satirical Glacian People's Front (Gaullican: Front populaire glacien) was announced by a handful of Glacian residents; it applied for official registration as a political party but was rejected, political parties not being recognised under the Glacian system. It is largely defunct as of 2018.

International governance

The International Condominium of Glacia is the only active organisation under the remit of the Trusteeship Council of the Community of Nations. Glacia is not a trust territory in the normal sense, in that trust territories tended to have a member of the Community of Nations appointed trustee, and this configuration was usually intended to be temporary. The International Condominium, however, takes on the role of the trustee with regards to Glacia. There have been proposals to abolish or cut the Trusteeship Council to save resources or to reflect its lack of relevance to the contemporary world, against which its maintenance of Glacia has been the main argument.

In actuality, the International Condominium of Glacia is relatively self-sufficient, its Glacia Council being half elected, and the appointed half generally being appointed as a result of international negotiations and recommendations by relevant parties, such as the Council itself.

The Trusteeship Council office in Keisi, Senria, being substantially only extant for Glacia-related operations, responds amiably to the small volume of mail which is addressed to Santa Claus at the South Pole.

National claims

Senria and Shangea, because of their contention with each other and proximity to Glacia, are the two main remaining parties with reservations about the Glacian system

No nation-states or other widely-recognised institutions or organisations make claims on Glacia, outside of the remit of the International Condominium of Glacia, and there is broad international cooperation through that body. However, a number had claims in the past (including Estmere and Gaullica), claim to reserve the right to revive such claims, or even make new ones in the future. Significantly, Senria and Shangea, geopolitical rivals in South Coius near Glacia, take such a stance, though both presently participate substantially in the International Condominium of Glacia project.

Special governing principles

The relevant section of the Community of Nations Trusteeship Council resolution establishing the International Condominium of Glacia states that:

The International Condominium of Glacia will exercise its powers, in accordance with human rights, with the primary aim of preserving the natural and cultural heritage, biodiversity, and scientific value of the continent of Glacia and its territorial waters.

This is, in essence, a constitutional and founding provision of the present regime in Glacia, which continues to be in force. This provision distinguishes governance in Glacia inasmuch as it is explicitly not governed in accordance with the wishes or for the benefit of its inhabitants (even as a population has become established on Glacia; at the time of the resolution, there was no human population).

A promotional postcard for the company Eleutheria Cruises' Glacia cruise, tabled during debate about tourism in the Glacia Council, 1999

The interpretation of this section has been a matter of some controversy over the years, as different views about how Glacia should be developed (or not) have clashed. Few oppose it as a matter of principle (though the Trusteeship Council continues to have the power to repeal or amend it), but there have been arguments about whether certain activities are scientific, or relevant to cultural or natural heritage, as well as about the remit of government to allow activities which do not fall under the section, but which do not harm its goals either.

For instance, some countries had proposals for prospecting for minerals, oil or gas in and around Glacia knocked back by rulings of the Glacia Council, despite arguments that discovery is scientific in nature, and does not necessarily entail exploitation of discovered resources. The reasons for the denials of permission included both that activities were not mainly scientific in nature (taking a "purer" approach to the concept), and that they would cause environmental harm; the latter reason was less controversial.

Since the 1980s, the most lively debate has been around tourism, especially for-profit tourism run by private organisations. Proponents argue that it promotes understanding and is a cultural undertaking, noting that Glacia is impliedly administered for the culture, science, etc. of the whole world, and not any specific party (certainly not only its inhabitants). Opponents point to the wording of the section, in saying that it must "preserve", not promote or develop cultural heritage, and the environmental damage that tourism can cause. Generally, the current situation is that tourism is allowed at a small scale and closely regulated, such that no damage to the environment can realistically be apprehended, and only where the tourism contributes financially or otherwise to the international Glacian project.

