This article belongs to the lore of Levilion.

Kaona

Republic of Kaona

สาธารณรัฐข้าวนา
S̄āṭhārṇrạṭ̄h Kâaona
ສາທາລະນະລັດ ຂອງ ເຂົ້າສະໜາມ
Sathalanalad Khong Khaosanam
Flag of Kaona
Flag
Seal of Kaona
Seal
Motto: ความสามัคคีในความหลากหลาย
ຄວາມສາມັກຄີໃນຄວາມຫຼາກຫຼາຍ
Unity in Diversity
Location of Kaona in Isuan in Levilion
Location of Kaona in Isuan in Levilion
Capital
and largest city
Phuko
Official languagesKaonese
Recognised regional languagesBassac
Ethnic groups
(2013)
76.57% Kaonese
18.62% Bassac
6.81% other
Religion
Macakkanism
Demonym(s)Kaonese
Government   Unitary semi-presidential republic
• President
Lursakdi Sonakul
Phoumi Kittikhoun
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence from Rythene
• Declared
14 June 1945
Area
• Total
2,584,618 km2 (997,927 sq mi)
Population
• 2020 estimate
87,396,981
• 2015 census
82,567,283
• Density
33.8/km2 (87.5/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)estimate
• Total
$2,363,476 billion
• Per capita
$27,043
GDP (nominal)estimate
• Total
$861,472 billion
• Per capita
$9,857
Gini41.2
medium
HDI0.744
high
CurrencyNgein (NGN)
Date formatyyy-mm-dd
Driving sideleft
Calling code+764
ISO 3166 codeKH
Internet TLD.ko

Kaona (Kaonese: ข้าวนาำ; Kâaona; Bassac: ເຂົ້າສະໜາມ; Khaosanam) officially the Republic of Kaona (Kaonese: สาธารณรัฐข้าวนา; S̄āṭhārṇrạṭ̄h Kâaona; Bassac: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ຂອງ ເຂົ້າສະໜາມ; Sathalanalad Khong Khaosanam) is a country in Isuan sharing land and maritime borders with Songha to the south. Populated predominantly by ethnic Kaonese with a large minority of Bassacs Kaona has a population of 87 million people. Its capital and largest city is Phuko, located in the south of the country.

Kaona has been inhabited since the palaeolithic age. The Pankong Kingdom which emerged around 100 BCE was the first Kaonese state which saw the partial codification of the Kaonese language, although remained subordinate to other larger states and empires in the area. The Pankong Kingdom would be succeeded briefly by a period of civil war before the rise of the Hom Khao Empire from 800 CE to the 1100's would emerge. The empire was dominated by the ethnic Bassac Xang dynasy but never reached the heights of other empires in the region; for this reason its collapse in the 1300's meant that many of its achievements were reversed in the regionalisation that succeeded it.

The area was then unified in the 1100's under King Ramathibodi who created the Yutkong Kingdom. Considered to be the "golden age" of Kaonese history the Yutkong Kingdom reached its height in the 1500's expanding to include neighbouring states. However it entered a sharp decline during the 1600's and collapsed between several petty kingdoms, before being united under the Ratchakao Kingdom in 1680. Under the Ratchakao there was an institution of the first national legal code and beginning westernising reforms. It came under increasing Auressian influence in the 1800's, being transformed into a Rythenean protectorate by 1800's after undergoing a series of unequal treaties. Whilst nominally still ruled by the Ratchakao monarchy in reality Rythenean colonial officials held power over the country and its economy.

Following the second Great War increased nationalist and anti-colonial sentiment led to independence in 1945 under the monarchy. However independence led to new ethnic divisions that threatened the nascent country, leading to the military to seize power in 1948 after the Hmukeaathale region was annexed by Songha after a short war declaring the Kaonese Republic. Although the military oversaw a period of rapid economic growth the country also maintained a long-running insurgency that threatened the stability of the state; this led in the late 1970's to a period of democratisation. Since democratisation Kaona has continued to suffer from ethnic insurgencies and populist politics although since the late 2010's has continued to experience large economic growth.

Kaona is considered a newly industrialised country with an economy focused around manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism. Dependent on foreign direct investment, Kaona has taken significant measures in recent years to improve infrastructure and continue reconstruction efforts left over from its civil war. Politically the state is a semi-presidential republic.

