Their political autonomy led them to be known by the nations as Free Cities. That name was officially adopted after their unification in 1704.
The Free Cities were annexed by Brazil just after the Cisplatine War, forming the provinces of Patagonia and New Scandinavia, colectively known as the Far South.
Founded between 1611 and 1674, the Free Cities were a group of nine colonie with great political and economic autonomy founded by the Overseas Trading Company (COU).
They were colonized mainly by Brazilians, Germans, Russians, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, Polish Galicians. The Colonization Program for Southern America, implemented by COU from 1620 allowed the transport of thousands of European and Brazilian settlers to the region.
The Free Cities were the main source of sealskins for COU, which provided more products to the colonies. But despite the relationship with COU, the Free Cities self-ruled themselves. But, due to that special relationship, and also large commercial relations with the colonial Brazil, the Portuguese was the lingua franca of the region.
Between 1620 and 1826, the Freecitians (also known as Freecitizens or Australs) had turned Patagonia from a barren land into a prosperous nation crisscrossed by irrigation canals that produced large quantities of grain, wool and fish.
Nevertheless, the period also led to many conflicts known as Southern Indigenous Wars (referring to the Indigenous Wars in Brazil), wiping out much of the native population, while assigning a small percentage.
Despite the sovereignty exercised by the Free Cities in the region, the land was claimed by Spain, which stopped ignoring the colonies in the late 17th century, sending numerous expeditions to the region.
One of the COU reasons of to join the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the expeditions led the Free Cities to develop their own military force and to create the first American nation recognized by a European power (though not totally independent) the Confederation of United Free Cities. With the end of the war, Spain ceded to the demands of COU, such as the transfer of Cadiz and the recognition of the Confederation.
Since then, the Free Cities increased its relations with Brazil, as well as developing a Brazilian identity. According to the doctrine of the Great Union, developed in the region in the late 17th century, the Free Cities were designed to expand the North, Brazil and the south to unite into a great nation.
The Great Union did never materialize, but the Argentine Invasion during the Cisplatine War, took the Confederation to ask to join its northern brother.
The territory previously controlled by the Free Cities became then the provinces of New Scandinavia and Patagonia.
The first of the Free Cities, it was founded by Admiral Emiliano Castranova of the COU's Navy in 1611 as a warehouse for seals hunting and fishing. The city grew when the COU launched its Colonization Program for Southern America in 16w0. The program brought thousands of Russian and Scandinavian settlers to Castranova.
In 1700, Castranova was the largest of the Free Cities, with 79,000 inhabitants, and had prospered with fishing, seal hunting, grain cultivation, sheep and horses farming and the production of tarvaska (Patagonian whiskey) and wool fabric.
It was founded in 1623, also by Emiliano Castranova as City of the Arcanis (Portuguese: Cidade dos Arcanis). It was named in honor of his fiancée Bianca Arcani. She and her family were the first inhabitants of Arcanis.
It also benefited from the Colonization Program for Southern America to, Arcanis grew as a fishing port. In areas under the city government, the Arcanians thrived with fishing, salmon farming, logging, and shipbuilding.
Mainly it was settled by Swedes, Danes, Germans and Norwegians. There was, by the way, where did the current name of the province, New Scandinavia, was given by Norwegian settlers in the late 17th century.
Arcanis is famous by its old urban legends about esoterism and witchcraft. Some believe that the Arcani family was formed by sorcerers. Arcanis is known as the "City of All Wizards".
It was founded in 1642 by the German. Unlike Arcanis and Castranova, founded on the coast, Blumenstadt was founded within the shores of Lake Muller and close to the Andes. It was the first city to build irrigation canals throughout the region, starting the wave of construction of canals in the region, and develop the best techniques for growing wheat, barley, rye, and oats and separate the varieties best suited to the region. In addition to sheep and cattle farming, it was the first of the Free Cities to domesticate alpacas and guanacos for their wool and meat.
In 1704, Blumenstadt was the center of the farm belt which fed much of the Free Cities with cereals and their textile manufactures made of alpaca and sheep wool and guanaco fiber. The Blumenstadtans were able to develop their own breeds of domestic alpaca, guanaco, vicuña and llama, as well as sheep and cattle, adapted to the climate of Patagonia.
Galiza do Sul
Also known in english as Southern Galicia, it was founded by Galicians from northwestern Spain in 1647. It followed in the footsteps of Blumenstadt, focusing on the farming of alpacas, guanacos and sheep, and in raising grain, and expanded the network of irrigation canals.
It was founded in 1648 by the captain of the COU, Maurício Aveiro. With the growing importance of the Free Cities and the Strait of Magellan to the COU, Atalaia was built as a fortress city. With the creation of the Confederation in 1704, it became the main training camp of the Free Military Forces.
