The human history of the Antarctic continent began in the 20th century. After the first exploration expeditions reached the South Pole (and returned alive, which was something else entirely), Antarctica, over many decades, began to attract a small but growing population of scientists. Despite the constant hostility of the land to nearly all known forms of life, they were strangely drawn to the alien beauty of the frozen landscape, and the knowledge it contained. Soon, though, as their numbers grew and their knowledge expanded, they were forced to come to an alarming conclusion: that landscape was melting. As carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere by the massive use of fossil fuels, it trapped the sun's heat and threw the cycle of the ice off balance, causing more and more of it to melt into the sea. The scientific community issued many warnings and proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but the leaders of the day ignored them. The governments of the world preferred to be distracted by more immediate issues, for they were yet unable to conceptualize the true potential of mass industry to change the very face of the world. As a result, the greatest, and most destructive, experiment in the history of humankind had begun.
As the 23rd century dawned, the climate disaster reached its most devastating heights. At this time, the use of fossil fuels worldwide reached its peak, as industrialization by this point had spread throughout rich and poor countries alike. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 1,700 parts per million, and the global average temperature reached 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Unpredictable and catastrophic weather became the new normal worldwide, and under extreme levels of climatic stress, the wildlife of the world began to wither away. Forests thinned out into steppes; steppes, into deserts. Yet, as devastating as the lack of rain became to the people of the world, the water itself was much worse. As the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melted away into the sea, they became increasingly unstable, as meltwater found its way under the ice and made it slide away even faster. The water flowed into the oceans, which rose, slowly but inexorably, into the coastal heartlands of the world. Billions of people gradually lost their homes, causing mass migrations that sparked ethnic turmoil and violence around the world. Governments soon collapsed, and their remnants collapsed further. Soon, Earth's enormous reserves of fossil fuels were finally depleted, and as the tycoons of the day hoarded what little electricity remained for themselves, the rest of the world's rapidly declining population was sent back to an age of subsistence agriculture, and desperate poverty.
As the 24th century came to an end, the very worst chapter of the climate disaster came to an end. It was little comfort, however, to anyone alive at the time. The Antarctic ice sheet continued to melt, and sea levels around the world continued to rise. There was no end in sight to the social turmoil that raged around the world, as the sea continued to submerge millions of homes on its journey across the land. Yet, beyond all the misery of the world, a keen eye could see the faintest glimmer of hope. When the fossil fuel supply was exhausted and carbon emissions finally came to an end, a turning point was reached; instead of retreating, the wildlife, ever so slowly, began to return. As the sea made its way inland, it evaporated into clouds, and then rain - a thing the world had sorely needed. Trees and plants began to grow again in places they had not grown for a long time, and as the sea advanced, so did they. Humankind had more immediate problems, however, as the rain could not give them back their homes. But, as the ice retreated and the rocky soil of the Antarctic Peninsula was exposed to the air for the first time, the most desperate among them came up with a solution.
In the late 24th century, after many centuries of constant and large-scale melting of the Antarctic ice, the continent's enormous ice sheet began to show the first signs of depletion. At long last, the ice was no longer thick enough to spread out over the whole continent, and for the first time in thirty-five million years, some rocky soil at the very tip of the peninsula was freed from its withering grip. The first colonists to arrive at this desolate outcropping were not humans, but errant king penguins, migrating southward from subpolar habitats that were now growing too humid and warm for them. The humans were the second arrival, bringing with them various hardy species of plant life, a few of which managed to take root. Things went well, at first, and the colonists were soon growing enough food to survive. But the social structure of the colony, unfortunately, was not ideal. Most of the refugees had fled their own continents out of sheer desperation, and had little desire to share the colony with other cultures, having faced far too much ethnic turmoil for a lifetime in their own homelands. Although the diverse group of refugees soon learned to cooperate in order to run the colony, some of them were less than enthusiastic about doing so. In a normal time and place, perhaps, this might not have doomed the colony by itself, but Antarctica, sadly, was far from a normal place. Although the ice sheet had retreated a few miles inland, its presence continued to choke the colony from afar. The winds were brutal and frigid, and the land was bare and dry. Blizzards off the ice sheet were depressingly common, and even when they didn't happen, crop failures could still happen due to the poor quality of the soil. Some colonists remained determined and positive, despite it all. Some grew weary and depressed. Others simply grew frustrated, and before long, they grew angry. And anger, as some have sadly witnessed, has a way of digging up sentiments that most people keep deeply buried in shame.
