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Courland is a nation-state on the Courland Peninsula, in former Latvia, and claims to be the heir to the Republic of Latvia that was unjustly annexed by the Soviet Union during World War II, as well as the Latvian SSR and the old Duchy of Courland.
In ancient times the Curonians, a Baltic tribe, inhabited Courland. The Brethren of the Sword, a German military order, subdued the Curonians and converted them to Christianity in the first quarter of the 13th century. In 1237 the area passed into the rule of the Teutonic Knights owing to the amalgamation of this order with that of the Brethren of the Sword. The Livonian Confederation was a loosely organized confederation formed by the German-led Livonian Order and various bishoprics that encompassed much of Estonia and Latvia. It existed from 1228 to the 1560s, when it was dismembered during the Livonian Wars.
The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was a semi-independent duchy that existed from 1561 until 1795, encompassing the areas of Courland and Semigallia. Although nominally a vassal state of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the dukes operated autonomously. In the 18th century Russia acquired great influence over the Duchy. The Duchy was one of the smallest European nations to colonize overseas territories, establishing short-lived outposts on the Caribbean island of Tobago and at the mouth of the Gambia river in Africa. In 1795, the last Duke, Peter von Biron, ceded the Duchy to the Russian Empire.
After annexation by Russian Empire the territory of the former Duchy formed the Courland Governorate. After World War I, Courland became a part of the newly-formed nation of Latvia. In 1940 the USSR annexed the region as the Latvian SSR, but Germany occupied it during World War II, where it formed one much of the so-called "Courland Pocket" of German forces that held out until the end of the war. At this point it was once again put into the Latvian SSR.
In the events of Doomsday, these Latvian cities were hit:
- Daugavpils, destroyed in a strike on nearby Lociki Air Base.
- Jēkabpils, destroyed in a strike on the air base.
- Liepāja, destroyed in a strike on the naval facilities and the port itself.
- Riga, the former capital, destroyed along with its suburbs and surrounding communities in several strikes on both it and the military facilities in the area.
- Tukums, destroyed in a strike on the Air Base.
- Valmiera, destroyed in a strike on nearby Liepas Air Base.
Post-DoomsdayAfter contact was lost with the Soviet government on Doomsday the local Latvians attempted to continue their lives as best as they could. But discontent was brewing. Many people failed to see the point of serving the vanished Soviet regime, especially as they had been occupied after World War II. On July 15th, 1984 the local population declared the re-establishment of the historic Duchy of Courland, naming a committee to govern in place of an heir, unless a satisfactory one could be found.
The ceremony was only a technicality, as the Courlanders had been technically been independent since Doomsday. Contact was re-established with the the nearby state of Lithuania in the spring of 1985. The Lithuanians (once again referring their country as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) began a process of strengthening their cultural ties with the Courlanders. This culminated in the signing of the Ventspils Treaty, which created the Baltic Alliance. The Estonians, after contact was established late on, declined full membership, but politely accepted an honorary membership.
After contact with the Nordic Union was established in 1989 and the with the Estonians that same year, the strategic importance of the capital's location was rediscovered. As contact with foreign nations increased it was discovered that Venspils was a convenient port for ships heading for destinations all around the Baltic Sea. The port soon found itself host to increasing amounts of trade, which started pouring massive amounts of capital into Courland's coffers. The port itself went through four significant expansions in 1992, 1995, 1999, and most recently in 2004. This income has lent a standard of living that is unprecedented in many parts of the world today.
GovernmentCourland is a parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch. Under the constitution of 1985, executive power is exercised by the Duke and the cabinet, which consists of several other ministers. The President has the power to dissolve the legislature and reinstate a new one, as long as the Duke has judicial approval.
Following the establishment of the Duchy, and not finding any true claims to the Ducal Throne in the area, a committee was established that would keep a lookout for a descendant of one of the Dukes, with both the will and desire to take the throne. They found a man claiming to be a distant relative of the Kettler family that ruled Courland for decades, and being as he was the only relative found alive after Doomsday, he was crowned the Duke of Courland on August 6th, 1985. He took the name of Jacob II, after the Duke that lead Courland through it's golden age.
For centuries under Hanseatic and German influence and then during its inter-war independence, Latvia used its geographic location as an important East-West commercial and trading center. Industry served local markets, while timber, paper and agricultural products were Latvia's main exports. Conversely, the years of Russian and Soviet occupation tended to integrate Latvia's economy to serve those empires' large internal industrial needs.After Doomsday, the Courlanders found a massive market for their timber and grain in neighboring Lithuania. The lack of a "nuclear winter" that year eased the pressure on their food stocks. In recent years the Courlanders have seen their economy flourish as foreign markets were opened to Courlander products. The Courlanders once again found themselves an important trading center on the Baltic Sea. The capital of Ventspils has seen massive expansion as the port swelled from the incredible influx of money.
The port, once a major port and naval base, has grown exponentially, with a new shipyard being constructed over the next few years. Outside of the Nordic Union, it is the largest on the Baltic. Goods such as cement and gravel that are made or harvested in the area are also exported profitably.
Construction has become one of Courland's biggest industries. It, like Courland's economic prosperity, was thanks to the port. Every time the port expanded, local construction companies small explosion of contracts building housing for the sailors and other harbor employees. Courlander construction crews are deemed the best in the Baltic states, and frequently get contracts in Lithuania and Estonia.
MilitaryCourland operates a small army which primarily consists of volunteers motivated by fear of Siberia. They mainly operated old Soviet equipment and firearms. They wore old Soviet uniforms re-dyed a dark green, and white "winterized" uniforms. As the economic situation in Courland improved, they were able to import cutting edge military technology from Prussia and have new official Courlander Army uniforms made.
The Courland Navy consists of several wooden and a couple of steel vessels constructed in Ventspils, along with a small number of modern vessels constructed in Stockholm.
The Courlanders have excellent relations with their neighbors. They have good relations with East Poland, Belarus, the Nordic Union through Estonia, and Prussia. They have especially good relations with neighboring Lithuania. West Poland still refuses to acknowledge their existence. They have declared themselves the successor to the Latvian Republic that was "illegally occupied by the Soviet Union since the end of the Second World War." They have established the Baltic Alliance with Lithuania to try to resist the Siberians.
As with other successor states to the former Soviet Union - even though Courland, like the other Baltic states, maintains this was an illegal annexation - their candidacy to the LoN, among other organizations, has been blocked by Siberia.