Menako Islands

Menako Islands

ᛗᛖᚾᛋᛕᚨᚱᛟJᚨᚱᚾ (Menakan)
ᛗᛖᚾᛋᛕᛟᛖᚱᛖᚾ (Hellonian)
Menskuren (German)
Motto: "Klen ensam - Grotna samna"
Anthem: Tu sesältna län min
Thou sea salted land of mine
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Royal anthem
[Mars der zeven winden]
"March of the seven winds" (English)
Map of the Menako Islands - in the Vismar Commonwealth and the Hellonian Realm (green)
Map of the Menako Islands
- in the Vismar Commonwealth and the Hellonian Realm (green)
CapitalNorstätt
Official languages
Recognised national languagesHellonian, German
Ethnic groups
(1950)
64.3% indigenous population
18.7% Hellonian
18.5% German
7.5% Others
Demonym(s)Menakan
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• King
Kristoffer of Hellona
• Minister-Governor
Sanne Bränne
LegislatureLageding
Establishment
• Formation of the Menako kingdoms
500
• Joined Hellona or USGS
1786
• Unification
1886-now
Population
• 1888 estimate
1.055.900
CurrencyHellonian krona (HEK)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
ISO 3166 codeHL
Internet TLD.mi, .hl [a]
  1. ^ The .tr domain is also used, as it is shared with other Trident member states.

The Menako Islands (Menakan: ᛗᛖᚾᛋᛕᚨᚱᛟJᚨᚱᚾ Menskarojarn, Hellonian: ᛗᛖᚾᛋᛕᛟᛖᚱᛖᚾ Menskoepen, German: Menskupen) is constituent country of the Hellonian Realm. It is located in the middle of the Danonian Sea.

The Menako Islands can trace their history back to the first Vismaric settlers starting from 500. These early Vismaric settlers would establish their own culture and states on the islands, with others sailing further and eventually establishing communities in contemporary Norsund. Starting from the 7th century, Hellonian and German expeditions led to the discovery of the islands by Hellonians and South Germans. It would lead to the establishment of a long-time dependency of the islands on these two nations, which partioned them in two zones of influence. Under their control, the islands would come to be important trading hubs in the Hellonian and German colonial empires. Greater autonomy to the Hellonian side of the islands was granted in 1865. With the ratification of the Acts of Union in 1886, the unification of the United South German States and Hellona led to the unification of the Menako Islands as a constituent country in the Hellonian Realm. When the Vismar Union dissolved itself in 1912, the Menako Islands as one entity became a constituent country in the Hellonian Realm.

Etymology

The name of the Menako Islands finds its origin in the local name for the islands: Menskarojarn. It itself comes from the Menakan words Menskar meaning "People" and ojarn meaning "the islands". The name refers to what the indigenous people thought and lived, they saw themselves as the only humans on this earth and called their land "the people's land". Most Vismaric languages use the native name as a base, Hellonian and German included.

History

Prehistory

Nydam oak boat, a prehistoric ship burial

Archaeological evidence shows the first settlers living on the Menako Islands arrived around 300 BC. The finding of pollen from domesticated plants suggests these peoples already had access to agriculture upon coming to these islands. It is assumed these early settlers are a part of the first Vismaric migration, of which further migration would lead to the early Vismaric settlement of Norsund. It is assumed these people already had developed sophisticated agricultural and architectural techniques and way of life, due to the almost sudden appearance of remnants of domesticated plants and human-made objects.

Although these peoples already had acces to writing through the elder Runic alphabet, they are relatively uncommon. Writings from early Menakan history only discuss names, locations and the owners of certain objects. Due to the lack of historical writings, most of early Menakan history is relatively unknown. From what is written, it can be assummed that around 200 AC petty kingdoms were formed on the islands. By 500, writing became necessary for the functioning of these states and historical written evidence can be found.

Ancient Menakan history

Starting from around 500, written records recording the history of the islands can be found. These tell of the situation of the islands around this time. The islands were split in several petty kingdoms under the rule of many different kings. The major kingdoms were located on the islands of Aflän and Jerlän, where one kingdom owned more than half of the island. These major kingdoms would eventually come to unify their island under the kingdoms of Aflän and Jerlän.

