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Republic of Valkea
Motto: "Ikuisesti Valkea!" (Valkean)
Forever Valkea! (English)
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages||Nynorsk, Velgi|
|Government||Semi-presidential parliamentary republic|
• Kingdom of Valkea
• Christianization of Valkea
• Republic established
• Current Constitution
• 2020 estimate
• Per capita
|ISO 3166 code||VK|
The Republic of Valkea (Valkean: Valken Tasavalta), more commonly known as Valkea, is a sovereign country in Northern Lorecia, in the region of Astyria. It is bordered by Ostrothia to the southwest, Caledonia to the south and east, and Nynorsk Ostlijord to the northeast. It shares a maritime boundary with Romberg to the northwest. Valkea has a population of over 44 million people, and over 70% of the population living in the southernmost third of the country. Its capital and largest city is Våren Livet.
Valkea was inhabited soon after the end of the last Ice Age at approximately 8500 BC. Pottery was introduced in 5000 BC, followed by agriculture in 2000 BC. The Bronze and Iron Ages were characterized by contact with other cultures in Northern Lorecia as well as the slow introduction of sedentary communities. Between 1400 BC and 1200 BC, proto-Valki peoples migrated from what is now Western Tundra and Caledonia, creating three distinct cultures: Valki, Velgi, and Lumimaa.
Beginning from the 9th century, the Vikings arrived in northern Valkea and began exploring the coasts, establishing small kingdoms and duchies in the area. These quickly unified into the Kingdom of Valkea, which continued for more than a millennium. The monarchy was replaced with a republic in 1905 and underwent a civil war in the late 1910s and early 1920s. It established a policy of neutrality since the 1940s, though it has made many close partnerships with countries from different blocs.
Valkea was a relative latecomer to industrialization, remaining largely agrarian until the 1930s. The country rapidly developed an advanced economy while also building an extensive welfare state, which has resulted in widespread prosperity and one of the highest per capita incomes in Astyria. It has been a top performer in many metrics such as education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, human development, and standard of living.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government and Politics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
The name Valkea has uncertain origins, but a possible source could be attributed to the Old Valkean word valke, meaning "white", used to describe the appearance of the region during winter. Originally the name referred to the southernmost regions of the country, with other regions such as Maarinnat sometimes excluded until later. Another similar source could be from the name valkemaa—the earliest known mention of this word can be found in a travel document dating from the 14th century.
The first settlements in Valkea date back to 8500 BC, shortly after the last Ice Age. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers that used stone tools. Archeological findings throughout Valkea discovered artifacts the settlers left behind that share characteristics with other artifacts found in other parts of Northern Lorecia.
Pottery first appeared in 5000 BC, while agriculture was introduced between 3000 and 2500 BC in southern Valkea. Permanant year-round cultivation and animal husbandry came about in 2000 BC, however hunting and fishing remained the main subsistence goods in early cultures.
Between 1400 and 1200 BC, waves of people migrated from what is now the Western Tundra and Caledonia. These people brought the first bronze artifacts to the region, as well as the proto-Valkean languages. Domestic production of bronze began in 1000 BC, while iron was introduced in 500 BC.
In the 1st century AD, the Iron Age population began to grow, and contact with other cultures around Northern Lorecia became more frequent. The Valkean region exported furs and timber to cultures in Central Lorecia, while it imported fabrics, jewelry, and glass.
From the 9th century to the 11 century AD, Viking peoples arrived in Astyria, raiding, pillaging, and settling all over Lorecia and Northern Teudallum. Some of these Vikings started settling the coastal and riverine areas of northwest Lorecia, founding settlements such as Dagsmark, Osterlund, Korsholm, Helgeboda, and Sorvisto.
The native inhabitants of Valkea referred to these new peoples as "Vikalki". These independent Vikalki settlements grew thanks to extensive trade between each other and with other cities throughout Northern Lorecia, as well as from raids conducted elsewhere, which made them rich and powerful. They intermingled with the Valki over several decades, eventually forming the basis of the modern Valkean ethnicity.
It is not know how exactly Valkea was unified, but Valkean tradition states that Haakon the Stout united the Vikalki chieftains at the Battle of Nolvik, becoming the first king of a united Valkea in 1016. The sagas further add that Haakon was a just and fair ruler who ruled with a strong hand. However, Valkea was still a loosely united kingdom, and struggled to maintain its territorial integrity—particularly against raiding groups originating from Tundra that plundered southern Valkea in the first half of the 12th century.
