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Republic of Sohar
Rahelian: جمهورية صحار
and largest city
|Ethnic groups |
|Government||Unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic|
• Deputy President
• Independence from Estmere
|9 September 1948|
• Admission to the Community of Nations
|14 October 1950|
• Current Constitution
|15 June 1987|
|1,534,132.2 km2 (592,331.8 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
• 2019 census
|26.2/km2 (67.9/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2021 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|Currency||Soharan dinar (SOD)|
|Date format||dd-mm-yyyy (AD)|
Sohar (Rahelian: صحار), officially the Republic of Sohar (Rahelian: جمهورية صحار), is a country on the Erythrean Coast of northern Rahelia. With a population of over 40 million as of 2021, it is the 15th most populous nation in Coius. It is bordered by the Gulf of Assonaire to the north, Nise and Tsabara to the southwest, Behera to the south, and xx to the east. Most of the population lives in the fertile coastal areas west of the Adras mountain range and around the eastern city of Almina, while east of the mountains is thinly populated. Sanafir is the country’s capital and largest city, and is home to over 2.5 million people.
Sohar was one of the first areas in Rahelia to be inhabited by humans, with the earliest human settlements in the region dating back to the Neolithic. The earliest inhabitants of the region were Amazighs who settled in the interior, while Demiscians began to establish city-states on the coast of Sohar in the 1100s BCE. The most powerful of these city-states was Ahiram, which emerged as a major mercantile and naval power, dominating trade in the Gulf of Assonaire. Beginning in the third century BCE, Irfan began to spread into the region, culminating in the destruction of Ahiram by the Second Heavenly Dominion in 103 CE. As the Second Heavenly Dominion's influence in Sohar began to wane in the 10th century, Amazigh leaders in the interior began to increase theirs. By the 1000s, Sohar was dominated by two large Amazigh states: the Ammarid Dynasty in the north and the Muharamite Confederation in the south. During the Middle Ages, northern Sohar saw the rise and fall of several notable Irfanic dynasties, the most notable being the Basharids, Rahamids, and Awanites. Meanwhile, southern Sohar was dominated by Beheran states, notably the Amassinids and Usemids.
In the early 16th century, the Khalji Sultanate established control over the region, establishing the Regency of Sahira. The Regency’s autonomy varied throughout its existence, though it generally had a high degree of independence from the Khalji and at times was recognized by the latter as independent. Piracy, which had been an issue in the region since medieval times, dramatically increased throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, with Euclean merchant ships in the Gulf of Assonaire under constant threat. In 1804, the Burdale Incident led to Estmere invading Sohar, deposing Shayk Khalid Seif and ending Khalji influence in the region. Estmerish influence in Sohar continued to grow through the 19th century, culminating in the establishment of the Protectorate of Sohar in 1903 following an anti-Estmere uprising in Almina. Growing nationalist sentiment led Estmere to grant Sohar independence as the Sultanate of Sohar in 1948. Opposition to continued Estmerish influence in Sohar manifested itself in the form of a communist revolution in 1951, with the country becoming a military dictatorship led by General Haisam Salib. Discontent with Salib's authoritarian rule began to grow following Sohar's defeat by Nise in the Anniserian War of 1963-1967, resulting in a military coup in 1976 led by Marwan Awad and the ratification of a new constitution a year later.
Since 1977, Sohar has been a unitary presidential republic. The current president, Husani Kanaan, has governed the country since 1990, when previous president Marwan Awad died. International watchdogs such as the International Council for Democracy have long condemned Kanaan’s rule as authoritarian, with elections in the country widely regarded as neither free nor fair, and human rights abuses being rampant and well-documented. Sohar’s economy is dominated by the oil and gas industry, and its reserves of oil and gas are among the largest in the world. The country is considered a regional power in Rahelia, and a middle power on the global stage. Under Kanaan’s rule, the country has developed close ties with the Union of Zorasani Irfanic Republics, and the two countries often closely cooperate on regional affairs. Like all internationally recognized states, Sohar holds membership in the Community of Nations, as well as the Bank for United Development and the Irfanic Cooperative Conference.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government and politics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
Sohar takes its name from the Rahelian صَحِرَ (ṣaḥira), meaning "tawny" or "light brown" in reference to the arid geography of what is now southern Sohar. The earliest usage of the term is in a document from the Second Heavenly Dominion dating to around 475, which mentions repeated uprisings from Amazigh tribes in the area. The term was subsequently widely used by Rahelians to broadly refer to the arid regions of northern Coius, only becoming specifically associated with modern-day Sohar with the establishment of the Regency of Sahira in the early 16th century. The modern term "Sohar" is believed to be of Euclean origin, presumably the result of an inaccurate transcription of "sahira," and became widespread in the early 19th century with the Estmerish conquest of the region.
