|Republic of Gfiewistan
|Motto: "Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan sklatawo hattilbe"
(Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan Forever, and After)
|Anthem: Trunakoda tan
|Recognised regional languages||Siortan, Tlulmerdi|
|South Jutean, Osterian, Atruozan and Maponic languages|
|Government||Federal non-partisan parliamentary republic|
|-||First major chiefdoms||~400|
|-||United as a monarchy||1572|
|-||Abolition of monarchy||1852|
236,155 sq mi
|GDP (nominal)||2018 estimate|
|Time zone||Northeast Ystelian Mean Time (SCT+6:30)|
|-||Summer (DST)||Not observed (SCT)|
|Drives on the||right|
Gfiewistan (Gfiewish: Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan ['gʷɪəʍ.ʒəʝə.knʂɪʊɹ.jə.ʒɪʊʂ.ˌtɐn]), officially the Republic of Gfiewistan, is a country located on the continent of Ystel. It borders Mermelia and South Jute in the west and northwest, and the Ersaj river forms the border with Lufasa in the northeast and most of the border with Saant in the east. Osteria is located to the south of Gfiewistan. In the southwest, the country has access to the Dark Sea.
Having been inhabited by humans for about five thousand years, it remained a land divided into agricultural chiefdoms of varying sizes and independence until Sigfret the Pious arrived in Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan in the 16th century and united the nation under the religion of Iovism, and installing himself as the God-sanctioned king of all Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostanians. Reformation attempts did not happen and the country remains orthodox to these days. In the 19th century, romantic nationalism and the revolutionary Republican movement originating in Hatariew led to the monarchy, centered in Slakkariew, being abolished in 1852, and feudalism gave way to a mostly free market economy. Gfiewistan has since then remained a federal republic and is today a middle-income country with strong agrarian, production and emerging service sectors. It is a member of the Ystelian Community and as such also of the AEIOU.
Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan is etymologically a word compound, which are common in the Gfiewish language. It translates to "Land of the People near icy rocks in (the) sea".
The first people on Ystel were originally Baredinan mesolithic hunter-gatherers, who around the year 3000 BC reached the continent via the island of Zexari, crossing two narrow straits south of the Lhisfa Sea in the process, and then migrated further east and north. Three hundred years later, around 2700-2600 BC, the first mesolithic settlements existed in the Ersaj plain, and the first neolithic culture appeared around 1000 BC.
It would however take until 400 AD for the first dominant chiefdoms to emerge that managed to dominate neighboring ones. Chiefs resided in a fortress in larger villages, or rarely, proper towns. These settlements were now increasingly defined by such proper defensive structures, as by 450 AD a first fortress had been established in the location of modern-day Hatariew, with permanent agricultural settlements around it. This indicated a time of increased violent conflicts: attackers had to be repelled to protect one’s settlement, and to that end villagers had to put obstacles in the way of those seeking to raid and take over. Palisades were among the most common. Simple, made from local materials (mostly wood, sometimes reinforced by ropes, rarely also some metal), but surprisingly effective.
They created a protected perimeter, a wall of wooden logs and/or planks that defenders could hide behind when needed. Small boulders or elevated platforms served as a way to conduct close combat from behind them or as a way to throw spears or stones at invaders. Pottery and buckets found near them could have been used either to store spears, or possibly boiling water to pour on any attackers. Some settlements also had ditches built across the perimeter to add a second obstacle.
Palisades didn’t just protect settlements, spiritual sites and temples also had these protections. They were frequently found a fair distance from dwellings, often inside forests or on hills, and their palisades were often decorated with metal disks showing elements of the night sky or mythological beings. Many of those sites had stone or wooden towers as lookouts near the palisades, which were not just used to observe the weather during the day and the stars at night, but also to scout for enemies on the horizon and to rain death on them. These towers were however limited to places of religious importance, oral tradition states laypeople weren’t allowed to get so close to the stars and were supposed to do other work, such as farming, animal husbandry, handcraft, trade or military training.
Trade and conquest of surrounding chiefdoms and tribes also was what led prehistoric Hatariew to hold a sizable amount of power and wealth at the beginning of the seventh century, and by 700 AD its influence already reached across the river to what would later become Lufasa. In 780 AD the town had already grown enough that new city walls as well as a new stone fortress were erected.
