Great Khanate of Alva
Motto: For Freedom and the Fatherland
Anthem: March of the Heroes
Location of Alva (dark green)
on the continent of Yasteria (grey)
|Ethnic groups |
|Government||Unitary presidential republic|
• President of the Great Khural
• First Alvan Khanate formed
|cir. 1200 - 800 BCE|
• Alvan Empire
|c. 1125 - 1254 AD|
• Alvan Confederation
|June 4th, 1850 AD|
• Great Khanate of Alva established
|October 22nd, 1992 AD|
|468,359 km2 (180,834 sq mi)|
• 2011 census
• Per capita
|Currency||Tugrik (₮) (AVT)|
|Time zone||UTC +2|
The Great Khanate of Alva is a republic located in the north-central region of the continent of Yasteria, sharing a border with Statisland. Primarily populated by elves, Alva claims to be the successor to the Khanate of Alva that existed in some form as early as 1200 BC, and claims that Alva is the "original homeland" of elves on Urth.
Prehistory and Ancient History
The region which now contains Alva has been inhabited by hominid life for millions of years. Elves as well as humans, lupines, and vulpines have existed in northern Yasteria since prehistory. While the exact time and location of the first elven civilizations is disputed, it is known that inland north-east central Yasteria was predominately populated by elves by the mid-to-late Neolithic period. Inscriptions on stone tablets and in pottery as early as 3400 BC feature a kind of proto-writing that is today called the Urgabom Script, named after the city in what is now Alva where it was first discovered. Urgabom Script is the first script known to be created by elves, although it has not yet been translated and scholars disagree on whether it truly encodes a language. The Urgabom Script Civilization is believed to have begun to build urban-like settlements before a drought or other disaster severely reduced the population sometime around 2500 BC.
While there was always elven habitation of the region, none of the people there used writing for several centuries after the Urgabom Script writers disappeared. Instead, a largely nomadic society arose, with small tribes moving across the grasslands with grazing livestock such as goats and cattle. It was not until more than a thousand years later, in approximately 1200 BC, that written materials ascribed to the natives of the area begin to reappear in Alva. The language, while believed to have descended linguistically from what the Urgabom Script Civilization spoke, was written in an entirely different script - both referred to as Old Alvish. The name "Alva" appears to have already been in common use before the texts were written, as some of the texts refer to Alva as an "ancient place" or "the Alva of old." Contemporary Alvan historians use these texts as evidence that an Alvan polity existed as early as 1200 BC and that it was a direct descendant of civilizations that had existed in the area prior, but because they are few in number and the claims made are not attested in records found outside the region, historians outside Alva consider these claims controversial.
By approximately 800 BC, texts found in what is now Packilvania refer to "the tribes of Alva," and a leaders who were known by the title "Kaan." This date is used by most international historians to date the first formalized Khanate of Alva. The title of Khan was believed to be martial in nature, rather than hereditary, which whichever chief who was able to marshal enough support among other tribes gaining the title. In this era, there were typically multiple Khans, with one Khan gathering power in one particular region and engaging in hostilities against other Khans. Power tended to fluctuate between tribes in the more arid east and the tribes on the west near the sea. While tribes in both areas were nomadic in nature, the tribes in the west tended to move between established settlements on a seasonal schedule, whereas the tribes in the east rarely settled in the same location more than once. The east, while less populous, had one resource the west lacked: horses. Wild stallions are native to eastern Alva, and the warriors of the eastern Alvan tribes were famous for their connection to and skill with their horses. Alvan archers were known worldwide for their ability to shoot while on horseback.
Internal conflict among the Alvan tribes was the norm for much of early Alvan history. However, in the fifth century AD, a siege by united eastern tribes reached the coast near what is now Urgabom and managed to secure power over the area relatively permanently under one single Khan for the entire state. This began what is known as the Eastern Dynasty period, which lasted for seven hundred years, in which the formerly disparate west and east began to see their cultures merge. The title of Khan began to be hereditary, and the eastern tribes adopted the western tradition of moving seasonally between established settlements. In turn, the horse culture of the east was adopted by the west. Additionally, a formal bureaucracy began to form, inspired by systems of government from other areas such as Packilvania. By the 12th century AD, with the unity of Alva secured, Alva began to turn its attention outward.