Beginning in the 11th century AD, Christianity was introduced to Valkea, especially through the efforts of St. Arne. However, the new religion did not fully displace paganism as the majority religion until the 12th century. From 1134 onwards, Valkea was counted as a Christian kingdom.
Kingdom of Valkea
Beginning in the 13th century, the Valkean kings strived to expand their domain northward to the Opsala region. This led them into contact with the Koivunen Confederation, a loose alliance of central and northern Valki tribes that refused to submit to Valkean sovereignty. A series of wars followed from 1216 to 1246, which resulted in the annexation of their territories by Olof II.
At the same time, numerous crusades were conducted against the northern Valki and the Lumikki to convert them to Christianity, and colonization efforts of the Pikkimaa coast were initiated. This effort intensified in the 14th century, and the western and northern coasts were predominantly inhabited by Valkeans.
Due to their relative isolation from the rest of Lorecia, feudalism never developed in Valkea as it did elsewhere. Most of the peasantry were largely freemen, and serfdom was quite uncommon. Slavery existed in tiny pockets of Valkea, which were slowly driven out of existence thanks to the spread of Christianity. Eventually it was banned altogether by a decree of Knut the Tall in 1318. In spite of this, Valkea remained an economically backward country compared to the rest of Lorecia, and much of their economy relied on trade with the outside world.
The death of Knut the Tall in 1338 caused a brief succession crisis, and Dalmar of Mannerheim ascended to the throne. Dalmar, unlike his predecessors, was a Valki that rose through the ranks and attained the rank of Duke in 1332. His claim lay with his marriage to Tove, eldest daughter of Knut. Dalmar was crowned king by the Archbishop of Kiesimä in 1342, reigning from Mannerheim Castle. This would be the de facto capital of Valkea for 105 years until the royal family moved to the nearby settlement of Våren Livet in 1447.
In the 1400s and 1500s, Valkea launched another wave of colonization and expansion, adding Lumimaa and parts of the Velgi region to its territory. Following this territorial expansion was a second round of Crusades aimed at the pagan populations. Beginning in 1465, these Crusades extended to Nynorsk, which soured relations between the two formerly related states. The Nynorsk War raged from 1481 to 1496, resulting in a Nynorsk victory.
The Protestant Reformation arrived in Valkea in 1534 through Lutheran missionaries from other Lorecian kingdoms. In 1536, Pekka I declared his rejection of Catholicism and proceeded to disband the position of the Archbishop of Kiesimä - installing himself as head of the church - as well as nationalize the church's assets, founding the Church of Valkea. This created tensions between the remaining Catholics and the growing Protestant communities. When it was clear that a growing religious crisis threatened to tear Valkea apart, Pekka I returned many of his acquisitions to the church, as well as reinstated the Archbishop of Kiesimä. In 1562, Pekka I's son and successor, Pekka II, convened a Synod in Våren Livet, which formally established the Church of Valkea as a Lutheran church. From then on, Valkea was regarded as a Protestant and Lutheran state.
Hostilities were renewed between Valkea and Nynorsk Ostlijord over the territory of the Velgi region, which both countries sought to control. As such, many border wars were fought between Valkean and Nynorsk forces and militias from 1592 to 1627, most of which were inconclusive.
In 1635, Wilhelm II died in his sleep, beginning the War of Valkean Sucession. Rivals were quick to fill the power vacuum left by the king's death, claiming succession to the childless Wilhelm. Two major pretenders arose during this time: Tatu, Duke of Westerlund, and Jari-Pekka, Duke of Korsholm. The civil war lasted for twelve years until Jari-Pekka was assassinated by two of his household guards, paving the way for Tatu to become king in 1647.
Tatu's first years of his reign were devoted to repelling Nynorsk invaders, who had taken advantage of the weakness of Valkea to make territorial gains in the north while the kingdom was still reeling from its civil war. The Valkean nobles, previously divided in the succession crisis, were united against a common enemy, and the Valkeans defeated the Nynorsk in a decisive victory in the Battle of Rudanmaa.
Valkea's victory over the Nynorsk cemented the northerly kingdom as a great power in Lorecia. Before this, Valkea was an impoverished and backwards country at the edge of Lorecian civilization. However, it rose to prominence under Tatu, who was honored posthumously as Tatu the Great. After the Northern War concluded in 1657, Tatu made sweeping reforms in the Valkean economy, encouraged trade with other nations, and proliferated Protestantism throughout the kingdom.
