Guide to Creating Factbooks, Embassies, and Consulates

A place to put national factbooks, embassy exchanges, and other information regarding the nations of the world. [In character]
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Guide to Creating Factbooks, Embassies, and Consulates

Postby Euroslavia » Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:40 pm

How To Make a Great Factbook!
Originally posted by The Capitalist Republic of Pacitalia

Table of Contents
A. Introduction
B. "Must-have" Information
1. Geography
2. Economy
3. History
4. Military
5. Government Structure and Political Structure
6. People and Population
7. Communications
C. Other Information You Can Include
D. Factbook Setup and Formatting
1. Keep it simple
2. Keep it together
3. Keep it in a safe place
4. Keep it organised
5. Make it nice, but keep it clean
6. Formatting
a. Headers
b. Subheaders
c. Individual Facts (Tertiary Headers)
d. Alignment
e. Fonts and Weight
E. Add-In "Widgets"
F. Finish it off!
G. In conclusion...


A. Introduction
In this topic, I'll show you how to make the factbook of your dreams. We can do this, keeping it simple and clean to the average eye, but packed full of everything people want to know about your great nation! Everyone should have a factbook - whether for their own use or intended for others to use, they're extremely helpful, especially for military or commerce related roleplays, or just general need for lookup of information.

And you know what they say, after a Gmail account and an iPod, a factbook on NationStates is third on the must-have list of tech magazines everywhere!*

* - Not really, but it's fun to dream.

B. "Must-Have" Information
First in a factbook, you must have information to be formatted. That's what a factbook is all about, of course: displaying information about your country in an organised, easy-to-read format so that other nations can learn about you in an easily-accessible resource.

1. Geography
You can/should include in geography at least 5-7 of the following: relative location, absolute location (coordinates in latitude and longitude), area, comparative area, bordering nations, coastline length in kilometres, maritime claims, terrain, climate, elevation extremes, natural resources, land use, irrigated land, natural hazards, environmental issues and current environmental agreements.

2. Economy
You can/should include in economy at least 10 of the following: a paragraphical overview of your economic structure, gross domestic product, GDP per capita, population below poverty line, unemployment rate, income tax rate, household income consumption % share, inflation rate, labour force, budget, industries, electricity (production, consumption, exports, imports), natural gas (production, consumption, exports, imports), oil (production, consumption, exports, imports), agricultural products, exports (value, commodities, partners), imports (value, commodities, partners), internal or external debt, economic aid, currency, currency code, exchange rates, fiscal year.

3. History
Make sure your history is concise but don't write a book. Always ensure that you have covered to at least a minor extent all the major events that have occurred in your nation since its inception, or even beforehand if you like. This is the big killer for spelling and grammar, but easy for formatting.

4. Military
You can/should include in military at least 5 of the following: branches, manpower, available manpower, percentage of total population, expenditures (and as part of your GDP), allies, annual nationals reaching military age, manpower fit for military service.

5. Government and Political Structure
You can/should include in this category at least 7 of the following: country name (long form, short form, common reference), government type (republic? monarchy? dictatorship?), capital city (cities), administrative divisions (provinces, states, territories), major cities, date of independence or founding, national holiday, constitution, legal system, suffrage, executive branch structure and figures, judicial branch, legislative branch, political parties, international organisation participation, UN description category (check your nation's main page on for that).

6. People and Population
You can/should include in "people and population" at least 5-7 of the following: total population, age structure, median age, population growth rate, net migration rate, life expectancy at birth, nationality, ethnic groups, religions, languages and literacy.

7. Communications
You can/should include in communications at least 5 of the following: country code, number of televisions, number of telephones, number of cell phones, number of radios, radio broadcast stations, major radio broadcasters, television broadcasters, internet hosts, internet service providers, internet users, web TLD (domain extension).

C. Other Information You Can Include
Really, anything you think pertains to your nation and would be interesting and a positive addition to your factbook can be added. Unnecessary things like how many clowns live in your nation should be excluded from your factbook to leave room for the more frequently looked up facts.

D. Factbook Setup and Formatting
The most important thing to remember about factbooks is that they are yours. You have the power to make them personal to your style, your feeling, what you want in there, but remember, there are guidelines, general forum guidelines for sizing, emoticon use and language that you still have to follow.

1. Keep it simple
Nobody will visit your factbook more than once if they can't read what you have. Make sure that if you have lots of information in your factbook, you have made it very well organised and neat. (See Section D4 for more)

2. Keep it together
If your factbook is shorter than, say, 200 lines, keep it all in one post. If it's longer, like mine (link) for instance, try to separate into bunched posts. If you keep a factbook the length of mine in one post, it will take a while to save changes to your post, and that can become tedious, especially on smaller, one-letter or one-line edits.