History

Prehistory

Archaeological evidence suggests that human life has resided in what now consists of Kaona since the Palaeolithic age, with fossils and human teeth being discovered in the Ban Thung Si (บ้านทุ่งศรี) caves in the Nasuan region. It is theorised that the first people of Kaona were initially hunter-gatherer people. During the Iron age Kaonese tribes began to coalesce into farming societies centred around rice paddies as well as raise poultry and rice.

During the iron age the first Kaonese states began to form, mainly in the modern day southeastern regions of Boripat Pakneua and Khao Noi. These kingdoms did not yet develop a writing system, and as such much of their history has either been unearthed through archaeological remains and contact with traders from Songha. According to Songha sources, these states took the form of farming based tribal confederations, with each owing loyalty to figurehead monarchs and shamans. Many of these states were populated by diverse groups of people who have been collectively grouped by historians as "Munchi Kaonese", as many resided near the Munchi River in northeast Kaona.

Around 100 BCE the Pankong (ปั้นคง) Kingdom was formed in modern day west Kaona. The Pankong Kingdom saw the spread of what would become the Kaonese language which began to formulated into a script around 150 CE, which was adapted from the [Cambodian] Empire. Whilst the Pankong Kingdom initially began as tribal confederation, it eventually centralised under a seemingly complex system of warlords and shamans supporting the king. Most significantly, the Pankong kingdom saw Macakkanism start to enter Kaonese society, although it would take centuries before the religion became dominant in Kaona. The Pankong Kingdom collapsed around 300 CE, starting a series of civil wars within the region that would continue for another half a millennia, with various kingdoms within the region attempting to and failing to unite the warring factions.

Hom Khao Empire

Around 800 CE the Hom Khao Empire (หอมข้าว) was able to establish a hegemony over the Kaonese region through either taking over or vassalising smaller states. The Hom Khao were northern hill peoples considered to be a precursor to the Bassacs that was able to centralise power arond their capital, Hom Khao (currently the city of Khong Phai). The Hom Khao Empire brought over new farming, architectural, technological and administrative innovations, but downplayed the development of Macakkanism within Kaona instead promoting the cult of the god-kings (devarāja). The Hom Khao Empire maintained social stability by allowing the speaking and inscription of the Kaonese language, promoting ethnic Kaonese into the ruling bureaucracy and allowing provincial military governors large autonomy. State institutions were based on a hereditary rather then meritocratic system of social mobility which also initially brought social stability but began to degrade over time especially as provinces became de facto hereditary fiefdoms of their governors.

The Hom Khao Empire went into a state of decline during the 1300's due to social stagnation, bankruptcy and frequent rebellions. By the 1340's the Hom Khao had entered near total collapse thanks to rebellions directed against the ruling elite over their inability to provide patronage to vassal kingdoms - in turn the empire was further paralysed as it used its tax revenues to fight costly rebellions. By the late 1340's the former vassal kingdom of Yutkong centred around the city of Chonrat had become the most dominant, with its King Ramathibodi, commonly known as Rama I, successfully absorbing many of the vassal kingdoms. By 1350, the Yutkong Kingdom (หยุดของอาณาจักร) had established itself as the new imperial power within the region.

Yutkong Kingdom

King Ramathibodi (Rama I), founder of the Yutkong Kingdom.

During the unification of the vassal kingdoms, Rama I combined the belief of devarāja with a patronage of Macakkanism, thus melding the Macakkanist clergy into the new state bureaucracy, institutionalising Macakkanism as the state religion of the kingdom. Land held by Macakkanist monks was exempted from taxes whilst feudal landlords were largely autonomous within the kingdom. Rama's patronage of Macakkanism led to the fast expansion of the faith and further led to the decline of the former Hom Khao elite. The Macakkanist monks used Kaonese script over the Bassac script, and promoted the use of the Kaonese language which led to the erosion of Hom Khao influence who were increadsgly considered barbaric in their disposition. Rama also instituted a partial meritocratic system of promotion within the armed forces, with some military officers rising through the ranks based on their skill and subsequently being rewarded with lands and titles.