Economy

A transport ship coming into dock at Instead

Most economic activity on Glacia is related to scientific research and tourism, though most activity is not these activities directly, but involved to servicing them. Most of it is based in the capital Instead, but smaller bases also exist, including some inland serviced from Instead.

Much of the economy of Glacia is planned; large purchases imported from overseas are generally paid for by the International Condominium or other organisations, such that no transaction takes place on Glacia itself. Major activities such as expeditions or study projects only take place with the permission of the administration. Revenue generated from Glacian activities also generally never sees the continent itself.

Extractive industries are especially regulated, if allowed at all; hunting for food, for instance, is illegal, and rock-collecting is only allowed at a limited scale.

Currency

A spending currency called the Glacis does exist in non-expeditionary (i.e. temporary and limited to a few purposes) settlements on Glacia. This currency is distributed in a form of universal basic income to all inhabitants of Glacia periodically; as of the 21st century, it is largely handled electronically. It may be spent on discretionary goods, and some services, such as snacks, drinks, massages, sanitary products, souvenirs, board games, and so on. The funding for this currency comes from the payment with the International Condominium of Glacia extracts from those requesting to send people to Glacia; it considers it important to preserving overall morale and health that discretionary goods and services are available.

In 2011, there was a scandal where it was discovered that the Glacis had been used to purchase sexual favours amongst a handful of personnel in Instead. Ultimately, no penalties were levied by the International Condominium, and the identities of those involved were not unsealed, but some or all of the personnel involved were withdrawn by their sponsors shortly afterwards.

Scientific research

A dish in the Glacia Radio Telescope Array

Scientific research is mostly in the realm of geoscience and to a lesser extent biology, though astronomy, physics, engineering and even social sciences are also disciplines with a presence at times. It is the main reason for activity in Glacia, in terms of the efforts and resources expended internationally into it.

A new notable past and present projects include the New Geological Survey (1970s), which was a global effort to reassess Glacian geology in the light of new ideas about tectonic drift and the physical properties of rocks, the Herbert Expedition (1980s), a Euclean effort to gather specimens that ended up discovering several new genera, the Glacia Radio Telescope Array (2010s), also a global project, which massively increases the coverage and power of astronomical observation on Kylaris, and the New Worlds Laboratory (2020s), a Common Space Agency initiative for using Glacian conditions to explore the possibility of developing or colonising extraterrestrial spaces.

Service sector

Most Glacians work in the service sector, being drivers, bartenders, cooks, cleaners, porters, doctors, counsellors, plumbers, electricians, logistics managers and so forth; their activities are essential to the continued functioning of settlements, particularly Instead. On smaller expeditions or in smaller, more temporary bases, there may be fewer personnel with more expansive responsibilities.

Tourism

Blood Falls, perhaps the most famous natural attraction in Glacia

Glacia has value as both a natural and cultural tourist destination. Natural attractions include the Blood Falls, the Avernines (sightseeing, climbing, etc.), wildlife such as whales and colonies of penguins and seals, and landforms and iceforms such as the Dry Valleys, icebergs and snowfields. Cultural attractions include Instead itself, the wrecks of the x and the Nocturne and the routes and remains of expeditions (such as those of Anders Søren Hammar and Lyubomir Bogomilev). The South Pole, which was the destination of several expeditions and has the South Pole Station built on it, may fall into either category. In general, Glacia is more prominent as a destination for nature tourism, its landscape itself being notable and distinctive.

Nearly a hundred thousand tourists visit Glacia each year; it is a multi-billion euclo business overall, providing an important source of income for the territory outside of institutional funding. Growth accelerated from the 1980s onwards, as the Glacia Council made allowances, and today it is mostly private companies who run Glacian tourism, though they are heavily regulated. Most tourism is short term (visits for a few days or less), bound for the coast of the Avernines region (generally during its summer), and from the middle to upper classes of the Euclean Community, Senria, Shangea and Asteria Superior. Most tourists take cruise ships or fly in, visiting a few main attractions but also spending time amidst the land or sea; dispersing tourism to widely distributed but not individually prominent locations of natural beauty both helps to reduce the environmental impact, and preserve the touristic value of Glacia.

