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 Post subject: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:55 am 
Sanci
Sanci

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So my world is two continents, one larger, one smaller, and sub-continent/island, and it takes up only the eastern hemisphere of the planet. The planet is the same size as earth; the distance from the most western side of the smaller continent to the most eastern part of the larger continent can be seen as travelling from Morocco to China.

Here's an outline of the continents: http://i615.photobucket.com/albums/tt23 ... ilding.jpg

What my question is--is that whenever I draw political lines I tend to make small nation-states and I'm not sure if it's plausible. Is there a possible way that there can be quite a few small nation states with only a few large powers without their being fallout from a large empire or anything of the like? Also, this might help, the main tech level of the world is close to pre-industrial revolution to industrial revolution.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:35 am 
Lebom
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Europe1815_1905.jpg

That's pretty recent, and there are a whole lot of small countries.

Look at a modern map of Europe - lots of small countries in the East and South as well.

Central America and the Caribbean also have lots of small independent or semi-independent states.

What makes Europe unique, I think, is having lots of very habitable land interspersed with lots of natural barriers (high mountains, deep forests, etc.) so you had a lot of independent cultures springing up in different areas. Italy, while now united, was a conglomeration of independent nation states for a long time because you had a lot of old, wealthy, powerful cities and no real central power.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:42 am 
Sanci
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Ah, thank you so very much. Looking at the map I've drawn. I should probably erase some borders and make more medium sized states the majority. Thank you so very much, sir

-Ty


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:02 am 
Smeric
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I suppose that basically, most of the huge nations on earth are so huge only because there's lots of unsettled or at least sparsely settled land that doesn't lend itself too well to being cultivated (e.g. deserts). Take Russia/Siberia for example. Or Kazakhstan. Or Mongolia. Or much of western China. Or northern Canada. Or internal Australia. Or most parts of Saudi Arabia. Or Brazil. Or Argentina. I'm not sure about India, though..


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:14 am 
Sanci
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Very true. hmm, I wonder how I can make this world still realistic with a lot less inhospitable places. It seems whenever there are mountains there will be a desert or at least minor arid land.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:46 am 
Lebom
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spats wrote:
What makes Europe unique, I think, is having lots of very habitable land interspersed with lots of natural barriers (high mountains, deep forests, etc.) so you had a lot of independent cultures springing up in different areas. Italy, while now united, was a conglomeration of independent nation states for a long time because you had a lot of old, wealthy, powerful cities and no real central power.


Note: what follows is unresearched and probably wrong.

Europe's not unique at all in having lots of "independent cultures" all over the place. In fact, this is the default situation worldwide. Europe has lots of tiny countries nowadays, however, because the people in Europe are Rich and therefore able to fight off conquest. Tiny ethnicities in India, China, South America, North America, and Africa were not able to fight off colonial or empirical powers, and thus were incorporated into larger nation-states that oftentimes (vis. Africa, the Americas) had boundaries that made no sense at all with respect to the native cultural homelands. My hypothesis is that if wealth were evenly distributed worldwide, most countries would indeed be smaller, as no one culture could overrun and dominate as many other cultures as it wanted in building an empire.

-Rob


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:52 am 
Sanci
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Very, very good point. I should probably establish more geographic 'things' than just mountain ranges and a few rivers. I should figure out where the deposits of precious metals and gems are . . . and basically anything that makes a society strong.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:03 am 
Sumerul
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And if you ever have doubts again, you need only read the history of Switzerland. They are a small country (formed of even smaller Cantons) which has for centuries been surrounded (literally) by powers and still remained independent.

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:21 am 
Smeric
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your map reminds me of Azeroth from Warcraft. and no, I don't play WoW, I played the old ones, but you guys probably never heard of them, they're kind of a real gamer thing /hipster

but really, to answer the question with any degree of rationality we need to know more about your politics: nation states tend to be medium-to-large, feudal kingdoms tend to be multi-tiered, not just "states", but a complicated lattice of kingdoms, half-independent feuds, confederations and other shit, so you need to decide at which level you draw boundaries. Maybe you have half-totalitarian non-national civilizatory proyects like rome or alexandrian greece, in which case yeah, those tend to grow. Or maybe its just city-states, in which case boundaries become so many they're meaningless.

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:33 pm 
Smeric
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I have read that the size of countries depends a lot on natural barriers like mountains. Regions with a lot of such barriers tend to become decentralized and fragmented while those with few lend themselves to greater centralization. One can see this effect in the tendency of Mediæval Italy or ancient Greece to fragment into small city-states as opposed to China remaining consistently unified over thousands of years.

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:04 pm 
Lebom
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Eddy wrote:
I have read that the size of countries depends a lot on natural barriers like mountains. Regions with a lot of such barriers tend to become decentralized and fragmented while those with few lend themselves to greater centralization. One can see this effect in the tendency of Mediæval Italy or ancient Greece to fragment into small city-states as opposed to China remaining consistently unified over thousands of years.

Eddy:
China has a shit-ton of natural barriers. There are mountains everywhere in China.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:15 pm 
Smeric
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http://goo.gl/HgIsZ < A "terrain" map of China from Google Maps. Just before Eddy claims otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:17 pm 
Smeric
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HandsomeRob wrote:
Eddy:
China has a shit-ton of natural barriers. There are mountains everywhere in China.


I guess the source where I read that was wrong, then. I seem to recall it being a post on the ZBB summarizing something from Guns, Germs, and Steel.