The Alvan Empire
In 1125, a succession crisis arose when the Khan at the time had neither sons nor brothers to assume the throne after his death. A brief civil war ensued among various competing bases of power, but it was won very quickly by a young chief from the north known as Temuj who would assume the title Khan of all Alva in 1128. As Khan, he would use the name Gunghris and is often recorded in history by the name Gunghris Khan. This ended the Eastern Dynasty period and began a period known as the Alvan Empire period. During the lifetime of Gunghris Khan, Alva would expand across central Yasteria, reaching the western border of Packlivania by 1175. Gunghris Khan died in 1199 and was succeeded by his son, who was called Tugri Khan.
Under Tugri Khan, Alva expanded both to the west and the south, conquering territory on both coasts of the Sea of Alva and reaching nearly as far south as Yasteria Minor. Upon his assumption of the title of Khan, Tugri proclaimed that his lands would be known as the Alvan Empire. In addition to martially expanding the borders of the state to their largest extent, he also emphasized literacy and education among the population, not just among the bureaucratic elite. He also proclaimed that people living in conquered territories would have freedom of religion and that so long as they agreed to Alvan rule, they would be allowed full rights of citizenship. However, there were some among the leadership of the Empire who felt that Tugri was taking the people away from their traditional culture and religion, as Tugri encouraged the establishment of permanent settlements in the Alvan homeland just as he saw in conquered territories. The city of Urgabom, a name meaning "rich port," was established by Tugri Khan in 1234. Tugri would eventually be assassinated by members of his royal guard in 1254, and the Empire would fracture with power going to five of Tugri's sons after his death. The first region to break away was the Noorvic peoples, residing in what is now Northern Vistaraland, which revolted in the late 13th century after significant ethnic and species-based tensions.
From the 13th century onward, there would regularly be Alvan raids in central Yasteria as Alvan tribes - and Alvan states in some cases - competed for influence. While various states claimed to be the legitimate heir to the Alvan Empire, none would ever re-conquer all of the territories held by Tugri Khan. Historians use the term "Alvan Khanate" to refer to the state that existed where Alva exists today, which is the homeland of the Alvan tribes and was consistently the most economically dominant of the Alvan states. By the 17th century, all the former areas of the Alvan Empire would be under the control of non-Alvan regimes with the exception of the Alvan Khanate, although the Khanate of Suvania, a state nade up of lands once controlled by the Alvan State of Alvshina has sometimes been called the Alva of the West for it's eager adoption of Alvan Culture and Religious Beliefs, until its collapse into civil war in the 1950s.
Collapse and Decline
As the world outside began to modernize, Alva began to see tension again build between the east and the west. The city of Urgabom had existed as a sedentary settlement for 400 years by the mid 17th century and was a major center for trade and commerce in the region. As essentially the only permanent settlement in the country, it was also the largest settlement and home to most of the political elite. The period in Alva after the collapse of the Alvan Empire is known as the Western Dynasty due to this cultural dominance by Urgabom. Eastern tribes began to resent the increasingly cosmopolitan west, believing they had shunned ancient tradition. In 1674, a conflict known as the Carriage Wars broke out, as angry eastern tribesmen attacked Urgabom over the popularity of horse-drawn carriages, which they saw as disrespectful and contemptible towards the horses. The Carriage Wars would eventually encompass the entire country, and within 20 years, the relative unity in Alva that had been in place since the fifth century collapsed. The government of the country dissolved, and from the late 17th century, there was no longer a single Alvan state. Instead, the region returned to control by competing tribes.