In 1080 AD the chiefdom of Hatariew engaged in its first major war with its roughly equally powerful rival in the west, Xelsamt. After a year of fighting the war ended with no larger gains for either side. Nonetheless, it continued to expand and had by the beginning of the thirteenth century consolidated its grip on the northern plains on both sides of the Ersaj.
In the south, the chief of Slakkariew, at the time still only a large, slowly growing village at the bay, was building up influence and and extracting increasing amounts of taxes and other fees from villages and trading posts in the region to be able to maintain a sizable army and construct what would later be known as the Bay Castle, among many other buildings in Slakkariew now part of the old town. The main economic rival and wealthy trading hub Wiftalne located at the Dark Sea long resisted the authority of the chief and resorted to clandestine trading to evade taxes. Upon the discovery of this, the chief of Slakkariew laid siege to the town and after a successful conquest imprisoned most of the population and confiscated the wealth of the town.
With the arrival of writing on Ystel in the 1300s, historical records become increasingly more common, one of the first known being the first documented mention of the city of Hatariew in a letter guaranteeing privileges to the local nobility in 1322. Further ones mention a second war between Hatariew and Xelsamt in 1379 that resulted in the former losing most of its territory west of its capital.
With writing came also many reforms, administrative and political. Among the major chiefdoms of the time, both Hatariew and Slakkariew in the south became more centralized in the 15th century, both establishing rudimentary bureaucracies in their territories, the former in the 1450s-60s and the latter in the 1420s and 1430s. Kauslat and Tanla, located geographically between the two local powers, retain a more decentralized model.
In 1521 they jointly wage war against Hatariew, which in response founds an alliance with their previous enemy Xelsamt (now Tlulmerd) and Kebbzol, a minor tributary chiefdom between Kauslat and Hatariew and thereby manages to repel the invasion in 1523. As a result, a year later during the peace negotiations, Tlulmerd gains some territory from Tanla, and in return for making the alliance permanent gives some land back to Hatariew. With that, the modern borders between the three have been largely set and change little in the following centuries.
Early modern history
The beginning of the Great Unification War of Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan in 1567 marks the beginning of the modern era of the land. Starting from the south Slakkariew conquers with the help of allies over the course of the following years all independent Gfiewish chiefdoms and their client chiefdoms in the name of Iovism. The last holdouts in Kebbzol and Lufasa are defeated in in 1572, and the chief of Slakkariew declares himself God-sanctioned king of all Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostanians, his castle in Slakkariew becoming the royal palace and the city of Slakkariew the capital of the kingdom.
In the years after unification, missionaries attempt to convert every corner of the newly formed state towards Iovism, and many monasteries and libraries are established. Although some pagan beliefs remain popular in some regions and other ones retain a minority who hold on to their old religion, this process of missionizing is largely finished by 1577, with the exception of Lufasa, where traditional beliefs remain in the majority until the 18th century and even after that continue to exist in syncretic faiths combining aspects of Iovism and pre-Iovist religions. The religion with its customs and values are otherwise enforced in all of Gfiewistan by a monopoly on education and printing that Iovist temples are granted by the royal court. In Lufasa the local Jutic culture is increasingly suppressed with the goal of breaking the resistance to orthodox Iovism.
Major rebuilding efforts and expansion of the city of Hatariew started at the beginning of the 17th century and secure the status of the city as commercial center in the north, at times even overshadowing the capital. Most important goods remain Lufasan agricultural products and reed-based products from Kebbzol. The rise as a trade hub culminated in the first bank and foreign trading station being opened in 1628 after being granted a royal license and was a major factor in trade expanding to now cover all of Gfiewistan and the neighboring countries, including southern ones like Osteria. A permission to use the Ersaj up until the mouth of the river negotiated with Mermelia in 1701 leads to a further boost of commerce and leads to the capital Slakkariew being completely eclipsed in that regard. With the amassed wealth, the wealthiest merchants finance the construction of a new main temple, located on a hill near the city center. It becomes an important symbol of the city and even Gfiewistan in general.
