by Max Barry

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Grussland in Brief

The Democratic Republic of Grussland
Population: 59,985,100
GDP per capita: NS$30,230
Capital City: Hoffstadt
President: Johan Brandt

Grussland is a moderately sized country, bordered by swirling seas and alpine mountains, famous for its temperate rain forests, foothills, and great coastal plains. The climate is generally continental and oceanic, with some alpine or tundra landscapes at higher elevations.

The Grusslander are a Germanic people speaking a corrupted form of German with strong English influences. They are believed to have migrated to current-day Grussland in the bronze age, where the area's forests and foothills provided ample resources and protection.

Now an industrious and scientifically advanced people, this nation of nearly 60 million has an open-minded and generally relaxed culture with a good work-life balance. The people have relatively inclusive and neighbourly attitudes with a strong tradition of sharing food and drinks. Indeed, the people take pride in their good food and high quality beers and wines.

The media is open to report and criticize events and politicians. The people have access to foreign broadcasting. There is, however, a relatively pro-government narrative in the media.

Officially, Grussland is a multi-party constitutional parliamentary democracy with a decentralized executive in the form of the State Council. In practice it's a dominant-party pseudo-democracy (or hybrid regime) where opposition parties are tolerated provided they do not criticize the President of the Presidium of the Chairs of the State Council.

The country is divided into 8 Bezirk, which each have small elected assemblies to effectively administer centrally-determined policies and spending priorities. These assemblies thus oversee a number of powers delegated by the central government (i.e. education), but the central government has authority to override the Bezirk.

Hoffstadt has been Grussland's capital for over a millennia and is an historical center of culture and trade. With a population of over 2.5 million, it is also the country's largest city.

Political History
The country was officially a communist "People's Republic" from 1948 to 1988. Prior to 1948, it was a capitalist monarchy without a sovereign; the royal line ended with the death of King Rudolf VI in 1931 and the dissolution of the incredibly inbred House of Anderberg. This period was marked by tumultuous parliamentary rule with frequent (and flawed) elections and economic stagnation.

In 1945, the Social Democratic Party, Socialist Party, and Communist Party merged to become the Worker's Unity Party (WUP) which held a plurality of seats in Parliament and seized on the popular discontent and economic inequities suffered by the masses. Two years later, after the 1947 election, it formed the first majority government in 22 years in coalition with the Farmer's Front. Less than year later, the government declared a People's Republic and, by 1955, opposition parties were banned.

While the country was surprisingly productive and advanced for a communist state, by 1980 the black market was larger than the official economy. WUP General Secretary Hans Sigmunds, who had effectively ruled the country since 1966, died in 1985 without a clear and obvious successor. This paved the way for years of factional infighting and the dissolution of the WUP as a compromise position. Hardline communists were booted to the opposition and moderate reformists took charge through a new governing coalition. In 1988, after 40 years, the Grusslander People's Republic was officially dismantled and succeeded by the Democratic Republic of Grussland, which began a gradual path of economic, political, and civil liberalization without crash capitalism.

Grussland is essentially a market socialist economy with a multitude of state operated enterprises ("SOEs"). Private enterprise is tolerated and highly regulated with the state or Worker's Investment Board always being at least a minor shareholder. The state or WIB are often large shareholders of major enterprises, but smaller shareholders can outvote the state or WIB. Small businesses, co-ops, restaurants/cafes/pubs, and "mom & pop" shops are encouraged and often subsidized.

The economy is highly digitized, with technical proficiency and AI integration creating a good degree of efficiency and precision in timing and transactions. This technological capital enables the populace to enjoy relatively high productivity and, as such, the work week is a comparatively short 30 hours over a 5 day work week with overtime kicking in at 33 hours. Some workers choose the standard 6-hour work day, while others work 7 or 8 hour days for 3 or 4 days a week and take a shorter day or two. This is largely dependent on the operational requirements of their work.

The country operates a quasi-autarky, preferring to produce locally as much as possible, with the goal of imports and export netting out in terms of financial value. In some cases, goods are directly traded (i.e. $x million of cars for import in exchange for the equivalent value of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals). Import substitution policies are common and foreign firms must enter into joint ventures with local firms except where internal capacity does not exist to do so. Tourism is a strong and important sector, providing foreign currency to balance trade shortfalls and/or international market price fluctuations for areas in which the country actually does engage in trade.

Foreign firms and goods are still an active part in the economy, but in most cases production costs must be mostly realized within Grussland through joint ventures. An example of this are blue jeans, where foreign clothing chains and brands often ship nearly completed pants for final stitching and branding to Grussland for local sale.

Major exports: precision machinery, medical equipment, dairy products, alcoholic goods, pharmaceutical products, computers and chipsets.
Major imports: automobiles and automotive components, miscellaneous consumer products, computers and chipsets, foodstuffs, oil and gas products, rare earth metals.

Grussland has a relatively efficient and advanced, albeit small, military with a budget equivalent to about 0.7% of GDP. The focus is on defense and advanced warning capabilities over offensive capability. The country officially follows a policy of self-defense and neutrality. There are approximately 25,000 active military personnel 10,000 reservists and conscription has been phased out.