While Urgabom remained relatively wealthy and cosmopolitan, the other areas of the country were relatively impoverished, and many continued to live in the traditional nomadic manner into the 20th century, especially in the far north and east of the country. However, in the 19th century, significant oil deposits were discovered in Alva, as well as mineral deposits of various kinds. As larger surrounding powers began to make moves toward taking the resources, the various tribes began to band together to defend themselves. A loosely organized state called the Alvan Confederation, with a capital nominally in Urgabom, was founded in 1850, the first united Alvan state in two hundred years. While it was successful in defending Alvan resources and coordinating resource extraction and foreign investment, the Confederation was plagued by instability and internal power struggles. The functional center of power moved between areas as different chiefs gained and lost sway, and corruption was common as foreign money began flowing into areas that had not typically seen it, such as the rural east.
The governmental framework of the Alvan Confederation lasted for over a hundred years, and gradually, modernization began to spread through the country, including electrification, railroads, highways, and technologies such as the telegraph and later the telephone. However, the internal power struggles only grew in intensity as time went on. In 1974, the period known as the Great Frustration began, as armed conflicts arose across the country in resistance to the national government. Areas in the far north and far east seceded first, declaring themselves independent. The national government, believing swift and strong action would bring a quick end to the resistance, reacted with significant violence, causing nearly 10,000 fatalities and committing some actions that were decried as war crimes, including - in some cases - the rape and torture of captured rebels and civilians. While this ended the outright claims of independence, violence continued across the country for nearly two decades as tribes all over resisted control from Urgabom. Bombings were common in Urgabom and other larger cities, and in several cases, some tribes would set the oil wells of other tribes aflame.
While originally the conflict stemmed from complaints that some regions were better favored by the Urgabom government than others, as the conflict went on, it began to devolve as criminality of all kinds increased. Violence within members of the same tribe increased as anarchic elements or organized crime syndicates took advantage of the situation. At the peak of the violence between 1986 and 1990, some 400,000 people were killed in various crimes and terrorist acts. As the situation worsened, the local tribal governments began to seek peace with each other so they could focus on their internal situations. In 1992, a cease fire and peace settlement were signed in Urgabom, which ended the Alvan Confederation and established the Great Khanate of Alva in its place. It was agreed that a new capital city called Alvakot would be established in the center of the country, and that guarantees would be put in place so that all tribes would see appropriate representation in Parliament. At the same time, the tribes agreed to give much more substantial authority to the central government so that it could better keep order.
Major construction of the city of Alvakot was complete by 1997, and people have been steadily moving to the city since then, as it is the largest city by far in a region that was once almost entirely rural. In 1998, a constitutional amendment replaced the traditional division of Alva into chiefdoms with a system of 36 provinces with permanently established capitals. All parties to the peace agreement have honored its terms, and there has been no outright violent unrest in the country since 1992. However, the organized crime that arose in the era of the Great Frustration remains endemic, especially in the north and east, and crime levels remain high. In addition, political corruption remains common at all levels, especially in the relatively newly-established provincial governments.
In 1995, Alva hosted the World Exposition in the city of Urgabom. After having been awarded the expo in an emergency meeting after the then-host nation Tavarid had to withdraw after a major earthquake. The Expo was widely panned as a disaster, and called "one of the most stunning and brazen operations in pure, wanton corruption ever seen," according to a post-mortem review of the Expo done by the Administrative Board for World Expos. Gaining international attention for Alva's cultural heritage - as well as an economic boost from tourism - has been a priority in nearly every Alvan government since the cease-fire in 1992. Despite several legislative changes made after Expo '95, no bid that Alva has made for an international event has ever been accepted.
While the title for the head of state of Alva is "Khan," Alva is essentially a Presidential republic in all but name. The Khan is both head of state and head of government, and is elected by national popular vote every six years. A Khan cannot be re-elected, and the Constitution forbids someone from the same province or same tribe as the previous Khan from being elected to succeed them. Candidates are chosen by a body called the Electoral College, which consists of tribal chiefs as well as members of local, provincial, and national government bodies. Candidates need the support of at least one third of the Electoral College to be placed on the ballot, and while there has never been an election with more than two candidates, the law stipulates that in order to be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of votes cast. In the event of no candidate receiving a majority, a runoff between the two highest finishers is held 30 days after the first round.