The remaining portion of the 17th century saw Valkea fight numerous wars against its neighbors, particularly against the Western Tundra from 1662 to 1664, Caledonia from 1674 to 1679, and Rávdnár tribes from the Empire of Exponent from 1700 to 1706. Valkea reached its territorial zenith under Gustaf III in 1723, having wrested large amounts of territory from Caledonia in the Treaty of Osterlund. However, a third war with Caledonia from 1750 to 1761 left the Valkean state's coffers drained and the economy deteriorated. This was further compunded by a famine that swept through Valkea in 1757, which allowed the Caledonians to regain all the land that they lost in 1723, as well as annex certain Valkean border territories. Valkea was forced to sign a humiliating treaty in 1761, recognizing Caledonia's gains, and as such, Valkea lost its primacy in Northern Lorecia.
In 1795, Marleena, the last monarch of the Westerlund Dynasty, died of stomach cancer. This paved the way for the Vallis Dynasty, which was a cadet house of the Westerlunds, to rise to power. Pekka VI was thus crowned king of Valkea that same year.
Between 1800 and 1850, the population of Valkea doubled, and trade once again flourished. However, Valkea remained a poor nation, remaining a largely agrarian state even as the rest of Lorecia made begun to industrialize. Despite this, Valkea was able to make enormous changes in the agrarian economy through the introduction of more modern farming techniques, aggressive exploitation of agricultural lands, and new crops such as potatoes.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the Valkean government embarked on a policy of forced assimilation of the indigenous people of northern Valkea. Many indigenous groups such as the Velgi and Lumimaa were forced to attend Valkean schools, learn the Valkean language, and adhere to Valkean customs and traditions. In addition, thousands of Velgi women underwent forced sterilization, and Valkeans were encouraged to settle in the north through economic incentives from the government. This policy intensified at the turn of the 20th century and continued until 1977.
Eager to reclaim the lands that Valkea ceded to Caledonia in the 3rd Valko-Caledonian War, Otto II declared war on Caledonia in 1861. The border between the two went back and forth until a compromise was reached at Tuuvalo in 1867. The Treaty of Tuuvalo demarcated the official border between Valkea and Caledonia that still remains to this day.
In the 1890s, the Valkean government greatly increased public spending on business and public services, which proceeded to drain the treasury's reserves and bankrupt the country. Public opinion was turned against the government, and fell further after the Miners' Strike of 1899 was brutally quelled. With the resignation of Prime Minister Auvo Häkkinen in 1903, snap elections were called to placate the growing republican and socialist factions within the government. Many major cities were won by these factions, and once it was clear that the monarchists weren't going to accept the result of the elections, protests across the country ensued.
Between 16 and 19 February 1904, thousands of protesters took to the streets in major Valkean cities, demanding for an end to the Valkean monarchy. Fearing that the protests may soon turn violent, Gustav VI acceded to their demands, and so he and select members of the royal family fled to Aswick the following day. He would remain there in exile until his death in 1951. The monarchy was abolished and a republic was established, with the new constitution tkaing effect on 8 October that same year. Markku Vuotola was elected as the nation's first president in 1905, while Kaarlo Hietanen was elected as Prime Minister.
Under Vuotola's administration, the new government began to transform Valkea's predominantly agrarian society into an industrialized one. The state began creating various companies in manufacturing, service, and trade, built infrastructure across the country, modernized its military, and established a robust welfare system. The new jobs attracted thousands of people to the cities. Valkeans were also encouraged to start their own businesses to further supplement manufacturing output, especially in rural areas.
Valkean Civil War
Valkea was officially neutral in the Great Astyrian War, although it did provide tacit support to both sides of the conflict. Resentment against the government mounted when bad harvests resulted in 1912 and 1916. These two events sent the Valkean economy into freefall, and there was increasing unrest throughout the country. Uprisings in Dagsmark, Vuornaa, and Novika were crushed by government forces in 1918, commencing the Valkean Civil War.
The war lasted for four years and involved three main factions: the Republicans, who wished to preserve the status quo, the Royalists, who intended to restore the Valkean monarchy, and the National Movement - led by Tatu Sibelius - which espoused a government system governed by syndicalism. A fourth faction, the Ostrothian nationalists, declared the independence of Ostrothia in 1917, commencing the Ostrothian War of Independence.
The National Movement faction was initially the smallest out of the three, only controlling portions of the Valkean coast at the start of the war, but they quickly gained territory, taking over much of central Valkea in 1920, quickly snuffing out the Royalists. The last of the Republic forces were defeated at the Battle of Utraslahti in 1922, allowing the National Movement to take the victory.