Estmerish colonization (1803-1948)
Communist rule (1951-1976)
With an area of 1,534,132 square kilometers, Sohar is the Xth largest nation in Coius and the XXth largest nation in the world. The Adras mountain range is the dominant geographic feature in the country, stretching from central Behera northward until sloping downward into the gentle foothills of Gamasa Province. Sohar is split in two by the Adras, with the areas west of the mountains having a mild Solarian climate, while the remainder of the country consists of arid plains.
Northwestern Sohar is the country’s heartland, and are home to over 70% of the country’s population. It can be divided into two regions: the fertile plains and rolling hills of the northwestern coastal plain and the valleys and basins of the western Adras foothills. The alluvial soils of Benha and El Sahil Provinces provide some of the most valuable farmland in northern Coius and provide most of the production in Sohar’s agricultural sector. Crops grown in these areas include wheat, barley, dates, nuts, and olives. In sharp contrast, agricultural production is limited in the valleys and basins of the Adras foothills due to intense summer heat and inconsistent rainfall.
Southwestern Sohar is dominated by the Urí Margidda Valley. Historically a primarily agricultural area, the discovery of oil in the early 20th century turned the valley into a major oil-producing region. The crucial importance of the Urí Margidda River to Nise, as well as long-standing border disputes between Sohar and neighboring Nise have made the Urí Margidda Valley one of the most politically contentious areas in northern Coius, and the two countries have fought numerous conflicts over the region. The outbreak of the Tsabaran Civil War in 2019 has further exacerbated tensions in the area, with large numbers of Tsabaran refugees fleeing into the valley.
Bordering the Gulf of Assonaire, the northern coast of Sohar consists of a narrow coastal plain, transitioning into dry grasslands and steppe further inland. While this area supports limited agricultural production, the soils are of poorer quality than those in the northwest with the exception of the Hurghada Islands and the Balat Valley, home to the city of Almina. As a result, population density is considerably lower here than in the northwest, and the area is largely rural with few towns or cities. Increasing desertification in recent years has devastated many farming communities in the area, forcing large numbers of people to move to Almina in search of work.
Due to the rain shadow effect, eastern Sohar is extremely dry away from the coasts, with the steppe-like High Plains covering the vast majority of the country’s land area. Characterized by extreme temperature swings, the High Plains are extremely dry and thinly populated. During the wet season in the winter, rainfall creates large, shallow salt lakes which evaporate and become salt flats as the weather becomes hotter and drier. The High Plains’ small population is primarily Amazigh and rural, mostly settling in small farming communities, though a few groups still practice traditional nomadic lifestyles.
Sohar bosts a handful of major rivers, most of which originate in the Adras. Two of the most significant are the Urí Margidda and the Balat. The Urí Margidda begins in northern Behera and flows northward into the Bay of Nise, forming most of Sohar’s border with the country of the same name. The river allows for extensive agricultural operations in the namesake valley, and is a vital source of water for neighboring Nise, a major reason for continuing disputes between the two nations over the region. The Balat River begins east of Sohar in xx and flows northward into the Gulf of Assonaire. The fertile banks of the Balat provide fertile land and water in what is otherwise an arid and nearly barren region, and water from the river is crucial to Almina, Sohar’s second largest city. The exponential increase in Almina’s population in recent decades has led to a similar increase in the city’s water demands, creating tensions between the city and the farming communities upstream.
With access to fresh water highly dependent on a handful of rivers and snowmelt from the Adras, Sohar’s water supplies are insufficient to meet demand from its growing population. Since the early 2010s, water shortages have become commonplace in the High Plains due to an ongoing drought, and a decrease in snowpack in the Adras has led to lower than average water levels in most of the country’s rivers. With water shortages expected to worsen in the future due to climate change, President Husani Kanaan unveiled a plan in 2017 to alleviate future water shortages by building a network of desalinization plants along the coast to allow water from the Gulf of Assonaire to be used for drinking and agriculture.