The Khan is the chief executive of the government and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The Khan holds the power of veto, and can veto any act passed by the Great Khural. The Khan appoints ministers to the Cabinet who serve as head of the various executive departments, all of whom serve at the pleasure of the Khan. The Khan also appoints ambassadors to foreign states, a power routinely used to award political supporters. The Constitution requires that the composition of the Cabinet and other appointed officials "reflects the proportion of population of the tribes and provinces as accurately as possible." The Khan also has the ultimate authority over the issuance of such things as permits to build oil wells or other large industrial resource extraction projects, and to a large degree controls to whom and in what amounts many grants of government funds are issued. The current President, Nambaryn Bagabandi, was elected in 2016.
The Great Khural, formally called the Great Khural of State in the Constitution, is the legislature of Alva. Consisting of 591 members elected to fixed 3 year terms, it is a unicameral legislature with members elected in various manners. 295 members are elected first-past-the-post from single member electoral districts across the country. A further 72 are elected from multi-member districts that are coterminous with the 36 provinces, with two from each province. The remaining 224 are elected by the membership of each of the 51 recognized tribes acting as a single electoral constituency, with the number of representatives a tribe can elect apportioned according to their number of members. The Constitution recognizes 47 tribes and allows the Great Khural to pass laws recognizing additional tribes. This means that any given citizen has up to three votes in elections for the Great Khural: one for their district, one for their province, and one for their tribe. As tribes control their membership according to their own law and most only allow membership based by descent, foreigners who gain citizenship in Alva often are not members of tribes. It is possible to be a member of more than one tribe, but the law requires that a citizen only be registered to vote in one tribe.
Because of the fragmented nature of elections to the Great Khural, there are dozens of political parties active at the national level. In order to gain a majority, they band together in alliances and coalitions that often shift membership between and even during the course of legislative sessions. The current majority coalition in the Great Khural is the New Democrat Alliance, which holds 300 seats. The largest party in the New Democrat Alliance is Alva Democrats, which holds 104 seats. The current President of the Great Khural, who is the presiding officer of the body, is Tsakhiagiin Erdenebat, an Alva Democrat. Khan Bagabandi is also a member of the Alva Democrats.
The Great Khural must pass a budget every year, and exercises oversight of government operations. Additionally, treaties signed by the Khan must be ratified by the Great Khural in order to become part of Alvan law. While the Khan appoints judges to national courts, the Great Khural must confirm them. And while the Khan has the power of veto, the Great Khural can override a veto with a 3/5 majority. The ever-shifting nature of political alliances in the legislature as well as the unique process for Khan candidate nomination and the shorter terms in the Great Khural mean that a Khan cannot reliably depend on a majority in the legislature. There is always significant negotiation regarding any nomination or bill before the Great Khural, much of it done in private party caucus meetings or with the leaders of the various tribes, who often control how the tribe-elected members of the Great Khural cast their votes.
The Alvan judiciary is independent from the executive and legislative branches of government. At the pinnacle of the national judicial system is the Constitutional Court, which determines if laws or other actions by the government are constitutional. The Constitutional Court has 7 members who are appointed to life terms by the Khan and confirmed by the Great Khural. The highest court for criminal and civil law is the Supreme Court, which has 27 members that sit in panels of 9 members to hear cases. Its judges are appointed to 12 year terms by the Khan, and the law requires that its membership reflects the demographics of the population. No more than 3 judges from any particular tribe or province may sit on the same panel. Terms of judges for the Supreme Court are staggered in such a way that there are judges are appointed in groups of 9 every four years. Because a Khan can only serve for up to 6 years, this limits the number of judges a single Khan can appoint to the court. The law also requires that no more than 4 judges on any given panel can have been appointed by the same Khan.
Judges at all levels of government were once appointed by the Khan and confirmed by the Great Khural, but because of perceived corruption in the process as well as procedural delays by opposition parties, in 2004 a constitutional amendment changed provincial and local courts from having Khan-appointed judges to elected judges.