Menakan wars (ca. 650-1000)

The Menakan Wars were a defining period in the history of the Menako Islands. The two major kingdoms of Aflän and Jerlän fought for dominance over the other islands in the Menakan archipelago. When Elrek Blosnatän became ruler of Jerlän in 625 at age 17, several of the lower nobility rose up in revolt against his rulership. After having managed to quell the unrest, Blosnatän was informed this revolt was funded by Aflän. It lead Blosnatän declaring war on the other major kingdom in hopes for revenge.

Battle of Arnmäl

His boats and an invasion forces landed on Aflän in 635, which started the Menakan Wars. Blosnatän himself led forces and managed to subjugate Aflän. After the conquest of Aflän, he set his eyes on unifying the Menakan archipelago under his house. He managed to conquer all islands in the archipelago in 662. He established a unified state and came to assume the title of King of the Menakans. He ruled over the new kingdom together with his wife, Endrikka until their deaths in 675. His son assumed the name Blosnatän II when he was crowned king upon the death of his father.

Under the rule of Blosnatän II, power was increasingly consolidated in the crown. He furthermore appointed his brother, Ulrek, has religious figurehead. This lead to a battle for influence between the two brothers. Due to the support of local clergy, many common folk gathered behind the younger brother Ulrek and his importance in the state grew. Eventually Ulrek declared himself king and called for the deposition of Blosnatän II. Ulrek gained ground quickly and Blosnatän retreated to Klenoja.

Ulrek established a new Menakan kingdom and started a new dynasty. Blosnatän would continously attack occupied territories with guerilla tactics, eventually gaining ground in the eastern islands. The islands became divided by two powers again. Although both tried to conquer the other, it lasted in a standstill. Both would come to accept each others rule over their islands and signed a treaty, resulting in the Menako Islands being split in a western and eastern side.

Hellonian and German arrival

Signing of the Act of Dominion, resulting in the establishment of the Special Dominion of Aflän under Hellona

By the time Hellonians and Germans starting appearing on the islands, ca. 679, this situation of two kingdoms controlling on side of the islands each was solidified. The first expansion of Hellonian in the islands was on request of king Björn Wodanerson. They would try to set up a coastal community, but were quickly found by the indigenous Menakans. This lead to armed conflicts between the two peoples. After several weeks of fighting, the Hellonians had won. This lead to them signing a treaty with Aflän, declaring it to be a protectorate of Hellona. Germans arrived on the islands around 680, and established a similar treaty with Jerlän. Both countries had a point of tension around these islands from then on. Further conflicts were around the different trade routes the Germans and Hellonians had worsened relations. The kings of Germania and Hellona agreed on the partition of trade routes between them. Hellona would keep access to the northern and western trade routes, while South Germanic monarchs would have exclusive access to the eastern and southern trade routes. As the final compromise, the Menako Islands were partitioned into zones, in which one or the other could make deals with the native monarchs.

The Protectorate of Aflän would become a Special Dominion of Hellona on Feburary 6th, 1786. This resulted in a limited form of home rule for the Hellonian side of the islands.

Unification (1886 - now)

In 1886, the United South German States and Hellona ratified the Acts of Union, created the United Kingdom of Germano-Hellona. This resulted in the Menako Islands being controlled by two countries that were now politically converging. This lead to a movement for the reunification of the islands under one state. In order to appease this call, Germano-Hellona held a referendum on wether the islands should become one constituent country under the Germano-Hellonian Crowns. In 1887, the referendum was held. With 65.8% calling for the unification of the islands as a constituent country, laws were enacted in order to fulfill this desire. With the new Acts of Union, the islands became a constituent country of the Vismar Union.

When the Vismar Union dissolved in 1912, the entirety of the Menako Islands were designated to the Hellonian Realm. The regional parliament was as such made unicameral and the Aldag became the highest legislative body for the country.

Geography

The Menako Islands are an island group consisting of 6 major islands, with a total of 658 islands, islets and skerries. Due to its location between Veterra and Novallonda in the Danonian Sea, the Islands are of strategic importance to the Hellonian Realm. It performed the role of way-station for Hellonian ships travelling to Norsund.

