While most small nations exhibit a healthy amount of paranoia regarding the influence of stronger neighbors, Umberland takes this to the extreme. Most of Erna's nations are quickly forgetting past grudges, but the scars left from manipulation by foreign powers are still evident in Umberland, and its citizens are potently aware of the country's troubled history. Reminders such as burned-out husks of capital buildings, coastal forts, and temples - as well as mass graves and debris-littered battlegrounds - are purposefully left in place as reminders of the unneccesary cruelty with which foreign powers have dealt with Umberland. Ironically, and perhaps appropriately, these well-preserved sites draw numerous tourists from the richer nations of Erna, fueling Umberland's economy.
International Relations and Trade
Umberland is fiercely independent; it is neutral in all of its rare international dealings, and is not a member of the New Archenblad Sportocracy or any other loose alliance, partnership, or trade block. The only nations Umberland will trade with restriction-free are Bretney (a nation highly favored by Umberland) and some fellow minor nations, such as Rindover and Obland. Numerous sacred-grove sites have been recently discovered in Umberland. (An unusual number were lost for many centuries, as the nation's forests have been razed many times throughout its history, and have not fully regrown until recently.) This fact makes it a coveted trading partner, but only Bretney (already rich in sparklejuice) and certain other minor nations benefit from Umberland's recently-increased sparklejuice production.
Umberland has historically been cannon fodder for the oftentimes violent rivalry between Archenblad and Fember. Though it has a very long history of domination by one or both of these powers, the worst insults to this unfortunate island nation came during Erna's Red Age.
History: Red Age
During the Red Age, in the early days of the Old Archenblad Sportocracy, Fember held out against Archenblad Imperialism - it even formed its own Femberlope Sportocracy (League) before being conquered by Archenblad and ruled for a few brief years prior to the Old Sportocracy's collapse. In what historians argue was an attempt to mimic and one-up Archenblad oppression and imperialism, Fember's short-lived sportocracy was even more obviously rigged than the Old Archenblad Sportocracy, and Femberloper rule was hell for vassal-team nations. Umberland was the first independent nation to be forcibly included in the Femberlope League. Its forested hill country was ravaged by Fember's imperial woodcutters, for precious navy-building timber. Its people were taxed to the brink of starvation and generally looked down upon. When Archenblad finally launched a successful invasion, the people of Umberland saw them as liberaters, and aided them against the Femberlopers. The Archenblad oppression was just as severe, and the only barely regrown forests were razed yet again for more naval vessels, and to build wooden forts for the occupiers. When Fember's resistance forces swept through the island during Archenblad's fall, they punished the islanders for aiding Archenblad, and razed most of the cities along with Archenblad's wooden forts.
History: Milwug Influence and Foreign Intervention (Blue Age)
A decimated Umberland (full of relatively educated, productive people) became one of the Billibim Corporate Confederacy's first major investment/reconstruction projects. Soon after the end of the Old Archenblad Sportocracy, Umberland became a vassal state to a major Billibim politicorporation - Fealty Trading inc. Both Archenblad and Fember viewed this as a disgrace to Umberland's people, who were being ruled as assets, not people. (This was mostly true, but they were being ruled well, at least. In exchange for modest taxes, Fealty Trading inc. fostered economic growth and improved infrastructure - their motives were mostly financial, of course, but they DID want to see Umberland succeed.) Archenblad and Fember both decided to liberate the "enslaved" island nation, but - unfortunately - they did so at roughly the same time, during a period (mid Blue Age) when they were fighting a cold war. The resulting confrontation was essentially a war between Archenblad and Fember (Not a serious war; largely a ploy/consipiracy to distract the people of both nations from the issue of government corruption.) Milwug mercenaries and Umberland resistance fighters played the two sides off each other, but they were helpless to engage the two great powers, and watched near-helplessly as their country was torn apart by foreign "liberators".
History: Intervention by Bretney
Fortunately, Umberland's history of tragety ended abruptly when the long proxy war between Archenblad and Fember (not technically a proxy war, since it involved bonafide Archenblad/Femberloper troops who limited their fighting to the island) was won by another foreign power: Bretney. In a bold move by a nation of only modest power and influence, Bretney sent a small but effective force to work with Umberland troops in decisively defeating both armies, after turning them against each other once more. The two belligerent powers could have sent many more troops to the island, but were sick of exhausting vast amounts of resources (not to mention lives) in a largely meaningless contest. The nation of Bretney negotiated a truce between all powers involved. The Milwug mercenaries, who were cut off from their return home and fought alongside the Umberland resistance troops (much more bravely than anyone expected, given the Milwug reputation for cowardice and paying others to deal with their problems) were paid very handsomely and allowed to return home - though many chose to settle in Umberland with their new friends. Then Bretney officially bought the island kingdom from the Milwug Corporate "owners" (at a very low price - a representative from Fealty Trading Inc. called the nation "damaged goods") and invested generously in its reconstruction. Bretney asked for nothing in return; the move was largely philanthropic, with noble motives - though it was in part to prove to the world that it was bold enough to defy Archenblad without having to ally with a stronger power, like Fember. Though Bretney briefly suffered from Archenblad trade sanctions, it has reaped the reward of its generosity; Umberland reveres Bretney as a nation of gods, and gives it free access (well, highly discounted access, at least) to its plentiful sparklejuice reserves.
Terrain and Climate
Umberland's weather is mild and nearly identical to its neighbors' - though its southern shore receives more than its share of the storms born in the Biljister Sea. Umberland's hilly countryside is mostly forested, and bears similarity to the rest of the Femberlope Hills (called the Dividing Range by Umberlanders) - though many of the trees are foreign, imported species. (The forests have been regrown numerous times, often not from indigenous stock.) There are many clearings in Umberland's forest - often preserved battlegrounds and the like, as well as a number of smallish farms. All of Umberland's cities (all small) are on the coasts, though the former capital - a very popular tourist attraction - lies in ruins at the nation's middle. The population density is significantly lower than it once was, and sparklegroves abound.
Copyright Brandon Lee Kier, 2007HomeErnaBoring List