The economy of Alva is based almost entirely in the sectors of resource extraction and energy. Petroleum deposits were discovered in Alva in the mid-18th century and have been the country's largest and most lucrative export since. In the 21st century, Alva began to extract and process its oil sands and oil shale as well as traditional sources of petroleum. Due to Alva's central location on the continent, oil drilled and refined in Alva can be shipped all across Yasteria by rail or road, and from the port in Urgabom it can be sent by tanker ship all over the world. Alva has a large logistics industry to support the transport of oil as well as other products, and has one of the largest merchant marines as measured per capita of any country on Urth.
In addition to oil, Alva has extensive reserves of metals and minerals such as iron, copper, nickel, uranium, potassium, manganese, and aluminum, among others. Mining and refining these minerals is the dominant industry in the more mountainous eastern and northern regions of the country. Many mines and refineries have significant numbers of foreign workers in addition to the Alvans they employ, as even though the unemployment rate in Alva is typically low, there are too few workers in the country to support the demand for the industry. Work visas for foreigners are politically popular in Alva because they allow the industry to keep wages lower, although it is difficult even for people who have worked in Alva for several years to gain citizenship.
In addition to fuel resources themselves, Alva is a net exporter of electricity to the region. Oil and nuclear power plants are common, as are wind turbines and hydroelectric power. Electricity is cheaper in Alva than in most neighboring countries, and even rural and nomadic areas have easy access to electricity.
While the more rugged areas to the far east and north are less well-suited for industrial agriculture, a sizable percentage of the population there still lives a traditional nomadic lifestyle, and horse culture is still very important. Herds of animals like sheep, goats, and cattle are common sights in these regions, and there is some exporting of wool and textile products from Alva. In the west of the country, closer to the sea, the climate is somewhat more temperate and the soil more fertile. The most common agricultural crops in Alva are wheat and soybeans.
While Alva has a nominal GDP per capita of just over $30,000 SHD, the distribution of income in Alva is remarkably unequal. The Alvan economy is often described as oligarchical in nature, with much of the wealth in the economy generated by a small number of individuals who control the largest enterprises. Especially in the more rural areas of the country, a system of patronage exists in which large enterprises pay local governments or tribal chiefs for access to particular resources, land, or facilities, and the local officials dole out the money in order to maintain political support in their communities. At the national level, both informal patronage and formal lobbying efforts ensure business interests are heard by the government. There are relatively few state-owned enterprises in Alva, primarily the national airline Alvan Air and Alnext, a state-owned electric utility. Otherwise, most large corporations are owned privately, and an often cited figure is that the individual owners of Alva's five largest oil refineries hold more wealth than the poorest 60% of citizens combined.
Being located near the center of the continent, Alva would be significantly more arid than it is were it not for the Sea of Alva to its west. The sea moderates the climate and provides moisture to the area. Urgabom, the largest city in the country, is only one of several permanent or semi-permanent settlements that have existed on the coast of the Sea of Alva throughout history, and the attractiveness of this climate compared to the relative harshness of the east is part of what drove the traditional differences in culture between the two regions. Today, the west of Alva remains more populous and less mobile than the east. The Urgabom metropolitan area is home to approximately 4.3 million people.
The largest geographic region of the country is the central grassland, a region of broad, open, relatively flat land that is well suited to agriculture. It is in this region that the Alvan horse culture first emerged, and some of the world's only wild horses still roam the open grassland. In the modern era, the number of permanent settlements in the grassland has increased significantly and continues to rise as towns have risen up around industrial areas. The largest city in the region is Alvakot, the capital that was constructed only in 1992. A planned city, Alvakot has grown faster than any other settlement in Alvan history, and is now home to a metro area of nearly 560,000 people. The grassland is home to most of Alva's conventional oil deposits as well as most of its refineries and factories.The far east, and to a lesser extent the far north, is higher in elevation and more rough in terrain than the central grassland, and although these regions are often called "mountainous" the peaks are older and eroded and more accurately referred to as highlands. These regions are where most of Alva's mineral resources are located, as well as its deposits of oil shale. The highlands also have some forests, including several large clonal colonies of aspen that are among the oldest and largest living organisms on the planet. Today, these aspen are threatened by industrial activity and development in the region.