Sondstead

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United Kingdom of Sondstead
Bünden-Künsrikjr fan Sündstedr
Flag
Motto: "Bünden in Frordom"
"United in Freedom"
Anthem: Askanian March
Location of Sondstead in Maredoratica.
CapitalAsteriopol (seat of government)
Windstrand (royal seat)
Largest Windstrand
Official languages Sondsteadish
Minority languages Almai, English, Ikyama, Makeish, Varnian
Ethnic groups (2008) 81.2% Sondsteadish
6.7% Makeish
12.1% others
Demonym Sondsteadish
Sondsteader
Government Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 •  Monarch King Christopher IX
 •  Prime Minister Kristinä Lindkwist (KP)
Legislature Federal Diet
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house People's Assembly
Establishment
 •  Unification c. 1035 
 •  Federal constitution 6 July 1877 
Area
 •  Total 632,935 km2 (17th)
244,377 sq mi
Population
 •  2015 estimate 16,576,050 (28th)
 •  2008 census 16,134,691
 •  Density 25.49/km2
66/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $611.48 billion (23rd)
 •  Per capita $36,889 (5th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $750.71 billion
 •  Per capita $45,289 (1st)
HDI (2008)0.956
very high
Currency Sondsteadish kron (Kr) (ZDK)
Time zone EAMT / WAMT (UTC+1 / -1)
 •  Summer (DST) EAST (UTC+2)
Not observed in WAMT regions
Drives on the right[a]
Internet TLD .zd
a. ^ Traffic in the Sondsteadish Sirenes drives on the left.

Sondstead (Pronounced /ˈsɒːndstɛd/ SOND-sted, Sondsteadish: Sündstedr pronounced [ˈsyndstɛðɹ]), officially the United Kingdom of Sondstead (Sondsteadish: Bünden-Künsrikjr fan Sündstedr) is a northern Alisnan country in Maredoratica. It's territory is mainly comprised of the large Sondsteadish Peninsula, on which the country's eight states and capital territory are located. Sondstead's sovereign territory also includes Saint Eustace, in Wilassia, which was integrated into Sondstead proper as the Territory of the Sondsteadish Sirenes in 1952. The Sondsteadish metropole shares a land border with Varnia to the west and maritime borders with Alanko to the east and Questers to the south over the Rytuic Sea and Prekonate to the east.

At 632,935 square kilometres (244,377 sq mi), Sondstead is the fourth largest country in Alisna by land area. However, it is sparsely populated, with just over 16.4 million people in 2013. This gave it density of just 25 people per square kilometre (66 per sq mi) and made it the fifth least populous country in Alisna. The population is heavily urban and concentrated in the southwest along the Rytuic, particularly the two most populous states of Cheruskerland and Windstrand, which together make up about 56% of the population. The largest city is Windstrand.

Since 1877 Sondstead has been a constitutional monarchy governed as a federal parliamentary democracy, and in 1886 the seat of government was moved from Windstrand to the centrally located planned city of Asteriopol, while Windstrand remains the seat of the royal family. It has a highly developed economy and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries has been one of the most stable and democratic states in Alisna, having remained neutral since the early 20th century. Sondstead is, by nominal per capita domestic product, the wealthiest country in Maredoratica.

Etymology

The English name Sondstead is simply an Anglicized form of the native name, Sündstedr. That name itself came from Sondsteadish sund meaning "Strait" or "Fjord" (Cognate with English sound) and stedr meaning "Place" (Cognate with English stead). The name refers to the country's often rocky coast with it's preponderance of bays and fjords. Most Germanic languages follow the convention of the English name, such as German Sündstätte, while the Romance languages use Latinizations of the first part of the name, along the lines of French Soudie.

History

Prehistory

The area that is now Sondstead has been continuously inhabited by modern humans since around 9000 BC. The people that settled Sondstead at that time may have been Finno-Ugric peoples ancestral to the modern day Makeish, but there is no widely accepted scholarly consensus on the matter. Some anthropologists have suggested that they were relatives of the Basques, but these hypotheses have not gathered much evidence or acceptance.

By 2000 BC, the Rürfeld culture, identified as a branch of the greater Alisnan Fleckenwalder culture (hypothesized to be predecessors of the Germanic peoples), had arrived in the southernmost parts of Sondstead. Further inland, this period is the latest time that the ancestors of the Makish are thought to have arrived in Sondstead. Through the Bronze and Iron ages, the hunter-gatherer Finno-Ugric peoples were pushed inland to the north by the more agricultural and territorial Indo-Europeans of the Rürfeld culture.

Middle Ages

With little contact with the centers of Maredoratic civilization, Sondstead was a largely a backwater throughout the Antiquity. Much of Sondsteadish culture actually began in what is now eastern Pollona and southeastern Questers. The arrival of Gothic tribes in this area in the 5th century AD brought Arian Christianity, converting several small Ingvaeonic tribes like the Chamavi and Cherusci. By the 7th and 8th centuries, Arianism had waned, with the increasingly powerful Catholic rulers viewing the Arians unfavorably. This led to King Leofrik uniting the tribes and leading them north to what is now Sondstead. Leofrik was most likely a mythical or semi-mythical figure, and some parts of his description, such as the claim that God parted the sea for his people to pass through (an allusion to the Biblical parting of the Straits of Karaman), are clearly mythical.

These new inhabitants overran the existing Pagan North Germanic petty kingdoms, gradually assimilating them, and either co-opted the existing petty kingdoms or establishing new ones. The strongest of these were Chamrland on the southwestern coast, Windstrand to it's east, Sitonland on the southeastern coast, and Cheruskerland to the north. Further north, smaller and less important states existed. Until King Leofrik's death sometime in the late 8th century, a loose confederation of Sondsteadish states existed, which fell apart afterwards.

