Ni-Rao (Empire)

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August Empire of Ni-Rao

နိရဩးသြဂုတ်လခေတ် (Raonish)
Revidan Nirao (Tavari)
The flag of the August Empire of Ni-Rao, consisting of 17 golden hollow squares on a purple swallow-tailed field.
De facto territory (dark green)
and de jure claimed territory (light green)
CapitalAmao (de jure)
Rora (de facto)
Largest cityKrist (de jure)
Rora (de facto)
Official languagesRaonish
Recognised national languagesTavari
Ethnic groups
Raonite Orc 77%
Tavari Orc 21%
All others 2%
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Empress
Hirana IV
• Grand Vizier
Doran Imo
LegislatureCouncil of Five Hundred
• State of Ni established
c. 1800 BCE
• Kingdom of Rao established
c. 1600 BCE
• Merger of the Crowns
c. 900 BCE
• Charter of Amao ratified
July 19th, 1791 CE
• De jure
599,237 km2 (231,367 sq mi)
• De facto
(99,999 sq mi)
• North only
• 2020 census
GDP (nominal)estimate
• Total
• Per capita
CurrencyTavari Našdat (TAN)
Time zoneUTC -7:00
Driving sideright
Calling code+44

This article is about the country established in 900 BCE. For the country by the same name established in a coup in October 2020, please see Ni-Rao (Raonite PDR).

The August Empire of Ni-Rao (Raonish: နိရဩးသြဂုတ်လခေတ်, syagotel hkayat nirao; Tavari: Revidan Nirao), commonly known as Ni-Rao (Raonish: နိရဩ), is a constitutional monarchy located in northwestern Gondwana. Since the Ni-Rao Civil War began on October 17th, 2020, it has also been colloquially known as North Ni-Rao (Raonish: မြောက်နိရဩ, myawwatnirao), in contrast to the Communist-controlled regime in South Ni-Rao, also known as the Raonite People's Democratic Republic.


Ancient History

Approximate borders of the State of Ni (in blue) and the Kingdom of Rao (red) at the time of the Merger of the Crowns in 900 BCE, superimposed on modern borders. The current area of Ni-Rao is shown in dark gray.

The earliest cultures identified as "proto-Raonite" are attested as early as 3100 BCE in the Ni Valley south of the Danvreas Range on the northwest coast of Gondwana. The proto-Raonites are among the first documented urbanized, literate orcish societies. Immediately east of the Ni Valley are the Rao Highlands, an area of significantly higher elevation that eventually rises to the Rao Plateau. While orcish habitation of the area has been dated to 300,000 years ago, modern genetic analysis seems to indicate that the ancestors of modern Raonites entered the Ni Valley by way of migrating through the Rao highlands from the interior of the continent beginning in roughly 4000 BCE. Cultivation of maize, cassava, and sweet potato are evidenced from as early as 3500 BCE in both the highland and lowland regions at about the same time. The two immediate predecessor states of Ni-Rao were the State of Ni, a city-state on the coast that dates to approximately 1800 BCE, and the Kingdom of Rao, which was originally located further inland and has been dated to approximately 1600 BC. As the historical record indicates that the languages spoken in Ni and Rao were written in similar scripts with nearly identical grammar, it is believed that both groups of orcs descend from the same population and, despite their political separation, had remained culturally and economically close for their entire history. Fragments of tablets found in Ni dated to 1500 BCE show that the royal court of Ni was concerned at the time that "countrymen of Rao are almost indistinguishable from our own [citizens] and can commit crimes among us unnoticed."

Conflict between the two states was common, although not typically severe. Villages on the frontiers of both states often changed hands. In approximately 900 BCE an event known as the "Merger of the Crowns" occurred and Ni and Rao were merged into a single state. However, the records written in each state both indicate that it was their own army that conquered the other state. As literacy and the ability to write were both restricted to a select class of scribes in both states, written records are scant, and it remains uncertain if the Merger was caused by one state conquering the other or by mutual consent. The head of state of the newly-combined state was called the Emperor, a tradition that continues to the current day. A commonly-believed anecdote is that, in the country's combined name, "Ni" comes first out of recognition that it is the older (and therefore seniormost) state, but the people are called "Raonites" and not "Ni-Raonites" in recognition of the fact that both peoples were said to have come down through the Rao Highlands as they migrated from the interior of the continent. Written records kept by royal scribes at the time seem to confirm this hypothesis, but the matter is still debated.