Founded in 1657 in a natural harbor by a group of Russian settlers running from the Polish invasion in the Russo-Polish War. Although the war ended with Russian victory, the settlers remained, thriving mainly with fishing, seal hunting and sheep farming.
It was founded almost simultaneously to Konstantinovia, in 1658, also by Russian settlers. It thrived with fishing, although it has never grown as much as its sister-city.
Founded in 1658 by Danish and Norwegians running from the Swedish invasion. It followed in the footsteps of Arcanis thriving with fishing, salmon farming, logging and shipbuilding.
The last of the Free Cities to be founded, in 1674, and now known as the "Southernmost City in the World", it was a small village living from fishing and sheep farming.
Geography and Economy
Government and Foreign Relations
The Free Cities were ruled individually by the Free Assemblies, elected by all of its male and adult population, and their administration was extremely similar to the Brazilian colonial cities. In the Confederation level, they were ruled the Free Council, formed by elected councilors, and the First-Citizen (Portuguese: Primeiro-Cidadão), the head of government, who was elected between the councilors.
Each cities had their own recognized territory and jurisdictions. However, some issues as the Free Military Forces' administration, the power to sign treaties and manage the commercial policy was under the Confederation jurisdiction.
The Free Cities had voice in the Brazilian colonial government since the foundation of Castranova. Each one had the right to send a elected magistrate to the Magisterium. Actually, the Brazilians and the Freecitians saw their governments as one single colony, even the Free Cities being autonomous.
The Free Cities military was the Free Military Forces (Portuguese: Forças Militares Livres), popularly known as just the Free Forces. Formed by the Free Army and the Free Navy, they were formed in the late 17th century during the Spanish incursions. After the recognition, the Free Forces were used mainly against the natives in the Southern Indigenous Wars. However, the Free Forces have never been a quite powerful military. The Argentinian invasions in the Cisplatine War (1823-1825) managed to smash the Free Forces and forced the Free Cities to choose on joining the Kingdom of the United Provinces of Brazil. Nowadays, the Free Forces are a group of elite of winter war of the Brazilian Armed Forces.
The Free Cities Nowadays
After the union to Brazil in 1825, the economy of the region, now provinces of Patagonia and New Scandinavia, received a major boost with the investment of the Brazilian government. Coal mining became important for the Brazilian industry, as well as alpaca and sheep wool for fabrics industry.
From the 1860s, Patagonia and New Scandinavia received greater impetus to the export of meat and dairy products and the canned industry.
The end of the 19th century saw the Terra do Fogo Gold Rush and the start of oil and natural gas exploration kept the region as a major supplier of fuel for the Brazilian industry, but has also allowed the growth of the petrochemical industry in the region
Today, the economy of Patagonia and New Scandinavia is diverse. In the primary sector: cattle, sheep, alpaca and guanaco farming, the production of grains, vegetables and fruits, fishing and fish farming, the extraction of oil, natural gas, coal, gold, silver, zinc, clay, plaster and salt. The industry is mainly canning, dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt), beverages (especially beer and tarvaska), textiles, petrochemicals and electronics. To the service sector, tourism, eco-tourism and foreign trade are extremely important and winter fashion industry is quite famous. Castranova and Arcanis are among the world capitals of winter fashion in the world.
Castranova and Arcanis, both capitals, and the rest of the old Free Cities are now the centers of history and culture in Patagonia and New Scandinavia.
The culture of the Free Cities was mainly influenced by the European settlers that arived in the regions between the 18th and 19th century. More than any Brazilian region, the Far South had the Russian, Scandinavian and German culture as its main cultural basis. Although, the region retained much of the region's native culture. The Southern Indigenous Wars caused the extinction of most of the Far South's native peoples, but they still influenced their oppressors.
In 2015, about 11% of the Far South's population had Indigenous blood. The Indigenous culture influenced the Freecitizan cuisine, music, language, fashion, dancing and folklore.
Still, the mainstream of the Far South culture are of Russo-Germano-Scandinavian basis. These peoples influenced all the way of life of the Freecitians, in on issues.
Since the beginnings of the region's colonization, Brazilian culture was important to create an common identity among the Freecitizans. Portuguese was the government language, the lingua franca between the different groups and regions and were taught in public education. As said by the first head of government of the Confederation, First-Citizen Konstantin Ivanov: "We are many peoples and many cultures, some of my people [Russians] hate the Poles and some Poles do the same, but we must always remember that here there are no war or conflict between us, we are all citizens of the Free Cities, we are all Brazilians. That, even with our differences, our Brazilian identity, our chosen identity, makes us one people".