While the period is shrouded in myth, the first decades of the 2nd millennium AD saw the unification of Sondstead under one throne. This was accomplished by King Egbert I, who is thought to have been born in 980, rising to the thrones of Windstrand in 1008 and that of Mideldel in 1010, his father having been King of Windstrand and his mother King Ragnhild of the smaller bordering petty kingdom of Mideldal to the north. Seeking more power, he managed to annex most of the petty kingdoms with relative ease, but fought a hard war against Cheruskerland that lead to his death, estimated to have been 1019, upon which his wife, Mildred the Shieldmaiden, is said to have taken the throne and finished the process of unification. Both figures are considered semi-mythical at best by scholars.

In any case, in 1035, Sondstead can be historically verified to be united under King Gudmund I. Gudmund, a well educated man, was a patron of the arts and education, and strived for Sondstead to be a free and well educated nation relative to the standards of the time. Contemporary legal codes state that Nicene Christians were allowed freedom of worship. His rule started a brief golden age, when Sondstead enjoyed great prosperity through its education and lucrative sea trade.

This was interrupted by the Sondsteadish Crusade in the 12th century, during which Catholics from the Swabian Empire and Questers invaded southern Sondstead before being beaten back, which was followed by a period of isolation and expulsion of Catholics and "Latin" influences. This was followed by the 14th century, when population pressure grew worse, contributing to famine in the early part of the century. Sondstead also suffered unrest and fought two civil wars, resulting in the ruling House of Windstrand being overthrown and massacred, replaced by the House of Cheruskerland.

Geography

Detailed map of Sondstead.

Sondstead is located in the northeastern corner of the Alisnan continent, bounded in the east by the Prekovi Sea, in the north by the Arctic Ocean, and in the west by the by the Rytuic Sea and by Varnia, with which it shares a 706 kilometre (439 mile) land border. In addition, it shares maritime borders with Alanko, Questers, Nouvelle-Morieux, and Prekonate.

At 632,935 square kilometres (244,377 square miles) Sondstead is the 4th largest country in Alisna by total area, after Boaga, Varnia, and Questers. The country lies roughly between the longitudes of 6° and 18° E and the latitudes of 57° and 71° N, and notably includes the easternmost point on the Alisnan mainland, Dragsklau peninsula in Sitonland. The country's highest point is Bajasjjana in northern Makeland, with an elevation of 3,217 metres (10,554 feet), while the lowest is Inder Hjefirdr in Störnes, Windstrand, the lowest point of which is 5 metres (16 feet) below sea level.

Southern Sondstead, which is home to the largest portion of both the country's population and agricultural land, is broadly comprised by temperate grassland and mixed forest, while further north boreal forest predominates. The eastern part of the country is formed by a vast mountain spine, large parts of which are marked by alpine tundra. A small area of arctic tundra exists in the Nordhje̊ld region. The Sondsteadish landscape is marked by the effects of former ice age glaciation, which formed lakes and the characteristic jagged, rocky eastern coastline, marked by islands and fjords.

While the only volcanoes on the Sondsteadish mainland are extinct, eastern Sondstead is otherwise geologically active, forming the northwestern end of the Wilassian Infernal Arc. Earthquakes are fairly common but tend to be small, although larger earthquakes with offshore epicentres in the Prekovi Sea make parts of the coast prone to potentially catastrophic davalgas. This activity also produces hot springs and fumaroles in parts of far northern and northeastern Sondstead, most famously the Sufagje̊d area. On Däffen, Sondstead's largest island, there are a number of dormant, potentially active, volcanoes.

Gallery
Rural plains, Mirland, Windstrand 
Nordhje̊ld tundra near Čáhciravda, Nordalmland, Makeland 

Climate

Sondstead has a largely temperate climate, moderated by proximity to the Eastern Maredoratic and the Rytuic Sea, but experiences wide climatic variation due to the large latitudinal distance between the southernmost and northernmost points of the country. There is also a sizable difference in precipitation between the east coast, exposed to the Maredoratic, and the inland areas and west coast on the opposite side of the Sondsteadish mountains. For example, the average annual precipitation in Windstrand is 790 mm (31 in), while Rive experiences more than 1300 mm (51 in). The driest regions tend to be in the arctic interior, with parts of Almland receiving less than 400 mm (16 in) of precipitation annually, while the wettest are along the east coast; the wettest major city (and among the wettest in Alisna, even more so than Jesselton) is Hedenstedr, which receives around 2000 mm (79 in) a year.

Winter in the Northwestern Lands taiga.

Due to the country's high latitude, there is a large seasonal difference in the length of days; on the 59th parallel, which passes just north of Windstrand, the sun is visible for 18 hours 30 minutes on the summer solstice and 6 hours 11 minutes on the winter solstice, while in Vilgesnjarga, above the 70th parallel, the sun does not set between mid May and late June and and does not rise between late November and late January.

There is also a wide variation in temperature, with annual means ranging from 8.2°C (47°F) for Windstrand, to 1.3°C (34°F) for Vilgesnjarga on the Arctic coast and -2.0°C (28°F) for Ohcejohka near the Varnian border. The record low temperature recorded in Sondstead was in Banade̊l, -53.2°C (-64°F) on 30 December 1992, while the record high is 38°C (100°F), observed in Öferäberg on 19 July 1945.

Biodiversity

The elk is the national animal of Sondstead and the largest land mammal endemic to the country.
The arctic fox is a protected species in Sondstead.

Sondstead is divided into six terrestrial ecoregions; predominant in Windstrand state and present elsewhere along the southern coast are Rytuic mixed forests, while in other parts of southern Sondstead Juric mixed forests predominate. Most of the country on the west side of the mountains comprises part of the Sondsteadish and Varnian taiga ecoregion, with the mountains and parts of the east coast being in the Nordic montane birch forest and grasslands region. A thin strip along the east coast comprises the Sondsteadish coastal conifer forests, while a small portion of the Nordhje̊ld region around Čáhciravda is in the Northeast Varnian tundra ecoregion.