Aside from trade and the economy, science and education also flourished. Religious schools were founded across the land in every county and there was a lot of scientific exchange with Mermelia and Nevira, and even books from far away countries like Achiyitqan started reaching the country and were translated and read. Two universities were founded, the Royal University in Slakkariew in 1619, and the Northern University of Trade and Agriculture (later Northern Business University, today simply Northern University) in Hatariew in 1762. However, in Hatariew, being located far away from the royal capital Slakkariew, the royal court had trouble enforcing its tight control of media and education. The monopoly of Iovist temples in both fields became cracks for the first time as students and researchers began to research independently, ignoring old academic and religious dogmas and after some time even beginning to publish not just academic tracts, but newspapers openly challenging government policy and exposing corruption and dysfunctionality. Due to support by the local nobility who saw this as a check on the growing authority of the central government the royal court had to back off and agreed to relax control on media and education for the first time. However, outside of Hatariew and the surrounding regions (The state of Hatariew and Lufasa), this barely led to changes yet, with censorship simply being replaced by self-censorship. Iovist temples still dominated in media and education and this continued to be propped up by the government.
See also: Gfiewish republican revolution
The modern era in Gfiewish history is said to begin in the year of 1811, when sweeping administrative reforms in all of Gfiewistan establish the modern state borders and the bureaucracy significantly expanded to respond to the growing needs of the government of a large, modernizing country. Despite this, and to some degree because of this, a period of imperial decline, corruption and mismanagement set in, and foreign expansionist ambitions that were pursued at the expense of solving these internal problems repeatedly failed. This led to growing wave of anti-clerical and anti-government sentiments, starting out again in Hatariew, but thanks to an increasingly bolder and more critical media spread quickly throughout the entire country. A republican movement was born that thanks to widespread popular support managed to dethroned the royalty in the republican revolution of 1852. Its center, the university city of Hatariew, became the new capital of the country. In Lufasa the republican movement had also been characterized by nationalistic tendencies in response to increasing efforts to suppres the local culture, and so the country separated in the same year. However, while freedom of the press and academic freedom were now enshrined in the constitution, support for radical anti-clericalism quickly ebbed as the tacit agreement of Iovist temples, or in some cases their active help, had been key to the success of the revolution, and so Iovism remained a state religion and in charge of education and welfare programs. In the following years, trade and research nonetheless expanded significantly and manufacturing became a key economic sector.
Industrialization arrived fairly late to Gfiewistan, traditionally dated to 1901 when the first steel plant opened. The first passenger train starts running a year later, between the factories and residential quarters of Astlem and the harbor of Weishriew. In 1903 the line is opened to the general public. A railway building boom ensues, with several competing steel mills, shipyards and inventors constructing railways, connecting at first major cities with surrounding towns and later the cities with each other as well, using either self-constructed engines or imported ones.
Alongside industrialization comes a modernization of the still largely medieval system of education starting in 1930. Visiting school for six years is now mandatory, and many new schools are built, however they remain controlled by temples and monasteries. In 1932, labor laws are enacted that outlaw children working in mines or factories, enforce basic work safety and the right to strike and also limit the hours allowed in a week to 60 (later 48). Finally, in 1975, secular and publicly funded education is after a lot of controversy and debate established, with public schools built in the capital and regions deemed in need of better education infrastructure.
Situated in a cold climate, the nation is covered mostly by boreal forests with some mixed forests in the north. The southeast wetlands are home to the Gfiewjknsior beast, a frog species native to the country. The nation is rather mountainous in the southeast but the remainder of the land is rather flat, with the areas near the coast in the southwest as well as along the three major rivers, Ersaj, Takenfa and its bigger tributaries and Mewe only being few meters above sea level.
