The Commonwealth Islands

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North Point
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The Commonwealth Islands

Postby North Point » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:31 pm

North Point is a collection of volcanic islands situated in the middle of the Oryontic. Geologists broadly agree the islands were created between 100mya and 25mya. The volcanoes have played a major role in North Point's history and development; eruptions have buried towns and disrupted life on Grand Island (the largest of the islands, as its name suggests) since the first settlement of North Point by Wallaseans in the 1500s. The NP Flying Corps even attempted to bomb a lava flow approaching Waianae in 1945. The attempt was unsuccessful, and 300 homes were destroyed as a result. The homes were quickly rebuilt atop the solidified flow and life resumed as normal, paid for by the Company's Bureau of Volcanic Insurance.

Only the southern volcanoes on Grand Island are still active. Mauna Pahoa ("Dagger Mountain"), Mauna Polu ("Blue Mountain"), and Hallett Peak have all erupted in recent Wallasean settler memory. Native oral tradition describes the eruption of Longs Peak and Mount Coronado many hundreds of years prior. Recent seismological analysis shows these two mountains to be dormant. During the Mutiny in Questers, some units of the Army's mountain warfare troops were stationed atop them to prevent Syndicalists from planting an earthquake generator, a scenario thought unlikely by those in the know but which stirred up mass hysteria when "news" of its possibility was leaked in the media. None of the dormant volcanoes are expected to erupt in the next thousand years.

The nature of Grand Island's volcanoes accounts for its size and terrain. On first arrival, the Wallasean explorers were shocked when their basic calculations of Longs Peak's height exceeded 15,000 feet. That a man could feasibly go from sea level, surrounded by swaying palms and black sand, to a moon-like expanse of rock and rubble and snow in only a day on horseback was unbelievable to the Flamaguayans, accustomed to the ancient inland mountains of Wallasea. The fact that the southernmost mountains continued to erupt in peaceful, slow, but dangerous flows of pahoehoe lava were a wonder to them as well, conditioned as they were to the occasionally catastrophic and explosive eruptions at home. The viscous nature of the lava flows on the Grand Island volcanoes account for the wide, expansive island itself. Over millions of years, the eruptions of these shield volcanoes have gradually built the islands out of the sea. The volcanic rock left behind is stable and secure, but the occasional earthquakes still rock the area as magma moves around dozens of miles beneath the surface.

The islands themselves are mostly tropical, but Grand Island's interior has a range of different climates as elevations increase. The nearly-constant trade winds bring cool air from the east, leaving the windward sides of each island with much more precipitation than the leeward. As a result the eastern sides of most of the islands are tropical, while the western sides are drier and more temperate. Many species of plants are endemic to North Point. The North Point tree fern, a giant fern that can reach 40' in height, is found only in the upland montane rainforests on Grand Island. Settlers from Veridis brought pine trees to Grand Island, which thrived in the acidic soil in the north. Non-native vegetation introduced into the islands has occasionally crowded out endemic species.

North Point's cities are compact and dense. In the 1960s, the trend began of building upwards rather than outwards. Later, as the costs of building high-rises crept up, suburban neighborhoods began to appear on the peripheries of the cities. With this came an explosion in commuter traffic as people needed to get to work in the urban centers. In the 1970s, a highway system was established, connecting the cities with each other and with their suburbs. These highways were built and funded by a private company, heavily subsidized by the North Point Company, which had a vested interest in keeping commerce moving around the islands. The real reason for these highways was to move troops and vehicles around the islands quickly in the event of a war.

While most of North Point's population is concentrated in the large and dense cities, there is a substantial suburban and rural population in the interior of the islands. Foodstuffs, linens, and cheap manufactured goods mostly come from Questers, but a small local farming and agriculture industry still exists in the northern part of Grand Island. Mines at Broken Hill produce iron ore, copper, and coal. A robust railroad industry exists to move goods and container traffic around the islands. The railroads in North Point are some of the best in the world, and have established operations overseas in Questers and (to a lesser extent) in Valimero. Many modern methods for oil drilling were invented by engineers in North Point. Oil & gas companies from the country operate worldwide. Refineries at North Beach, Shepard, and Blackettville refine crude oil into petroleum products for sale both at home and abroad.