There are roughly 70,000 different species present in Sondstead, including some 100 species of mammals, 21 species of amphibians and reptiles, 600 species of birds (approximately half of which have nesting populations), 230 species of fish (60 freshwater and 170 saltwater), 3,500 species of vascular plants, and 23,000 species of invertebrates. The most recognised species include mammals like the brown bear, gray wolf, elk, reindeer, arctic fox, lynx, wolverine, and walrus, birds such as the eagle-owl, gyrfalcon, whooper swan, and white stork, and the Maredoratic salmon.

Sondsteadish Sirenes

Coastline of Saint Eustace.
Main article: Sondsteadish Sirenes

The islands of Saint Eustace and Fredericia form an integral part of the Sondsteadish federation located in the Pearl Sea of Wilassia, and have a distinct climate, geography, and ecosystem. The islands enjoy a tropical climate with warm temperatures and relatively low seasonal temperature variation, and distinct dry and rainy seasons.

Politics

The Federal Square House in Asteriopol is the official residence of the Sondsteadish Prime Minister.
Structure of the Sondsteadish government.
Kristinä Lindkwist is Prime Minister of Sondstead, and assumed the office on 19 October 2009.

Sondstead is a federal constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary representative democracy. The primary instrument of government remains the federal constitution ratified in 1877, which can be amended only by a two-thirds vote of both houses of parliament.

While the monarch remains the de jure head of state, that office was stripped of nearly all non-ceremonial powers by the 1877 constitution. While the monarch can still withhold assent from legislation laws can be passed without formal assent by vote of two consecutive sessions of the assembly, and while he or she formally appoints the Prime Minister, the Crown Commissioners (viceroys) of each state, and the Governors of each territory in practice these are chosen by the elected political leaders. The reigning monarch since 1985 is Christopher IX of Sondstead.

The head of government, de facto since the 1849 constitution, is the Prime Minister, who is responsible to the People's Assembly, the lower house of the Federal Diet. Members of the People's Assembly are democratically elected using a variant of the mixed-member proportional system, in which every citizen on the voter roles can vote for any two candidates in two-member constituencies. The overall winner in each constituency is automatically elected and all parties which polled higher than the threshold (calculated by state) are allocated the remaining half of the seats proportionally. This system was introduced by constitutional amendment in 1938 and first used in the 1941 general election, replacing the previous first past the post system. Elections are held every four years on the first Monday in October, but if the government loses the confidence of parliament during it's mandate, midterm elections may be called. The incumbent Prime Minister is Kristinä Lindkwist.

The upper house of the Federal Diet is the Senate, which serves as a revisory chamber partially by convention and partially by law; it, for example, can not originate a bill dealing with taxation or the appropriation of public funds. However, the Senate must approve all legislation passed by the People's Assembly before it is sent to the monarch to receive assent. It's members are nominated by each state cabinet and ratified by a simple majority vote of the state legislature and serve staggered eight-year terms, appointed in late October just after each scheduled federal election. States are apportioned Senate seats in a system of degressive proportionality, with every state holding at least four seats, states with more than a million people holding six, and the largest two states holding eight.

Sondstead has a multi-party system with ten political parties represented in parliament and three (the Conservatives, the Centre Liberals, and the Christian Democratic Alliance) represented in the governing coalition. However, the Conservatives and the Socialist Labour Party are well and away larger than the next largest party, the Centre Liberals, by number seats in parliament, and those three parties are well ahead of any other party in terms of total membership.

Federal Entities and Administrative Divisions

Sondstead is divided into seven states, two territories, and one republic, collectively termed federal entities (bindesentidien). Each state and the Makeish Republic have individual constitutions and the powers reserved to them are enumerated in the federal constitution; furthermore, since 1980, Makeland has had additional autonomy under the Makeish Constitution Act, which was intended to end the ethnic and political conflict in that state. Each state is governed itself as a parliamentary monarchy, with the Crown Commissioner representing the monarch as a viceroy and a Minister-President responsible to the legislature acting as head of government. In Makeland, the system is similar, but there is not technically a representative of the crown there, with the ceremonial duties of the Crown Commissioner being carried out by a popularly elected President.

Sondstead's two territories are controlled by the federal government and administered by an appointed Governor, with what autonomy they have being granted by statute. Territorial status was originally conferred only on the Sondsteadish Capital Territory, but in the 1952 reorganization of Sondstead's colonial holdings, the Sondsteadish Sirenes were made an integral federal territory, the two municipalities in the Capital Territory were granted some autonomy, and territories were granted representation in parliament. This was followed in 1974 by the passage of the Sirenes Organic Law, which granted a large degree of self-government to the Sirenes.

The states and territories are further divided into 129 second-order divisions. Most of these are termed ridings or are administratively equivalent to ridings, and have an elected council and a "riding chief" or "riding head" (tridingjrhäfdmän, often translated as "provost" or "sheriff") appointed by the state government to administrate them. There are also a handful of independent municipalities and ridings coterminous with municipalities. Most ridings are further subdivided into municipalities, of which there are several hundred. Municipalities are governed usually by a council and a directly elected mayor.

Foreign Affairs

Since 1919 when the Bage̊r-Karlman government passed the Foreign Alliances Act, Sondstead has maintained a largely neutral and non-aligned foreign policy, and has not declared war since 1916. However, this has not generally been interpreted as preventing the country from participating in international organizations or from deploying troops abroad as part of international peacekeeping operations, and despite it's official neutrality Sondstead has particularly close relations with other liberal democratic states in Maredoratica such as Morieux and Van Luxemburg. In recent years this has even included lower level military cooperation with friendly states.

Sondstead maintains a sizable network of foreign missions across Maredoratica and almost all Maredoratic nations maintain either an embassy in Asteriopol or an equivalent consulate-general in Windstrand, with many maintaining consulates in other major cities. Sondstead also has a handful of diplomatic missions outside the region and several extraregional nations have established embassies in Asteriopol. Sondstead is a full member of the Brezier Group and Nordic Forum.

