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Factbook: The Republic of Greater Chatham

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:19 am
by Greater Chatham


The Republic of Greater Chatham

Motto: "Peslusum vel nex"

Anthem: Chatham, Beautiful and Free

Capital: Chatham Towne

2010 estimate: 1,303,410
Density: 70.2 per km2
Largest city: Chatham Towne (pop 651,880)

Total area: 18,575 km2
Water area: 1.3%

Head of state: Governor George Maxwell
Government type: Non-partisan Republic
UN Classification: Democratic Socialist


Other Information

Official languages: None
In practice: English, Spanish, French, Mu'hai

Demonym: Chathamite

Currency: Greater Chatham Facchar (GFC)

Date format: dd/mm/yyyy

Drives on the: Left

PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:11 am
by Greater Chatham
A Brief History of Greater Chatham

This is a brief History of the islands that now comprise Greater Chatham. More concise accounts of separate events and figures may appear in later chapters.

Most of the islands that now comprise The Republic were discovered uninhabited by Captain Reginald P Chatham during an exploration and scientific expedition in 1735. Captain Chatham mapped and named the islands and recorded various species of plant and animal, including one reported sighting of the elusive zhar-ptitsa.

Catpain Chatham's ship, the resolute off Greater Chatham,

Captain Reginald P Chatham

Pre-Colonial settlement
The position of the island of Grand Chatham close to a major international sea lane, combined with its many safe anchorages, made Chatham an ideal base for pirates during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Several pirate settlements sprang up and formed a loose confederacy during this period under the leadership of pirate captains such as “Cutlass” Maxwell and Francesco Colomar. Many of the current republic's major settlements were founded as barely-governed cutthroat havens and some still retain their pre-colonial names such as Chatham Towne, Blackthornes Bay, Alcazar and others.

"Cutlass" Maxwell (artist's impression)

Basseterre circa 1790

Pirate Sunset
As the strength of the pirate confederacy grew, the great powers could no longer ignore the need for action. Admiral Pierre LaFayette was dispatched with a fleet of warships and marines to annex the islands and deal with the pirate threat. Arriving at Chatham in March 1824, he offered an amnesty to all accused of piracy and offered government positions to pirate chieftains willing to cease their activities. Many took LaFayette's offer, but many also resisted. LaFayette's professional force was more than a match for the pirates on land, but forcing their ships from the area was a different matter. Most of the pirate vessels were well armed, designed for speed and could run rings around LaFayette's heavier, military ships. Eventually though, with their supply bases captured, most pirate vessels were either caught at anchor resupplying or left the area for easier pickings elsewhere.

LaFayette defeats the pirate vessel Black Pig

Royal troops storm Alcazar after breaching the town walls

Colonial Period
The pirate threat neutralised, LaFayette became the first Governor of Greater Chatham and set about turning it into a crown colony. Although granted autocratic control by the colonial office, he ruled with a steady hand rather than an iron fist, and endeared himself to the population by letting them keep most of their previous freedoms and taxing commerce rather than private income. The colonial period lasted from 1824 to 1936 and saw the introduction of beef, banana and sugar farming and later nickel mining and shipbuilding. Previously almost without infrastructure, this period brought maintained roads, a railway, modern port and shipbuilding facilities, food storage buildings and manned coastal defences.
After LaFayette retired in 1844, Chatham was ruled by a succession of Governors that gradually eroded the rights and freedoms of its citizens, whilst ensuring that the profits of growing agriculture and mining industries ended up in their own pockets.

Governor LaFayette

Banana plantation near St Davids

The last colonial Governor was Gerard Villeneuve, appointed in 1928. 1n 1935 Villeneuve passed the 'Labor Act', nationalising all mines and plantations, ostensibly providing better working conditions laborers. In reality, it allowed the government to reduce the workers wages to a new low, leaving them little more than slaves. This was the last straw for the impoverished citizens, who had endured many such acts over the last 50 years. Protests in Chatham Towne and Kingston were ruthlessly crushed and leaders executed. On Lesser Chatham though, colonial forces were much smaller. Duncan MacLennan, from one of the oldest families of Lesser Chatham, organised a protest of the plantation workers in Plymouth, and when the troops arrived, things got violent. Overwhelmed by numbers, many soldiers were killed or captured, some even deserting to join the rebels. Armed with the defeated soldiers' equipment and spurred by his unexpected victory, MacLennan decided he had a chance of taking Chatham Towne and overthrowing the oppressive government. His mob-turned-army commandeered several ships and sailed for St Davids. The local garrison were taken completely by surprise and surrendered with little resistance. When the rebel army reached Blackthorne Bay and Kingston, they found the royal forces had retreated to Chatham Towne and Duncan was hailed as a liberating hero. The colonial forces at Chatham Towne were heavily outnumbered but severely outgunned their opponents. MacLennan made superb use of the terrain, however, and defeated Villeneuve in the field and stormed the city.

Governor Villenueve

Rebels use dead horses for cover in the streets of Chatham Towne

The Republic
Having little global strategic or economic value left and in embarrassment of it's representative's policies, the mother country begrudgingly accepted the islands' independence as mediated by a third party. At first, Governor MacLennan had the same autocratic powers as the colonial governors. He used his power to first repeal the hard line colonial policies of his predecessors, then to nationalise all remaining private industry so that fair working conditions could be guaranteed by the state. Following this, he formed a new, more representative government. Much of the power, however, remained in the hands of the office of Governor. The Republican Period has been marked by a significant improvement in the lives of the working classes, mainly at the expense of the wealthy land owners and industrialists. Although the populace still have little real influence over government decision making, the defence of civil freedoms has been paramount to most governments since independence, and indeed to the people themselves since pre-colonial times.

Duncan MacLennan

Chathamites celebrate their independance in New Haven

Mu'hai islands
The Mu'hai Islands did not join the republic until 1951. Located over one thousand kilometers to the west of Grand Chatham, they were a small group of islands populated mostly by the native Mu'hai culture under the same yoke that the Chathamites had cast off fifteen years earlier. In an era when empires were on the nose, the mother country took little heed when a group of tiny native islands decided they were fed up with a negligent and virtually non-existent colonial government. After guaranteeing their secession from the empire through diplomatic means, joining the Republic was an obvious choice. The islands were not viable as an independent country, and Governor MacLennan promised the representation on the Council and development of the islands.

Mu'hai leaders receive the Greater Chatham ambassador

Next... Geography!