Records of the earliest years at the Antarctic colony have always been sparse, and reconstructing a consistent narrative from them has been difficult for Antarctic historians. Nevertheless, it has long been well known that in the early 25th century, not long after the first settlement took place there, the situation began to take a dramatic turn for the worse. As the study of Antarctic history took on a sociological character several decades ago, the events that set that change in motion were gradually pieced together. Today, the story behind the first recorded massacre in Antarctica, in the year 2405, is known. The killer, whose name was not recorded, was motivated by feelings of anger that had been coursing through the colony for decades, slowly building strength. The massacre came shortly after a crop failure that year, which had apparently embittered the killer. Since he and his people had done nothing wrong, he reasoned, the "others" had to be responsible. He seemed to have a broad definition of the term, as the victims were of many different races, religions, languages, and ethnicities. In a manifesto, he blamed the "primitive" agricultural practices of the other cultures for the failed harvest, and declared that they had to be killed in order to save the colony. The record also listed the names of the victims, and stated that the crop failure had been due to a heavy snowstorm late that spring, adding that none of the colonists were responsible. Despite this, several records dating from the next few years showed more massacres, at an increasingly frequent pace. It has since been speculated that the infamy of the first killer motivated new killers, and as the violence grew increasingly common, it became normalized - unleashing yet more violence. As the 25th century went on, the Antarctic ice sheet began to retreat in earnest, and the settlements expanded rapidly - yet the records only grew more sparse, and hurriedly written. As life became increasingly preoccupied with death, Antarctica gradually sank into the longest and saddest chapter of its history.
The intervening years, between the social collapse of the first colony and the founding of the Free Republic, have since become named after a Japanese word for great fury and destruction - the Hakai. For hundreds of years, great outpourings of violence, hatred, and rage washed across the continent and back again like waves of molten fire. As they went, they spun an endless, horrible tale - a long and tragic story of unspeakable crimes, broken hearts, and extinguished lives. As the centuries went painfully on, the great ice sheet continued to slowly melt away across the continent. Two hundred years went by, and the western half of the sheet went through a final collapse, melting away into the sea at last, with remarkable speed. Bright, breezy pine forests spread out across the rugged new land, while right beside them, small, war-torn settlements grew into vast fields of despair. The harvests never failed anymore, but now, it was too late for anyone to care. Everyone had been hurt, and seen loved ones killed. Some did not know how to live without the warmth of anger that had sustained them for so long. Generations of people lived out their lives and died, in a cycle of birth, death, grief, and revenge, under the mournful beauty of the trees. Two hundred more years went by, and the once-great ice sheet slowly shriveled down to a small patch around the South Pole. Around the world, the land grew more fertile than ever, as climate change came to an end. The new, inland seas of the world brought rain to places that had been dry for most of human history. In Antarctica, though, the Hakai continued, with no end in sight. Many people could hardly even dream of a life without hatred or violence, so prolonged had been their suffering. No one could imagine that soon, in a small and unremarkable corner of what was once that very first colony, life might suddenly begin to change.