Rama I's rule came to an end in 1367, when he was supposedly killed by his son Chatichai, who subsequently ascended to the throne ruling until 1386. Chatichai expanded Macakkanist influence at the expense of regional warlords, which resulted in conflict between the central government and the regional warlords that ended in the crushing of said warlords. This in turn enabled the monarchy and Macakkanist temples to create a centralised state with the Yutkong monarchy supported by the Macakkanist monks exerting absolute control over the kingdom, resulting in the spread of a coherent Kaonese culture across the region. Between the 1400 to the mid 1600's the Yutkong Kingdom continued to expand and develop culturally and economically. This was considered to be the golden age of Kaona as it became one of the most important trade routes for Isuan, nicknamed the "gateway to the orient" as it traded spices, rice, textiles, gold and silver primarily with Songha. As the kingdom expanded it became more ethnically and religiously diverse, but like the Hom Khao before them the Yutkong elites aimed to integrate these ethnic groups into Kaonese society - however unlike the Hom Khao all power was centralised in the hands of the Chonrat-based elite causing social discontent and regionalism. The divide between the Macakkanist clergy and the central bureaucrats exacerbated this process.

During the late 1600's the Yutkong Kingdom began to decline. During the 1600's the meritocratic system of social mobility created by Rama I had morphed into a hereditary one, leading to social stagnation and subsequently unrest. This weakened political and military institutions with the Yutkong kingdom. The kingdom attempted to offset growing social unrest by continuing territorial expansion, but this did little was most new land was given to Macakkanist monks, exempting the land and its produce from being taxed under the patronage system towards Macakkanists. Unable to raise significant tax revenues whilst continuing expansionist policies the kingdom became effectively bankrupt, leading to the landlords and Macakkanists who relied on state patronage to fuel social unrest. This unrest manifested in the mid 1700's which saw the Yutkong dynasty collapse.

Ratchakao Kingdom

After the collapse of the Yutkong Kingdom, the Ratchakao dynasty centred in the city of Phuko creating the Ratchakao Kingdom (รัฐจะเข้าอาณาจักร) led by King Klao Yu around 1760. The new kingdom instituted a similar patronage of Macakkanist monks whilst enforcing a new legal code and judicial system as well as absorbing and reforming much of the former Yutkong state bureaucracy. The collapse of Yutkong had as had occurred after the fall of the Hom Khao Empire had result in the rise of several vassal states, prompting the Ratchakao Kingdom to lead a series of military campaigns designed to unite the regional kingdoms into a single Kaonese state. The process of unification ended in 1796, after which the Ratchakao Kingdom began to centralise its state functions and modernise. The army was reorganised and the state adopt more permanent institutions as nationalist concepts were starting to develop.

The Royal Ratchakao Guard entering Thammachot after it was absorbed into Kaona in 1851.

Under King Plaek II (1832-66) the Ratchakao government launched several important reforms, known as the Plaek reforms. Western forms of political organisation were implemented such as an appointed National Assembly (รัฐสภา) which oversaw legislative, ministerial and judicial matters as well as a drive to phase out the system of slavery. In 1855 conscription was introduced with the intention to centralise state power into the hands of the monarchy. Educational and legal reforms were enacted, Western styles of dress encouraged, a national census was commissioned and undertook in 1867 and the first universities created. Coinage was also introduced leading to a more stable economy and an organised tax system, increasing state revenues. Despite these reforms the monarchy under Plaek was unwilling to implement land reform nor industrialisation. The state was still beholden to the interests of feudal landlords and Macakkanist monks, which stifled further development and led to much of the reforms to be implemented in a patch work manner. Whilst this resulted in social and political stability between the monarchy, aristocracy and Macakkanist monks it fostered the same socio-economic stagnation that had occurred under the Yutkong Kingdom. Much of the reforms were only felt within the area around Phuko, with outlying regions dominated by feudal landlords stalling on the implementation of the reforms.

During this period Kaona became increasingly absorbed in the sphere of Auressian influence. During the 1800's Perendist missionaries started to travel to Kaona, creating churches and schools which were tolerated by the Kaonese monarchy - Ratchakao elites saw the creation of religious schools as a way to modernise the Kaonese state. In 1862 the Kaonese government allowed Rythene to construct the Oriental Railway, which ran through Kaona and was the first railway within Kaona. Owned the the Oriental Railway Company, a Rythenean semi-stated owned company, the Oriental Railway encouraged greater Rythenean interests in Kaona, supplanting that of other colonial powers such as Tyrnica. Kaona signed several unequal treaties with Rythene that protected Rythenean citizens within Kaona in exchange for Rythenean investment in Kaona - however much of this investment was geared towards Rythenean interests, who took over the economic functions of the Kaonese state whilst being granted concessions in the form of leased territory. The death of King Plaek in 1866 resulted in Rythene to increasingly interfere into Kaonese internal affairs, with Kaona beginning to be transformed into a de facto vassal state of Rythene.

