by Max Barry

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by The Taking A Break from NS of Earth Orbit. . 11 reads.

National Federation Factbook - The World Below (WIP)

The World Below
Overview of Earth's current political and national makeup,
especially in relation to the Federation.

Mankind's cradle, as seen from orbit.

The World Below


For much of the past three centuries, human civilization has been in a state of elevated geopolitical flux. The three World Wars are a prime example, as well as numerous civil wars, uprisings, and socioeconomic collapses that occurred around the globe during the 21st century. Many nations, some among the oldest or most powerful in the world, have ceased to exist, with new nations and empires rising to take their place. Even the first world was not immune, with several cases of highly advanced nations splintering or collapsing. This article will give a contextual overview of Earth's current political and national status, especially in relation to the Federation.

North America


Canada is one of the high-profile examples of national splintering during the 21st century. After decades of widening political divide across the world, Canada was among the first to buckle under the strain. The various Canadian states splintered off into their own nations one by one, tearing the country apart at the seams. Some states joined with others in secession, while others became wholly independent. Although hostilities never broke out between any of these new nations, animosity was mutually harbored for almost thirty years. Eventually, as relations normalized and the political divide began to shrink, the states made up somewhat and came together to form the Commonwealth of Canada, which preserved the sovereignty of the individual states but fostered hassle-free border crossings and trade.

Today, the Commonwealth holds a standard low-volume trade agreement with the Federation, and is also a popular tourist destination.

The United States

The United States is just six years away from celebrating its quadrennial as Earth's foremost economic and military superpower. However, during much of the 21st century, global opinion and factual evidence pointed to the constant looming threat of the US suffering a total socioeconomic collapse. Needless to say, political scientists and historians are still arguing over how the US managed to not just maintain cohesion after the events of the early 21st century, but actively thrive in an era of global instability.

In 2028, the political divide finally came for the United States. A conservative victory in the 2028 election sparked a violent civil war that lasted almost three years and cost the country its economy, infrastructure, and an entire city of half a million people. Many predicted that the US would never recover, and would likely splinter into smaller nations like Canada.

Amazingly, the opposite happened. After the war wound down, Americans got back to work rebuilding their nation. The conservative leadership set a new foundation of common values that would help guarantee stability, cohesion, and a universal purpose - to bring their country from the brink of destruction back to its former position as a world superpower, and beyond. And it worked. By 2040, the "American Miracle" was known worldwide as the US economy and population shot skywards, overtaking China in 2038 as the world's top economic power.

The US was instrumental in engineering the Orbis stations that comprise the heart of the Federation, and was a key supporter of the Federation's independence from the World Assembly. Today, the US is the Federation's greatest planetside military and economic ally, second only to Luna overall.


Mexico is one of the few nations that never recovered after suffering a collapse. In 2022, the already-unstable Mexican government was assaulted by a cartel-backed coup. For a few weeks, the new cartel-run dictatorship had Mexico in its iron fist, but they soon suffered a second coup, and were replaced by a coalition of overly ambitious Mexican corporations. This fell apart even faster, and Mexico slowly degenerated into total anarchy. Today, Mexico still lacks any government beyond the local level, and has a basket-case economy at best, but conditions have stabilized to the point where it is relatively safe to visit.

South America

South America was relatively stable socially compared to the rest of the world, but still suffered change via the rise of Brazilian Imperialism. Starting in 2037, Brazil began invading and conquering the smaller nations around them, with government figureheads proclaiming it to be their own "manifest destiny" to rule the South American continent. Over a military campaign spanning three decades, the Brazilian Empire slowly consumed the entire continent, with the last pocket of Chilean resistance being stamped out in 2068. The Imperial government then began the process of stabilizing and unifying their empire under one socioeconomic banner, taking on huge debts in order to jumpstart the formerly third-world continent directly into the first world by taking advantage of South America's vast untapped natural resources.

This program had partial success, with Brazil and many of its immediate neighbors being uplifted to the first world. However, many of the Empire's fringe nations remained relegated to the second world, leading to the delineation of the inner imperial territories and the outer imperial territories, with those in the outer territories harboring great resentment towards those in the inner. This inequality slowly pulled the Empire in two different directions until it was nearly at breaking point. The Imperial government finally began to pay attention after an attempted revolt in Argentina, and once again dove into debt to uplift the outer territories, truly unifying the Empire for the first time.

The Empire has remained static through the present day, and although it does not have many ties to space-based industry, it holds a standard medium-volume trade agreement with the Federation. It is a popular tourist destination for its tropical climate and resorts.