Sohar is climatically divided by the Adras mountain range. West of the Adras has a mild Solarian climate, with dry, warm summers, and mild, wet winters. Snowfall occurs on the upper slopes of the Adras mountains. Temperatures in the area tend to range from 19 to 23°C in the summer and from 8 to 10°C in the winter. In sharp contrast, the High Plains east of the Adras are extremely dry, and have extraordinary swings in temperature, from nearly 30°C in the summer to nearly freezing in the winter.
Rainfall varies considerably across Sohar. The Solarian climate of northwestern Sohar gives it mild, rainy winters, with annual rainfall generally ranging from 400 to 670 mm in the area. East of the Adras rainfall is scarcer, usually well below 400 mm annually. Since 2013, much of the High Plains of southern and eastern Sohar have been under a drought, resulting in extremely low rainfall and chronic water scarcity across the region. The drought has been disastrous for the primarily poor and agricultural communities of the region, and has resulted in mass migrations to cities, especially Almina.
With diverse landscapes ranging from fertile plains in the northwest to near-desert landscapes in the south, Sohar supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. Wild boars, jackals, and gazelles are among the most commonly seen animals in the country. Forested areas in the northwest are home to the Erythrean stag, Sohar’s national animal, while the arid steppe-like High Plains are home to the fennec fox. Much of northwestern Sohar was once covered by vast forests of Tsabaran pine, juniper, and evergreen oak. However, rapid population growth in the 20th century onward has led to the destruction of much of Sohar’s original forest cover, and today forests cover only a small area. Other flora native to the country include macchia, olive trees, and cedars, while fig, eucalyptus, and various species of palm tree grow in warmer areas.
Government and politics
Under Sohar’s constitution, the country is a unitary and multi-party presidential republic. In practice however, most government institutions have little power, which is primarily concentrated in the hands of President Husani Kanaan and his close allies, particularly in the military. Since 2009, when Husani suffered a stroke and his health began to deteriorate, his son Teremun Kanaan has become increasingly influential in Sohar’s politics. Teremun enrolled in Basyoun Military Academy in 2010, rapidly rising through the ranks to achieve the rank of colonel in 2015. This was quickly followed by Husani pushing several old-line military commanders into retirement and replacing them with younger officers with strong loyalties to Teremun. This action was widely seen as the ailing Husani preparing his son to take over as leader of the country, which was further validated in 2019 when Teremun was made Minister of Defense.
The President of Sohar serves as the country’s head of state and head of government and is elected to five-year terms. The president is the commander-in-chief of the Soharan Armed Forces and appoints the members of the Council of Ministers, as well as a third of the members of the National Council. Since the 2001 constitutional reforms, there have been no term limits, and Husani Kanaan has served continuously as President since 1991, when he was elected by Parliament to replace the late Abasi Salib. Since then, he has been re-elected six times, most recently in 2017.
Sohar has a bicameral Parliament, with the National Assembly being the lower house and the People’s Council being the upper house. The National Assembly has 291 members, elected every four years in single-member districts through a two-round system. Of the 81 members in the Peoples’ Council, 54 are directly elected on the same cycle as the National Assembly, with each of Sohar’s 18 provinces electing three members through block voting. The remaining 27 members are appointed by the president and serve for five-year terms which coincide with the presidential term. In the most recent legislative elections, held in 2019, the National Preservation Party, which has governed Sohar continuously since its formation in 1992, won 241 of the 291 seats in the National Assembly and 50 of the 54 elected seats in the Peoples’ Council. In practice, Parliament is little more than a rubber stamp, with the vast majority of political power being vested in the president and the military.
Elections in Sohar are widely regarded as neither free nor fair. The most recent nationwide election in 2019 was condemned by the International Council for Democracy as “fraudulent on every level,” with widespread reports of intimidation and harassment of opposition candidates, vote buying, and ballot stuffing. The widespread fraud by the ruling National Preservation Party was a major factor in the 2019-20 Soharan protests. Presidential elections are even less fair, with President Husani Kanaan winning six consecutive elections since 1992, each with over 90% of the vote. Due to little confidence in the conduct of elections by Soharan citizens, voter turnout is very low, usually around 40%.
Sohar is considered a middle power, and it wields significant political and economic influence in Rahelia. Since the 1990s, Sohar’s strongest relations have been with Zorasan, with the two countries frequently conducting military exercises together and closely cooperating on regional issues. Sohar joined the International Forum for Developing states in 1992 and the Bank for United Development in 1994, further bringing the country into the orbit of Zorasan as well as Shangea, with whom strong relations have developed since the 2000s. In recent years, Sohar has sought to establish favorable relations with Soravia as well, agreeing to a historic $XX billion arms deal in 2017 with the country.