3. Keep it in a safe place
It is especially important, just like on a regular post, to make a backup copy of your factbook in Notepad, just in case Jolt crashed and it lost your post. Just think how you would feel after all that work, and then seeing it flushed down the toilet by a server error. Save your work. Constantly.

4. Keep it organised
Don't start putting things in randomly. Before you begin to input information into the posting window, it's better to put your text and headers in notepad, then copy and paste into the Jolt posting window and format all the text and headers there. Make sure all information that is relevant to each other goes together. For example, geographically related stuff should all go in a category of your factbook named something along the lines of "Geography". Things like "land area", "natural disasters", "water area" could go in that category. Of course, economic stuff should all go in an economic category, history in a history category and military in a military category. A good example of formatting to follow is the CIA World Factbook.

5. Make it nice, but keep it clean
Now that you have all this beautifully organised information, it's a good idea to start formatting.

6. Formatting

a. Headers
The title of your topic should always also be included in the topic body. So, if you name your factbook the "Randomistania World Factbook", make that the header text of your factbook. Here's a good example of how to set up your main header. Remember to remove the spaces in the tags.

Code: Select all
[ U ][ B ][ COLOR=Green ][ SIZE=6 ]Randomistania World Factbook[ /SIZE ][ /COLOR ][ /B ][ /U ]

b. Subheaders
On a well-organised factbook, subheaders are what lead each of your categories. Place them at the beginning of a new category, and don't forget to do this. A poor example of factbook construction is when you forget to separate your categories - the poor readers will be confused as to why you have military facts in your geography section. Here's a good example of how to set up your subheaders. Remember to remove the spaces in the tags.

Code: Select all
[ U ][ B ][ COLOR=DeepSkyBlue ][ SIZE=4 ]Geography of Randomistania[ /SIZE ][ /COLOR ][ /B ][ /U ]

c. Individual Facts (Tertiary Headers)
In a sub-categorical format, you can format your facts to have the title of the fact in bold above the fact itself, and double space between each fact. It should look something like this:

Natural mineral resources
Copper, silver, tin, gold

Natural non-mineral resources
Timbre, fresh water, petroleum

The bonus of this format is that it can be used as a tertiary header, for example in your history section. If that doesn't appeal to you, just do it in a basic format, like so:

Natural mineral resources: Copper, silver, tin, gold
Natural non-mineral resources: Timbre, fresh water, petroleum

And the third option in formatting your facts inside a category is to put them in a bulleted list format, which you can find on your forums posting page.

d. Alignment
The most common and best-looking alignment is left-align, which is of course the default alignment, but some factbooks, usually the smaller ones, are aligned to the centre or alternate per category (one category in the left, the next is centred, the next to the right, and the next back to the left and so on). However, you do whatever you think looks best and most visually pleasing. Most people are afraid to experiment and just end up leaving it as the default which is, as mentioned, left alignment.

e. Fonts, colours and weight
Don't get fancy in this category, as said, keep it simple, and stick to the normal fonts - Times New Roman, Verdana, Tahoma, Arial and Trebuchet MS. This has to look good for everyone that views it, and by using one of these five fonts, you ensure that they all do. Any bolding, text-colouring, italicising or underlining you do should be decipherable from your tertiary headers to avoid confusion.

E. Add-In "Widgets"
Widgets are images, tables, charts, sound files and hyperlinks that you can add to your factbook (sensibly, of course) to jazz the look up a bit. The best widgets one can put in their factbook are 1) their national flag, 2) a picture or two of the skyline of their largest city or a picture of natural scenery or 3) the coat of arms of the nation. Remember to use tags around the link and provide a description below. If your image is larger than 640x480 pixels, link to it instead of posting directly in the topic. Use [ url ][ /url ] for that (remove the spaces).

F. Finish It Off!
By now, you should have most, if not all, of your information and formatting completed. Just run through your post to check for formatting errors (a good way to check is by previewing your post before you actually submit) and for spelling or grammar mistakes.

Make sure you have copied your completed factbook into the notepad file to create a backup (and if possible, upload a copy to your personal website or server). Post your factbook in International Incidents where it will get the most exposure. If you don't want to put it in II, put it in NationStates, the next most viable option.

Lastly, if you want, you can put a link to your factbook in your signature so that nations RPing or interacting with you can easily access your factbook by way of that link. It's an easy way to advertise and usually is how you get your most hits, excluding topic-bumping.

