The Free Republic of Knootoss (Dutch: Vrije Republiek Knootoss) is a nation in the Western Atlantic region, where it borders The resurgent dream, Laneria and the Southern Low Countries. It is a parliamentary democracy with a republican form of government. Its capital lies the city of Haag, which is part of the Hartstad Capital Region. Foreign visitors take special notice of the nation's liberal social policies. Recreational drugs, prostitution and gambling are all legal. The nation is run by coalition governments, usually involving the centre-left Social-Liberal Party.
Knootians are often thought of as tolerant, individualistic, sex-crazed, drug-using advocates of free abortion and euthanasia. While this stereotype is a bit extreme, there is a core of truth to it. Knootoss is a happy-go-lucky liberal nation, but there is a lively contrast between this pragmatic liberalism and the buttoned-up just-so primness of a culture originally founded on Calvinist principles. As a result of this, Knootians tend to feel a sort of moral superiority toward other peoples.
Knootians shy away from ceremony, ostentatiousness or excessive displays of patriotism and personal wealth. Fuss of any kind is regarded as undignified. Personal freedom, on the other hand, is very much written into Knootian law, and any transgression is likely to be resisted.
The first mention of "Knootoss" (from Gnostos - γνωστὸς) comes from the latter half of the 15th century. A Greek manuscript obtained from the Monastery of Saints Adrian and Natalia, near modern day Adrienople (Pantocratoria), had been translated into the Rederlander dialect. Stemming from the root word "gnosis" (knowledge, those things which can be measured) it came to refer to "those people who desire to know everything or be known", or the adherents of the ideas of the Renaissance.
The term became strongly associated with the Reformed cause after 1601, when representatives from several coastal cities came together in the city of Kommerdijk to form ‘A New Covenant’. They formed a defensive military alliance and adopted the Reformed theological 'Creed of Kommerdijk', which became known as the Knootian Covenant. A Biblical justification for this covenant was based on the idea of that the first 'Knootians' were pagan descendants of a tribe known to the Romans as the Chamavi or Chamaboe (Χᾳμαβοί),who had been spared the corruption of the Church brought about by Constantine and his successors.
Knootoss borders The resurgent dream, Laneria and the Southern Low Countries and lies in a low-lying delta into which the Rede, Tijraan, Jardén, Nivelle and Brandewyn rivers flow. The terrain consists mostly of coastal lowland and reclaimed land ("polders") with soil composed of deltaic, coastal and eolian derived sediments, mainly clay and sand. Much of the land is near or below sea level. Knootoss is a tectonically quiet area and has no volcanic activity, but much of the land is unsurprisingly prone to flooding, both from rivers and from the sea.
Knootoss has historically had a coastal marine climate, but much of the country has recently been reclassified to a mixed-humid climate, on account of climate change and a significant 'heat island' effect from the Hartstad Metropolitan Region. The weather patterns seem to involve sudden cold snaps alternating with mild days during winter and unsettled summers, featuring episodes of dry but cloudy weather interrupted by short periods of sweltering heat. Average seasonal temperatures vary, with daily average lows and highs running between -3°C and 4°C in January and 18°C and 27°C in July respectively.
Rain falls throughout the year but is relatively light in winter and spring and greatest from late summer through autumn, when violent storms can roil the atmosphere and frequently disrupt people's daily lives. Cold winters typically see snowfall between December and February, though the snow quickly turns to muddy grey sludge in the built-up urban areas, due to the 'heat island' effect. Ice skating is once again possible outside of the major cities during the winter period.
The country consists of ten provinces.
Hartstad Capital Region
The Hartstad Capital Region contains its largest city, the capital, and forty percent of the countries' total population. The population pressures in Hartstad are enormous and property values are sky-high. The provinces' natural features have been buried beneath urban sprawl, though it is still just possible to distinguish the swamps, meadows and coastal lowland from the unnaturally flat areas that were reclaimed from the sea.
The capital region is easily the most diverse place in Knootoss, hosting a mish-mash of immigrants from national minorities, expatriates and permanent immigrants from the Western Atlantic region and beyond, including communities of colour and non-humans. Hartstedelingen tend to be at the forefront of new socio-cultural trends, fashion trends and anything else 'modish' or 'zeitgeisty'. They tend to spend a lot on interior decoration per square metre, on account of the extremely limited floor space that the average Hartstad apartment has to work with.