In August 1923, a new constitution was drafted and ratified, establishing the Second Republic. The Nationalist Movement reorganized as the National People's Party (Kansallinen Kansanpoulue), known more commonly as the Kansallists, and Sibelius was designated as president. In 1925, the Kansallists were declared to be the sole legally-sanctioned political party in all of Valkea - thus, while the Second Republic was a republic in name, in reality it was a totalitarian dictatorship concentrated around Sibelius.
While the First Republic aimed to moderate the pace at which Valkea was modernizing, Sibelius wanted to accelerate that pace. Thus, the Kansallists reversed many reforms that were conducted under the First Republic, instead crafting a self-sufficient economy that featured a great deal of centralized planning. THis led to hundreds of thousands of people dying of starvation—particularly during the Famine of 1930. Under Sibelius, the Kansallists were also known to suppress freedom of the press and limit freedom of speech. Furthermore, forced assimilation policies against the Velgi intensified, with more intensified Valkean settlement, more widespread forced sterilization, and a scorched earth policy that left thousands of Velgi without food.
The Kansallists maintained Valkea's policy of neutrality during the 2nd Great Astyrian War. This allowed the Valkean government able to forge stronger relationships with countries from various military and economic blocs. The establishment of freer and greater trade with the outside world caused Valkea to develop rapidly, successfully completing the nation's transition to an industrialized economy. In 1950, 52% of Valkean workers were employed in the agricultural sector and a quarter of the population lived in urban areas. By 1975, the number of agricultural workers dropped to 28%. Over the years new jobs in manufacturing, services, and trade drew more people to these urban areas.
However, failed macroeconomic decisions and global economic turmoil led to the Valkean Recession of 1971. The unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 23.2% the following year. Even though the Kansallists reversed the economic crisis by 1974, civil unrest grew significantly in Valkea's major cities, culminating in the Grand March of January 1975. Frustrated Valkeans demanded that the Kansallist Party relinquish its monopoly on power and the decentralization of the economy. The government reluctantly held a snap election in October that same year, and the Democratic Centrist Party won majority seats. The new president, Paavo Itkonen, took his inauguration the following year.
Under Itkonen's administration, the Valkean government began enacting sweeping reforms over the remainder of the 1970s, as well as the early 1980s. The economy was decentralized in 1977 and many state enterprises were privatized in 1982. There were also many economic regulations that were loosened and modest tax cuts enacted. In the 1980s and 1990s, the economy began seeing record growth for the first time since the 1971 Recession, fueled by the success of private companies such as car manufacturers Sidus and Sorsa, among others, along with rising electronic giants such as Valkea Electric and Architect. Architect at one point held a unique position representing 60% of market capitalization on the Våren Livet Stock Exchange.
Valkea is located on the northwestern coast of Lorecia, surrounded by water in the north and west and sharing land borders with the Aurora Confederacy to the southwest, Caledonia to the south and east, and Nynorsk Ostlijord to the northeast. It shares a maritime border with Romberg. It is one of the northernmost countries in Astyria, lying approximately between 59.5° and 79.5° N. From its southernmost to its northernmost point, Valkea spans 2,200 km (1,367 mi).
Much of Valkea's land is flat as a result of the Ice Age. Glaciers persisted in Northern Lorecia far longer than the rest of the continent, which has resulted in a landscape with few hills. Nevertheless, Valkea has two major mountain ranges within its territory. To the south is the Suurivuoret, a mountain range separating Valkea from its border with southwestern Caledonia. This range includes the tallest peak in Valkea, Korkenvuori, which stands at 3,276 meters above sea level. On its western coast is the Vorrland Range, which flank the western seaboard. The mountains drop precipitously on their western slopes, forming fjords along the coast, which serve as natural harbors. A third notable topographical feature is the Pohjoisselkä, a ridge system formed by morainic deposits extending from Pikkala to Kaunisto. The ridges separate the southern flatlands of Valkea from the interior.
Valkea has about 184,000 lakes and 200,000 islands within its territory. A large concentration of these lakes can be found in the Lakelands, which covers Järvimaa and parts of Valkea Proper and Vikkland, and it is where many of the country's major cities can be found. Among these lakes are Tattora, the largest lake in Valkea, as well as Karhujarvi, the deepest freshwater lake.
Southern Valkea contains most of the country's arable land, and consequently is predominantly agricultural. Forested areas begin to dominate the landscape as one goes northwards. 71% of its land is covered with forests, with taiga forests and conifer forests covering much of the central and northern provinces, birch forests in highland regions, and deciduous forests in the south.