As for topic-bumping, restrict your bumping of your factbooks to once every 3-6 hours. Too frequently may result in you being warned by the mods. Of course, if people are commenting on your factbook, that's positive bumping, because it keeps your factbook at the front of the forum without any effort on your part.

G. In Conclusion
I sincerely hope that this topic has taught you, as best as possible and as easily as possible, how to create a great factbook without being boring, tedious or disorganised, or at the worst, ugly. I hope this has helped you make your factbook and overcome any initial intimidation, because when it all boils down, making a factbook is fun and easy, and is something you'll be proud of. Most of all, factbooks are a true and circumferent representation of your country and make your RPing and nation a lot more realistic.
Last edited by Euroslavia on Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Euroslavia » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:33 pm

The New Guide to Embassies and Consulates

Originally written by Zinaire

While there is already a guide to embassies, it really doesn't get to the heart of the issue. While it certainly doesn't hurt to have a guide on the basics of setting up an embassy program on NationStates, there are lots of other issues which need to be considered if realism is going to be a goal (and I feel that it always should be).

In NS, there is no convention that governs embassies and such as there is in the real world. This means that none of the things I say here are hard and fast rules, but they are still worth noting.

Throughout this post, I will use "represented nation" to refer to the nation which established the diplomatic mission and "host nation" to refer to the nation in which the mission is located. For instance, if we look at the United States embassy in Mexico, the US is the represented nation and Mexico is the host nation.

I would also like to point out that I am not an expert or even a student of international law or international relations. I'm sure there are those on NS who could add to this guide or otherwise improve it. If you're one of those people, please comment so that I can make this better.

1 Embassies, Consulates, and the Difference
2 International and Diplomatic Law
2.1 Diplomatic and Consular Immunity
2.2 Extraterritoriality
3 Common Mistakes
3.1 What an Embassy Does and Does Not Need
3.2 As for Consulates...
4 RPing Embassies and Consulates
4.1 Establishing Diplomatic Missions
4.2 An Alternate Approach to Establishing Embassies
4.3 Using Your Diplomatic Missions to RP

Embassies, Consulates, and the Difference

Embassies and consulates are both types of diplomatic missions. Diplomatic missions are a way for governments to communicate with each other and remain in touch with foreign governments, foreign citizens (public diplomacy) and their own citizens abroad.

The embassy in the centerpiece of the diplomatic campaign from one nation to another. By definition, it is located in the capital city or governmental center so if you're currently offering embassies in a variety of cities– stop. Embassies are run by ambassadors, who are the highest-ranking diplomats that your nation will be sending abroad. The ambassador's job, quite simply, is to represent your government's opinions to the host government. Generally, the embassy will also perform consular roles in the capital city.

Technically, there are two kinds of consulates: consulates-general and plain old consulates. In practice, there is no real difference and the terms only serve to distinguish a consulate located in a major city (e.g., LA or New York in the United States) from one located in a less important one. Consulates-general are headed by consuls-general rather than regular consuls. As you may have guessed by now, consulates are located in non-capital cities where there may be high concentrations of foreign nationals. Generally, this means that consulates are located in major tourism cities. This makes sense because the primary role of a consulate is to help out the represented nation's citizens while they are in the host nation. Consulates do things such as issue visas, replace lost passports, assist foreign nationals who have been arrested and promote trade between the represented nation and the host nation.

To summarize, there are two primary, functional difference between an embassy and a consulate: embassies are in the host nation's capital and conduct both traditional diplomacy and consular business while consulates are located in cities other than the capital and primarily promote trade and work with the represented nation's citizens while they are in the host nation.

EDIT: As Van Luxemburg pointed out to me, consulate-generals sometimes act as the centerpiece of the diplomatic campaign when the host nation is particularly insignificant. VL gave the example of the Netherlands' Honorary Consulate in Azerbaijan which replaces an actual embassy.

International and Diplomatic Law

Diplomatic and Consular Immunity

As I mentioned earlier, NS does not have any formal, international agreements that control diplomatic immunity or any other aspect of diplomacy. However, it is still wise to offer diplomatic immunity because 1) it allows you to demand it from other nations and 2) people won't be so nervous about establishing an embassy in your country. It is also wise, of course, to steer clear of embassy programs where diplomatic immunity is not offered because there is nothing stopping the host nation from arresting your ambassador on false charges and holding him indefinitely.

So, we've established that diplomatic immunity is a good thing, but what exactly is it? Let's take a look at US policies on diplomatic immunity...