Gfiewistan is home to four climate zones in accordance with the Köppen Climate Classification System. By far, the largest climate zone by both population and area is Warm-summer Humid Continental (Dfb), which covers a significant majority of the country, from a rough line around the 52nd parallel south to the northern border of the nation bar a small line straddling the northeastern border. Along said border, a sliver of Hot-summer Humid Continental (Dfa) can be found, where the country's warmest (and muggiest) summers can be found, with the hottest month average highs around 26-27 degrees Celsius. It is also here where the mildest winters can be found, with coldest month average highs sitting around -1°C to -2°C at their mildest. In the south, notably in areas relatively near and adjacent the coast, as well as in the Galsnio panhandle, Subarctic climate types can be found (Dfc and Dsc). This largely consists of Dfc, with Dry-summer Subarctic (Dsc) being contained largely to the higher elevations in the mountains within the panhandle. It is in the panhandle that the coldest winters can be found, with the coldest settlements seeing average coldest month highs resting around a bitter -16°C.
Snow cover persists in the south for around 5-7 months of the year, with most of the country experiencing 3-5 months of snow cover on average, that value decreasing to only around 2-3 months in the far northeast (albeit with the possibility of snowfall and as such, intermittent snow cover, for 5-6 months).
Gfiewistan has been a federal republic consisting of 15 states, with parliamentary representation by means of democratically elected non-partisan representatives, since 1852. Prior to this it had been briefly the Empire of Ystel, and before that until 1833 officially the Sovereign Kingdom of all Gfiewish people. The system operates in accordance with the Gfiewish constitution, adopted 1855, which provides the political and legal framework for the country.
Despite a constitutional ban on political parties, informal political factions do exist. They are often organized in clubs, which are mostly independent of each other, having no affiliation beyond similar political views. During and before elections, they may work together (although mergers are illegal), but they may also fight among themselves or cooperate with clubs from other movements. The four most significant factions are nationalist conservatives, social liberals, economic libertarians and traditionalist conservationists. They are recognized by having a distinct color and symbol.
A president, elected by parliament, forms the head of state, while a chancellor is governing the country with the help of half a dozen department leaders, all with approval of the parliament. The six departments are Security, Freedom, Land, Water, People, Obligations.
The Department of Security forms the oldest department, having existed since the 16th century, and is responsible for defense and national security, intelligence gathering, internal security, law enforcement, prison management, consumer and workplace safety, aviation and general traffic safety and immigration control.
The Department of Freedom was founded after the revolution in 1852 and deals with issues regarding the court system, civil rights, political freedoms, asylum requests, diplomatic relations to other countries and intergovernmental organizations and all embassies.
The Department of Land, also a post-revolutionary department, is responsible for questions of land ownership, forestry, agriculture, welfare and husbandry of land animals, environmental questions, natural resources on land including land-generated electricity as well as land-based shipping and other traffic on land.
The Department of Water was similarly created after the end of the monarchy and its responsibilities include issues regarding fishing, marine and river environments, marine and river resources, the water supply, water-generated electricity, the weather service, lighthouses, ports and water-based shipping and other traffic on water.
The Department of People was founded in the 18th century and deals with questions regarding among other things citizenship, public administration, public education and education policy, healthcare policy, labor questions, economic regulations not covered by other ministries.
The Department of Obligations was also founded in the 18th century and is responsible for public finances, taxation, customs and other fees as well as state banks.
The Tujasweltsal is the legislative branch of the Gfiewish government. The first parliaments in Gfiewistan were a meeting of the nobility, which is still reflected in the Gfiewish word for "parliament", Tujasweltsal, translating to "meeting of nobility" or more literally "meeting of the generous people".
The acceptance of such a meeting and its decisions by all states was historically based on every state getting equal say with an equally-sized delegation. Attempts to change that always were seen as risking upset the political stability and order on which the country was founded. As a result, every state has five representatives, despite many having a relatively small population. Even after the republican revolution in 1852 reform movements never saw any success, however elections for all 75 members of parliament every four years were introduced. The speaker remains the sole position not decided on popular vote.
For similar reasons of continuity and legitimacy, many traditions from medieval times, or from later centuries, are maintained in modern times. Despite the abolition of all royal privileges after 1852 parliaments are still treated like a meeting of the most important parts of nobility from all over the country, and therefore every member of parliament is treated like nobility and expected to behave like one, including adapting the extravagant mannerisms, rites, and what is widely seen as exaggerated and pompous rhetoric.
Gfiewish courts, like the parliament, adhere to a lot of arcane procedures, rituals and traditions that take up a decent part of law school. Many of them were originally adopted to ensure a successful trial that allows both sides to retain their honor and agree to the final settlement.