The year 2743 would have seemed, to someone else, like any other year in the city of Aasha. Four hundred years had passed since the first Antarcticans had made their homes in that ancient colony. Ever since that now-distant day, its bounds had flowed outward like pitch, advancing steadily from one lifetime to another. Yet as the city had grown, so did the eternal drumbeat of gunfire, explosions, and screams, pressing down like a terrible weight on the spirits of its people. The center of the city, where the colonists had made their home so long ago, now looked like any other war zone one might find in Antarctica - covered in dust and rubble everywhere, scattered with half-broken structures that loomed like ghosts over the streets. Many residents of Aasha cursed the city's name as they hurried through it in fear for their lives - cursing those who had condemned them to such a life, by laying the foundations of their continent all those years ago. But there were two people in Aasha, that year, who had no time to think about such things. They had been raising a very precocious child for six years, and they had taught her everything they knew. The child's head was full of stories - from her parents' Hindu religion, such as Krishna opening his mouth to reveal the universe, and others, like the tale of a starship run by officers from all over the world, because no one aboard saw anything wrong with that. But her parents had never had the means to afford enough food, and it showed. The child was far too short for her age, and too many bones could be seen through her skin. But on a sunny day in March that year, the parents had saved up enough to go to the market. They told her they would return soon. But when she heard the sounds of gunfire from across the street, she knew what had happened, and she cried, until long after the sun had gone down. The next day, she was told by some people downstairs that she had to leave her parents' home. Every night after that, she slept in alleyways and abandoned ruins, and every day she stole whatever food, blankets, and clothes she could find to survive. But on that day - the worst day of her life - she had promised her parents she would never forget them, or the stories they had told her. So she remembered, and year after year, when the winter darkness came and everyone who had a home would huddle inside it for warmth and safety, Rupi Chen was one of the few who would stay outside, and look up at the stars, and wonder.
Rupi Chen and five other members of the Society were discussing the group's political direction when a bomb exploded underneath her floor. Five ethnic, religious, and racial supremacist groups proudly claimed responsibility for the massacre, and then promptly began massacring each other as well in order to claim the one true mantle of the Society's killers. Tabarot, Mahindran, and the rest of the Society went into hiding, waiting for the killers to pick each other off. The death of Rupi broke the hearts of not only her two closest friends, but of hundreds of people who had heard of her, and the Constitution that she had written. In the Society's hidden strongholds, recruits poured in to help keep alive the values that Rupi had died for. They came in by the hundreds, then eventually the thousands, then tens of thousands. By 2775, the Society had spread from a single neighborhood throughout the entire city of Aasha, and Tabarot and Mahindran felt safe enough to begin speaking in public. Though they were able to keep up a unified face in front of the people, Tabarot later revealed that, although they were very close friends, their personalities could not have been less compatible; they argued often and fought frequently. What kept the Society together was forcing themselves to work out a compromise in Rupi's name, lest her own creation fall apart at the hands of her two closest friends.
By 2779, the Society had spread across half of Antarctica. The names of Tabarot and Mahindran were known and revered across the continent, but not nearly as much as that of Rupi Chen, whose two closest friends had refused all the credit given to them and told everyone they met of Rupi's ideals, her work, and her ultimate sacrifice. Already, Rupi was being called the "Mother of the Constitution" by Antarcticans across the Continent. Vinson Mahindran, in the city of Palashima, was giving a speech in Rupi's name when an ethnic supremacist opened fire on the crowd, killing 12 people - including Mahindran. Tabarot later recalled nearly dying of despair, and for a year, the Society stagnated under the weight of its own grief. But as they healed, Tabarot and the Society were only pushed forward even more strongly by Mahindran's sacrifice. By 2786, the Society had finally established a basic minimum of peace and public order across the continent, and the final three years of the Society's existence were spent in negotiations between its disparate members on the structure of the government they were about to establish. Then, for the first time in over 600 years, the world witnessed a continent come together as one under a banner of shared values and ideals. January 22, 2789 was the 36th anniversary of Rupi Chen's death, and from that day on, the anniversary of the moment when Tabarot knew her absent friends could finally rest in peace.
On January 22, 2789, Harriet Tabarot became the first Prime Minister of Antarctica. She viewed it as her debt to Rupi Chen to give all the strength she had to building the republic that her dearest friend would never see. Tabarot remained politically unaffiliated even as the Antarctic National Congress and dozens of other parties coalesced around her, believing that her service to Rupi had nothing to do with partisan politics. To this day, she remains the only unaffiliated Prime Minister in the history of Antarctica. Perhaps the most important of Tabarot's achievements was the creation of the Peacekeepers, a unified Antarctic armed force tasked with carrying out the will of the Free Republic both within and outside Antarctica. In 2798, after having built up both the Peacekeepers and several other vital government institutions, Tabarot finally retired at the end of her third term rather than continue to seek power. In doing so, she set the precedent for all the Prime Ministers who followed her; only a handful have ever served for ten years or more. She died peacefully, in her sleep, in 2811. For the first century of Antarctica's existence, the most important aspect of the Peacekeepers' mission was the maintenance of public order. During the early years of the Free Republic, hate-driven massacres still blighted Antarctica every few months. But over many years, the Peacekeepers slowly chipped away at the hate groups and their steady stream of murder. By 2850, the massacres occured only once every few years, and by 2870, they were beginning to peter out. The last recorded hate massacre in Antarctica occurred in 2883. As the years went on and the Peacekeepers continued their work, violent crime slowly petered out as well, and finally, any notion of violence on the Antarctic continent became unthinkable.