The main islands of Aflän, Mennarn, Jerlän, Essel and Klenoja. The islands cover an area of 29,421 km2 and have small lakes and rivers, but no major ones. The islands are rugged and rocky with some low peaks; the coasts are mostly cliffs. The highest point is Högnafjelen, 856 metres above sea level.

The Islands are made up of an approximately five-kilometers-thick succession of mostly basaltic lava, due to its location beside a hotspot. Even though the islands were formed through this volcanic process, the Islands currently have no active volcanic activity.

Climate

The climate is classed as subpolar oceanic climate, with areas having a tundra climate, especially in the mountains, although some coastal or low-lying areas may have very mild-winter versions of a tundra climate. This is due to the warming influence of the Danonian Sea and its current. This, together with the lack of any cold air or waterflows, ensures mild winters and cool summers on the Islands.

The Islands are windy, cloudy, and cool throughout the year with an average of 208 rainy or snowy days per year. Strong winds and heavy rain are possible at all times of the year. Sunny days are rare and overcast days are common.

Bio diversity

Harbour porpoises are a commonly found animal around the Islands, and are seen as the national animal of the country

Even though the Islands are isolated from other areas on Ullar, there is still a wide diversity of animal and plant life. The most common types of animals are birds, which are dominated by seabirds or birds attracted to open land, as there is a lack of woodland on the islands. Several species have adapted to local island life and have diverged in different species from those on either Novallonda or Veterra.

Wild land mammals, in contrast, are much more uncommon and are mostly introduced by humans. The three most thriving are the mountain hare, the house mouse and squirrels. There are also larger populations of beavers, hedgehogs, shrews and marten. The most common animal, however, is the domestic sheep breed, the Menakan sheep. The isolated breeding of domesticated species led to species that are seen nowhere else on Ullar, such as Menakan horses, ducks and cows.

Menakan sheep, with the town of Endorp in the background

Grey seals can be commonly seen around the shorelines. Several species of whales are commonly found in the waters of the Menako Islands, with the most common being the pilot whale and porpoises. These were traditionally hunted for their meat and blubber, but this tradition is slowly disappearing. Orcas, white-beaked dolphins and fin whales are also common visitors of the islands.

The natural vegetation of the Islands is dominated by arctic-alpine plants, wildflowers, grasses, moss, and lichen. Most of the lowland area is grassland and some is heath, dominated by shrubby heathers. While uncommon, pines, firs, birch, aspen and elms grow on the islands. Oaks were introduced by Hellonian and German settlers, and as such often occur in small woods besides settlements.

Politics

Constitutional framework

Sanne Bränne, current Minister-Governor of the Menako Islands
Rigensslot, the meeting place of the Lageding

As a constituent country of the Hellonian Realm, the highest legislative and executive powers of the Menako Islands lie in the Aldag and its council of ministers. In reality, the constituent countries only cede control over military and the monetary policy to this Realm-wide parliament. In 1886 the now-unified Menako Islands were granted home rule. Contemporary Menakan politics is based on two of its founding documents, the Constitution of the Unified Menako Islands and the Charter for the Realm. They can only be changed by a two times two-thirds majority in the Lageding, separated by a general election, or in case of the Charter for the Realm, an absolute majority in the Aldag.

The Menako Islands have a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with King-Exalt Kristoffer acting as the current head of state. The role of the monarch within the actual politics of Norsund is extremely limited to ceremonial and representative functions. By extension, the King-Exalt of Hellona also acts as the monarch of the entire Hellonian Realm. The monarch does not send a representative in his place, with the executive power of the monarch being invested in the Minister-Governor. The monarch and the Royal Family undertake a variety of other unofficial representative duties in Hellona, the Realm and abroad. The monarch also acts as head of the Asatru faith, hence the title of King-Exalt. Officially both titles are seen as separate and only held by the same person.

Government

The Government of the Menako Islands holds executive power over the country. The Government consists of the Minister-Governor, selected by a vote in the Lageding, and other ministers selected by the Minister-Governor.

The legislative power in the Menako Islands are vested in the Lageding, the unicameral parliament of the islands and its 67 members. General elections are held every four years. Legislation may be initiated by either the Government or members of the Lageding. Members are elected on the basis of party-list proportional representation with a chance for a preferential vote for a certain member to a four-year term. The system for the Lageding is directly based on that of the Ryksdag of Hellona.