One example is how every person, regardless of their status as judge, lawyer, defendant or mere spectator is required to wear robes, hats and a badge showing their position in court. For those unable or unwilling to afford them, they can be borrowed in the court. This originated from the desire of the nobility to not want to face the embarrassment of having to argue and justify themselves in front of people that were clearly from other parts of society, so for the duration of the trial they were to be treated as nobility, creating a warped kind of egalitarianism in trials.
This also involves being appointed a special court name modeled after a typical name of a nobleperson that is to be kept in a special registry as well as in any files of the trial. To help keep up the pretense, defendants and suitors are supposed to let their lawyer do most of the talking, although a pro se defense with no lawyer is legal, just heavily discouraged, as being found to be in contempt of court is likely.
Archaic language is commonly used in many phrases, and language in general in the entire trial is very regulated to the point of it resembling a play with different actors and storylines.
This court system has its origins in the medieval courts of the various chiefs that ruled over parts of Gfiewistan. The most dominant influence has been from the courts of the chiefdom that forcibly unified Gfiewistan for the first time in the 16th century, and to a lesser extent from Hatariew courts after the republican revolution in 1852.
The local courts of many other states retain various regional differences, although due to past attempts uniformization of the codes of procedure they are more often mostly limited to formalities, aesthetics of robes and courtrooms and several other minor issues to ensure federal law is judged consistently across the country.
On top of having to effectively be actors in addition to knowing how to practice law, lawyers often also take over the role of detectives or leaders of a private investigation, as in the past there was either no official investigation, or one often deemed to be incompetent, corrupt, or otherwise compromised. Lawyers may often work together with detectives working in official positions, but this is always depending on the willingness of the detective in question to collaborate. Evidence found by lawyers acting as detectives may also only be presented at the trial if it has been registered in the local court record before, and accepted by the judge heading the trial in question.
Overall, the judiciary branch is made up by the supreme court and fifteen state courts, with the state judges elected by local politicians concerned with justice and the state's parliamentary members in conjunction. Furthermore, most counties have their own court, with the exception of those forming a county union, where a county union court exists instead.
Main article: States of Gfiewistan
Gfiewistan is divided into 15 states, which in turn are divided into counties, and below that municipalities. State capitals always form their own county, and might or might not have further subdivisions in the form of city boroughs. Some towns are equivalent to municipalities, other ones form part of them. In some states, several counties can form a union below state level (e. g. Tlulmerd) which takes over some functions carried out by county councils in other states. In cities, several functions carried out by municipal governments in less urban regions are taken over by the city government.
Non-interventionism and advocating for free trade (including labor) have been the pillars of the foreign policy for the longest time of the existence of the republic, which can therefore be summed up with "as little as possible, as much as necessary", or free-trade isolationist. However, in recent decades the necessity of collaboration with neighbors have become more obvious, leading to the general opposition to multilateral agreements and international organizations being dropped and Gfiewistan becoming a founding member of the Ystelian Community in the interest of freer trade and exchange.
International Congress membership is however still rejected, although a number of political movements do not categorically rule out support of military interventions any longer, with only the libertarians and conservationists still upholding the earlier principle of strict non-interventionism.
Conscription is mandatory, and everyone aged 18-20 has to serve either in the military or in accredited charity services for a year after completing education. Whereas the relatively large military was originally founded purely to defend the country in the case of war, it is now used for limited reconnaissance and local peacekeeping as well as expanded deterrence missions as well and participation in military interventions has become a future possibility.
With the cold, clear water bordering the nation on one side, and lush forests in much of the rest of it, fishing, hunting and forestry have traditionally been the strongest sector of the economy in the southern half of the country, and the continue to be important to this day. Fishing in particular, combined with animal husbandry (especially sheep) remains a backbone for the coastal parts of the country. The northern half was historically dominated by agriculture, especially buckwheat, and animal husbandry (sheep and cattle), although much of it, especially towns and counties alongside major waterways in the east and northeast, underwent industrialization about a century ago and became centers of production, such as steel, machine or clothes.