Sondstead traditionally held observer status in the Maredoratic League and cooperated with the League in certain areas, such as international peacekeeping, while remaining a non-member. However, following a 2013 referendum Sondstead become an official Maredoratic League candidate state, with accession taking place on 30 November 2014.

Armed Forces

Two Ädenberg-class destroyers of the RSoN.
KMF KL-9 Länerfälk multirole fighter of the RSoAF.

The Sondsteadish Armed Forces (Sondsteadish: Krigmiht) is an en cadre force of 128,000 active duty personnel, comprised of roughly 32,000 professional soldiers supplemented by 96,000 conscripts and over 660,000 reservists, some or all of whom can be called up in the event of war or natural disaster. While the Sondsteadish military has a small active force compared to it's Maredoratic neighbors it is recognized as a well-equipped and well-trained force. Including active, reserve, and paramilitary forces Sondstead has 47.5 troops per 1000 capita, the highest in the region, although the large majority are reservists who only receive biennial refresher training.

The armed forces have a dual mandate for homeland defense and expeditionary operations for peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. Overseas service is voluntary after serving out mandatory service, but fairly popular; every year several thousand conscripts reenlist for a tour of duty abroad after the end of their mandatory service. Sondsteadish forces are presently deployed in Alanko (MAAMAL) and Karaman (MASTAMIK. Sondsteadish military observers are also deployed in Côte d'Or (MOMICO) and Galkayo.

Sondstead has had universal male conscription in place since the 19th century. In 2013 the national service law was amended to cover both men and women, taking effect in 2016. Women have been permitted to serve in all military positions except the submarine force since 1994.

Sondsteadish defense spending is moderate by Maredoratic standards at $18.9 billion in 2015, or roughly 3.1% of gross domestic product and 6.6% of government spending. While the pro forma Commander-in-Chief remains the monarch (presently King Christopher IX) de facto authority rests with the Ministry for Defence (presently the responsibility of Körbin Arnman) and with the Supreme Commander (General Paul Elbörhtssünr).

Economy

File:Bmwgrancoupego.jpg
A KMF car. The automotive industry is a sizable segment of the Sondsteadish economy.
2012 nominal total GRP (left) and GRP per capita (right) by Sondsteadish federal entity.

Sondstead is a mixed, post-industrial economy focused heavily on services and on foreign trade, particularly exports of certain commodities (Dairy products, timber, pulp and paper products, iron and steel products, petrochemicals, and fish) and precision manufactured goods. The economy was worth roughly three-quarters trillion International Dollars in 2012, with GPD per capita standing at $44,777 (both figures in nominal International Dollars).

The country's social model can be compared to the Nordic and Rhineland models and is characterized by a high tax burden of 39.7% of GDP, high public spending of 43.9% of GDP, a large public sector workforce, with around a quarter of the total workforce employed by the civil service at the federal, state, and local levels, high public expenditures on healthcare and education, and a high level of participation in trade unions in a tripartite, corporatist framework. Unemployment is fairly low, at 6.2%.

State investment in industry has been historically significant and remains extant; SRR (broadcasting) and SRB (passenger rail service) are fully owned by the federal government, Stat Hydrogarbon is more than two thirds state owned, Loft Sündstedr (airline) and Telesünd are former state corporations in which the federal government still has minority stakes, and before being broken up and privatized in 1985, KMF was a state owned manufacturing conglomerate that had been created to protect strategic manufacturing concerns during the 1930s. However, Sondsteadish industry is largely in private control. While a large proportion of the economy is controlled by major corporations such as AEK Krönsjeld, Bage̊r-SBAF, KMF Automobile, KMF Heavy Industry, KMF Systems, Lindblom, Mägimaan Tselluloos, Quadra Finans, Sändberg, and SEAF, the Sondsteadish economy is also marked by the presence of specialised small and medium enterprises.

Sondstead's largest trading partners are primarily it's neighboring countries in Alisna and northern Wilassia, including Pollona, Prekonate, Questers, and Varnia. Sondstead also has important trading ties with the largest Maredoratic economies, such as Galla, Jungastia, Morieux, Ruccola, and Van Luxemburg.

Resources

Open-pit copper mine at Faskja.

Sondstead is richly endowed with natural resources, including coal, copper, fish, iron, lead, nickel, petroleum, precious metals, rare earth elements, timber, titanium, and zinc. In 2012, the country was the largest producer in Maredoratica of tantalum (instrumental in production of consumer electronics and superalloys particularly for aerospace and nuclear applications) with an output of 301 tonnes; tantalum-rich hoebite ore is mined commercially at Algoe̊tnu in Makeland.

Sources of oil shale have been used as a fuel since prehistoric times and small deposits of crude oil in the Nortae̊n Basin between the Agaras and Höbe rivers in the central region of the Northwestern Lands were discovered and industrially exploited in the 1890s and 1900s. However, the exploitation of oil and gas resources has only developed as a major industry in Sondstead since the early 1960s, and accelerating from the early 1970s onwards when offshore oils fields began to be tapped. The oil and gas industry now generates roughly one tenth of Sondstead's GDP and nearly one quarter of exports, with the largest customers being Galla and Questers.

Beginning in the 1970s, Sondstead experienced a decline in manufacturing concurrent with a rise in oil production. From the late 1970s, Windstrand University of Business economists presented an argument that this was in part due to appreciation of the kron due to inflow of foreign currency and the indirect-deindustrialisation effect (Dutch disease). This theory has influenced successive Sondsteadish governments in shaping public policy with regards to the oil and mineral industries, resulting in the creation of a sovereign wealth fund (the Commodities Social Fund) in 1987.

Infrastructure

Nörditser Windstrand International Airport is the busiest in Sondstead and an intercontinental hub.

