|Recognised regional languages||Danshali, Zuosa|
|Currency||Draconic Lotus (DRL)|
|Drives on the||right|
Astalva (IPA: /ʌˈstɑːl.vʌ/, Native language: Astalva, IPA: /ɑˈstʰɑːl.vʌ/), officially the [to be re-determined], is a country located on the northern islands of Nagu. The majority of the population is a race of sapient non-humans, but there are some regions where humans are the majority. Astalva is bordered by Danshapu to the east and Goal to the southwest, with the Dragon Sea to the south.
The common name for Astalva is the same as that of its largest island.
Astalva was an important link in the path from Miraria to Boroso in prehistoric human migrations. In its early history, Astalva was split amongst several different tribes and generally did not have any semblance of central powers. This began to change as a result of encroachment of foreign powers and interests such as Dhwer in the 8th to 13th centuries. In the [tbd] century, Zavriel began to grow in power, rising to become an important city-state in the region. This growth was bolstered by success as a trade hub and status as a tax haven at the time. By the [tbd] century, all of Astalva was united as a single nation.
Zveah religion holds that the lives of all sapient species are of equal value, and as such that they all should be treated with respect whenever possible. As such, the Zveahs were historically somewhat well prepared to establish international trade on peaceful terms with other nations, helping them get a leg up on other astalvi cultural groups which may have treated unfamiliar humans with suspicion.
Despite this, their religious views also turned out to inadvertently make them quite effective at eliminating human populations throughout Astalva while establishing their own settlements in their place. While consuming members of one's own species is forbidden in Zveah teachings (which applies for all sapients), and murder is forbidden regardless of species, there are no rules specifically forbidding the consumption of other sapient species if they are already dead anyway. As a result, Zveah victories against human tribes often ended with the human casualties being cooked in preparation for a large feast or preserved for future consumption, once the standard Zveah funeral rites had been performed on them. Unfortunately, many human tribes would have seen both of these acts to be horrifically disrespectful, sometimes leading to further conflicts. Still, this practice proved to be quite effective; this was especially true during famines, when the additional source of food allowed them to remain better nourished than their neighbors. While this was not the only factor in their historical expansion throughout Astalva, it is seen as a major contributor to their successful spread.
Geologically, Astalva consists of several islands, primarily the island of Astalva itself, with a few surrounding islands of moderate size and a chain of small islands in the northwest. The island of Astalva is comprised of two distinct lobes of similar size joined by a narrow isthmus in the middle. The western lobe possesses a prominent mountain range along its northern coast, and the eastern lobe likewise is mountainous in its northern regions as well, with a coastal mountain range along the northeast and highlands to its south.
Astalva has a temperate to subtropical climate, strongly influenced by the ocean surrounding it and the lack of large rain shadows from its mountains. The majority of Astalva receives similar levels of rain in summer as in winter, with an average tendency towards dry summers. A small region in the east, however, observes monsoon seasons with considerably greater rainfall during the summer.
The range of climates and biomes throughout Astalva, combined with large regions of intact forests, help contribute to quite considerable biodiversity for a non-tropical region. However, this is tempered somewhat however by the indigenous population, and even accounting for pressure from hunting, the high overall diversity is not necessarily reflected in all regions.
Astalva has a mixed representative demarchy/democracy system of government. There are no official or recognized political parties, although interest groups for various causes and ideologies are commonplace.
The government is split into three main divisions: legislative, executive, and judicial. Terms generally last 3 years for legislators, with an option for a double term.
Astalva's relations with other nations outside of its local cultural spheres (Nagu and the Draconic Islands to Soltenna) tends to be influenced strongly by racial equality and treatment. Distant nations where slavery is allowed are often completely embargoed, and those where non-humans have few to no rights tend to be seen in a strongly negative light.
Astalva's economy is varied, including agriculture, shipping and trade industries, and the mining of coal and various metals.
Transport between cities is generally by boat, airplane, or train. While many long-distance public highways accessible by motor vehicles (in addition to non-motor vehicles) exist, few are able to support high-speed traffic: many have very rough paving if any. Most rural locales are within a few hours' travel of a train station, and cities often have streetcars and buses, with the largest cities having metro systems as well.
As of 2017, Astalva still gets a large amount of its energy from burning fuels, whether sourced from petroleum and coal or from biomass. However, wind and solar energy generation have shown increasing uptake since 2008. Solar has already become the main source of electrical power in isolated rural areas, where maintaining coal power plants and bringing power in from distant plants are both impractical.
Science and technology
Astalva's population consists almost entirely of Astalvis (as in the species), consisting of over 90% of the population, with Humans making up most of the rest. A few Kavs and Dalar minority groups also exist. Of the Astalvi (species) population, a plurality are of Zveah descent (~45%), followed by [tbd] (~25%), [tbd] (~15%), and [tbd] (~10%), with the remaining groups making up the last 5%. Human ethnicities mainly divide into the Danshahi (35%), [tbd] (~25%), and [tbd] (15%), with other groups filling out the rest. Kavs and Dalar both tend to be present in localized groups, with Kavs tending to be more common in the south, and Dalar generally being more abundant around the northern coast, with the greatest number in Zavriel.
