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The Republic of Byrdia, commonly known as Byrdia, is a nation located in Western Antarctica. It is bordered to the north by Santiago, to the west by New Devon, to the south by Bellinsgauzenia and to the east by Ognia.
The region was once part of the Russian Viceroyalty of Maria, but fell under American control prior to WWII. It's independence ended the first, and last, coordinated effort for colonization by the United States. Following its independence, Byrida went through various reforms, which led to the nation eventually being referred to as "the most enlightened nation on Earth in terms of Civil Rights."
The first inhabitants of Byrdia were members of the Fuegian culture who would later establish the Kingdom of K'athar. The land that would be known as Byrdia was claimed by K'athar, but only lightly populated by its citizens. Nevertheless, the territory was highly defended to protect the core territories K'athar. Many ruins of the fortresses that once dotted the landscape can be found across Byrdia.
Exploration and Russian Settlement
The United States of America began exploring Antarctica in 19th century. Expeditions by Nathaniel Palmer (1820) and John Davis (1821) provided the United States with information about the southern continent, but there was little interest in colonization. The area that would be known as Byrdia would come under the control of Russian West Antarctica. The area remained mostly wilderness, as the colonial government was unable to encourage colonization or maintain control over the local tribes.
Russian Civil War
After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, the area experienced a small civil war between the Colonial government and Communist rebels. The fighting resulted in the execution of the Communist leaders and the collapse of the Colonial government, plunging the area into anarchy. In 1918, President Wilson authorized American soldiers to be sent to Arkhangelsk, Siberia and Russian West Antarctica. A contingent of 2,000 American soldiers was organized as the Antarctica Expeditionary Force (a.k.a. the Penguin Expedition). With the aid of local authorities, the Expeditionary Force was able to restore order to the region and establish a military government. Allying with the remaining Russian colonial forces, American forces liberated the last POW camps of the war, which were being run by the KLA, and still held many Allied troops (mostly British and Australians). There was barely any anti-American sentiment at all since most Russians were thankful that the Americans had kept the Communists and the KLA from taking over the region.
In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, which recognized the United States control over the region. With American control established over much of the former Viceroyalty of Maria (the rest being occupied by New Zealand, as part of the Ross Dependency), the remaining Russian colonial forces were ordered to disband and to hand over their weapons. Later on during the Civil Rights movement, Russians would call this event the "First Betrayal" due to the belief that the remaining Russian forces would have been integrated in the new territory's armed forces.
Establishment of Byrdia
In 1922 the military government was abolished and the "Territory of Western Antarctica" was formed by the United States to govern the region. In 1928, Richard Evelyn Byrd was appointed Governor-General of the territory. During his tenure as Governor-General of the territory, Byrd conducted extensive scientific research of the area and its people. He also constructed the very first airport in Antarctica and became the first person to do a fly over of the South Pole.
Byrd also encouraged American colonization in the area and convinced the United States Congress to pass legislation that provided generous aide packages to anyone who wished to settle there. The original wave of settlers originated from New England and many were fishermen by trade who wanted to take advantage of the good fishing around the continent. Meanwhile, Russian settlements were "Americanized" and received names like "Stonington".
Ethnic Russians soon became a marginalized class in the territorial government, which prefered the settlers over the local Russians. Local Ognians also suffered, being forced onto reservations to open up land to American settlers.
Byrd served as Governor-General until 1935. In honor of his accomplishments the territory was renamed "Byrdia" after him. One of the new coastal settlements created by American settlers also renamed itself after Byrd and eventually would become the largest city in the country. Also in 1935, Byrdia's borders were established after the BENZUS Conference. They became finalized in 1950 when the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to form the South Pole Neutral Zone. Byrdia ceded some of its eastern territory near the South Pole to create the zone.
Spanish Civil War and World War II
The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) had a profound effect on Byrdia. Many ethnic Russians in the newly-acquired American territory of Byrdia, descendants of White Russian immigrants, signed up for the Nationalists due to the anti-Monarchist stance of the Republicans. Meanwhile, Byrdia's growing American population included a fairly large leftist population, who had moved to Byrdia due to America's "Red Scare." The Palmer Column (named for Nathaniel Palmer, the first American on Antarctica) was founded by these leftists and recruited roughly 300 men before shipping to Spain. This column was a part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American international brigade that fought in the civil war. This led to a few clashes in Byrdia itself, though none of these were actual battles, simply riots between the opposing factions. The riots, however, continued to showcase the tension between the dominant Americans and the marginalized Russians.