The capital region contributes over 70% of the countries' GDP, much of it through a widely distributed software development and services sector as well as other economic clusters, including significant petrochemical and refining industries. An area around Dwalmdam has been quarantined due to extensive ecological damage following the so-called 'Purendal Incident' in 2016.
The Teistergouw is the 2nd largest province of Knootoss, located in the south-central part of the country. The province is dominated by the heavy manufacturing city of Lichtenburg, which sprawls outwards into what is generally regarded as picturesque but otherwise unremarkable countryside, dotted by small fortified towns, villages, churches and ruins of monasteries and castles. Nearly half of the population is Roman Catholic, and non-believers make up much of the remainder.
Duchy of Chamaven
The Duchy of Chamaven is the traditional home of the House of Chamaven, which was Knootoss' leading noble family for centuries. It is home to just over ten percent of the national population. Chamaven is the largest remaining stronghold of the former state church, the Reformed Church of the Knootian Covenant, which holds the allegiance of a quarter of the population. It retains ceremonial elements of constitutional monarchy in its provincial governance structure.
Central Chamaven includes the Lordship of Jonkervelde and the Barony of Sweins. It is renowned for its scenic countryside and bocage landscape of mixed woodland and pasture and its heather fields. It is the most quintessentially 'Knootian' part of the country, at least in a national mythology that is monetised through the sale of regional products, such as Chamburgers. The Grand Ducal Forest or Royal Reserve south and south-east of the provinces' capital city remain as a nature preserve.
Grand County of Waterland
The Grand County of Waterland is, for the most part, a low-lying coastal plain raised by the sediment deposits of the Brandewyn river, which bisects it, along with many small waterways and irrigation plains.
The province is relatively rural, with much of the population living in the two largest cities. Much of the countryside is given over to intensive modern agriculture and pastureland, with a particular emphasis on cattle farming. The province is renowned for its artisanal cheeses and the distinct flavour of milk that is produced by a local breed of cow (the Waterlander). Sonseinde is noted as a significant naval base and has a matching reliance on government and military contracts, which include large drydocks and metal works for military and civilian shipbuilding.
Free Province of Cymsrijk
The Free Province of Cymsrijk was once known as eastern Tasat and joined with the Cymric peoples that settled in a larger area along the coast. It is mainly noted for its mires, fens, forested boglands and peat-forming wetlands, fed by the slow-moving Alfonwyn river. Agriculture has long been the basis of the provincial economy. Animal feed, beef and dairy products are the provinces' most notable exports.
It is a majority-minority province that is home to the Cymric people, which make up around 60% of the population and have a reputation for being stubborn, independent-minded folk. The province is almost equally divided between native Cymric speakers and native Dutch-speakers.
Stadtholderate of the Luwelanden
The Stadtholderate of the Luwelanden is a relatively small coastal province in northern Knootoss. Its seven islands are populated by a relatively homogeneous population of Dutch-speaking, Reformed Christian Knootians. The Reformed population is split between the Reformed Church of the Knootian Covenant and the Reconstituted Church of Kommerdijk, which is a more radical anabaptist interpretation of the same creed, and permits polygyny.
Westervelde and the urban areas between the Tijraan and Merwe rivers by contrast reflect the diversity that is common in the Hartstad Metropolitan Area. Many of the inhabitants of Westervelde commute into the capital region but live in the island province because of its more affordable housing and lower taxes.
Hesbayeux is a majority-minority province, with around two-thirds of the population identifying as Frankish, and a solid minority of some 15% identifying as Latturian. The province is overwhelmingly French-speaking and Roman Catholic.
Hesbayeux is the second-poorest province of Knootoss. Its traditional automobile manufacturing industry and metalworks were already teetering and fully collapsed in 2017. A mining industry draws government subsidies for experimenting with 'carbon capture and storage' methods in the provinces' large underground caverns. Agriculture remains a relatively large, efficient and profitable sector of the economy, which is otherwise dominated by services and retail.
Duchy of Latturia
The Duchy of Latturia is made up of hilly and forested country, with the Jardén river cutting though verdant valleys which are home to picturesque medieval villages surrounded by fields and small enclosures. The largest of these valleys is home to the capital city of Jardénbourg and nearby Ardoye, which together make up over half of the provinces' entire population.
About half of the inhabitants of Laturia identify as being of the Latturian ethnicity. Only about half of self-identified Latturians speak the somewhat archaic Latturian language, which is an isolate with strong Romance Celtic influences. The remainder of ethnic Latturians - especially residents of the more urban southern valleys - opt to speak French instead. Almost three quarters of the population adheres at least nominally to the Roman Catholic religion, and most are still baptised into it.