Utilities

A desalination machine of the sort sent to Glacia

Power has been generated from a variety of sources for various bases at various times on Glacia. Instead is powered mainly by geothermal energy, tapping into the volcanic activity of the nearby Avernines to utilise their heat, not only for electricity, but also district heating using water. Diesel, hydrogen and wind have been used as energy sources in other parts of Glacia. There is particular attention paid to fossil fuel usage in and near Glacia, not only because of its reputation as a pristine natural environment, but because the impacts of black carbon are exacerbated in the region; landing on snow and ice, it reduces the albedo and accelerates melting.

Sewerage, in especially remote situations, may be chemically or physically neutralised on-site and dumped where it is thoroughly impractical to carry it to a place for processing. In Instead, sewerage is processed, partially using geothermal heat, into biofuel.

Drinking water is mainly supplied by the Instead Desalination Plant; water for other purposes might come from the sea or other sources.

Transportation

A man on an early snowmobile in Glacia, 1965

People generally enter and depart Glacia by airplane, but cargo is generally brought in and sent out by ship. The largest and busiest airport and only shipping port in Glacia respectively are Instead Airport and the Port of Instead. Instead Airport is the only Commission for Civil Aviation certified airport in Glacia, and indeed the southernmost one in the world by a large margin, and so it has significance as a main safe haven for regular near-polar flights. Airplane pilots generally need special training to approach, land on or take off from Glacia. Ships often need to have icebreaking capabilities to approach Glacia, and outside of the Port of Instead (which is a natural deepwater port) they generally need smaller vessels to ferry between the shore and the oceangoing ship.

Within Glacia itself, challenges to transportation are exacerbated by the cold, meteorological features such as the albedo of snow and ice or blizzards, the long distances involved, rough topography, low volumes of usage, the need for ecological preservation, and so forth. Smaller fixed-wing aircraft may be used between somewhat larger bases possessing airstrips, while helicopters are an agile and flexible method of transportation between most places. Expeditions or journeys of smaller distances, and where the topography is more favourable, may be conducted using snowbikes, cars, trucks or other motorised vehicles modified for use in the conditions. In some milder or dry areas, virtually unmodified road or all-terrain vehicles can be used, though the only substantial network of roads in Glacia is in a small area centred on Instead, all unsealed.

Agriculture

One of the larger greenhouses in Instead, circa 2000

Much of what is consumed in Glacia is imported from overseas, as the local climate means that agriculture outdoors is largely not viable. However, some indoor horticulture does take place, in greenhouses or using artificial lights, mainly in Instead. Both hydroponic and soil-based techniques are used. The purpose of this horticulture is severalfold; while it does not make a significant contribution to the caloric intake of most Glacians, it ensures a source of fresh food which is both nutritionally and culinarily desirable, it can be simultaneously useful for experimental purposes, and it promotes morale and public interest.

Fishing

While a great deal of fishing takes place in the Glacial Ocean, it is forbidden in the territorial waters of Glacia except for research purposes, or to feed the residents of or the crews of ships bound for or from Glacia. It is suspected that in practice, this rule is frequently breached by commercial fishing operations, where they have the capabilities to approach Glacia safely.

A very great deal of what is consumed in Glacia comes from the waters in, near and around it, as any other food would have to come from much further away if imported, and is generally difficult to grow locally owing to the climate. Popular species include the Glacian toothfish, the king crab and krill.

While in the past, mammals such as whales and seals and birds (and their eggs) have been harvested from in and around Glacia, the practice is presently illegal outside of approved research, and therefore not generally practiced.

Extraction

A piece of obsidian from Glacia, used as a sample for teaching purposes

Extractive industries are largely prohibited in and around Glacia. This has been controversial at times, as there are indications that there may be economically significant mineral or fossil fuel deposits in Glacia, and research missions with mineral prospecting implications have been especially controversial in the past, and frequently denied permission.