Valkea is home to a variety of attractive natural features, and has been consistently ranked by tourists as one of Astyria's most scenic countries. The fjords along the western coast, as well as its many glaciers, lakes, and islands, are some of Lorecia's major tourist attractions. It also experiences natural phenomena such as the midnight sun and the aurora borealis. Much of Valkea's nature has been under the protection of the Valkean government through their national parks system.
Despite its extreme northern latitudes, southern and western Valkea experience a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons throughout the year. This is because the Occidental Current brings warm westerly ocean currents to the coast, moderating winter temperatures and preventing the formation of sea ice. The flatlands of southern Valkea, as well as the coasts around the Bay of Valkea and the Occidental Sea, experience more precipitation and have milder winters than the central, eastern, and northern parts of the country. Places east of the Vorrland Range are placed in a rain shadow, and so consequently experience less rain and snow than those on the western side. The sunniest weather in the country can be found in the south.
On the other hand, much of the Valkean interior experiences a humid continental climate, with cooler summers and harsher winters. In the north, the climate changes to that of a predominantly subarctic climate, with the mountain ranges experiencing tundra or alpine climates. Alpine climates can also be found along the Suurivuoret.
Except for mountainous areas, Valkea's average temperature varies from 15°C to 17°C in the summer while in the winter it can vary from freezing point up to -15°C. However, temperatures can fall below -30°C during the harshest winter nights (although such temperatures are rare in the south), and the warmest summers can see temperatures climb above 35°C. The highest temperature ever recorded was 38.6°C in Kirkonkylä on 3 August 1962, while the lowest was -51.9°C in Luupujoki on 24 January 1949.
Because of Valkea's high latitude, there are enormous variations in daylight. A significant part of the country is located north of the Arctic Circle, and so the sun never sets for a part of each summer. Conversely, the sun never rises during the winter in these areas. In the rest of Valkea, sunlight can last from 6 hours per day in late December to 20 hours in late June.
Government and Politics
Valkea is a unitary semi-presidential republic with a representative democracy. The head of state is the President, currently Afanasi Koski, while the head of government is the Prime Minister, currently Iris Sirkka.
Legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Valkea (Valkean: Eduskunta), a unicameral legislature with 250 members. It may amend the constitution and ordinary laws, dismiss the executive cabinet, and override presidential vetoes. Since 2000, members of the Eduskunta are elected every five years using the single transferrable voting system. Experts provide an advisory role for the Eduskunta's various committees in aid of legislation.
Since the 1990s, the three largest parties represented are the Democratic Centrist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Green Party. On average, these three have a combined vote of 60-70% of all votes. Other parties with seats in Parliament include the Left Alliance, the Moderate Party, and the True Valkeans Party. Historically, the Kansallist Party has ruled Valkea as a one-party state from 1925 to 1975 before they quickly faded into insignificance.
The Valkean Cabinet (Valkean: Hallitus) is the Valkean government's chief executive body. It is comprised of the Prime Minister and the cabinet ministers. The cabinet exercises most executive powers and is the originator of bills that the parliament then debates and votes on. Each minister heads his or her ministry, or, in some cases, has responsibility for a subset of a ministry's policy. Ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the Eduskunta through an absolute majority vote. The Eduskunta may dismiss the cabinet by a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
The President of Valkea is the head of state, and holds certain executive powers such as appointing and discharging cabinet ministers, approving or vetoing bills (the latter of which is subject to parliametary override), directing foreign policy, and authorizing emergency powers. The president is directly elected for a maximum of two five-year terms.
The Prime Minister of Valkea is the head of government, and is responsible for the Eduskunta and the cabinet. As with her fellow ministers, he or she is appointed by the President and approved by the Eduskunta thru an absolute majority vote.
Valkea's judicial system is a civil law system divided between civil courts, which have jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases, and administrative courts, which have jurisdiction over administrative cases. The court system for civil and criminal jurisdiction consists of local courts, regional appellate courts, and the Supreme Court; while the administrative branch of justice consists of administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court.
Valkea has successfully fought against government corruption in the 1970s and 1980s, which was historically common during the Kansallist era. Today, Valkea is one of the least corrupt countries in Lorecia.
The overall crime rate of Valkea has been historically low. Incarceration rates are also very low, with a rate of 51 per 100,000 people.
Valkea boasts one of the most extensive welfare systems in Astyria, covering all resident populations including Valkeans and non-citizens. In 2008, it became the first Astyrian nation to enact universal basic income.