The 29th century was a time of great social change in Antarctica. At the beginning of the century, Antarctica's ethnic groups still lived apart. World cultures, religions, colors, and sexual orientations all lived in a state of segregation and separation, and hate groups massacred anyone who tried to cross the divide. By the 2830s, Antarcticans had come to believe that if integration was the most mortal fear of these hate groups, then it was the goal most worth pursuing. They began to pursue friendships, love, and families that broke through the boundaries that had divided them for so long. Integration began as a mere trickle, for the massacres still occurred far too frequently, but as the century wore on, that began to change. By the 2860s, the old Antarctic massacres were finally beginning to die away, and the trickle soon turned into a flood. Thoroughly mixed families, neighborhoods, and institutions became Antarctica's most heartfelt desire, and within a generation, they shifted from the exception to the norm. By the end of the 29th century, Antarctic society had become fully mixed on every level, giving rise to many aspects of the society that is known and loved around the world today.
Another great change in Antarctic society during the 29th century was the rise of Anava Hinduism. At the beginning of the century, Hinduism was one of many world religions that existed in violent confrontation with each other as part of a continent-wide patchwork, such as Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, Buddhism, and others. Religious scholars have since speculated that the wholesale transformation of Antarctic Hinduism during this period was made possible by the historical flexibility of Hindu doctrine, at least in comparison to those of the other religions. During the 29th century, the metaphysical tenets of Antarctic Hinduism did not change much, but its moral and practical aspects changed immensely. As the Antarctic social revolution remade society around it, the continent's new, heartfelt benevolent and humanistic worldview became the object of religious passion, eventually coalescing into the two principles - dharma and kama - that have come to define the Anava Hindu way of life. Any and all notions of castes and caste bigotry were relentlessly cast out of the faith; since the 29th century, caste bigotry has been viewed as a historical crime on a level close to slavery, and modern Antarcticans consider the notion of castes to be an absurdity. The humanistic transformation of Hinduism inspired hate-weary Antarcticans to begin converting en masse, bringing several more idiosyncratic aspects into the faith, until it became the common religion of the Antarctic people.
By the beginning of the 30th century, Antarctica had established what could be considered the most advanced society in the world. Hatred, crime, and violence had been all but eliminated, and throughout the 29th century, the Free Republic had built a free market economy and social safety net that had given its people the highest standard of living in the world. As the chaos and hatred within Antarctica gradually disappeared, the Antarctic people turned their attention outward. Although Antarcticans genuinely did desire to share their own well-being with the rest of the world, their national miracle had also infected them with a subtle complex of superiority. Beginning in the late 2870s, and accelerating after 2883, Antarctica began using the Peacekeepers to effortlessly decide the outcomes of foreign wars, in exchange for territories adopting aspects of Antarctic government. For a time, Antarctica's military adventures worked flawlessly. Increasingly drunk on its own hubris, Antarctica soon became more and more aggressive. In 2897, Antarctica began outright invading tyrannical foreign territories and replacing them with Antarctic-style governments. This seemed to work flawlessly as well, until Antarctica finally invaded the Fiefdom of South Georgia, in 2904.
The Fiefdom of South Georgia was a totalitarian de facto monarchy that ruled over a small island of the same name, just outside Antarctic waters. The regime in Grytviken operated entirely on tyranny, hatred, and fear, not unlike the Antarctica of many centuries before. The Antarcticans, genuinely heartbroken by the scenes of suffering in South Georgia but also drunk on their own power, invaded the island and set up an Antarctic-style government in Grytviken. Unfortunately, the Fiefdom had had a multitude of genuine devotees of their own. These devotees set off a bomb underneath an Antarctic peacekeepers' base, killing hundreds of Antarcticans, and the response of the Free Republic lives on in infamy: "Do whatever you believe necessary to neutralize those responsible." Knowing that the entire city of Grytviken sympathized with the killers, and filled with a white-hot scornful rage at the city for the death of their countrymen, the Peacekeepers stormed through Grytviken in a fit of bloodlust. They destroyed every building and brutally tortured and murdered every human being they could see, before, with the city reduced to a smoking ruin and a mass grave, they reported "the neturalization of all responsible" to the Free Republic. The sights they sent back to the Antarctic people would change their view of the world, and of themselves, forever.