When World War II broke out on September 1, 1939, the United States remained neutral in the conflict. Nevertheless, Byrdian seamen were killed in those early years by German U-Boats operating in the Atlantic Ocean and from ports in New Swabia. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies. Thanks to the large force of American troops located in Byrdia, New Swabia surrendered to the allies shortly thereafter. Though the entrance of United States into the war ended the fighting in Antarctica, small contingents of Byrdians served in the American military in both Europe and the Pacific theaters for the rest of the war.
The end of World War II left the United States, Australia and British Commonwealth as the most influential nations on the continent, a period which would last to the 1970s. Byrdia would prosper during this period due to its relationship with the United States. Byrdian citizens found themselves appointed to positions of considerable power across the continent, such as McKinley O'Hara who was appointed Directors-General of the South Pole.
Civil Rights movement
After World War II, dissatisfied Russians and Ognians occasionally riot, and clash with the Byrdian police and military. However, these riots are rare, and the Russians and Ognians often riot against each other. There is no organized Civil Rights Movement in this period, but the first seeds have been laid. A young radical by the name of Dmitri Pagovich would be a part of many of these clashes with the American authority, but events would eventually lead to a non-violent path.
During the Vietnam War, American Byrdians were drafted into the military starting in 1964, while non-Americans were encouraged to join voluntarily by being offered full American citizenship. Though many Russians and Ognians took advantage of this, even with full citizenship these non-American Byrdians found themselves still marginalized by discriminatory treatment by the Americans who dominated the Byrdian government. Russian and Ognians veterans returning home after fighting in Vietnam became the catalyst for change against this corrupt system.
Around the same time the African American Civil Rights movement was happening in the states, Russians and Ognians worked to change the corrupt system of Byrdia. Partly violent, partly non-violent, many Russian and Ognian groups came together and organized the Byrdia Freedom Alliance (BFA), which included a pro-civil rights and pro-independence agenda. Some less Radical members try to align the BFA with the American anti-war movement, to increase publicity and sympathy for the party. Many "hippies" and other anti-War groups in the continental US announce support for the BFA.
By 1975 the last piece of legislation preventing non-Americans from accessing the same rights and benefits as Americans in Byrdia was repealed, but Russians and Ognians still suffer prejudice from some authorities.
The inlfux of Russian and Ognia participation in the Byrdian government also transformed Byrdia's relationship with the United States. Despite the generous aid package originally given by Congress to encourage settlement in Antarctica, interest in travelling and building a home on the cold continent was always low. Thus American settlers were never able to overwhelm the ethnic Russians and Ognians who lived there. By the 1980s, Congress had already cut the colonization aid from the budget and the military had been downgrading its numbers in Byrdia to the bare minimum. It was these factors which led to even the ethnic Americans to reconsider their relationship with their home country.
Meanwhile, the Byrdia Freedom Alliance, took control of a large percentage of the seats in the General Assembly. Thanks to their influence a referendum was held to decide Byrdia's relationship with the United States that resulted in a majority voting for independence, which was granted in 1986. Byrdia did, however, sign a Compact of Free Association with the United States, thus remaining close with the former mother country.
The independence of Byrdia marked the end of the civil rights movement in Byrdia.
Independence meant the decline of the Byrdia Freedom Alliance (which eventually split into two separate parties) and the rise of the Green Party. The discovery of the hole in the ozone layer in 1985 led to an upswing in environmental concern throughout Antarctica, but this was especially felt in Byrdia. Since the factions of the Freedom Alliance were unable to unite, the young Green Party was successful in taking control of the government. The signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1989 was one of the crowning achievements of the Green Party. Analysts predicted that the Green Party would be unsuccessful in later elections, but thanks to charismatic leadership and a diversification of their political platform, the Green Party became the major left-wing party in Byrdian politics. There only rivals were the Whig Party, a conservative party backed by the fishing industry, and the remnants of the Freedom Alliance (the Gorchakovists and the Ognian Independence Party).
Prior to September 3, 2010, the most pressing domestic issue in Byrdia was the regulation of the fishing industry. The dissolution of the Ross Dependency, however, changed that.
Relations between Byrdia and Bellinsgauzenia have always been good. Bellinsgauzenia was a supporter of the United States during the Cold War and this good relations were continued after Byrdia gained independence. Nevertheless, Byrdia's significant Russian population has seen Bellinsgauzenian expansion into the former Ross Dependency as a good thing. Many radical Gorchakovists have spoken out publicly in favor of the idea of a "Greater Bellinsgauzenia" uniting the former territories of Russian Antarctica. While not all Russians have spoken out in favor of such an idea and Bellinsgauzenia President Lev Yugonov has publicly stated that his nation has no ambition for Byrdian territory, many non-Russian Byrdians are concerned. While there have been no acts of violence yet, there is increased tension between the three communities who make up the Byrdian populace. Meanwhile, the General Assembly has called for an investigation into possible ties between the Gorchakovists and the terrorist organization known as the Russian Continental Army.