North Point is a shipbuilding center. During the Great War, it was chosen as a (mostly) secure location for the Commonwealth to build submarines, torpedo boats, cruisers, and battleships. This resulted in an economic boom in North Point that lasted into the 1930s. Today, North Point still builds ships. North Beach on Grand Island is one of the largest shipping ports, shipbuilding centers, and oil refining centers in the Commonwealth. More cruise ships dock in Jacksonville, per capita, than anywhere else in the world.

Demographically speaking, North Point is a broad mix of Praetannics, Veridians, Flamaguayans, Taiheis, and Questarians. Almost every race on earth is represented in some fashion in North Point. Substantial communities of Questarians and Veridians exist. North Pointers are Providentialists, but there is little similarity in the Providentialism of North Point and that of Cockaygne or Senland.

North Pointers speak Praetannic, but with such a large selection of different population groups, it's very common to hear other languages spoken nearly everywhere. 75% of people in North Point are bilingual. After Praetannic, Veridian is the most common language, owing to proximity to Veridis and the intertwined history of the islands and the continent to the south. The North Veridian Islanders, who settled the islands approximately 10,000 BCE, have maintained their own language through oral tradition and storytelling. Location names are generally a mix of Praetannic, Veridian, and islander names. Unlike their cousins to the south, the people in North Point made no effort to eradicate the native islanders and incorporated their traditions and language into their own in some cases.

Living in North Point is relatively easy for the majority of people living there. People who work hard and mind their own businesses are successful. There is a lot to do for the average person; outdoor activities are plentiful, and North Pointers enjoy sports and recreation. The semi-rigid class structure of "burghers" and "LQPs" and "yeomen" doesn't exist in North Point. Classes are divided along money-related lines. North Point has issues with obesity, due to poor diets. Obesity trends towards the lower classes, who subsist on takeout and processed food. There is a rising issue of credit card debt related to ordering delivery tacos, a nationwide problem known as "taco debt".

North Point is only a few hundred miles off the north coast of Veridis. Throughout its history, the two have been closely related. The first settlements in North Point were founded by Flamaguayan explorers as they journeyed through the region. The Flamaguayans were gradually replaced by Providentialist Praetannics over the 16th and 17th centuries, but their legacy lived on in place names, language, and cuisine. In Veridis, North Point businesses worked to fell timber, mine for gold, and survey the region starting in the 1840s. Surveyors from North Point mapped most of Veridis by 1900. The mainland was firmly under the control of Flamaguay until the civil war in 1949. In 1950, North Point's forces fought a four-year war to try to gain control over Valimero. The war ended in a draw, but a Commonwealth-backed company became the preeminent power in Valimero. The region has been mostly stable since.

North Point is controlled and administered by the North Point Company. Technically a common law "association", the Company is a landowner, insurance provider, public health provider, and infrastructure service. The Company owns the majority of the land in North Point, extracting revenue as rent fees to landowners, which (to the rent payer) pay for the services provided by the Company. Approximately 5% of GDP comes from rent fees. Private companies in North Point have the option to become subscribers within the North Point Company, buying shares within it. The Company has a vested interest in the well being of its subscribers and the defense of its territory. Founded in 1803, the Company grew from a small timber-cutting operation chartered to develop a plot of land in southern Grand Island to a military Association and landowner by the 1830s.

The Company also administers the North Point Security Forces, a private military force that functions as the country's armed services. This military force provides for the security of North Point itself, and also works overseas with permanent deployments in Questers. North Point has fought on the side of the Commonwealth in every battle since the Great War, where its forces took heavy casualties in Cockaygne, Yehud, and the Ingenic. The Security Forces fought in Questers during the Lunar War in 1997, and again during the Mutiny in 2013. After the Mutiny, a permanent force was stationed in Questers. No permanent forces are forward deployed anywhere else in the Commonwealth as of today. North Point's ground forces are light in nature, with an emphasis on air mobility. Its navy, the NP Sea Command, is the largest of all the branches, and is closely integrated with the Estates Navy and Straits Federation fleet. Its air force, the NP Flying Corps, retains heavy airlift capability for moving troops around the Commonwealth if necessary.

To be continued...

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