The Menako Islands have a multi-party democracy, with many active political parties. This means that in practise, no one party manages to win a majority. This necessitates the need for coalitions between parties. Currently three parties form the Government of the Menako Islands, with 7 parties in total seated in the Lageding. Currently, the parties in the Lageding are: Republic, the Native Coalition, the Centre, the Nationals, Union, New Ways and one independent, Rasmus Winsson.

Administrative divisions

Due to its small size and population, the Menako Islands have the fewest levels of government in the Hellonian Realm. Unique to the nation is the lack of municipal governments, as all of the country is administered on the provincial level. Provincial leaders are called Island Chiefs (Menakan: ᛟJᚨᚾᚨᚻᚢUᚦ Ojanahuvd, Hellonian: ᛖᛁᛚᚨᚾᚦᛋᚻᛟᛟᚠᚦ Eilandshoofd, German: Inselhäuptling), which are indirectly elected through the elections of the provincial governments every four years. The provincial borders correspond to the individual large populated islands, with smaller islands being split among them. This system of governance is used for all these islands except Klenoja. The island of Klenoja has no provincial government and is directly administered by the national government due to its small size and population.

Flag Province Capital Largest city
NZ flag design Koru (Blue) by Andrew Fyfe.svg Aflän Norstätt Norstätt
Flag of Bonaire.svg Mennarn Mennerndorp Mennerndorp
Flag of the District of Columbia.svg Jerlän Jorthus Jorthus
Flag of Nagasaki Prefecture.svg Essel Tenbö Tenbö
Flag of Roerdalen.svg Klenoja Klenahaf Klenahaf

Judicial system

The judicial system of the Menako Islands is similar to that of Hellona. Courts are divided in two seperate and parallel systems, a general court for civil and criminal cases and an administrative court for disputes between citizens and the authorities. There are three layers to each system: local courts, the Islands' Court and the Realm Court.

The Islands' Court is the final layer to all laws applying only to the Menako Islands. Besides it task as the highest layer in the judiciary and taking on cases that may set precedents, it also acts as an advisory body to the Government and the Lageding of the islands. Members are selected by the national government on the basis of merrit and their experience in fields such as politics, diplomacy, economics and the military.

The Realm Court is the highest court in the Hellonian Realm and handles court cases based on constitutional issues in each constituent country and the Charter for the Realm and mediates conflicts between constituent countries, when the case is of interest as a precedent. The Realm Court consists of 18 justices, two from each constituent country appointed by the Government of each and the Government is not able to interfere with the decisions of the court.

Military

Free Warrior Soldiers training in the Highlands
Two Leopard 1A1 tanks participating in an exercise

The Hellonian Realm Armed Forces is a government agency reporting to the Ministry of Defence of Hellona and the Aldag of the Hellonian Realm. While the main focus of the Armed Forces nowadays is peaceful interventions overseas, it remains dedicated to uphold the ability to refocus on the defence of the entire Hellonian Realm in times of war. Due to Hellonas long-term neutrality and the waning risk of war in the region, conscription has been abandoned and the military is now purely professional. The Armed Forces are divided into several divisions.

First off, the entirety of the Armed Forces is split into several divisions. The four continental divisions of the Realm Armed Forces (Krygsmachten des Ryks) are based on geographic location within the Realm. When all individual divisions are combined, they form the entirety of the Hellonian Realm Armed Forces. The total capability of the Armed Forces, however, has rarely been used. It was in high alert during the Great War, during which conscription was enforced to prepare for potential invasion.

The four Continental Divisions are:

  • ᚻᛖᛚᛚᚨᚾᚦᛖᚱ Kᚱᛉᚷᛋᛗᚨᚷᛏ Hellander Krygsmagt (HKM), Hellonian Armed Forces - Hellona
  • ᚾᛟᛟᚱᚦᛖᛚᛉKᛖ Kᚱᛉᚷᛋᛗᚨᚷᛏᛖᚾ Noordelyke Krygsmagten (NKM), Northern Armed Forces - Norsund, the Menako Islands
  • ᚦᚱᛁᛖᛋᛈᛁᛏᛋᛖᚱ Kᚱᛉᚷᛋᛗᚨᚷᛏ Driespitser Krygsmagt (DKM), Tirpitzer Armed Forces - Tirpitz, the Ebure Isles
  • ᛚᛁᛚᛟᛏᚢKᛁᛋᚷᛖ Kᚱᛉᚷᛋᛗᚨᚷᛏᛖᚾ Lilotukisge Krygsmagt(LKM), Lilotukan Armed Forces - Lilotuka Island