The first Emperor of Ni-Rao was Ramar, who ordered that a great stone tomb be built for him to be interred when he died. He ordered that the tomb be built on what had been the border of Ni and Rao, as an "eternal testament" to the unification. The tomb took the form of a stepped pyramid, with each successive layer smaller than the one below it. The stone came largely from the eastern highland regions of what had been Rao, and was moved from eastern quarries to the site by river. Significant amounts of slave labor were used in its construction. Ramar is popularly said to have died the day after the pyramid was completed, although modern historical analysis indicates he was alive for at least one or two years after completion. The construction of the Tomb of Ramar spurred a tradition in Ni-Rao of massive monuments and extensive funerary rituals and myths centered around the Emperors.


After the Merger of the Crowns, Ni-Rao began an era of expansionism, as it grew larger by taking control of neighboring areas. The surrounding areas were populated largely by other orc populations that had migrated from the interior jungles in roughly the same manner the Ni and Rao people had. Ni-Rao was the wealthiest of the orc polities living along the eastern coast of the Gulf of Northwestern Gondwana, and as it expanded, its wealth and military strength increased as well. By the 1st Century CE, Ni-Rao occupied most of the coastal lowlands of the eastern gulf coast region north of the Strait of Khaj. Throughout the first millennium, various military campaigns expanded northward towards the Danvreas Range and eastward across the highlands toward the interior of the continent.

A series of military defeats from eastern tribes in the 6th Century CE largely ended Ni-Rao's expansion to the east. Also around this time, the era of pyramid building began to decline, as the economy had since weakened and labor was needed in agriculture rather than in the service of the Emperors to build tombs. Ni-Rao's borders would remain largely fixed for some four hundred years. This era of stagnation is known as the First Dark Age of Ni-Rao, although in contrast to the name the general populace was not largely suffering, and there were significant improvements made to agriculture, roads, and defensive fortifications on the frontier. Expansion began to pick up again in 900 CE, focused primarily on expanding into the north, across the mountains of the Danvreas Range.

The western portion of the Danvreas Range is relatively shorter than the rest of the range, especially in the westernmost spur that curves southward and forms the southern border of what is today the Federation of Bana. There is a pass in the mountains near the Lakes of the Four Sisters that Ni-Rao used to expand northward into what are today New Rania and Mikubana. Some portions of Okunbana also saw significant border skirmishes with Raonite forces. Additionally, while Ni-Rao has traditionally never been a maritime power, it did expand by sea to the north and, at its territorial maximum, to the west across the Gulf. By and large, the humans and elves responded harshly to Ni-Rao's expansions, and there was violence in the northern frontiers almost constantly.


The approximate territorial maximum of Ni-Rao, in 1300 CE. The area is approximately 1.5 million sq km.

Ni-Rao reached its territorial maximum in approximately 1300 CE. At that time, in addition to its traditional holdings in the eastern gulf coastal lowlands and highlands, it also held significant holdings in the north, reaching as far north as what is today Bana and controlling part of King's Island in what is now Tavaris. To the west, Ni-Rao established a colony in Reijia and held significant holdings along the Strait of Khaj. However, also at around 1300 CE, the various Tavari tribes consolidated into a single Kingdom of Tavaris. Tavaris, which held the remaining portions of King's Island, launched a campaign to expel Ni-Rao from the island very soon after unification, and succeeded. At the same time, a concerted effort by the three nations of the Bana people began to push back from the north and led to that country's unification. Ni-Rao, over-extended, faltered militarily and began to lose control of the northern reaches.

In about 1400, a plague struck Ni-Rao that was quickly expanded across the entire empire in part, it is believed, by rats that were hidden among the cargo of various traveling merchants. The plague reached, and struck particularly hard in, the northern reaches that had less stable supply lines and infrastructure. However, all areas of the country were affected by the plague, and between 1400 and 1500 CE, approximately 1 out of every 6 residents of the country died. The plague did not affect non-orcs, however, meaning the humans and elves opposed to them were made relatively stronger as Ni-Rao was weakened. In 1448, Reijia became independent after a local lord purchased the right to be the King of Reijia from the Raonite crown. Ni-Rao held on to the region surrounding what is now Ranisport until about 1550, but continued organized military opposition from Bana led to their withdrawal back to the south of the Danvreas Range. By the turn of the 17th century, due to military losses and economic decline, Ni-Rao had effectively shrunk to an area with similar boundaries to what is currently South Ni-Rao.

Recent History

The Tomb of Emperor Ramar, a popular and well-preserved Raonite monument.

The 17th Century started with Ni-Rao in a state of general disarray and poverty. For this reason, Tavaris began a campaign of humanitarian aid in Ni-Rao, led largely by the Church of Akrona. This would lead to Tavaris establishing a colony, called Emerald Coast, in the northern regions of Ni-Rao in 1668. This was done without the express consent of the government of Ni-Rao. Ni-Rao theoretically claimed the area but had de facto ceded control to Tavaris because it could not afford to defend the area or maintain its infrastructure - both things that Tavaris was doing in the area already. This establishment of a Tavari territory on the mainland of Gondwana, immediately south of Bana, was considered by both Ni-Rao and Bana to be a massive breach of the status quo and led to the Fourth War between Bana and Tavaris. Ni-Rao joined the war on the Banian side.