Since the early 2010s most of them have slowly been transitioning away to a more service-oriented economy, with the largely Hatariew-based insurance, banking and import-export trade sectors nowadays contributing the most to the country's gross domestic product, followed by the transport and domestic commerce sector and manufacturing sector, all roughly of equal size. Manufacturing is now dominated by light industries, with heavy industry such as steel being on the decline and production of machines stagnant. Household items, such as clothes or baskets or mats made from reed, as well as food products make up the bulk of production nowadays. The soda industry in particular has been growing a lot in recent years and shown to be very successful both domestically as well as on international markets.
Main article: Transport in Gfiewistan
Roads are generally kept well in shape, as the car is the most common way of transport in the country. Trains used to be of major importance in the first half of the century, connecting the cities, state capitals and most other major towns, but after the construction of the national highway system in the 1960s and 1970s only three lines remained, going from Hatariew to Swofiewkust at the sea coast in the south, to Weishriew in the East and between Gordxersma and Dillariewis in the central south. Ferry connections exist in the bay of Slakkariew, the river Ersaj and on the river Takenfa and is tributaries and connect various towns.
Public transit network only exist in the five biggest cities, the capital Hatariew, the old residential city Slakkariew as well as Weishriew (where the first train station in Gfiewistan was built), Tanlariewis and Dillariewis, where they have city bus networks or in the case of Hatariew commuter rail sharing the railway of heavy rail. Most other towns are, if they don't have a ferry line stop or railway station, only served by country buses, and some lack this as well.
Fossil fools are still largely used, though investments in alternate energy forms are being made all over the country and an effort to transition to them completely is being planned in several states.
Science and technology
Hatariew is the academic center of Gfiewistan, and the local university, while being one of two full-scale universities in the country, is mostly centered aroud agricultural and engineering research. The university of Slakkariew, the other comprehensive university of Gfiewistan is largely devoted to fishing and environmental studies, but is also known for its humanities faculty, particular its department of history. Both cities also have a medical research center.
The rough countryside of the south, especially of the states of Twilm and Galsnio attracts a lot of visitors, both domestic and international every year, and the two largest cities are popular with city tourists. Slakkariew for its historical and cultural heritage as well as modern trendy districts, Hatariew for its food scene, museums and varied cityscapes.
The rather cold climate and somewhat remote location lead to the population never growing as high as in some other nations. Only lately, with the onset of modernization in agriculture, has the population been increasing, from 595,000 in 1852 (first census) to 2,456,275 today.
Together with the isolationist policies, this has resulted in it remaining largely homogeneous (though there are two native ethnic minorities, the Siortan and Tlulmerdi), with many people being able to knowing their ancestors in Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan up to several hundred years ago, but the recent success of the economy has caused a change a trend reversal, with now more and more people from abroad coming to Gfiewgjknsiorjgiostan in search for jobs. Most of them are from neighboring countries or lands, especially Mermelia, South Jute, Lufasa and Osteria.
About a third of the population lives in the five biggest cities, with the rest living in various smaller towns and rural settlements.
|City||IPA||Metro area population||State|
Gfiewish, the national language spoken by virtually all people in the land, is part of the Ystelic language family, the most widespread on the continent of Ystel. While a lot of businessmen and women have learned other languages for trade, for example Neviran, Osterian or a language spoken in Mermelia, much of the population remains monolingual. Immigrants tend to speak other languages, as well, mostly at home, but almost everyone of them knows Gfiewish as well.
Main article: Ystelian Iovism
The overwhelming majority remains Ystelian Iovist, which branched off from Orthodox Iovism in the 16th century when it was brought to Gfiewish lands by Sigfret the Pious, who used it to unify the country, mostly by force. The main religious centers are Slakkariew the historical royal seat, and Hatariew, the capital of the republic. However, not as many are practicing Iovians as a hundred years ago.
Orthodox Iovism itself is mostly practiced in the state of Tlulmerd in the northwest of the country by the Tlulmerdi community, an ethnic minority that differentiated itself by basing their conversion directly on canonical Iovist texts rather than the preachings of Gfiewish missionaries.
There are also a few Reformed Iovist communities, and very few people with other religions, mostly in the capital Hatariew, which has the only Mysticism temple of the nation.