Latturia is the poorest and most economically peripheral region of Knootoss, suffering from relatively poor infrastructure and a less-well-educated population, with university graduates usually moving further afield. A significant chunk of the provincial GDP depends on mining, and raw materials taken together constitute the provinces' largest export.
The oldest inhabitants of Knootoss bore a close resemblance to Apatan and Pantocratorian Indian indigenous peoples, particularly those tribes whose descendants live in present-day Laneria. The bulk of the population now are Celto-Germanic descendants from large-scale migrations which may have begun around as early as 200 CE and peaked between 900 and 1100 CE. These people replaced or absorbed the local indigenous populations and held a variety of local, religious and language-based identities. They only came to be known as Knootians in the early modern process of state formation. The 'Knootian' identity is therefore an ethnoconcept constructed around political and religious ideas, but with Celto-Germanic roots. Knootians make up two thirds of the population of modern-day Knootoss. In the provinces north of the Merwe river and outside the capital region, the number of Knootians is between 80 and 86% of the provincial population. They are on average exceptionally tall and often have pale skin, rosy cheeks, blond or light brown hair hair and blue eyes.
An exception to the above rule about 'Knootians north of the Merwe' is the province of Cymsrijk, where 60% of the provincial population are ethnic Cymric, and closely related to the Cymry people across the border in Tasat, in The resurgent dream. Speaking a language that is closely related to Welsh, the Cymric ethnicity is strongly concentrated in its home province, making up just under 5% of the national population. Many Cymric people are Roman Catholic, though the population has secularised significantly. Cymric persons are on average a little shorter than Knootians, and often have darker skin, black, brown or red hair and startling blue or green eyes.
A larger minority of Franks make up about a tenth of the national population. This French-speaking and predominantly Roman Catholic people group is in the majority in the province of Hesbayeux (65%) and concentrated south of the Merwe river and the Hartstad Capital Region. They are closely related to their Knootian neighbours to the point where it is impossible to distinguish the two genetically, though on average Franks are a little shorter and stockier, and they are believed to have curly or brown hair more often, as well as sharp, aristocratic noses.
The smallest people group to still dominate at the provincial level are the Latturians, who make up just under half of the population of their province of Latturia and 3% of the national population. The genetic origins of the Latturians are somewhat disputed, though they were relatively isolated in their hilly and forested country. Their genetic markers indicate stronger-than-usual indigenous ties, though these have been overwhelmed by the Frankish and Celto-Germanic genes from their surroundings. Latturians are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, but linguistically divided. Under a quarter of self-identified Latturians speak the somewhat archaic Latturian language in the home, with over two thirds opting to speak French instead.
The other people groups are small, and usually consist of immigrants or the descendants of recent immigrants. These include significant numbers of Semitic (1,6%), Greco-Roman (1,3%) and Slavic (0,9%) peoples. There is also a significant non-human or metahuman population of about 1,2%, which includes significant numbers of elves and people of mixed heritage. These are concentrated in the Hartstad Capital Region and the largest cities, and extremely rare elsewhere.
Dutch is the official national language of Knootoss, and it is spoken by over 90% of the population. About 80% of the population also speak Dutch as their mother tongue, using it in the home. It is the language of the workplace, the courts and public life in most of Knootoss. Though the Dutch that grew from early-modern Knootoss' melting pot was divergent and unique in many ways, the language is nowadays standardised to have a uniform spelling, grammar and vocabulary that conforms to international norms.
French is the second most popular language native to Knootoss, used at home by a little over 10% of the population and understood by over a third. Unsurprisingly, native French speakers are concentrated in the provinces below the Merwe river, particularly Hesbayeux (where it is spoken by 87% and understood by nearly everyone) and Latturia (where it is the native tongue for two-thirds of the population and universally understood). These two provinces are exceptional in that Dutch is not widely understood or used by the locals. Recent years have seen French advance in such areas as road signage and use in official government documents, further solidifying the linguistic separation.
Cymric, which is close to Welsh, and Latturian, an archaic isolate language, are both strong in their respective ethnic enclaves, but little understood elsewhere. About half of the people in Cymsrijk and only a little under a quarter of Latturians have mastered their native tongue. These languages are therefore more sources of local pride and cultural/ethnographic interest, beyond the regions in which they are popularly used. Both languages have a rural bias, with Dutch and French spoken in Cymric and Latturian cities respectively.