While Tavaris initially suffered great losses in the beginning of the Fourth War, Tavaris' larger population served as an advantage that allowed it to outlast both Bana and Ni-Rao, especially after Queen Melora II of Tavaris conscripted virtually the entire adult population of the Kingdom into military service. Eventually, Tavaris pushed Bana back, and after ending the Banian threat, Ni-Rao's weak military could not withstand the full attention of Tavari forces. Ni-Rao surrendered in 1680 and signed a treaty agreeing to return to the status quo ante bellum. While not explicit in the terms of the treaty, this surrender effectively ceded Ni-Rao's claim on Emerald Coast.

With its holdings winnowed, Ni-Rao lost status as a regional power. The 17th and 18th Centuries saw Ni-Rao adopt a constitutional monarchy as the general populace began to resist the traditional system of feudal authority. Ni-Rao's economy was largely agricultural, although as the Industrial Revolution spread, some industry did take hold in the major population centers. Population slowly increased. Additionally, the economy saw a boost as international trade came to the region and foreigners took note of the ancient pyramids and tombs. The monuments became an international tourist destination, and the government focused resources on repairing and maintaining the pyramids and in things such as roads and hotels in the region. The ancient monuments of Ni-Rao remain a popular tourist destination to the current day. Also in the 18th Century, a religious movement known as the New Ranites (from Rania, a city in the east that is believed to share an etymology with the word "Rao") rose up and eventually left Ni-Rao to cross the Danvreas Range and re-inhabit the gulf coast in that region.

Shortly after the establishment of constitutional monarchy in Ni-Rao, Tavaris negotiated a withdrawal from Emerald Coast in which Ni-Rao would be sovereign over the former Tavari colonial holdings, but the right of the Church of Akrona to continue to exist, and the right of the Tavari present in the country to remain, were to be considered inviolable. The Tavari Cession was completed on January 1st, 1804. To this day, some 14% of the Raonite population is Tavari by descent, and over a third of the population is Akronist.

Since the Fourth War, Ni-Rao has primarily remained neutral in international affairs. Ni-Rao did not participate in the Great War, unlike nearby powers such as Tavaris and Bana. Ni-Rao has typically had poor relations with Tavaris and New Rania, its immediate neighbors, but has not maintained a military strong enough to present a threat to either of them. It established trading relations with other powers in the area, including the colonies like Lunaria and Vaklori, Great Powers such as Great Morstaybishlia, Salovia, and Asendavia, and other nearby states such as Iassath. Ni-Rao is a popular place for foreign multinational manufacturing corporations to set up factories, as labor laws are lax in the country and wages are generally low. Ni-Rao has avoided joining modern international organizations such as the Alliance of Northwest Gondwana. Ni-Rao's foreign policy of isolationism from global affairs is broadly popular. Ni-Rao tends to place great emphasis on seeing itself as the conservator of orc culture in general and its own culture in specific, both things that majorities of Raonite politicians and citizens feel would be threatened by further involvement in international affairs.

2020 Coup

On October 17th, 2020, a coordinated military-led uprising in several cities in Ni-Rao, particularly in the south, successfully overthrew the government of the August Empire of Ni-Rao. A group of leading military officials known as the Worker's Council of the Revolution, joined by various organizers of the Communist movement in the country, assumed power after the military seized both the chambers of the Council of Five Hundred and the royal palace of the Empress. The Empress, the Grand Vizier, and a few other members of the legislature managed to escape the city. The Worker's Council of the Revolution proclaimed that the government of the Empire was over and in its place was a new country, which they called the Raonite People's Democratic Republic. Both the Worker's Council of the Revolution and the government-in-exile of the Empress and Grand Vizier claim title to the name Ni-Rao and state that they rightfully control the entire territory of the country. In reality, the Empire holds the northern approximate half of the country from a base of power in Rora, and the Raonite P.D.R. holds the southern half of the country, governed from Amao.