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:53 pm 
Lebom
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Lots of mountain ranges. Preferably with lots of small fertile river valleys and lakes separated by really impenetrable mountains.

I reckon modern Europe is more composed of small states than in the 19th century, mostly because of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. For most of its history, India has not been a unified country; the norm has usually been for some sort of small empire in the northern river valleys alongside numerous smaller regional states.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_kingdoms_of_India

China is somewhat similar in that there were often numerous regional polities. The "Chinese" government sometimes exercised nominal rule over them, but was often unable to project power much or manage their affairs too heavily; this was the case with Tibet in the Ming and Qing eras, for example. And in addition to the splits that often occured in China itself, much of southern and western China was composed of independent states that got sucked into China fairly recently, like Dali. A lot of what happens in China is Chinese civilization historically focused on the two main rivers and the coast, and penetrated into the southeastern mountains, but took more time to dominate the various ethnic groups in the west and southwestern mountains. Or what you'll get is a period of fragmentation, which quickly coalesces into a new empire in the North China Plain due to the lack of geographical barriers, which then begins to reach out into the Chinese periphery again.

Another way to look at it is that empires are difficult and expensive to manage. It takes a lot of sophisticated communications, bureaucracy, and energy to project power over a distant region for a long time. And the modern norm of cohesive, stable large states is somewhat anomalous, made possible by advanced communications and information technology, motorized transport, and firearms. Relative cultural homogeneity helps, and an explicit process of "nationalization" of the population helps.

In the premodern era, it's relatively easy to amass a large group of warriors and send them off, since conquering warriors can survive on pillage rather than your own economic base, but this doesn't work as well to dominate a region once conquered. Most empires last only a century or so before burning out, only with significant "organizational technology" do they survive for long. In the early industrial timeframe, it seems likely that a state that has just invented machine guns and railroads would use them to try and take over the others.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:05 pm 
Smeric
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RAFBA

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:10 pm 
Smeric
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Gojera wrote:
I reckon modern Europe is more composed of small states than in the 19th century,

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(Holy Roman Empire in 1789. Source: Wikipedia)

But yeah, the Holy Roman Empire was probably kind of an extreme case.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:23 pm 
Lebom
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RAFBA?

Perhaps I should have said "late 19th century". The Congress of Vienna stuck the German principalities into the German Confederation, and both Germany and Italy underwent unification, so by 1871, you had this:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/med ... -1871-1914


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:24 pm 
Avisaru
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Eddy wrote:
I have read that the size of countries depends a lot on natural barriers like mountains. Regions with a lot of such barriers tend to become decentralized and fragmented while those with few lend themselves to greater centralization. One can see this effect in the tendency of Mediæval Italy or ancient Greece to fragment into small city-states as opposed to China remaining consistently unified over thousands of years.


Also, "consistently unified" is an oversimplification. It was a dynastic cycle where as each dynasty lost power, there would be a period of disunity, often with several warring states or kingdoms emerging until someone managed to re-unify it. The longest running dynasties lasted a little over 500 years, and those were before imperial power really had much strength (it was consolidated during the Qin and Han dynasties). Consider also that the territory of each dynasty varied, growing from the size of several European states together to at one point a greater territory than the PRC holds today.

HandsomeRob wrote:
Eddy:
China has a shit-ton of natural barriers. There are mountains everywhere in China.


Yes, as well as two major river systems (and a few smaller ones). The unity China was able to achieve was probably due more to political innovations (such as a professional beaurocracy) than geography.

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm 
Sanci
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Alright, Alright. I see that I'm going to have to work on my history a bit more. Figure out what happened to get these barriers. I was thinking about having a Holy Roman Empire-esque nation in existence as well. Looking at this map I can imagine the whole north western portion of the larger continent is probably mountainous and could become a European analog. Also, sorry that I only have that map to show and not an actual political map. I do not have any sort of photo editing software on my computer.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:40 pm 
Smeric
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@Guitarplayer: But wasn't the Holy Roman Empire basically one country, albeit with a great deal of internal division and such?

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:39 pm 
Smeric
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As far as I know (NOTE: I never claimed I was good at History) those principaities were pretty independent, which is why there was a confusing number of different currencies, measurements, laws etc. etc. Only with industrialization and the building of railroads an end was put to that mess. Then, as Gojera noted, in 1871 the Reich was founded.


Last edited by Jipí on Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:49 pm 
Smeric
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I liked the Holy Roman Empire situation enough to add it into my conworld. One of the states of the Poswob Empire, Nama, is actually an alliance of 31 kingdoms that for all practical purposes are independent nations, with their own laws, etc., despite being analogous to the counties of the other states. The kings still have to pay taxes to the imperial capital, but the common people don't pay any taxes to anyone but the kings.

btw, I suspect RAFBA is
"read a f--cking book already"

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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:56 pm 
Sanci
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Oh, I have read quite a few books on the matter. I even have a book all about the formation of Rome and how it worked right in front of me. I was/am just trying to see if anyone could find a plausible reason for their to be tining states instead of medium to large states.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:02 pm 
Smeric
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Soap wrote:
btw, I suspect RAFBA is
"read a f--cking book already"

I wondered what that means, too, and also who it was directed to.


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 Post subject: Re: Small states
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:13 pm 
Sanci
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Oh, I just assumed it was me. Also, this not having paint or anything of the like will irk me something fierce. But since the continents literally take up the same place as Africa and Asian would in our world (with a small ocean in between them) you can probably guess what the climates are for the world. I actually imagine a large desert in that middle subcontinent or on the lower part of the northern subcontinent of the large continent.


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