Piir (Pre-Iovist indigenous religion)
Main article: Piir (Pre-Iovist indigenous religion)
Though barely practiced these days in Gfiewistan aside from by some revivalist societies and a few isolated communities, mostly in Ghaklmbu, the cultural legacy and significance of Piir, the pre-Iovist religion is immense in Gfiewistan. Many Piir rites and beliefs were incorporated into Ystelian Iovism, and many heritage monuments remain visible throughout the country.
This section requires expansion: other parts of Gfiewish culture
The population is rather devout, but has a mentality that puts a large emphasis on self-help and self-reliance, and generally has a reputation of being stoic and not very talkative.
Despite a majority of Gfiewish people living in towns with more than 5,000 people, and only 15 % live in settlements with less than 1,000 people, the countryside still has a huge cultural influence on life in Gfiewistan. It is the most popular place for vacations, with many temples and sacred forests a place for spirituality, and both in media and the popular imagination frequently portrayed as the location where life is more authentic, more meaningful and therefore more desirable.
This has roots in prehistoric times, when forests were places of religious importance. With the introduction of Iovism as state religion in the 16th century many temples were built in the countryside to allow priests and visitors contemplate life and loneliness better. Hermits were seen as better equipped to deal with spiritual questions.
Soon after a royal court developed, and later the first merchant elites, the first vacationing in the countryside began. The air, open landscapes with vast greens, remarkable flowers and clean rivers drew their attention and became a common subject of poetry, usually alliterative acrostics, a style that would become the most well-known Gfiewish type of poems. Early sagas and later novels would never fail to contrast the perceived or real pristine countryside with the messy city, even if some would on occasion describe city life as equally livable in a different way.
However, it was during the development of romantic nationalism that works centering the countryside, aside from written works now increasingly paintings and songs as well, that would look not just to forest and meadows as places of beauty, but inherent virtue in comparison to the corruption at the royal court in the capital and the abuses of the garrisons in other towns. The countryside, that was where people made a honest living with no dirty tricks or schemes, it was where liberty rather than coercion reigned, a place where no one was entitled to social privileges by birth alone. These themes were key in developing a new national identity that was no longer tied to any king or queen and that would lead to the republican revolution in the mid-19th century.
As industrialization progressed, and with it cities would get wealthier, but often also dirtier, the desire for the countryside grew anew, and whoever could afford it would now take vacations far away from urban areas, just like the royal court and rich merchants had done it already centuries before. Cheap holiday cottages were built in large numbers, or farm houses converted into one, and a domestic tourism industry begun to emerge.
By the late 20th century, vacations, at least day trips to e.g. a nearby river village or retreat in the hills, became affordable to almost every household. Subcultures and movements that tried to bring the countryside into the city emerged, and became especially popular with academics and writers in Slakkariew, the old royal residence town. Magazines and self-help books for people interested in farm life became hugely popular. A growing amount of urban inhabitants has moved out to less densely populated states to take up a profession as a shepherd, farmer, or a similar. Most end up moving back into town after a few months or years due to economical difficulties or trouble adjusting to the reality of life in the countryside.
Main article: Gfiewish cuisine
The cuisine of Gfiewistan can be broadly separated into three large regional ones.
The first one extends from the coastal states to the Mewe and Hwleftemt rivers and relies heavily on fish, either saltwater or freshwater, and root vegetables like beets. Chamomile tea and beer, and berry juices and wine are the most common beverages.
The second regional cuisine can be found in the southeasternmost parts of the country, especially in the panhandle. Hunted meat with gathered herbs, mushrooms etc. make up the bulk of the diet, also supplemented by root vegetables and hemp seeds. Various kinds of herbal teas, made with for example woodruff, and berry juices and liquor and brandies are drunk.
Finally, the north and center of Gfiewistan use a lot of lamb in their cuisine, although it is also the region with the largest amount of vegetarian recipes, which often are based on or incorporate sheep milk or hemp seeds. Sheep or hemp milk, sometimes spiced, and fruit juice and cider are the traditional beverages. Mixed beverages combining two or three of those also exist and are treated as local specialties.