SubjectMay be arrested or detainedResidence may be entered subject to ordinary proceduresMay be issued traffic ticketMay be subpoenaed as witnessMay be prosecuted
Ambassador or equivalentNoNoYesNoNo
Member of embassy administrative or technical staffNoNoYesNoNo
Member of embassy service staffYesYesYesYesNo for official acts. Otherwise, yes
Career consular officersYes, if for a felony and pursuant to a warrant.YesYesNo, for official acts. Testimony may not be compelled in any case.No for official acts. Otherwise, yes
Honorary consular officersYesYesYesNo, for official acts. Yes, in all other casesNo for official acts. Otherwise, yes
Consular employeesYesYesYesNo, for official acts. Yes, in all other casesNo for official acts. Otherwise, yes

As I said, this table is of real world policies in the United States which are in line with standard diplomatic immunity conventions. Since there are no standards for this kind of stuff in the NS world, this is only a rough guide.

Even though diplomats are protected from prosecution, it doesn't mean that they're totally invincible if they commit a crime. If your nation has a substantial case against someone with diplomatic immunity, you can ask their home state to waive that immunity. If their government does so, you can prosecute them like any other person. If immunity is not waived, you can't take legal action against them but you can declare the offender a persona non grata and expel them from the country. This is not the same as expelling the actual mission.


First off, just say "extraterritoriality" a couple times; it's fun.

Anyway, this is another one of those areas that's pretty sketchy in NS because we have no formalized conventions about how it is handled. In the real world, embassies and consulates are still legally on the soil of the host nation (i.e., they are not the sovereign territory of the native nation) but the host nation's laws generally do not apply. The host nation's authorities also cannot enter the chancery without permission; this sometimes creates sticky situations where a fugitive or refugee will flee into an embassy. How you handle these situations, if they ever arise, is up to you.

Common Mistakes

What an Embassy Needs and Does Not Need

On NS, embassies can get kinda kooky so let's look at some common trouble spots.
1. Embassies need security, but not too much. An ambassador is a pretty important person and you need to protect him the course of his official duties. The embassy as a whole is a symbol of your nation abroad and you probably don't want any misfortune to befall it. To keep your ambassador and the embassy safe, you need security, in the form of armed guards. However, you don't need an army to defend the embassy. A handful of soldiers with fairly light weapons (pistols, submachine guns and sometimes assault rifles) is really all you need to keep troublemakers away from your embassy.

Your security forces should never be used to try to fight off the host nation's authorities because, let's face it, that's a losing battle and it will only land you in a world of hurt. Since you won't be fighting national forces, you sure as hell don't need the kind of weapons that you would use against them. Leave the machine guns, sniper rifles and, for the love of god, the missile launchers at home. They have no place with a diplomatic mission.

2. Embassies need a chancery, but not a fortress. A chancery is the physical space that an embassy (the diplomatic mission) operates out of. In the real world, chanceries come in all shapes in sizes and the international influence of the native nation generally dictates the size of the embassy and of the chancery. While a RL superpower such as the USA may have a walled compound as a chancery, most nations don't have anything nearly as grand. If you've every been to Washington DC, perhaps you've seen the streets of rowhouses that act as chanceries for many smaller nations. In NS, most of us are Trinidad and Tobagos, so it isn't really realistic to assign anything larger than a house to anyone but truly powerful nations, close allies and nations with special security needs.

3. Embassies need a staff, but not an army of bureaucrats. As I said above, the number of personnel assigned to a diplomatic mission is generally linked to the influence of the represented nation. A global power will have a much larger staff than a drop in the bucket. I will take this opportunity to remind you that you (and I) are a drop in the bucket. Unless you anticipate needing to conduct a lot of diplomatic business, you can probably make do with less than a dozen staffers.

4. Embassies need transportation, but not a tank brigade. Remember when I told you to cool it with the heavy weapons? The same thing applies with vehicles. You do not need APCs, IFVs, tanks or even military light armored vehicles (e.g., humvees). Your ambassador is also not your head of state: He doesn't need a Rolls Royce or a stretch limo. In fact, if you do give him a stretch limo, you'll probably induce panic attacks among the security staff.

Armored cars (not the kind that valuables are transported in) are, of course, perfectly permissible. After all, ambassadors are worth protecting and an armored BMW doesn't quite say "I'm a militant wacko" like an APC does. I would recommend a couple nicer sedans or SUVs for use by the ambassador and diplomatic staff and a couple SUVs for use by security personnel. Unless you really don't think it's necessary, these vehicles should probably be armored. If you don't feel that your ambassador would be safe with only these precautions, maybe you should rethink establishing an embassy in that specific country.