Sondstead's energy, telecommunication, and transport infrastructure are well developed, particularly in the south and west, while the north and east are less developed. The country has roughly 250,000 kilometres (155,000 miles) of paved roads and 15,000 kilometres (9,320 miles) of railways, mostly standard gauge with a substantial portion being multi-track and electrified. Only 116 kilometres (72 miles) of railway is dedicated high-speed rail with maximum running speeds of 250 km/h (155 mph); however, as of 2014 273 kilometers (170 miles) of new dedicated high-speed is under construction, and tilt trains run at up to 200 km/h (124 mph) on mixed-traffic trunk lines. Most railways are state owned through the crown corporation Bane̊nre̊d, with intercity passenger trains remaining an SRB monopoly while regional and local trains are run by private operators. The freight rail market has also been deregulated.

The main international airports in Sondstead are Nörditser Windstrand International Airport (25.3 million passengers in 2012) and Midesker Isak Kjirkjh International Airport (7.5 million passengers in 2012), and a total of 72 airports in Sondstead have some form of commercial passenger service, with four more beside Windstrand and Midesker serving more than one million passengers in 2012; Niklas Äldjeärd International Airport (Rive), Kifmay International Airport, Käldrweder International Airport, and Windstrand City Airport. Due to the country's geographical size, widely spread population, and lack of true high-speed rail links, domestic air travel is heavily used between major cities and is vital in connecting many smaller and more remote towns to the rest of the country. Three major airlines (The formerly state-owned flag carrier Loft Sündstedr, BMflog, and Rjub.com) offer domestic and international flights, as do a number of regional carriers.

The Sondsteadish energy market is controlled by a mix of private and public concerns. The majority of Sondstead's electricity production comes from renewable sources, with 44% being from hydroelectric plants, 24% from nuclear (more than half of which comes from the large Gre̊nra station in central Windstrand), 4% from wind, and 2% from biomass. All present nuclear power stations in Sondstead are operated by the state-owned Sondatom corporation, although the Erggedens Nuclear Power Plant, currently under construction, will be majority owned by EnergjiäWest. Roughly one quarter of Sondstead's electrical production comes from fossil fuels, of which 14% is from natural gas and 11% from coal.

Sondstead has a very highly developed telecommunications network; in 2012, an estimated 89% of the population (14,539,800 people) were internet users and there were 5.1 million broadband internet subscriptions. The same year, there were 19.5 million mobile phones in use, roughly 1.2 for every resident.

Demographics

The total population of Sondstead was estimated at 16,545,110 as of 1 June 2014. The Sondsteadish population reached 16 million for the first time in December 2006 and has maintained a steady growth rate of approximately 0.4% annually since the most recent census in 2008, before an 0.7% increase between 2013 and 2014, attributed to an increase in the number of Karamish immigrants in the wake of that country's civil war and increased family benefits. While the fertility rate has remained steady at around 1.7 children born per woman (below the natural replacement rate) before a small spike in 2013/2014, population growth has continued due to immigration from developing countries. With a median age of 41 years, the Sondsteadish population is among the oldest in the region.

Sondsteadish population growth was well over one percent annually as late as the 1920s, and between 1840 and 1930 more than two million people emigrated from Sondstead, mainly to Rochehaut, with smaller numbers to Alqosia, Ruccola, and the Morivaine Sétif. The present day Sondsteadish ethnic population abroad is more than eight million people.

A 2009 study estimated that 81% of the population are ethnic Sondsteadish and a further roughly 8% belong to native ethnic minorities with most of those being ethnic Makeish. Since the mid 20th century, immigration has significantly altered the ethnic makeup of the country, with roughly 1.8 million Sondsteaders being of largely immigrant background. In the same 2009 study, the third largest ethnic group or nationality was Maachwabians at 2.5% of the Sondsteadish population (including somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 White Maachwabians of ethic Sondsteadish heritage), followed by Karamish (1.4%), Arabs and Arabo-Berbers (1.2%), Sinitalians (0.8%), and Magyars (0.8%). Sizeable Borgosesian, German, Maalukhiri, Prekovi, and Questarian immigrant communities also reside in Sondstead.

Urbanisation

The largest city in Sondstead is Windstrand, with a population of nearly 1.15 million in the city proper and roughly 2.39 million in the greater metropolitan area. A number of geographers and sociologists have recognized a further "megalopolitan" conurbation of some 3.37 million people comprising the metropolitan areas of Äldrve, Nörtberg, and Windstrand and the adjoining semi-suburbanised regions, which has been dubbed the "Central Windstrand Area" (Centres-Windstrandge̊bie̊d) or the "Windstrand Triangle" (Windstrandtrihokr). These areas share similar economic dynamics with economies centered on services and technological industries (IT, biotech, et cetera), have close transportation links, and collectively contain one fifth of the Sondsteadish population and generate nearly one third of all economic activity in the country.

Beyond Greater Windstrand and the closely linked Greater Äldrve region, the largest metropolitan areas in the country by population are the Mid Esker City (1.37 million), Greater Kifmay (756,000), Greater Rive (695,000), Greater Astangjr (531,000), the Estuary Region (399,000), Greater Hwitrbrügjh (371,000), the Greater Capital Region (365,000), and Greater Käldrweder (327,000). Sondstead is a largely urban country, with 84% of it's population living in urban areas as of the 2008 census.


 
Largest cities or towns in Sondstead
Bindesstädistigenbürö fan Sündstedr, 2008 census
Rank Federal entity Pop. Rank Federal entity Pop.
Windstrand
Windstrand
Kifmay
Kifmay
1 Windstrand Windstrand (state) 1,145,934 11 Nörtkjeäben Windstrand (state) 116,837 Rive
Rive
Bankstead
Bankstead
2 Kifmay Makeland 415,873 12 Sündsgeät Renmark 98,379
3 Rive Sitonland 361,435 13 Emd Cheruskerland 90,532
4 Bankstead Cheruskerland 293,847 14 Asteriopol Sondsteadish Capital Territory 89,852
5 Astangjr Chamrland 285,928 15 Kästelwik Windstrand (state) 85,198
6 Twedmünster Cheruskerland 237,452 16 Hedenstedr Sitonland 81,658
7 Äldrve Windstrand (state) 209,234 17 He̊rstun Windstrand (state) 78,472
8 Hwitrbrügjh Mideldal 195,348 18 Kürfeld Chamrland 73,814
9 Käldrweder Northwestern Lands 141,678 19 Märkkjeäben Cheruskerland 68,237
10 Fikjen Cheruskerland 138,467 20 North Rive Sitonland 64,117

Religion

Äldrve Cathedral is the traditional resting place of the Sondsteadish monarchs and a site of pilgrimage for Arian Christians.