During the 1860's-80's Rythenean Perendist missionaries travelled in greater numbers to Kaona, converting more Kaonese people from Macakkanism to Perendism. Whilist welcomed by some Kaonese reformists and liberals who saw good relations with Rythene as key to Kaonese modernisation this led to the decline of Macakkanist influence in the kingdom, leading Macakkanist monks to put pressure onto the royal government to abolish the privileges of Perendist missionaries and to limit Perendist influence in Kaona. As the Ratchakao Kingdom was dependent on the tax revenues raised on land owned by Macakkanist monks in 1881 King Rama IX ordered for all Rythenean Parendist missionaries to leave mainland Kaona to either the leased territories or Rythene.

Rythene declared war on the Ratchakao Kingdom, contending that the expulsion of Perendist missionaries violated several treaties between the Rythenean and Ratchakao governments, starting the Kaonese-Rythenean War which lasted from 1881 to 1884. The Kaonese Royal Army was woefully unequipped to deal with the larger, better trained and more modernised Rythenean army. The Ratchakao Kingdom whilst having attempted to centralise the functions of the state was only partially successfully, with many parts of the kingdom being de facto fiefdoms and vassals of landlords and Macakkanist monks, meaning resistance to the Rythenean invasion was sporadic. In June 1884 the capital of the Ratchakao Kingdom, Phuko, fell to Rythenean forces with Rama IX being forced to abdicate and sign the Saphung Declaration, which transferred the functions of the Kaonese state to Rythene whilst maintaining a vassalised monarchy under Rama X.

Colonisation

Under Rythenean rule Kaonese society was dramatically restructured. Land was redistributed from native feudal lords to the Rythenean colonial government, who subsequently sold it to Rythenean businessmen who invested heavily in Kaona due to its natural resources and cheap labour force. The Kaonese army was disbanded with many of its members being transferred into the newly created Rythenean-Kaonese Regiments, ensuring Rythenean control over Kaona. The Kaonese monarchy technically still held power but reported to the Rythenean Governor-General who appointed the heads of the military districts in the colony where real power lay.

Kaona in 1902.

Rythene developed a plantation economy based around rice, rubber and tea alongside fishing, with the focus being on resource extraction. The Oriental Railway Company, the most powerful business in the colony, established a country-wide rail system within the colony and expanding their interests into the mining and agricultural sectors of the economy to the extent that the Oriental Railway Company was described as being a "state within a state". The resource extraction resulted in produce previously designed to satisfy domestic demands to be instead transferred to Rythene, resulting especially in the case of food for food shortages and a fall in the standard of living to occur.

Kaona remained politically, socially and economically stable from the 1890's-1930's, with the expansion of infrastructure, literacy and Perendism changing Kaonese society. Under Rythenean rule all Kaonese men were requiered to every year contribute unpaid labour for a month either to the Rythenean colonial government or more commonly the Oriental Railway Company. Education was also transferred from Macakkanist temples to Perendist missionaries weakening the power of the former.

In 1916, the Thammachot Rebellion saw a group of rice farmers and independence activists in the Thammachot province to murder their Rythenean plantation owners and form an autonomous state within the colony, known as the Thammachot Commune. The commune existed for six months before being crushed by Rythenean forces, but during that time emboldened Kaonese nationalism. Resistance to Rythenean rule was minimal following the Thammachot Rebellion, but in the intellectual sphere Kaonese nationalism began to take root whilst in Kaonese expat communities, especially in Rythene, agitation for greater autonomy for Kaona increased.

Independence

Government and politics

Kaona is commonly seen as a unitary semi-presidential republic with a representative democracy and separation of powers. The head of state is the President, whilst the executive government is headed by the Council of Ministers of Kaona led by the head of government, the prime minister. The president is considered to be the more powerful of the two posts and often has sole control over foreign and defence related matters being commander-in-chief. The legislature is the unicameral National Assembly which possesses 448 seats elected under a parallel system. The judiciary is divided between the Supreme Court (which acts as the court of last resort) and the Constitutional Court (which handles constitutional matters). As a unitary state, Kaona is divided into 22 provinces, although increasing decentralisation has been implemented since the mid 2000's.