The Sovereign

Ni-Rao is a constitutional monarchy. The current reigning sovereign is Empress Hirana IV, who has been on the throne since May 2022. The Empress is nominally the Head of State, but in actuality can act only on the advice of the Prime Minister. Unlike such monarchies as Tavaris, the Empress has no reserve powers. Any action of the Empress must be countersigned by the relevant Vizier (equivalent to a Minister in other countries), and it is the Viziers - not the sovereign - who are politically responsible for the actions of the state. However, under the law, it is the Empress who appoints the Grand Vizier and members of the Supreme Council (known otherwise as the Cabinet), dissolves and summons the Council of Five Hundred, and is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The Empress is briefed regularly on matters of state and, while she holds no governing authority, she holds significant influence in the government. Outside of formal constitutional roles, the monarch is seen as a guarantor of Raonite culture and history. Throughout history, monarchs frequently visit ancient monuments and other cultural sites, a tradition the current Empress has upheld. The Empress regularly participates in ancient rituals before and after the harvest and also in times of drought or other natural disasters.

Council of Five Hundred

The legislature of Ni-Rao has consisted of exactly 500 people for over a thousand years. Originally the Council was an advisory body summoned by the sovereign at will to provide advice, not to ratify laws. Over the course of time, it came to be that the Council's assent was required for the imposition of taxes and for permission in raising a standing army. However, these conventions were never entrenched law until the ratification of the Charter of Amao in 1791, which created the modern constitutional monarchy that Ni-Rao has today. Prior to the Charter, the sovereign tended to hold to these conventions primarily because of political pressure or even armed revolt from the populace.

Several different methods have been used to elect the Council over the course of time. Since 1999, members are elected in a closed-list proportional system, in which citizens cast a vote for a political party and parties are granted a number of seats in the council in accordance to their proportion of the vote. In order to be granted seats, a party must reach at least 4% of the national vote. The office of Grand Vizier, the head of government of Ni-Rao, is appointed for nomination by the Council of 500, and the government must hold the confidence of the Council in order to remain in office. Other Viziers in government are appointed from among the members of the legislature by the Grand Vizier to the Supreme Council, which is usually called the Cabinet to distinguish it from the Council of 500.


After the coup, the Empress, the Grand Vizier, and several members of the legislature fled by jet to the city of Rora. An "emergency government" has been established, led by the Grand Vizier, where the remaining members of the Council of Five Hundred nominally serve as a Cabinet. In reality, the Constitution allows for the Grand Vizier to rule by fiat during a declared emergency ratified by the Empress. In Rora and in two other major cities in the north, loyalist military forces prevented the Communist insurgents from taking control. Additional security assistance is provided by Tavaris, which has declared on the side of the August Empire-in-exile. In the areas governed by the Empire, martial law is in effect and a curfew has been imposed, enforced by a joint Raonite-Tavari command.


The Temple of Shoni, the largest tomb and funerary complex in Ni-Rao and the country's most popular tourist destination. It was destroyed in a bombing on January 25th, 2021.

The economy of Ni-Rao is much less developed than most of its surrounding countries. Standards of living are generally lower in Ni-Rao than the international average, as are wages. Approximately a third of the population of the country lives under the international poverty line. The largest sector of the Raonite economy is tourism. Millions of tourists visit the ancient monuments a year.

Outside of tourism, the economy is largely based in agriculture and mining. Timber and paper products are a large agricultural sector, although they are both in decline as old growth forests are lost to deforestation. Cocoa, maize, palm oil, rubber, sugar, sweet potatoes, and various fruits and nuts are also important crops. Traditional crops like cassava are still grown but rarely at commercial scales. Beef-based agriculture, beans, rice, and soy are newer, non-traditional sectors of agriculture that are quickly increasing as more land is made available by deforestation. Historically, especially during the era of Tavari colonialism in north Ni-Rao, spices and incense made from plants grown in Ni-Rao were in high demand, though this industry fell into decline throughout the 20th century and has largely faded away. In mining, diamonds and other precious gems are available in relatively high concentrations in the eastern highlands. Copper was traditionally mined in Ni-Rao but reserves have largely been depleted. There are also some coal reserves in Ni-Rao, although these are also believed to be approaching depletion. Metals such as gold, silver, lead, nickel are the most common commercially extracted in Ni-Rao. Ni-Rao also has particularly high reserves of bismuth.

A significant portion of the Raonite economy is dependent on remittances from Raonites working abroad sending money home to their families. Wages earned in more stable currencies are valuable to Raonites, as the New Deben is a very weak and unstable currency compared to the global average. The New Deben was introduced in 2002 in a currency revaluation in which 100,000 Debens became worth 1 New Deben. The Tavari Dollar is commonly circulated in Ni-Rao in an unofficial capacity. Especially in the major urban areas, much economic activity takes place in the "informal economy," otherwise known as the black market, in cash transactions that avoid government taxation. Raonite cities are known for their street vendors and expansive bazaar-like markets.

On December 27th, 2020, the government-in-exile announced that areas under its jurisdiction would begin using the Tavari Našdat instead of the New Deben as legal tender, due to the South's control over the mint and banknote production facilities.