Sondstead before the 8th century was a pagan society, before being Christianized between the 8th and 11th centuries by Arian invaders. The common convention among Iron Age Germanic tribes was to adopt a religion "top down", resulting in the Arian Christian faith of the Ingvaeonic upper class spreading to the local Nordic populace. While in early Christian Sondstead other denominations were legally tolerated, worshipping pagan gods was banned (although indigenous shamanism was never fully extinguished in the far north). Following the Sondsteadish Crusade, Catholicism was also banned, leaving Arianism as the only tolerated religion.

Catholicism was reintroduced to Sondstead in the early 15th century following an Edict of Toleration issued in 1411. Subsequently during the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic minority in Sondstead was almost entirely converted to Lutheranism and Calvinism ultimately resulting in the extinction of the Catholic hierarchy in Sondstead for the second time. During the 16th century, the first Muslim congregation was established in Sondstead by Tatars invited to serve in the army of King Bernard. During the 18th and 19th centuries, religious matters were further liberalized and freedom of religion established, giving rise to further free churches which attracted converts from the established Arian, Calvinist, and Lutheran denominations. The Church of Sondstead was disestablished in 1996.

In 2009, 57.4% of the Sondsteadish population belonged to the former state Church of Sondstead. The proportion of the population who belong to the church has been steadily dropping for roughly the past century, with the free churches, Catholic and Orthodox denominations, non-Christian religions, and the irreligious growing. People with no religious affiliation at all are now the second largest religious demographic in the country, with 18.5% of the population in 2009 not belonging to any religion. The second largest religious organization or congregation remains the Evangelical Church in Sondstead, a united church with with 12.7% of the population is affiliated. Members of Christian denominations make up in total approximately 77% of the Sondsteadish population. After Christianity, the second largest religion in Sondstead is Islam, with around 3% of the population being Muslims. Smaller communities following Eastern religions such as Solongoor, Neopaganism, and indigenous shamanism also exist.

In 2005, 8% of the Sondsteadish population reported attending religious services weekly; one of the lowest proportions in Maredoratica. In a 2010 poll, 34% of respondents in Sondstead answered that "they believe there is a God", 38% that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force", while 23% answered "yes" to the question "is religion important in your daily life?". Despite fairly low rates of church attendance and belief in God, religion continues to play a role in cultural identity and rates of baptism, confirmation, and church marriage remain high.

Language

File:Sondsteadish language in Maredoratica.png
Distribution of the Sondsteadish language in Maredoratica.

The sole official language of Sondstead is Sondsteadish, a West Germanic language most closely relate to English and Frisian and more distantly to Dutch, German, and Swedish. Sondsteadish has also been influenced by Finno-Ugric and North Germanic languages. Between 92 and 93 percent of the population speaks Sondsteadish as their first language with roughly six percent speaking it as an additional language. However, roughly 300,000 people, mostly minority children and first generation immigrants, cannot speak any Sondsteadish or are not fluent in the language. Sondsteadish predominates as the native language except in parts of the rural north, isolated ethnic enclaves in major cities, and the Sondsteadish Sirenes.

Five minority languages (Almai, English, Ikyama, Makeish, Varnian) also have official recognition and protections, and state and riding level governments have jurisdiction over official languages locally. The Sondsteadish Sirenes also have jurisdiction over language as part of the Sirenes Organic Law, and recognize English as an official language. Presently, ridings in four states (Cheruskerland, Makeland, Northwestern Lands, and Renmark) designate Makeish as an official language, with ridings in two (Makeland and the Northwestern Lands) designating Almai as official. Two ridings in the Northwestern Lands also designate Varnian as an official language. At the state level, Makeland designates Makeish as official while all other states only recognize Sondsteadish as an official language statewide.

Three and a half percent of the population (roughly 560,000 people) speak Makeish as their first language, with Makeish speakers being the largest linguistic minority. Other recognized minority languages are spoken by less than one half of one percent of the population, and besides English and English Creole dialects in the Sondsteadish Sirenes, are largely moribund. Makeish itself was subject to Sondsteadification efforts such as restrictions on Makeish language education and punishment for schoolchildren speaking the language as late as the 1940s in Makeland itself and into the 1970s in Cheruskerland, the Northwestern Lands, and Renmark and was in continued decline for over a century until the late 1980s; in the 1987 the Makeish government estimated that a majority of both residents in Makeland and ethnic Makeish people in all parts of the country spoke mainly Sondsteadish. In the following decades promotion of the language has resulted in the number of speakers increasing, with Makeish now being the majority language among ethnic Makes, although Sondsteadish remains the majority language overall in Makeland.

Due to immigration, Sondstead has become steadily more linguistically diverse since the 1950s, although more established immigrant groups such as Sinitalians have become largely assimilated. Major immigrant languages today include Arabic, Magyar, Tswana, Turkish, and Zulu.

Education

Primary education in Sondstead is free and compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16, provided at a public folkssjol ("folk school") or private frorsjol ("free school"); the Sondsteadish education system, since 1993, has treated public and private schools equally and offered a voucher system. At the primary school level, 17% of students were attending free schools in 2011. Primary education is largely funded and organized at the riding level, but many larger municipalities organize separate school systems and opt out of the riding level system.