According to some social historians, the Valkean welfare system is rooted in the traditional belief that the state has a role in ensuring the well-being of its citizens, and that it may intervene benevolently on their behalf to ensure this. They point to Valkea's history of a free and independent peasantry as the basis for this belief. However, the modern foundations for the current welfare system began after the 1930 Famine, when the Kansallist Party began enacting social legislation over the decades to prevent the impact of another calamity on a similar scale from affecting Valkea's most disadvantaged groups and to ensure everyone has a decent standard of living.
Valkea's foreign policy throughout the 20th century was based on policy of non-alignment in peacetime and neutrality in wartime. As such, the nation has not participated in both Great Astyrian Wars. As such, it was able to maintain close relations with ATO and EATA-aligned countries while also keeping a low profile in international politics. It has also played a significant role in multinational peace efforts as well as support to developing countries throughout Astyria.
Since 1997, Valkea has been a member of the Lorecian Community, and so their foreign policy has shifted towards playing a more active role in economic and security cooperation.
The Valkean Armed Forces is comprised of the army, navy, and air force, all of which are under the command of the Ministry of Defence. The border guard and coast guard is under the command of the Ministry of the Interior but can be placed under the Ministry of Defence in times of war. The president serves as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The country's military doctrine relies on a highly mobile field army backed up by local defense units. Its military strategy employs the use of the country's mountainous terrain and forested geography to wear down any invading force, instead of attempting to hold the attacking army on the frontier.
Its peacetime strength numbers at approximately 203,600 personnel in uniform (520,000 in wartime). Valkea employs universal male conscription, under which all male Valkean citizens above 18 years of age serve for 12 to 24 months of armed service or 24 months of non-combatant service. However, both men and women can choose to voluntarily serve in the military.
Valkea is an export-oriented mixed economy, featuring a combination of capitalist and socialist principles. It boasts one of the most vibrant economies in Astyria, with a per capita output comparable to other developed Astyrian economies. Its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 was $2.94 trillion ($3.16 trillion in PPP). Valkea's standard of living is among the highest in Astyria. The Valkean economy is widely known for its extensive welfare system, egalitarian policies, and ease of doing business.
The service sector contributes up to 61% of Valkea's GDP, with manufacturing at 38% and agriculture at less than 1%. Manufacturing makes up a key economic sector in terms of foreign trade. Valkea's industrial output is one of the highest in Astyria and in the Lorecian Community. Its major industries include electronics, automobiles, machinery, metal-based products, oil and natural gas, chemicals, forestry, and pharmaceuticals.
Valkea boasts one of Astyria's most competitive automotive industries, and is one of the region's largest vehicle producers. Major automotive brands such as Juhola, Sidus, Sorsa, Hedlund, Aaltonen, Eloranta, and Ukko have significantly increased their presence in foreign markets throughout the 1980s, and have grown to be some of the largest in Astyria. It is a major player in the proliferation of electric vehicles, thanks to a combination of government incentives and private commitments.
Valkea also has a large electronics industry. Consumer electronics giants such as Architect and Valkean Electric have grown to be some of the largest in terms of market capitalization. However, in recent years they have been facing competition from foreign brands.
The country is blessed with mineral and aquatic resources, as well as timber. Forests play a key role in Valkea's economy, making it one of Astyria's largest wood producers. The government has long played a role in the forestry industry, regulating tree cutting, sponsoring technical improvements, and ensuring that the country's forests continue to provide raw materials for wood-processing industries.
Petroleum is another rich resource that the nation benefits from, having first been discovered in 1976. Since then, export revenues from oil and natural gas have been a significant contribution to the country's GDP. The Valkean government has funneled its petroleum profits towards the Valkean Sovereign Fund (VSF) to provide the Valkean economy with a cushion against volatile oil prices and expenses that are associated with increasing unemployment and ageing.
More than a third of the Valkean workforce has completed tertiary education. In 2016, more than 63% of its workforce are employed by small and medium enterprises and contributed up to 45% of national GDP growth. Valkean workers enjoy immense social benefits such as free public healthcare, paid paternal leave for 48 weeks, and universal basic income. Average hourly wages in Valkea, as well as average productivity levels, are among the highest in Astyria.
Valkea has had historically low unemployment rates. However, with the rise of automation in the country, unemployment has steadily increased over the decades. In 2010 the unemployment rate was recorded at 2.7%, while in 2020 this rose to 4.1%. Youth unemployment has experienced a more dramatic upturn, rising from 5.7% in 2015 to 9.8% in 2020. Economic analysts predict that this trend may continue through the next decade, even as Valkea continues to shift its labor force towards service-oriented jobs to make up for the decline in manufacturing jobs.