Until the Massacre of Grytviken, all of the Free Republic's history had operated on an underlying belief about its own nature: that Antarctica had permanently outgrown its violent past, and that the Free Republic had had a benevolent history and would always continue to be benevolent. The Massacre of Grytviken shattered that belief forever. Antarcticans across the continent reacted to the Massacre with visceral horror, burning shame, and stone-cold resolve. That year, in 2904, the entire Foreign branch of the Peacekeepers was called home, and the perpetrators made to answer for their crimes. However, the resolve of the Antarctic people did not stop with them. In place of their old hubris, another new belief came to define the Antarctic worldview, and has continued to define it ever since: that no matter how far Antarctica - or any nation - has come from the horrors of its past, it is and will always be capable of sinking into those horrors all over again, and only the constant vigilance of its people will ever stop it from happening. The Free Republic, and the Antarctic people, re-dedicated themselves to the ideals of their founders. In 2905, the Foreign Peacekeepers were permanently disbanded, and Article 11 was added to the Antarctic Constitution, intended to help stop the Free Republic from straying into violence or cruelty ever again. This was the final addition to the Twelve Articles, as Antarctica's founding document is now known, and no armed Antarctican has set foot on foreign territory ever since.
For two generations after the Massacre of Grytviken, Antarctica resolutely isolated itself from the happenings of the outside world, and focused instead on staying true to its own values and maintaining the society that it had built. The events of the world were still widely discussed throughout Antarctica, and the Antarctic people were often heartbroken to hear the world's disasters. Nevertheless, the popular perception at the time held that any Antarctic meddling in foreign affairs was inherently unsafe, on account of the nation's ability to be corrupted by its own power. Antarctica's long withdrawal continued for sixty-one years, while hot spots of tension around the world inched closer and closer to the breaking point. Finally, in 2966, an unprovoked attack by an aggressive territory in the Rocky Mountains tipped two thirds of North America into a continental war.
The person to bring Antarctica out of its long withdrawal would have been considered, at the time, the least likely person in Antarctica to do so. Prime Minister Henry Nakamura was a soft-spoken yet extremely stubborn man who, above all else, valued stability. As the Great North American War broke out in 2966, Nakamura immediately ruled out any sort of involvement. Yet the scenes of suffering reaching Antarctica from the war-torn continent were more devastating than anything Antarcticans had seen since the Massacre, and a large and growing portion of the Antarctic people began to demand that Nakamura send material and humanitarian aid to the more benevolent actors in the war. Nakamura steadfastly refused; he seemed to have an unshakable feeling of wariness against Antarctica meddling in places it did not belong. Finally, in 2967, one of Nakamura's own aides, Pradeep Gilard, scheduled a meeting between Nakamura and the North American leaders in Denver without his knowledge, then deliberately gave Nakamura the wrong flight number so he landed in North America. Upon landing, Nakamura was furious, and he intended to board the return flight and fire Gilard, when suddenly a stray missile landed in Denver nearby. Nakamura rushed in to help, and the scenes of human suffering he saw before his eyes finally convinced him to change his mind. When he returned to Antarctica, Nakamura announced the country would begin sending aid to designated benevolent actors in the conflict, and to the myriad other scenes of human suffering that for so many centuries had erupted ceaselessly throughout the world. He also announced the un-firing of Gilard, who would go on to be Prime Minister himself many years later.