Zveahe is the official language of Astalva, and is the most widely spoken language. About 70% of citizens speak Zveahe natively (whether alone or alongside another language), with another 20% speaking it as a second language. Other languages are also found in Astalva, including Danshali, [tbd], and Zuosa.
The Zveah religion ([zveahe name tbd]) is the most commonly practiced religion, with about 60% of the population practicing it. Following this are [danshapu's main religion] ([% tbd]) and Paeugism (15%).
Traditional Astalvi paintings are often distinctively dichromatic, with blue-yellow color schemes, omitting the distinction between red and green entirely, as astalvis (non-human) have dichromatic vision and cannot readily distinguish red, green, and yellow. Ancient art often mixes up these colors, leading to color combinations that can seem garish to typical human eyes. Despite this, there is a history of Astalvi artists attempting to include aspects of trichromacy into their work so that it could appear relatively normal to a wider audience, even if they themselves are unable to perceive it as such.
Another movement in Astalvi art, beginning around [tbd], focused on utilizing the interplay between monochromatic and color vision at low light levels, as the eye's rod cells have a different peak sensitivity to cone cells. Some attempted to simulate new colors this way, whereas others used the concept to make their art's appearance shift and develop new features in low light conditions.
Astalva has a long tradition of lacquerware, with examples ranging from simplistic to intricately detailed. Yellow ochre, white chalk and black iron oxides are the most common pigments utilized. Gold, silver and gold-platinum leaf are also sometimes used to add decorative pictures or patterns on the surface with a mirror-like finish, sometimes with protective layers of lacquer on top (especially in the case of silver leaf).
Traditional Astalvi music tends to feature vocals, string instruments, flutes, and lamellophones. The most common scales are generally pentatonic, heptatonic, and decatonic.
At the time historical records begin, Astalvi music was based upon two main 7 note scale classes, soft and hard. Soft scales involved predominantly 5-limit intervals, sometimes including intervals featuring the 11th harmonic. These scales featured a mixture of medium and small tones with large semitones. Hard scales involved predominantly 7-limit harmonies which excluded the 5th harmonic. These generally featured medium and large tones with small semitones.
In the modern day the majority of Astalvi music is conceptualized within the framework of 22 equal divisions of the octave (aka 22edo), and most fixed-pitch instruments made within the last X years are tuned to this system. Under this framework, the medium and large tones are now the same size, both equivalent to 4 steps, and all small tones are equated with 3 steps. One step represents the small semitone, and stacking two of them yields the large semitone.
The nature of 22edo leads to the soft and hard scale classes including 'natural' scale forms with special properties. The natural hard scales can be made from a chain of 6 perfect fifths, the maximum possible in a 7-note scale, minimizing the number of diminished chords in the scale. Meanwhile, the natural soft scales can be made from a chain of 6 small tones, also the maximum possible, which causes them to be the most evenly distributed 7 note scales possible. However, as the just 5-limit major and minor scales both have more consonant chords, they tend to be more common than other soft scales.
In addition to the hard and soft heptatonic scales, decatonic scales are also common. Based on chains of semitones separated by small tones, these 10 note scales can also be seen as being based upon two parallel pentatonic scales constructed from perfect fifths. These scales also support various 7 note scales within them (such as the "double harmonic major" or "hijaz" scales of Earth) that can be used as melodic backbones for musical development, with the extra notes allowing additional expression. Interestingly, these 7 note subsets do not always include the main notes of the primary chords within the scale, thus often leading these sub-scales to 'resolve' into chords that are more representative of the full 10 note scale. Half-octave intervals are abundant in these scales, and in fact the "natural" form repeats its step pattern exactly at the half-octave.
Astalvi cuisine makes primary use of eggs, meat, fruits, insects, and pseudo-cereals such as millet and amaranth. Unlike most other cultures in Nagu, however, Astalvi cuisine also makes use of dairy in the form of hard cheeses. These cheeses can be used sliced, but are more commonly found used as seasonings in a finely grated form. The largest exception to this is a cheese comparable to casu marzu (made by allowing a block of hard cheese to be "fermented" by cheese fly larvae), which is commonly eaten with fried meats and insects or spread onto flatbreads.
A sizable portion of the population refrains from eating eggs or dairy in combination with meat taken from the same species of animal. For example, eating beef with a goat's milk cheese would be acceptable, but eating beef with a cow's milk cheese is generally considered to be improper. It is not the act of eating the combination that is considered disrespectful, but the act of combining them to begin with.
The most popular sport in Astalva is [name tbd], a widespread sport throughout Nagu and one of the few sports for which Astalva sends teams to participate in international tournaments. It is comparable to kickball, but the batter serves their own ball and can opt to either kick it or hit it with their arms.