The state-owned Valken Sähköyhtiö (VSY) is the main electricity generator and distributor in the nation. Valkea has one of the lowest carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production in the Lorecia Community due to its heavy investment in nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants generate 79% of the country's electricity.
Aside from nuclear energy, Valkea has been increasingly investing in other renewable energy sources. Hydroelectric power plants contribute to 13% of electricity production, while other renewables such as wind, solar, and tidal energy only contribute up to 6%. Much of this is expected to rise through local government initiatives as well as through private ventures. Power plants that are powered by fossil fuels, which currently produce less than 2% of Valkea's electricity, are expected to be phased out by 2025.
Because of its low population density, Valkea's public transport is less developed than in many other Lorecian nations, especially in sparsely populated areas. Despite this, the country boasts an estimated 1,124,000 km of roads, including 6,590 km of motorways, as well as 18,621 km of railways as of 2020. The Valkean Ministry of Transport has invested heavily in road, rail, and air transport infrastructure through a number of subsidiaries.
Valkea's domestic rail network is mainly operated by the state-owned Valkean Railways Group, while several private companies operate freight trains. The Valkean High-Speed Rail (SPJ) was opened in 1986 and regularly transports millions of people between the country's major cities every day at speeds of over 330 km/h. Intra-urban rapid transit systems also exist in major cities.
Valkea's motorway network is notably famous for having no national speed limit for certain classes of vehicles. However, there are limits enforced in urbanized and accident-prone areas, as well as sections of motorways that are under construction.
The country's largest and busiest airport is Våren Livet Vuotola Airport, located within the vicinity of the Våren Livet Metropolitan Area. It serves as the major gateway for Valkea and connects the capital with other major cities across Astyria. Valkea Airlines is the country's national carrier, although other airline companies operate domestic and international flights.
Most international cargo arrives in Valkea by sea. The Port of Dagsmark is the largest in Valkea and one of the largest in Northern Lorecia, with a capacity of 31.4 million metric tons.
Sovereign wealth fund
The Valkean Sovereign Fund (VSF) is a sovereign wealth fund that is fully-owned by the Valkean government through the Valkean Sovereign Fund Corporation (VSFC). It was established in 1992 to invest an enormous portion of its surplus revenue generated from the petroleum industry. It currently has investments in a number of international markets. It is currently one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in Astyria, with its assets valued at $1.68 trillion.
The VSF's investment choices are directed based on a series of ethical guidelines. As such, it does not invest in companies with a record of contributing to human rights violations, environmental damage, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Valkea has a population of 44,324,563 as of 2020. The country has a fertility rate of 1.7 children born per woman, which is one of the lowest in Astyria. As such, it has one of the region's oldest populations, with an average age of 41.0 years. The average life expectancy was 82.7 years in 2018, which is one of the highest in the region.
Historically, Valkea has one of the lowest population densities of any Lorecian nation. Its population has been significantly higher in the south than in the north, a phenomenon that has become more pronounced with urbanization. 83% of its inhabitants live in urban areas. Våren Livet, the capital, is the largest city, with a population of 1,243,825 residents. Together with Vuornaa and Sorvisto, the 2nd and 5th largest cities in Valkea respectively, they form the Våren Livet metropolitan area, an urban agglomeration home to 2.52 million people. Other large cities that have grown in population in recent years include Maarinnat, Dagsmark, Novika, Osterlind, and Tuuvalo.
Valkea is one of the most ethnically homogenous societies in Astyria, with 94% of the population identifying as ethnic Valkeans. Indigenous minority groups include the Velgi and Ostli peoples, most of which are concentrated towards the northeast of the country. In recent years, the immigrant population of Valkea has been growing rapidly. 5% of the population identifies as foreign-born, with the largest groups originating from Ostrothia, Aurora Confederacy, Caledonia, Nynorsk Ostlijord, Blackhelm Confederacy, Aswick, and Romberg. In turn, a significant number of Valkeans have emigrated to other member-states in the Lorecian Community.
Largest cities in Valkea
Valkean Statistics Bureau
The official language of Valkea is Valkean, and it is the predominant language spoken in the country. The dialects that are spoken in the southwest of Valkea have linguistic influences taken from extinct Vikalki dialects. In the northeast, Nynorsk and Velgi are recognized as official minority languages - the latter of which holds official language status in the province of Velgi.
English is a compulsory subject beginning in the first grade and ending in lower secondary school. As such, most Valkeans can understand and speak in English, especially after the 2nd Great Astyrian War. Most students also study additional languages such as Noordenstaater, Nidwaldeser, Scanonian, and Fyngarian beginning from fourth grade.