Relations with neighboring Behera have waxed and waned with regime changes since both nations received independence. The two have largely had positive relations since the end of the Beheran civil war in 2001, during which Sohar provided significant military assistance to the embattled central government. Sohar’s relationship with Tsabara under president Atwan el-Tughluq were generally cordial, though since the outbreak of the Tsabaran Civil War in 2020 the country has largely abandoned support for the government, instead providing limited support to the Rahelian nationalist Supreme Political and Resistance Committee. Since independence, Sohar’s relations with neighboring Nise have been extremely poor. Much of this stems from the ongoing border dispute over the Urí Margidda Valley. The dispute, which dates back to the two countries’ independence from Estmere, has been exacerbated by the large oil reserves in the valley and Nise’s dependence on water from the Urí Margidda River. The two nations have fought numerous conflicts over the valley, most notably the 1963-1967 Anniserian War, which resulted in TBA casualties.
The Soharan Armed Forces have been the dominant force in Sohar’s politics since independence. It is widely considered to be the most powerful institution in the country, and largely acts independently of the national government. Since the 1954 coup, every Soharan leader has been from a military background.
The President of Sohar serves as Supreme Commander of the SAF, while the Minister of Defensee serves as commander-in-chief. Day-to-day military affairs are primarily handled by Chief of the General Staff, who answers to the Armed Forces Council. The Soharan Armed Forces consist of four major branches: the Soharan National Army, Soharan Navy, Soharan Air Force, and the Soharan Domestic Security Force. The final branch acts as Sohar’s gendarmerie and is largely a paramilitary force. 2019 estimates put the total number of active-duty personnel at X, with an additional X in reserve.
Sohar enforces conscription: all males 18-30 are required to perform 1-3 years of military service, depending on educational backgrounds, job location, culture, etc. Service is delayed for students until they finish their studies, though they are forbidden from traveling abroad without a permit from the Ministry of Defense.
Since independence, the SAF has largely been dependent on imported equipment. Under communist rule, Sohar largely purchased military equipment from Kirenia and other communist nations, and since the fall of communism the country has worked to replace aging Kirenian equipment with more modern hardware from Soravia and Zorasan.
Sohar's human rights record has long been a source of domestic and international criticism. While human rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of Sohar and the country is a signitary to the Declaration of Universal Natural Rights, these rights are frequently ignored in practice. Soharan law prohibits public criticism of the president, and critics of the government are frequently subject to harassment, imprisonment, and in some cases forced disappearance and torture. In 2018 President Husani Kanaan signed a bill that criminalized the "use of technology to spread misinformation" which has been frequently used to hand out prison sentences as long as 10 years to Soharans criticizing the government on social media. Freedom of the press is similarly limited, with most major media outlets being owned either by the government or by close allies of Kanaan. Beginning in the 2010s, internet censorship has become increasingly pervasive, with international media outlets such as the Coian Monitor and Le Monde, as while as social media outlets like Chirpr being subject to intermittent blocking.
Only Irfan, Sotirianity, and Atudism are recognized as official religions by the Soharan government. Followers of other religions and nonbelievers are subject to widespread discrimination at every level, with public expression of atheism notably being banned under anti-blasphemy laws. Homosexuality is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and LGBT Soharans are often subject to extrajudicial punishment by vigilante groups.
In 2007, Kanaan sought to address concern over Sohar's human rights record by establishing the Soharan Human Rights Council, a supposedly independent organisation that would be tasked with monitoring and reporting on human rights issues in the country. Since its inception, the organisation has been widely criticised by human rights activists domestically and abroad, who have argued that it is simply a propaganda tool used by the government to whitewash its human rights violations. In addition, the OPHRS' claims of being an independent organisation have been widely criticised, as it is wholly owned and funded by the Soharan government.
Sohar is divided into eighteen administrative provinces. Two of the provinces, the capital of Sanafir and the city of Almina are designated as "metropolitan provinces," though there is no legal distinction. Each province is administered by a governor appointed by the President, and by a directly elected provincial council. Provinces are divided into urban and rural districts; rural districts are divided into villages and some of the larger urban districts are divided into wards. The two metropolitan provinces are not divided into districts, only into wards.
|Almina Metropolitan Province||TBA|
|Sanafir Metropolitan Province||TBA|