Optional education includes, in addition to secondary education, public kindergarten is available for children from age 3 until the start of compulsory education. At the secondary level, a two-track system exists, divided into a three-year "academic" track at gymnasium and a vocational track which involves simultaneous education at a vocational school and apprenticeship at a company, lasting three or four years. Some vocational tracks (such as for air traffic controllers) require students to first complete gymnasium and last in total five years.

Tertiary education offers three levels of degrees; Diplom after three years of study, Magister after being granted Diplom plus two years of study, and Doctorate after being granted Magister plus three years of study. Students may pursue continued education after either gymnasium or vocational school. Sondstead has nineteen public universities and seven private universities, which include specialist institutions, four of which are religious schools. The most highly regarded schools are the "Old Four" or "AETW" schools (Äldrve University, King Frederick University, Twedmünster University, and Windstrand University) and the Royal University of Engineering.

English, French, and German are widely studied languages, while teaching of Greek and Latin sharply declined in the 20th century in favor of teaching vernacular languages. 90% of Sondsteaders report knowledge of a foreign language and adult literacy is effectively universal.

Health

Sondstead has a highly developed public health system, with universal coverage funded by tax revenues and nominal fees. Healthcare is primarily a responsibility of state and municipal governments, although the federal government plays significant roles in financing healthcare expenditures and in setting national standards.

Rates of infant mortality are among the lowest in the world, and life expectancy at birth is very high; roughly 80 years in 2010. There is one doctor for every 298 residents. Healthcare expenditures were 9.6% of gross domestic product in 2012; expenditures have narrowly fluctuated between 8% and 10% of GDP since the early 1980s. Tax revenue directly covered 82% of costs, with 15% being covered by households and the remaining 3% being covered by other sources. Dental care is free up to the age of 18.

Culture

Literature

Visual arts

Music

Main article: Music of Sondstead
A tegelhärp, a traditional Nordic bowed lyre.
Westberg's Rock of the Midnight Sun music festival in 2013.
The Windstrand New Opera House is, since 2009, home to the Royal Sondsteadish Ballet and Opera.

Sondstead's folk music traditions are diverse and differ between the Germanic Sondsteadish and the Finnic Makeish, Almai, and Nen peoples, as well as regionally. The predominant tradition is closely related to the folk styles of Varnia and the Questarian Danes and is most often played in solo performances on a fiddle. The indigenous Almai and Nen peoples are known for their characteristic joik singing, shared with the Sami peoples of Prekonate and Varnia and considered one of the oldest living musical traditions in the western world.

Starting with the 1960s and 1970s folk revival, a vibrant scene of modern folk musicians in Sondstead has developed, including artists performing and recording in traditional styles such as Admund Jöhänssünr and Regne Dan, as well as artists and groups such as Mirjemäkjernin and Káre Nuhtte who play folk rock and neofolk, drawing influences both from traditional music and from modern electronica, pop, and rock.

Major music festivals in Sondstead include Melody Beach Pop Fest and Windstrand Jazz in Windstrand, Nights of Iron in Bankstead, Rock of the Midnight Sun in Westberg, and the Sude̊rn Fölkfestifäl in Nörtkjeäben.

Classical music

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries the Sondsteadish monarchs sponsored ambitious and elaborate pieces by baroque composers, at first mainly Borgosesian and Pollonan emigres but in later decades including Sondsteadish-born composers such as August fan Mörgen, Johannes Paulssunr, and Marcus fan Horn. In the present day, notable composers include Ana Hortman and Le̊fnard Mets, while classical performers include tenor Däniel Vigo-Lindkwist and violinist Sigmund Berger. The melding of classical and folk influences is reflected in Sondstead's strong choral music tradition.

Popular music

Sondsteadish pop singer Melodie Mathssunr performing in 2010.

Sondsteadish popular music since the mid 1970s has been highly successful internationally. The defining form of Sondsteadish pop music from the 1930s into the early 1970s was schlager music, while rock and roll bands appeared in the early 1960s, at first playing adaptions of international hits and later writing original material. Eventually an eclectically influenced psychedelic and progressive rock scene developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s Äldrve and Windstrand. The most prominent bands of this style included The Apollo Programs, Canvas, and Grandhotel.

During the late 1970s, Sondsteadish new wave and especially synthpop artists became prominent internationally, including Dreamy Mimi, Erik & Milly, and Maltese. Sondsteadish pop artists such as Káre Nuhtte, KiAra, and Melodie Mathssunr continue to be highly successful internationally, while new wave and post-punk styles have influenced the alternative rock scene exemplified by bands such as The Frilly Princess Punk Project, Not Vampires, and Steam. House music is also widely popular. Sondstead also has a vibrant jazz scene with artists such as Jen Harlan.

In the 1980s Sondsteadish artists helped pioneer extreme metal genres, such as Bankstead Chainsaw and Disciples in black metal and Terrestrial Predators in thrash metal. More mainstream hard rock and heavy metal artists also saw success, such as Canvas after their transition from progressive rock to a more commercial hard rock sound. In the 1990s the metal and rock scenes gave rise to the melodic death metal and symphonic metal of bands such as Immortal Amaranth and Queen Sacrifice.

Cinema & television

Cuisine

A tray of büderbräd sandwiches.
A Sondsteadish Christmas dinner with sliced roast lamb, roast potatoes, snowpeas, and cream horseradish sauce.
Main article: Sondsteadish cuisine

Traditional Sondsteadish cuisine varies widely between regions due to the wide climatic range between southern and northern extremes of the country, but in general has many similarities with Varnian and northern Questarian food, with simple, sparsely spiced dishes often involving staples such as butter, herring, milk, pork, potatoes, and rye bread. Since the 1600s, a modern Sondsteadish cuisine has developed with influences from Morivaine and Pollonan haute cuisine and Leucian and south Wilassian ingredients.