Europe - the cradle of modern human civilization - has been radically transformed over the past two centuries. The region was kicked into a downward spiral by the abolition of the European Union in the 2030s and the subsequent rise of aggressive nationalism that went horribly wrong.

Europe's true decline started in 2020, with the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union. Although not predicted at the time, the UK's successful breakaway gave other European countries the courage to leave, setting off a chain reaction. Hungary followed the UK in 2022, and Poland and Greece left in in 2024. Over the next six years, the EU slowly fell apart, and was officially dissolved in January of 2030 when France departed, leaving only Germany.

Unfortunately, while the nations of Europe were now free from the limits of the EU and the threat of a European superstate, the one benefit of the EU was also gone - its effectiveness as a damper on war. With that damper gone, squabbling began in earnest. The first diplomatic conflict was between Hungary and Slovakia - a rising new, aggressive nationalist party within Hungary was attempting to claim significant areas of Slovakia. Such area was originally Hungarian territory before World War II, and the new party saw it as their right to control it. Slovakia refused, and relations quickly deteriorated from there.

Over another decade, further conflict broke out across the continent. By 2040, only the United Kingdom was not embroiled in some dispute or another. Worse, diplomatic conflict was starting to give way to physical conflict. Russia committed a surprise invasion of Ukraine in December of 2040, unknowingly marking the start of the European War.

The Middle East

The Middle East was brutally murdered by the global switch to fourth-generation fission power in 2050. With the sudden collapse of the oil market, most Arabian Peninsular countries suffered immediate economic implosions. The only exceptions were the UAE and Israel, which had long since diversified their economies. Unfortunately for the UAE and Israel, the suddenly imploded states around them were all too happy to take what they needed by force. Over the next five years, both remaining nations fought off desperate invasions and attempts at building new empires. Finally, in 2055, the conflict escalated to nuclear weaponry. Iraq threatened to carpet bomb Jerusalem, to which Israel called their perceived bluff.

Iraq carpet bombed Jersualem. Israel proceeded to nuke every Iraqi city in retaliation; this set of a chain reaction, drawing Iraq's allied nations into the conflict. Over the span of twelve hours, a small-scale nuclear war was waged. Eventually, Israel came out on top, having shot down every strike sent their way. The only nation wise enough to dip on their allied obligations was Turkey, which tentatively extended a peace pact to Israel and the UAE. Both accepted, glad to be done with the pointless fighting.

The aftermath of the nuclear attacks, however, was not over. Although the fallout involved largely missed the members of the peace pact, the bulk was wafted northward over Europe, causing much consternation over radioisotope contamination and public health. The sites of the detonations themselves - which were well into the megaton range - had become utterly uninhabitable craters of glass that bled contamination into the surrounding environment. Much of the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa was now uninhabitable for the indefinite future.

Beyond this point, little has changed. Israel expanded to take the land formerly occupied by Palestine, while Turkey and the UAE remained static. Today, only Israel holds a trade agreement with the Federation thanks to its freight spaceport in Jerusalem. Turkey and the UAE remain separated from space industry.

It should be noted that the destruction of the Arabian Peninsula is responsible for the extinction of Islam. After the Euronationalist revolts of the 2030s, Muslim communities all over the world either migrated or were relocated to the Middle East. Those that insisted on staying were generally forced to convert away from Islam and assimilate. Over two decades, this led to roughly 95% of the world's Muslim population becoming concentrated in the Middle East.

When the nuclear conflict occured, this concentrated population was all but wiped out. Over the next century, the remaining pockets of Islam around the world gradually declined, with the WA declaring the religion officially extinct in 2162. Christianity experienced a revival during this same timespan, with roughly 90% of humanity now considering themselves a member of some denomination. The remaining ten percent is evenly distributed among other well-integrated minor religions, such as Hinduism, Judaism, and Mormonism.


Despite repeated attempts at uplifting Africa to the first world, the nations of humanity's ancestral home continent remain relatively impoverished compared to the rest of the world. Only a select few nations have been able to reform their culture and economy, joining the first world of their own accord.


Perhaps the biggest success story, Kenya was transformed by the start of the New Space Age in 2110. The Kenyan government saw enormous economic opportunity in the burgeoning development of space, and they were in the perfect position to do exploit it - Kenya is located squarely on the equator, which allowed launches to conserve vital fuel before the advent of the Hydrogen Drive.