What unifies Gfiewistan is buckwheat and the porridge, bread and pancakes made from it, which are eaten all over the country. While pancakes originate in Lufasa, it is Gfiewistan that is chiefly known as the land of pancakes, due to their centrality in the country’s history and culture, the many local variations that exist and the bigger cultural influence of Gfiewistan. Lufasa-style fried pancakes (Kementsa honeç in Ohnaucan and Lufasas mestanixbun in Gfiewish) are eaten everywhere, although they are most popular in the north and the center. Fluffy, fried pancakes leavened with baking powder were invented in the capital region and are eaten mostly just there. Baked pancakes are more popular in the south, either plain, often eaten as a side in the southeast, with oil added to the batter and fillings and toppings added in Dillariewis, or rolled up, filled with meat and with sauce poured on top in Slakkariew.
Main article: Media in Gfiewistan
Gfiewistan is home to a vibrant media landscape, with more than a hundred newspapers, dozens of AM and FM radio stations covering the entire country, seven TV stations and several webportals. Most of it is in Gfiewish, but there is also a Neviran webportal and newspaper as well as newspapers, websites and a radio station in the minority languages Siortan and Tlulmerdia. Mermelian and Lufasan newspapers also are commonly available near the border.
Allusive alliterative acrostics are the most well-known type of bhe boklds bomgo (structural pattern creative writing) or Gfiewish poetry. They are locally known as lub limwras laeto (beginning sound sequences) and in the early Gfiewish kingdom became an allowed aesthetic alternative to earlier religious styles often described as zazzy zestless zealotry or egregiously evocative ecclesiology. Often, they invoke romantic or patriotic themes involving a longing for nature and the countryside.
The most famous one is Ode to Ystel, which has been translated in several other languages. The beginning is as follows:
|You So Tremendously, Enormously Lonely|
Yet Strangely Tantalizing Enchanting Land
Acrostics are also typically featuring in titles of novels and dramas, as for example in the famous children book series "The Super Secret Sorcery School of Spellcasting, Skydiving and Seed Planting", where every chapter detailing the exploits of a young child in a fantasy world that has to decide which path to take in their school, and by extension, life, also features an alliterative title. This series is also an example of modern Gfiewish literature that increasingly tries to break away from established norms, and does so by e.g. having an androgynous protagonist of unspecified gender, which was initially strongly criticized by social conservatives, including various political and temple establishment figures. This outrage generated further publicity for the series which went on to become hugely influential not just in its genre and children books in general, but as a result also left a big impact on society.
Animation is particularly popular, and often locally produced. Brekewlasi Herwikre ("Mysteries' Running-Pictures") forms the oldest and biggest animation studio in Gfiewistan, originally dedicated to animating "mystery stories" (educative stories on moral or philosophical questions) and also produces cartoons for companies and audiences abroad, with them enjoying a particular popularity in Notzel, Tzulhon and Ngeyvger.
Ball sports are very popular in Gfiewistan. Almost all towns, even many villages have their own team and matches have been played for centuries, originally often with apples, and as such the sport is known as hoktujaswri or “apple running” in Gfiewish.
In 1974 the teams and clubs were organized into a national league, Brotan Hoktujas Bronehelw Skle ("Nation's With-Apples Game's Union" or TTNS for short, as bro- and hok- are prefixes) for the first time. It has 16 teams play in three classes. The last seasons saw Tujaskle Hatariew from the capital, Bgemskle Galsnio from the sparsely populated southeastern state of Galsnio, Adeskle Slakkariew from the old royal residence town of Slakkariew and Nehelwjgios Weishriew from an important industrial town of Weishriew in Kauslat dominate. Wealthy teams have their own stadions, other ones rent a stadion or play on a field.
The Gfiewish national team also regularly qualifies for international tournaments, however it has yet to win a single world cup or similar trophy. Nonetheless, players competing in those often become hugely popular and enjoy very high salaries, higher than any other sportspeople, as well as visibility in TV and print media. Some players go abroad to play with a team in another Ystelian country, but many prefer not to as in Gfiewistan football players like other people active in team sports are treated like workers and so allowed to organize themselves in a union to ensure appropriate working conditions.