During Byrdia's colonial period, the territory was led by a Governor-General who was appointed by the President of the United States and approved by the United States Senate. The United States Senate Committee on Antarctica was created also to oversee the administration of the territory. This structure remained in place until 1946 when a local assembly was created to replace the Senate Committee, but the Governor-General would have veto power over the area. Following its independence in 1985, Byrdia adopted a new Constitution that created a unitary Republic led by a President and a one-house legislature called the General Assembly.
Byrdia's small population allows for direct representation at the lower levels. Local communites are governed by town meetings, a practice brought by American settlers to the region, many who originated from New England. Members of the Byrdian communities come together to legislate policy and budgets. The town meetings also choose who will represent the community in the General Assembly
- See main article: States of Byrdia
- See main article: List of political parties in Byrdia
Following the collapse of Russian West Antarctica and annexation by the United States, some Russians returned to the Soviet Union. The area, however, did receive immigration from White Russians, fleeing the harsh repressions of the Soviet Union. Today, Russians make up the single largest ethnic group of Byrdia. Most do not speak Russian, adopting English as their primary language.
Antarctic Indigenous Peoples
- See main article: Antarctic Indigenous Peoples
There are relatively large populations of both K'atharan and Ognian people, particularly along the West coast, near Ognia. Byrdia's treatment of AIPs has been heavily influenced by the treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. When the area became an American territory, many Reservations were created for the AIPs near their traditional homelands; where the majority of AIPs still live today. Like in America, conditions on these Reservations are generally far worse than conditions elsewhere in the country; though in the 1970s, when AIPs and ethnic Russians were granted the full rights of Byrdian citizens, the Government began a large program to improve Reservation conditions.
Today, AIPs are a major element of Byrdian society, as they are one of the country's largest ethnic groups. Most live either on Reservations or in major cities, such as Byrd City.
There is a small Argentine community located in Byrdia. Most were refuges from the Bellinsgauzenian-Santiagan War who chose to remain once the war was over.
International relations and defense
Byrdia is a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United States, which is wholly responsible for its defense. Despite this, the United States only maintains a small contingent on Byrdia territory for defense. Security is chieflly maintained by the Byrdia Police Unit and the Byrdia Coast Guard. The Compact of Free Association allows Byrdian citizens to join the U.S. military without having to obtain U.S. permanent residency or citizenship, allows for immigration and employment for Byrdians in the U.S., and establishes economic and technical aid programs.
Byrdia is also a member of the Antarctic Forum and the Antarctic Assembly.
Like most of Antarctica, Byrdia's economy revolves around resource extraction. Coal, hydrocarbons, iron ore, platinum, copper, chromium, nickel and gold have all been found in some quantities inside Byrdian territory. The primary economic activity, however, is fishing. The good fishing around the continent provides most of Byrdia's wealth, making it difficult for the Green Party to pass meaningful regulation over the industry. There is also a small tourist industry thanks to Antarctica iconic wildlife.
- Maximillion J. Arbuckle III - Pro-independence leader and First Vice-President of Byrdia. Winner of the 1987 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- Quentin E. Cleaver - General of the Penguin Brigade. Winner of the 1922 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- Takehiko Fujimoto - Winner of the 1978 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- Leroy Frank Johnston - Scientist who research pre-historic and devised theories as to why Antarctica might have warmed up. Winner of the 1932 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- Julius A. Krug - Was appointed by President Truman to be the first Director-General of the South Pole, and approved by the joint American–British committee which established the NIZ. Helped form the Antarctic Assembly. Oversaw the post-WWII trials in Antarctica. Winner of the 1950 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- McKinley O'Hara - Third Director-General of the South Pole from 1960 to 1965. First naturally born Byrdian citizen to hold this position.
- Dmitri Pagovich - Russian civil rights and pro-independence leader. First ethnic Russian Director-General of the South Pole (1985-1990). Oversaw the Green Revolution, the Montreal Protocol, and the independence of Byrdia and New Devon. Winner of the 1992 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- Matthew K. Solomon - Oil tycoon and one of the richest men in Antarctica. Founded the Blizzard Foundation which is a charity across the continent. Winner of th 2009 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
- Herbert Spencer - Winner of the 1990 Antarctic Tuzelmann Award.
Byrdia in popular culture
The 1982 horror movie John Carpenter's The Thing was shot on location in Byrdia.