The current government of Kaona is led by the People's Democrat Party, a left-wing populist party led Lursakdi Sonakul who is currently serving as president since 2014 being re-elected in 2018. The prime minister is Phoumi Kittikhoun who is from the same party having served as prime minister since 2020.

Since independence Kaonese politics has been marked by persistent ethnic and political divisions. The military of Kaona has often had a large influence in politics either directly governing the nation as occurred from 1948-1967 and 1970-1982 or maintaining a strong role in national politics. The military has traditionally supported a combination of republicanism, secularism, modernisation and the necessity of state intervention in the economy, education and other public services, perceiving themselves to be a bulwark against both revolutionary socialism and reactionary traditionalism. Since the mid-1990's however there has been a shift as the traditional military-bureaucratic elite has split between those supporting a more statist course aligning with more centre-left elements and those supporting a more neoliberal model aligning with more traditionalist forces. The current governing PDP is seen as an alliance between statists, leftists and other anti-traditionalist forces whilst the opposition is more conservative in nature.

Government

Kaona's government is centred around the president, the highest executive post in the country. Officially the president has the power to veto certain legislation, appoint the government and approve of ministers, ratifies treaties, nominates members of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts with parliamentary approval, declare war and grant pardons. The president can also dismiss the prime minister and cabinet although has to do so with parliamentary approval and also serves as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Kaona. The president is elected every four years and can be re-elected once through a two round system.

The Council of Ministers of Kaona sits below the president as one of the most important executive bodies in the country. The cabinet is appointed by the president and governs with the confidence of the National Assembly. The cabinet itself consists of 28 ministries and is chaired by the Prime Minister who officially appoints members of cabinet with presidential approval.

In the interest of maintaining balance between ethnic groups, the government is structured in order to represent all groups. Ministries are divided proportionally between ethnic groups, a practice introduced in 1997 as part of the government's reconciliation measures during the ongoning Kaonese Insurgency.

Legislature

The unicameral legislature of Kaona is the National Assembly (รัฐสภา; Ratthasapha) located in the capital of Phuko. The National Assembly sits for four years, being elected through universal suffrage concurrently with the first round of presidential elections. Elections are done under a supplementary members system with 224 seats being elected under first-past-the-post and 224 seats elected under party-list proportional representation. Prior to 2004 the legislature was elected purely under proportional representation.

The legislature's main role is both to pass legislation but also to act as a check on government. The legislature has the power to open impeachment procedures against the president, scrutinise government legislation through either debate or subcommittees or propose a vote of no confidence in the council of ministers. The prime minister and council of ministers must have the approval of the National Assembly although the president reserves the sole right to nominate a prime minister.

The timing of legislative elections means that cohabitation is relatively rare in Kaonese politics, with president's usually holding a majority during their term. An exception occurred during the presidency of Tawatwong Sonakul when a narrow right-wing majority in the National Assembly was paired with a left-wing presidential administration which resulted in cabinets during that term to mostly be technocratic in nature.

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Cuisine

Phad Kao, a popular dish in Kaona

Kaona is known internationally for its distinctive cuisine, often divided between Kaonese and Bassac cuisine. Unlike other cuisines in the region, Kaonese cuisine is known for its complexity, harmonising several flavours (sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy) into one whilst also paying great attention to texture, smell and appearance. Its cuisine is somewhat influenced by Songha to the south whose traders brought and traded food with Kaonese merchants historically. Kaonese cuisine utilises non-sticky long-grain rice whilst Bassac cuisine uses sticky rice. Bassac cuisine uses galangal, lemongrass, and padaek as staple ingredients and is considered to be less complex than Kaonese food.

Kaonese traditionally use their hands to eat food rather than use chopsticks (although the latter is used more recently in food imported from other nations in Isuan). In recent times spoons and forks have been used more to eat food. Food is often served with rice and many complementary dishes.

Popular dishes in Kaona and abroad include phad kao, green curry, tom yum, khao phat and khao soi, as well as lahb, khao poon, khao piak khao and ping kai. Kaona is also known for its beerkao from its state-owned Kaonese brewery company which is exported internationally.

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