The Great North American War came to its conclusion in 2971. Thanks in large part to Antarctic financial and material aid, the more benevolent side in the conflict had won. Antarctica continued to supply aid to North America in order to help the continent rebuild, and for the first time in its long history, the nation began to win genuine admiration from many corners of the world. Then, in 2979, yet another disaster struck. A massive stock market crash in Antarctica caused a brief recession on the continent, followed by a quick recovery. However, it sent the rest of the world into a deep economic depression, on top of the grinding poverty in which most world citizens already lived. In the midst of this crisis, Antarctica dedicated its entire budgetary surplus, and even a small amount of deficit, to financial aid for any and every country that needed it. This was the defining moment for Antarctica's role in the world, changing its image from an uncaring former aggressor into the actively benevolent and humanistic force in the world that it remains today. With the help of Antarctic financial aid, the world slowly turned towards recovery in 2983, and by 2994 the great global depression was finally percieved to be over. Antarctica wound down its spending somewhat, to regain its budget surplus, but since then the Free Republic has continued to devote a substantial portion of its spending to financial, material, and humanitarian aid for all the world.
Throughout the 2990s and 3000s, the Antarctic economy continued to grow strongly and steadily, and the world's standard of living slowly inched higher. This period is considered one of the recent high-water marks of Antarctic history, as the continent continued to enjoy a completely peaceful society and a high standard of living, while Antarctic foreign aid further solidified the continent's reputation in the world and helped lift people out of poverty. Pradeep Gilard, Prime Minister from 2997 to 3006, was notable for his educational reforms, moving Antarctic schools towards a more hands-on and participatory approach. Zhijuan Kateel, Prime Minister from 3006 to 3014, spent most of her tenure renovating Antarctica's international aid programs, but is better remembered for her nine years being cut short by a severe corruption scandal that prompted the Council to dismiss her government. The political chaos of the subsequent 3014 election will forever remain infamous for the rise of the worst Prime Minister in Antarctic history: Tomio Batra.
In the 3014 election, all three of Antarctica's main political parties lost seats as a result of their connection to the Kateel corruption scandal. As a result, the Grand Council come 3015 was notable for featuring a much larger slate of unaffiliated councillors. One of these unaffiliated councillors was Tomio Batra, a sociopolitical armchair theorist who became Prime Minister mainly due to his speeches viciously condemning the concept of corruption. However, once elected as Prime Minister, Batra quickly became far more corrupt than Kateel had ever been. He never authored a single proposal on his own; instead he used dirty tricks and underhanded methods to insert his own policies into otherwise procedural proposals. Tomio Batra's political ideology could be best described as complete and utter madness. Four random selections, out of his dozens of policies, would be attempting to abolish the minimum wage, nationalize every supermarket company, demolish the Antarctic social safety net to encourage "economic immediacy," and attempting to force price controls on common goods. Within months, Batra had singlehandedly steered the Antarctic economy into free fall, when suddenly a private tape was leaked in which Batra boasted to his sister about his success in deceiving the entire Grand Council. The Council immediately brought a motion of dismissal against Batra's government, which passed almost unanimously. The replacement named in the motion was a rising star who would soon become a name for the ages: Michiko Mayweather.
Since late 3015, Michiko Mayweather has been Prime Minister of Antarctica. Her first great achievement was sweeping away Batra's political web of madness, along with adding a few of her own tweaks, and restoring the Antarctic economy within a year. Afterwards, Mayweather set herself to work not only on the economy, but also on completing the educational reforms begun by Prime Minister Gilard two decades earlier. In the midst of her constant efforts, she nevertheless found enough time to campaign for her re-election in 3017, the recovery of the economy and her incredible charisma winning her a second term in a historic landslide. One year later, Mayweather's Educational Proposal of 3018 built upon Gilard's earlier reforms, restructuring the education system top to bottom towards a more participatory and hands-on environment, focusing less on standardized test results and more on helping individual struggling students. In the wake of her reforms, Antarctic graduation rates improved to 95 percent, and test results also increased considerably. Mayweather's accomplishment for the next generation of Antarcticans is considered to be the greatest and most important achievement of her legacy.
The Antarctic people have had a long and storied history, emerging from 600 years of ceaseless violence, hate, and chaos into an early history of outward destruction, eventually retreating from the world in fear of themselves, then finally reaching out again in peace, love, and friendship. They continue to keep watch against their own worst instincts, and work to bring an impoverished and war-torn world out of the disasters into which it has fallen. They look forward to a day where the world can come together in peace and friendship, and face the future together.