The Kenyan government, through sheer force of will and sweet-talking, managed to convince dozens of nations and corporations from around the planet to invest in the construction of a multibillion dollar Kenyan spaceport, which included electromagnetic launch cannons for freight and several skyhooks for passenger flights. As the Federation and Luna grew, the KSC (Kenya Space Center) saw an exponential rise in traffic - first in freight, then in eager colonists for the extraterrestrial nations. The unbelievable influx of wealth from the KSC allowed the government to embark on a decade-long plan to culturally reform Kenya with Western ideals. And it worked - Kenya joined the first world in 2125, and the KSC - which has expanded over the years to be a complex the size of a small city - remains the keystone of spaceflight in Africa and Europe.



China has arguably suffered more than any other nation in modern history. In 2067, a strain of coronavirus evolved extreme mortality rates and swept through the densely-packed population. The WA unanimously agreed to quarantine China within a day of the outbreak, and although these measures were successful in protecting the rest of the world, China was left to succumb to the disease. Posthumous models estimated that as much as 40% of the population died. More accurate data is not available, as such a massive blow to Chinese society caused a total collapse into a new period of warring states. Most modern technological infrastructure in China either broke down or was destroyed, and people fell back onto industrial revolution-era technology to fuel the wars.

After twenty-eight years in this period, a new imperial government arose and finally managed to gain complete control of the country, via brute force. The new Xi dynasty spearheaded the stabilization of the nation and reconstruction efforts, prioritizing bringing China back up to speed with the rest of the first world. As the Chinese economy had to be restarted from the ground up, this was a slow process - the first repaired fission reactors were only brought back online in the 2120s, and industrial output only began to reach significant levels in the 2150s. By this time, however, the damage had already been done - China's economic stranglehold on manufacturing was a thing of the past, supplanted by both the United States and Luna.

Today, China is a prominent high-volume Federation trade partner. Although Chinese-made goods are no longer ubiquitous throughout the world - consumers now tend to prefer higher-quality products made in the US and on Luna - they are still a significant industrial power, often processing raw materials into base ingredients - such as plastic pellets or metal sheets.

Japan and Korea

In 2042, the Korean Peninsula was reunified following the collapse of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) stepped in to fill the power vacuum, and expended trillions in order to bring the infrastructure, technology and culture of their formerly Communist neighbor up to scratch with the modern world. This left the new reunified Korean government deeply in debt, and prompted the formation of a trade federation with Japan, known as the Japanese-Korean Trade Union (JKTU).

The JKTU was wildly successful in all of its goals, which ranged from the total erasure of Korea's debt to the doubling of the Japanese GDP. Over time, the economic link between the nations grew to include cultural and political links, with the affairs of both becoming more and more intertwined. Finally, in 2106, the two nations executed a successful merger into a true federation. The T was dropped from JKTU, leaving simply the Japanese-Korean Union.

Today, the JKU holds a standard low-volume trade agreement with the Federation. Additionally, JKU corporations possess roughly forty percent of the complex manufacturing industry, which includes products such as electronics and cars. JKU corporations also have a significant hand in space operations, with a multitude of freight, passenger, and manufacturing firms based in the JKU. In particular, the largest orbital freight line - Tanaka Shipping, which ferries around 65% of Lunar industrial exports - is JKU in origin.

Right: The flag of the JKU. Left: A privately-owned, JKU-registered freighter in LEO.


The Singaporean Empire

After seeing the success of Brazilian Imperialism, the formerly tiny city-state of Singapore also began developing imperial aspirations of their own. The hard-nosed, tightly-run city was able to remain untouched as Oceania and Asia fell apart around them.

Finally, the collapse of China in 2067 had a domino effect of weakening and exposing many other nations in the region, creating a power vacuum. Singapore grabbed the opportunity and ran with it, pushing northwards into Malaysia and southwards into Indonesia. Although their conquest of Malaysia was cut short by strong military opposition, weakened Indonesia was no match for Singapore's determination. The island nation was quickly absorbed, followed by Brunei, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. The Singaporean military was rapidly snowballing with each new population it conquered, allowing the budding Empire to turn towards the true prizes - Australia and New Zealand, the rich Western nations of Oceania.

After several years of building military forces well behind their backs, they launched an invasion of Canberra in 2073. It was a total success; the outdated Australian navy was completely unable to hold back the cutting-edge Singaporean ships, and a follow-up wave by the army had Canberra captured with minimal casualties. The remaining Australian cities and states surrendered, with the exception of Western Australia; however, resistance there was quickly defeated following the capturing of Perth.

The Imperial government, wary of the larger, better armed populace, imposed a small Imperial tax, constructed some bureaucratic buildings in Canberra, and mostly left the Australians to their own devices for the time being. They still had smaller fish to fry - namely, New Zealand.