Sondsteadish cooking uses meat and fish extensively; while herring, pork, and salmon are perhaps most closely associated with Sondsteadish food, char, chicken, cod, crayfish, duck, eel, lamb and mutton, pike, trout, venison, and in certain regions whale, are also common. In contrast, per capita consumption of beef is low compared to in many other developed countries. Traditionally, roast lamb or mutton is eaten on feast days, most prominently Christmas. Elk and reindeer is traditionally eaten in the autumn and winter, and is more common in the north than the south. In general, southern styles utilize more farmed meat and fresh vegetables while northern styles make more use of game and wild berries and greens. Horseradish and mustard are common condiments.

Common Sondsteadish dishes include brünt (pickled and shredded mixed vegetables, often beets, cabbage, and cucumber), büderbräd (open sandwiches with toppings such as cold cuts, cheese, smoked fish or meat, hardboiled egg, and vegetables), frigade̊lle̊ (meatballs), graflaks (raw, cured salmon), kartofe̊l (fried or boiled potato dumplings, usually filled with diced pork), örtebelrkak (large potato pancakes, sometimes filled with pork and called swinkjötkäk), and various sausages, such as dorworst (a cured sausage made with venison) and päprigäwörst (a coarse pork, or occasionally lamb, sausage flavored with paprika). There are also many famous regional dishes, such as eärmgrefesflädä (a sweetened and spiced fried mashed potato dessert) from Mideldal, jebredörden (breaded and fried fish heads) from Windstrand, labsjaus (a hash of corned beef or salt-cured hamhock, beetroot, onions, potatoes, and herring) and pansjol (pan-fried plaice) in many parts of southern Sondstead, läksflesjh (salmon skin "bacon") from Renmark, slåbbå (pancakes made with pork or reindeer blood) from Almland, and whale meat in eastern coastal communities.

Sondstead consumes about 8.5 kilograms of coffee annually per capita, the second highest in Maredoratica behind only Varnia. Coffee culture is deeply ingrained in Sondsteadish society, with a long-standing practice of inviting acquaintances to attend one's home for "käfetid" or spending Saturday mornings at local coffeehouses. The importance of informal coffeehouse meetings to business networking and domestic politics in Sondstead is described by the term "käfeklübwörtsjiprin", literally meaning "the coffee club economy".

Holidays

A St. Lucia's Day ceremony in Sondstead.

Most Sondsteadish holidays are in common with those celebrated in other Christian, western countries, such as Christmas, New Year's Day, and Peace Day, which commemorates the end of the Great Maredoratic War. Many observances in Sondstead, similarly to those in the other Nordic countries, continue to exhibit syncretism, drawing on ancient Nordic folklore as well as Christian traditions. The feast day of St. Lucia on 13 December, celebrated throughout the Nordic countries and particularly important in Sondstead, is one such holiday, and is treated as a celebration of light during the long, dark winter months (traditionally 13 December was believed to be the shortest day of the year) and as the beginning of the Christmas season.

The feast day of St. Leofrik on 3 September is primarily celebrated in Sondstead, although it is also observed in Alanko and parts of Questers; it commemorates King Leofrik, who according to traditional history led a band of Arian Germanic tribes from south Alisna across the Rytuic Sea into Sondstead.

Sondstead's national day is celebrated on 6 July (from which it's common Sondsteadish name, Suhta Jüliy, derives), commemorating the signing of the 1877 constitution, which created the modern federal, parliamentary system of government in Sondstead. It is traditionally celebrated by flying flags and green, red, and white ribbons, children's parades, and street markets.

Sports

Sondsteadish youths playing hockey on a lake in Fürteck.
Gamal Karimi is one of Sondstead's most prominent present day footballers.

The most popular sports in Sondstead by both number of participants and viewership are association football and ice hockey, the latter being officially designated the country's national winter sport. Sondstead's other national sport is shortball, a bat-and-ball game almost exclusive to Sondstead. While shortball is often seen as old-fashioned it is a staple activity in the Sondsteadish educational system. Other popular sports include bandy, golf, handball, skiing, tennis, and yachting.

In ice hockey, Sondstead has traditional fielded one of the strongest national teams in both men's and women's competition, rivaling Prekonate and Varnia. In 2010, 186,539 people, or 1.16% of the population, were registered members of the Sondstead Ice Hockey Federation, giving Sondstead the highest per capita participation by registered members in Maredoratica. The top-level Ishögiy FürstLigä was in 2013 ranked the fourth strongest in Maredoratica, after the Prekovi, Varnian, and Pollonan top leagues. The IFL comprises two divisions of eight teams each. Many of Sondstead's best players, such as Elias Allik, Frederik Rask, and Swen Mihäelssünr have moved to Prekovi teams, attracted by the level of prestige and higher pay in top-level play there.

In football, the Sondstead men's national team has historically been an average team, while the women's team is considered above average, attributed to the relative strength and prominence of women's sports in Sondstead compared to some countries. The men's team has qualified for the FMFA Maredoratic Cup nineteen times since it's first appearance in 1952 and peaked with the "golden generation" of players in the late 1960s and early 1970s, reaching fourth place in 1966 and 1972 (not equaled again until 2000) and it's best ever performance, third place, in 1968. Sondstead hosted the 2014 FMFA Maredoratic Cup, reaching the quarter finals.

Cross-country skiing and biathlon are also popular sports in Sondstead. Biathlon remains part of Sondsteadish military training and participation in the Army Ski-Shooting Meet (Hereskisjödingjmed), held every year in January or February around the town of Leäggeädn, is popular for men serving their mandatory national service.

In motorsports, Sondstead has produced some of the most successful rally drivers in Maredoratica, such as Maths Thórpe, who set the standing record completion time of the Ostrava-to-Angoulême Transwilassian Rally driving for Leier in 2004 and Sigge Nilssunr, who won the Driver's Cup of the Maredoratic Rally Championship twice in a row in 1994 and 1995 driving for Müller and again in 1998 driving for KMF. Sondstead's car manufacturers, and particularly KMF, have achieved major success in rallying.