Each of the divisions is composed of three to four branches, all of which carry the prefix Koniŋklyke (Royal) and in case of the Northern Armed Forces to which the Menako Islands belongs together with Norsund, the prefix Noordelyke (Northern):

  • KᛟᚾᛁᛝKᛚᛉKᛖ ᚾᛟᛟᚱᚦᛖᛚᛉKᛖ ᛚᚨᚾᚦᛗᚨᚷᛏ Koniŋklyke Noordelyke Landmagt (KL), the Royal Northern Army
  • KᛟᚾᛁᛝKᛚᛉKᛖ ᚾᛟᛟᚱᚦᛖᛚᛉKᛖ Zᛖᛖᛗᚨᚷᛏ Koniŋklyke Noordelyke Zeemagt (KZ), the Royal Northern Navy, including the Naval Air Service and Marine Corps
  • KᛟᚾᛁᛝKᛚᛉKᛖ ᚾᛟᛟᚱᚦᛖᛚᛉKᛖ ᛚᚢᚷᛏᛗᚨᚷᛏ Koniŋklyke Noordelyke Lugtmagt (KLu), the Royal Northern Air Force
  • KᛟᚾᛁᛝKᛚᛉKᛖ ᚻᛖᛚᛚᚨᚾᚦᛖᚱ VᚱᛉKᚱᛉᚷᛖᚱ ᛟᚱᚦᛖ Koniŋklyke Hellander Vrykryger Orde (KHVO), the (voluntary-only) Royal Hellonian Free Warrior Order (Military Police), tasks include protecting the royal family, military police and border control. This is a branch exclusive to the Hellonian Armed Forces and is Realm-wide.

The Northern Armed Forces are especially adapted to cold-weather warfare, owing to both countries colder climate than mainland Hellona and the other constituent countries of the Hellonian Realm. This specialization lead to these troops being deployed in interventions in colder countries in the past.

Demographics

Although Hellonian and German presence on the islands was long and continues to this day, the largest part of the population is of indigenous Menakan origin. Overall, 64.3% of the population is Menakan, 18.7% is of Hellonian origin, 18.5% is of German origin and 7.5% of the population is of a different origin. The Hellonian population is mostly centered in Norstätt and other urban areas on Aflän, while the German population is centered in Jorthus on Jerlän. This is due to the partition of the islands in two protectorates.

Language

Languages in the Menako Islands
Languages percent
Menakan
65.5%
Hellonian
20.8%
German
12.5%
Other
1.2%

When the Hellonian side of the islands were declared a Special Dominion, Menakan was promoted as the main official language, although Hellonian remained important in administrative work. When the Menako Islands were united in 1887, Menakan became the main official language. German and Hellonian were established as other native national languages, which grant rights to people to having government services offered in their first language. Although a large percentage of the population is either Hellonian or German, Menakan is also spoken by these groups as a secondary or even first language basis. A majority of the population is as such bilingual or trilingual.

Most people speak Menakan as their first language: 65.5%, while 20.8% speak Hellonian and 12,5% speak German. The language of instruction in most publicly financed schools is Menakan, but Hellonian and German language education is offered in the Hellonian and German centres of Norstätt and Jorthus respectively.

Religion

Based on Article 8 of the Constitution of the Unified Menako Islands, the islands enjoys full religious freedom.

Around 48.9% of the Menakan population views themselves as an adherent to the Asatru faith. Almost all of the citizens of Hellonian origin are adherents to Asatru, while a smaller part of the Menakan population follows Asatruic beliefs. Around 33.1% are adherents to the Faith of the Trident. The third largest group is irreligious, with around 18% of the total population declaring themselves to be non-religious. This includes both people who are generally spiritual (10%) and atheists (8%).

The Hellonian royal family, and as such by extension the Menakan, is associated with Asatru beliefs. Any monarch of the Hellonian Realm is required to be an adherent to the faith and also acts as the head of the Asatru faith in the country. Although the monarch of Hellona officially fulfills the highest position in the faith, there is no organised branch the monarch belongs to.