Helicopters can be used if you want and if the host nation permits it. Of course, you don't need an attack helicopter or anything really huge like a Chinook. For the most part, this helicopter should serve as another way for your ambassador to travel, so you really just need something from a civilian line.

As for Consulates...

I'm not going to do a whole big list for consulates because, honestly, they're not a big deal. Many consulates are located in office buildings and even colleges and universities. Consular staff will generally drive their own personal cars (but with diplomatic plates) and the security staff will be very small and lightly armed if it exists at all. So, if your consulates are located in gated compounds with a fleet of armored vehicles and are guarded by soldiers with assault rifles, something is seriously wrong.

RPing Embassies and Consulates

Establishing Diplomatic Missions

If you've ever looked through Factbooks and National Information (the fact that you're reading this suggests that you have), you will have noticed the many embassy programs. Now, to be honest, most of this are pretty awful: They might post a couple lines of introduction, then they'll give an application form and when people apply, they'll simply respond with "Approved." This is no way to be conducting diplomacy.

First off, you should say a little bit about your nation just so people know what they're getting into. Secondly (this is important and often overlooked), you need to give your nation's policies on diplomatic immunity and extraterritoriality. If I'm applying for an embassy, I want to know if you can barge into my embassy and arrest my ambassador whenever you want. You also need to discuss your policies on staff (can people send 100 staffers or just ten?), security (are fifty guards with machine guns alright?) and transportation (how would you feel if someone wanted to send a dozen cars and three Blackhawks?). You should also note any local laws or intolerances that may be important.

You should also provide a list or description of the locations available. If you're feeling ambitious, you could map them out. Remember, not every nation needs a giant chancery.

Of course, you also need the actual application form. Here's the form I use for my embassy program. I would appreciate it if you didn't steal it, but I have a feeling that some people will anyway.

National Information:
- Full Name of Nation:
- Government Type:
- Head of State:
- Head of Government:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs or Equivalent:

Ambassadorial Information:
- Ambassador's Name:
- Ambassador's Family (if any):
- Are there any health of security issues local authorities should be alerted of?

Locational Information:

Please place any special requests in the "Second Choice Location" field and justify them in the field directly below it. Please make only realistic requests and be prepared to pay any fees associated with the design, construction or maintenance of special requests.
- First Choice Location:
- Second Choice Location:
- If requesting an embassy in the hills or making a special request, why do you feel this is necessary?

Staff and Equipment Information:

Please remember, limousines, armed/military vehicles, machine guns, explosives, riot gear and armor-piercing weapons are prohibited. We ask that you limit employment based on the guidelines above.
- Diplomatic Staff:
- Security Staff:
- Service Staff:
- Will you be hiring locally?
- Number and Type of Weapons:
- Number and Type of Vehicles:

- Would you like us to establish an embassy in your nation?
- Do you have any special requests?
- Would you like to enter into trade/treaty talks?
- Is there any additional information we should know?
- Please declare any drugs, alcohol, animals or plants you are bringing into the country.

After people have applied and you have accepted them, you should add them to a running list of diplomatic missions in your country.

An Alternate Approach to Establishing Embassies

As Valipac pointed out, you don't necessarily have to RP the establishment of an diplomatic mission in an embassy program thread. In the real world, just about every nation has an embassy with just about every other. While, in the NS world, this may not be possible because there are so many nations, it's certainly safe to assume that you have more embassies both within your nation and abroad than your actual post archive would suggest. To quote Valipac directly, "some nations choose not to participate in embassy exchange threads, but rather assume that all nations have traded embassies with them." If you want to take this approach with some or all nations, it's certainly alright. However, if you want to use a diplomatic mission that you did not RP establishing, you should TG the host nation first just to make sure that they're alright with it.

Using Your Diplomatic Missions to RP

Many people, after establishing an embassy, don't do anything with it. There's nothing horribly wrong with this as, after all, you won't have business to conduct with every nation that you establish an embassy with. However, embassies are more fun if you do something with them. Options range from the nice and elegant (dinner parties, balls) to the more action-packed (hostage situations, terrorist attacks). In any diplomatic crisis, you shouldn't forget your embassies; closing one down is a great way to show that you're displeased.
Last edited by Euroslavia on Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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"It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to fall down. Get up, look SICKENING, and make them eat it!" Latrice Royale.
Trans waz here!

Rest in Peace Dyakovo.

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