However, small-scale and environmentally harmless operations are regulated and allowed. Most of the salt consumed in Instead is produced by the artisanal Instead Glacia Saltern, which evaporates seawater. Rock collecting is also a common practice, more as a pastime than livelihood. Concerns about excessive rock-collecting, or sales of rocks purporting to be from Glacia but not actually so, led to the establishment of an official online geological sample storefront for Glacia in 2014, and the clarification of existing rules whereby large-scale rock collecting is illegal without a licence (generally only granted for meritorious research projects).

Demography

The Episemialist Trinity Church, one of only a few religious buildings in Glacia, after being reopened by the Patriarch of Noavanau in 2005
Esmeiran-speaking residents of Instead

Glacia has a permanent population of about two hundred and fifty people, all in Instead, of all nationalities, and roughly equal numbers of men and women (in the past, much more men than women). The most Glacians come from x, Soravia, Scovern, Senria, Shangea, and Dezevau. The population swells to nearly ten thousand during summer, and declines by more than half during winters; over half of the population is in Instead. There are very few elderly or children on Glacia; most are skilled working age adults, employed by various governments or scientific institutions. It should be noted that no Glacian nationality exists; permanent residents are still nationals of countries, and people born on Glacia are generally recognised to have citizenship by some sort of jus sanguinis.

Most Glacians are multilingual, being widely travelled and internationally collaborating researchers and other educated or skilled people. Glacia may be the most formally educated jurisdiction in the world. The most used language is Gaullican, but also commonly used are Estmerish and Weranian.

Glacia is one of the most irreligious jurisdictions in the world, and the number of irreligious is roughly equal to the number of Sotirians. Sotirianity is the most widely practiced religion, as it is in the rest of the world, but others present include Irfan, Badi, Zohism, Atudism and Tenkyou.

A handful of births have occurred on Glacia, and some children have been to Glacia (generally as passengers on passing ships in the past, or unexpectedly for tourists in more recent times) but no children have been raised on the continent, to public knowledge. Births on the continent have come under various national citizenship laws, as no Glacian citizenship exists; some countries legislate exceptions to their citizenship schemes to account for Glacia. A handful of marriages have also occurred on Glacia, under the national laws of various countries, mainly between personnel stationed there; no known divorces have occurred in Glacia. Deaths on Glacia were very common because of its dangers in the era of exploration (the cemetery of Instead has several hundred, many of the bodies in which were relocated there after the foundation of the settlement), but death is relatively rare now, as equipment and procedures for safety and health have improved, and people who are very unwell are evacuated wherever possible.

Culture

Glacia's isolation and foreignness to people from other parts of the world are probably the most prominent themes in its cultural life. When the weather does not permit much activity, as is especially the case in winter months, people in Glacia turn to a variety of recreations to pass the time. Even during operational times, however, the small populations and distance from development and metropolitan society generally weigh heavily, both in positive and negative ways.

Visual art

A 19th century painting of whaling ships amidst ice near Glacia

Especially since the expansion of commercial tourism to Glacia in the 1990s, landscape and nature photography, painting and other visual arts have been notable in Glacia. Depictions of Glacia, including its ice sheets, glaciers, the Avernines, Blood Falls, storms, seas, wildlife, ice shelves and icebergs have gained attention and popularity worldwide. Some artists and citizen scientists have experimented with novel compositions of paint so that it can be used outdoors even in the cold and dry climate of Glacia, and blogged about such attempts. Ice carving has also been practiced on Glacia by some, as the climate is amenable to it, though it has been criticised at times where done to natural ice as environmental vandalism.

Music

Glacia Orchestra performing in 1997

Music is one of the main recreational pursuits and artforms of Glacia, both in terms of consumption and production. It is credited with keeping morale up, and there are communal singing sessions nearly every night in the Bogomilev Hall in Instead. There is a Glacia Orchestra, and a Glacia Choir, also based in Instead, which are nonprofit volunteer initiatives that receive some funding from government.