The Church of Valkea is the largest religious body in Valkea and one of the largest Lutheran churches in Astyria, with a membership of over 25 million members (or 57.9% of its population) as of 2019. This number has been decreasing over the decades at an average of 0.63% per year. The Church of Valkea was disestablished in 1983, although it still maintains a special relationship with the state. The second largest group are comprised of those who have no religious affiliation, which account for 29.6% of its population. A small minority belong to other Christian bodies such as the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations.
The largest non-Christian religion in the country is Islam, with 1,620,543 registered members as of 2018, and around 2,100,000 in total. Many of these adherents come from Maqtajeri and Indesvolker immigrant communities. Judaism has an estimated 4,600 adherents, most of which live in the Våren Livet metropolitan area, while Esoteric Shi'ism has a significant presence in Novika.
In 2018, 65% of Valkean children were baptized into the Church of Valkea and 84% were confirmed as members. However, church attendance has been historically low since the 1990s, with an estimated 2.3% of its members regularly attending weekly church services. Most members generally attend church for special occasions such as Christmas and Easter ceremonies, weddings, and funerals.
According to a Sitä Airut poll conducted in 2015, 31% of Valkean citizens responded that "they believe there is a god", 43% responded that "they believe there is a sort of spirit or life force", and 26% responded that "they do not believe in any sort of god, spirit, or life force". In another poll, 9% consider themselves "highly religious", 24% as "moderately religious", 36% as "agnostic", and 31% as "non-religious". Despite this, religion still plays an important role in Valkean culture, and a majority of Valkean adults continue to remain as members of the Church of Valkea.
Valkea has a universal public healthcare system that is mainly funded through taxes that are levied at the local level. Private healthcare is also offered to its residents, although they have to work with municipal and provincial councils to offer their services. Elderly care is managed through the public healthcare system. Healthcare in Valkea is comparable to other developed nations in Astyria, and Valkeans are satisfied with the quality of service.
In 2016, the infant mortality rate was 2.2 per 1,000 live births among children under the age of 5, ranking it among the lowest in the region. Valkean citizens have some of the lowest obesity rates in Lorecia thanks to an aggressive campaign of disease prevention and health promotion. Despite this, more than half a million Valkeans suffer from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Mental disorders such as depression have also become a growing issue, however treatment for such has improved drastically in recent decades.
Valkea has consistently ranked among Astyria's happiest countries, ranking 1st in 2013 and 2017 and consistently ranking in the top 5 since 2008.
The Valkean education system is considered by many surveys to be one of the best in Astyria. Primary and secondary education is arranged at the municipal level. Most students in Valkea are enrolled in public schools—the remaining 5% are enrolled in private schools (mostly specialist language and international schools). Early childhood education is voluntary, although a significant number of Valkeans enroll their children in pre-school. Formal education is usually started at the age of 7, and is mandatory between the ages of 7 and 16.
Primary school lasts for six years and lower secondary school three years. After lower secondary school, graduates may either enter the workforce directly or continue to pursue further education by applying to a trade school or gymnasium (upper secondary school). Trade schools offer a vocational education while gymnasiums are more oriented towards the academics. Graduation from either formally qualifies for tertiary education.
Valkeans have two options for choosing their tertiary education: polytechnics, which specialize in vocational courses and professions, and universities, which are more academically-oriented. Students benefit from free education and financial aid from the government to cover their living expenses. 41% of all Valkeans have a tertiary degree, which is similar to other Lorecian Community nations and more than many other developed nations in Astyria. A third of tertiary graduates are in science-related fields such as biotechnology, materials research, environmental sciences, and telecommunications. Adult education is also prevalent among its workforce, with over 8 million Valkeans receiving some form of learning each year.
Its educational institutions are among the most renowned in Astyria. The University of Våren Livet ranks 16th in the Astyrian University Rankings as of 2015. Other notable universities include Haavisto University and Vuornaa University in Vuornaa, University of Maarinnat, University of Novika, Sorvisto University of Technology, Osterlund University, University of Dagsmark, and Tuuvalo University. Many of these universities attract thousands of degree and exchange sutdents over the decades, mainly due to the Valkean tertiary education system's exceptional quality and their inclusion of English as a medium of instruction for a number of degree programs.
Valkea is one of the top-performing countries in literacy, ranking 5th in reading, 8th in mathematics, and 2nd in science. It also ranks 4th for most scientific publications per capita.
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