Recent governing coalitions that have included the Catholic People's Party (KVP) have made an effort to emphasise local language education and the preservation of local cultures, which has benefited the French, Cymric and Latturian languages. Even so, the use of these languages does remain associated with provincial stereotypes that speak to a certain parochial backwardness. Instances of language discrimination or discrimination on the basis of accent in northern universities and high-paying careers have been in the news. Efforts by the Catholic People's Party to make French a fully co-equal language have thus far been resisted by the Dutch-speaking majority.
English, though only spoken as a native tongue by expatriates, is widely understood. About 85% of the Knootian population speaks English to some degree, and the language is usually acquired in Primary and Secondary education, when it is universally served as a (compulsory) second language. The only places where it is not spoken as widely are Hesbateux and Latturia, where dual-language education usually focuses on French and Dutch, or French and one of the local languages.
Knootoss is a secular nation with historical Judeo-Christian roots. Just over half of the population is non-believing and another 5% belong to organised naturalist, humanist and freethinking associations such as the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Cult of Reason (Culte de la Raison)
Christianity has the largest number of adherents at (34% of the population), with 23% of all Knootians affiliating with the Roman Catholic Church and 7,4% following some branch of the Calvinist Reformed traditions, especially the former state church, the credobaptist Reformed Church of the Knootian Covenant. The Reconstituted Church of Kommerdijk, though small at just over 1% of the population, is popular in the Luwelanden and deviates from the main branch of the Knootian Reformed Tradition by accepting polygynous marriages. A notable minority of just over 2,1% of religious denominations are of metahuman origin.
Knootian Green Party
United Socialist Front
Catholic Peoples' Party
New People's Party
Reformed Voting League
The politics of Knootoss take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democracy. The Knootian Constitution establishes a democratic state with a unicameral parliament whose 450 Members are elected from each of the provinces by a process of proportional representation. A directly elected Prime Minister and cabinet form the executive branch, whilst the Grand Pensionary, elected by the legislature, is the Knootian Head of State.
Knootoss is a regional delegate in the World Assembly, where it has a sovereigntist voting record. The nation is an active participant in Western Atlantic politics, where it is a participant in a currency union with Pantocratoria, the Southern Low Countries and the The Confederation of Soveriegn States. The Knootian Federation is a commonwealth-like organisation that includes Knootoss, the protectorate of Ale-Yarok and the Knootian Gulf Islands.
The Knootian Defence Force are the Armed Forces of Knootoss. It is a professional volunteer force, and enlistment is open to all able-bodied citizens of the Knootian Federation, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It’s last major conflict was the Iesus Christi Civil War (2010-2011). In 2022, the total military budget was about $3.9 trillion or 2.07% of GDP. The volunteer force employs around 1.7 million active service personnel (0.42% of the population) and around 1.3 million reservists. Conscription laws are inactive.
The land component is the the KLAMA - Knootian Army (Dutch: Knootiaanse Landmacht).
The naval component is the KNOMA - Knootian Navy (Dutch: Knootiaanse Marine).
The air component is the KLUMA - Knootian Air Force (Dutch: Knootiaanse Luchtmacht).
The administrative component is KADO or the General Knootian Military Support Organisation (Dutch: Knootiaanse Algemene Defensie Ondersteuningsorganisaties). Much of the administrative, legal and financial work such as Human Resources and appropriations have been outsourced to KADO. It employs a mix of around 175.000 military and civilian employees, supporting all other branches in such tasks.
Most Knootian children enjoy relatively long, high-quality education. The goal of Knootian education is to make students as self-sufficient as possible from an early age, using the concept of "self-learning". Emphasis is placed on developing practical and social skills such as computer skills and working in groups. Children are separated according to ability from middle school on, and there is compulsory functional specialisation later on. Schooling is provided for free, although students in tertiary education must meet stringent performance standards in order to qualify.
The Daatman Administration introduced a system of mandatory private health insurance. Premiums in this scheme may not be related to health status or age. Risk variances between private health insurance companies due to the different risks presented by individual policy holders are compensated through risk equalization and a common risk pool. All primary and curative care (i.e. the family doctor service and hospitals and clinics) is financed from private obligatory insurance. Long term care for the elderly, the dying, the long term mentally ill etc. is covered by social insurance funded from earmarked taxation.
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Main Article: Economy of Knootoss