The anthem of Glacia, Home Sea Song, is one of the most complex compared to national anthems around the world, as well as one of the best, according to public polls in parts of the world. It comes from a tradition of sea songs, popular and traditional in Glacia, and which are themselves related to shanties.

Performance

Performance art is popular alongside music as one of the main art forms in Glacia. Many inhabitants of Instead watch and/or perform in plays, recitals, dances and the like; smaller station populations elsewhere generally do not allow for such activities. There was formerly a Glacia Performance Company (organisation is presently on a more ad hoc basis).

The Instead Drag Ball is an annual party, in which drag is a prominent aspect. It is descended from the Estmerish tradition of pantomime dames, which was a recreation first introduced in the early 20th century, when almost everyone in Glacia was male.

Literature

Inhabitants of Glacia read a great deal of literature, both to pass the time and for self-cultivation. Before the advent of the Internet, the arrival of the resupply ship was an anticipated event at Instead was anticipated because it meant that new books would be available to read. The Instead Recreational Library continues to be a community hub.

Glacia appears in a range of literature, only some of which was actually written on Glacia or even by people who have been there. The setting of Glacia has been used in a variety of ways, to symbolise isolation, profundity, alienation, discovery, purity, inhumanity, desolation or despair. An example is the 19th century novel The Avid Horizon.

Film

The opening shot of Le continent blanc

Because of its easy accessibility, watching movies has been one of the most popular activities for people staying long periods of time in Glacia since the advent of consumer electronics and the Internet. Horror movies are popular for social watching.

Filmmaking in Glacia, meanwhile, has largely been documentary in nature. The 2013 film The White Continent (Gaullican: Le continent blanc) was one particularly successful such documentary, being shown in mainstream cinemas around the world. Footage from Glacia has been used in various films besides.

Drugs

Per capita alcohol consumption in Glacia is comparable to in the top decile of countries. It has been suggested that polar regions tend to encourage substance use, insofar as alcohol consumption is also quite high in Boreal regions, though it has also been suggested that alcohol culture in Glacia is inherited from the lifestyle imported from those regions to deal with Glacian life. The high level of alcohol consumption is a matter of concern for some, and authorities in Glacia have undertaken efforts to reduce or discourage it, while also acknowledging that it plays a role in Glacian culture, recreation and life. A variety of drinks are consumed, including beer, spirits and wine, originating from many of the home countries of Glacian inhabitants.

Cannabis grown in an indoor hothouse in Instead, 2016

One custom is that of "Sober Sundays", whereby on Sundays alcohol is voluntarily neither sold nor consumed (mainly in Instead, as there is little commerce outside of that settlement). While this custom has gained widespread currency, there is criticism from different directions. Some say that it does not go far enough, and in fact merely resembles real action without doing anything to address reasons for substance abuse, or sales on other days. Indeed, as most alcohol is stored and consumed privately, its effect may merely be to push sales onto other days. Some go so far as to say it legitimises drinking throughout the rest of the week. Some allege a custom which is much less publicised than Sober Sundays, that of "samedis saouls" (in Gaullican), Drunk Saturdays, or Sozzled Saturdays; the hangover therefrom spills over into Sunday. There are some, however, who oppose Sober Sundays, who believe that it should be a private matter not for the administration to interfere in, or who say that the problem of alcoholism is overblown or otherwise unresolvable.

A range of recreational drugs other than alcohol are legal on Glacia, albeit heavily regulated, owing to the diversely international composition of its population. However, most drugs are not allowed to be commercially sold, despite being legal; legalisation is mainly as so to avoid prosecuting or stigmatising those who may maintain their habits while stationed on Glacia. Cannabis and tobacco are the main recreational substances other than alcohol which can be purchased in Instead over the counter. There are ongoing discussions about whether to allow the sale of khat.

Gallery

See also

References