Culture

The culture of the Menako Islands has been largely centered around the Menakan people, a Vismaric ethno-linguistic group with close ties to the Vistrasjorder and Feinänger cultures of Norsund and a far-away link to Hellonian, Ellashian and German peoples. Since the settlement of the islands by Hellonians and Germans, local culture has been influenced by these groups as well. This has resulted in a multicultural and diverse society, with the possibility that an island's culture is different from a neighbouring one due to difference in cultural influence. Even though Hellonian and German influence became increasingly more common, Menakan culture is still the most dominant culture on the islands. This can be seen by the fact that Menakan is the main language spoken.

Literature

Menakan stories were passed down orally until about 500, when an early Runic alphabet was introduced on a mass-scale. This writing system was used to write down the first ever stories of the Menakan people, with the most important work of literature from that period telling the events of the Menakan Wars, raging from 650 to about 1000. Although this alphabet was used until the arrival of the Hellonians and Germans in 7th century, there is little knowledge of this writing system under modern-day Menakans. The Menakan language nowadays uses a variant of the Hellonian Runic script.

Menakan literature had for a long time been replaced by works in German or Hellonian. In the 19th century, many old stories and writings were translated into contemporary Menakan. This lead to a resurgence of literature written in the Menakan language. Old sagas translated during this period include the Bronhilds Sagan and Strojden om Aflännen. These myths laid down the basis of contemporary Menakan literature.

Visual Arts

One of the last remaining ethnic paintings of Menakan culture

There is little no traditional Menakan painted art left, except for a few. Most of the Menakan traditional visual arts can be found in woodcarving and statues.

The National Museum of the Arts, located in Norstätt.

Hellonian realism became popular under Menakan artists in the 17th century, while German settlers introduced romantic elements in the Menakan art scene. Starting from the 17th century, a national cultural awakening started which popularized native Menakan culture. Menakan stories and myths became a popular image for painters, while some artists started referring back to the remaining native paintings and other cultural objects. Artists turned to historical events, folklore and fairy tales for inspiration. These were despicted in expressive and dramatic compositions. Landscapes also became popular. Artists came to increasingly search for the wilder landscapes and rugged terrains to paint, for which artists abroad also visited the islands.

Nowadays, the visual art scene of Menako is as diverse as the one in Hellona or the USGS, with artists of diverse styles being popular. The National Museum of the Arts is the largest museum in the country, showcasing a diverse assortment of cultural objects, paintings and other visual art with available space to hold other cultural events such as theatre or music concerts.

Music

The Menako Islands enjoy an active music scene, with live music being a regular activity for many islanders.

The Islands have their own national classical orchestra and is otherwise well known for its many choirs, of which the best-known is the national choir. The scene for classical music is greater than elsewhere in the Hellonian Realm, with the Islands being home to many modern-day composers, such as Anders Fiskersmän and Tetur Pärsson. The first operas from the Islands began appearing during the national awakening during the 17th century. They still enjoy great popularity to this day.

The festival of contemporary and classical music, Kvädarfesten, is held each summer. It is a large, open-air music festival for popular music with both local and international musicians participating.

Cuisine

Meat hanging outside a drying shed

Traditional Menakan food is mainly based on meat, seafood and potatoes and uses few fresh vegetables. Mutton is the basis of many meals, and one of the most popular treats is well-aged, wind-dried mutton, which is quite chewy. The drying shed for these types of foods is a standard feature in many Menakan homes, particularly in the small towns and villages. Semi-dried or fully dried meats and seafood form the basis of many delicacies. Menakan people also traditionally consume whale meat and blubber, mainly from pilot whales and porpoises. This is due to the fact that a single kill can provide many meals. While whaling is still practised today, it is less commonly consumed and is slowly fading out of the average Menakan's diet. Fresh fish also features strongly in the traditional local diet, as do seabirds, such as puffins, and their eggs.

See also

Further reading

Geography and environment
  • Straten, Bernard The Menako Islands (1818)
  • Anderssen, Justen Menakan geography and geology (1898)
History
  • Kärlssen, Petter History of the Menakan Islands. (1858)
  • Blomsten, Inga Menakan Wars (1798)