MotF 222: The Vast Expanse

MotF 222: The Vast Expanse

The Challenge

Make a map of a country that is sparsely populated or has a low population density.

The Restrictions

There are no restrictions on when the PoD of your map should be. Fantasy, sci-fi, and future maps are allowed.

If you're not sure whether your idea meets the criteria of this challenge, please feel free to PM me or comment in the main thread.
Entries will end for this round when the voting thread is posted on Monday, August 17, 2020.
Any discussion must take place in the main thread. If you post anything other than a map entry (or a description accompanying a map entry) in this thread then you will be asked to delete the post.

Don't forget to vote on MotF 221!
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The Kamikari Khanate: The Scourge of the Western Frontier

The Kamikari Khanate at its maximum extent
Now that Calamity Ganon is gone and Hyrule is rebuilding, a new threat has arisen in the western steppes. The Kamikari, a race of tall nomadic horse-like people not too dissimilar to Hyrule's Lynels, are terrorising Hylian settlements along the Daltus River and even penetrating into the Gerudo Desert - thank Hylia for the great canyon separating us from them! Just recently have they seized Daltus Town, our greatest colony in the West, and they aren't stopping. Hyrule's military is trying to hold them back, but ultimately time will tell if Hyrule will fall or peace will be made.
- a member of Hyrule's military
At its maximum extent, the Kamikari Khanate supported a population of 137, mostly Kamikari but with some Hylian and Gerudo minorities, spread over 55.5 square kilomerers of area.
Visit the Far Reaches!.png







--Population of the Far Reaches--


--Population of the United Nations--


--How to get to the Far Reaches--


--How to get to the Far Reaches--



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An American Boy's First History of the World. "Chapter 14: The American Indians." Ephraditus Press, Philadelphia, Penn, Republican Union. 1938.
"... When Columbus met the first Indians in 1492, he found them to be living in a state quite different from Europeans: they did not wear clothes, they did not sail ships, and they did not have guns. For centuries, they were written off as savages, but in many ways they were better off than the Europeans! Though they did not have many of the material things that Europeans had, they lived in touch with nature - and they bathed far more regularly! In many ways, the American Indians lived like Adam and Eve. They were what the philosophers called "Noble Savages"...

... There were once many Red Indian Tribes and Countries in the Americas. When the Europeans arrived, many of these were destroyed. A few were preserved thanks to help by Europeans that saw the virtue of the Noble Savage - these are Chiloe (Chill-Oh-Ay), Paraguay (Pear-Uh-Gway), Acre, Teguayo (Ti-Gway-Oh), and Moskito in South and Central America. The Founding Fathers of our Union saw the virtues of the Indians, but also wished to extend the benefits of Civilization to them. They reached a compromise: the Indians would be given the gifts of Liberty and Industry, but allowed to maintain their unique culture and wisdom in "Autonomous Indian Republics." Though the Autonomous Indian Republics (or AIRs for short) are often called States today, they are not exactly the same. The first AIR to be admitted was Iroquois (Ear-Uh-Coy) in 1796. The second was Indiana in 1802. Fox was admitted in 1811. Potawatomia (Pot-Ah-Wah-Toe-Me-Uh) was admitted in 1820. Ojibwa was admitted in 1832.

The founding fathers of the New Atlantis disagreed with the Union. They believed that progress was the most important thing of all, and that progress could not be slowed down on account of the Red Men. The Cherokee (Chair-Oh-Key), the Chickasaw, the Choctaw, the Creek, and the Seminole Indians attempted to keep the pace and adapt to the civilized world, but they would not move fast enough for the Atlanteans.

The Atlanteans were trying to buy Louisiana (Lou-Wheeze-Ee-Anna) from the Latin Republic. They intended to move the Indians here so that they could deal with them later. However, the Consul of the Latins and the President of the Union were concerned about the welfare of the Indians. Further, the Union and the Hudson's Bay Company both thought that the land should belong to them. A compromise was struck: the northern part of Louisiana would be a free and neutral nation for all the Indians who remained savage. Atlantis would get a discount, the Union would pay a part of the cost, and both countries would benefit from intercourse and trade with the reserve nation. This nation would be called Upper Louisiana, as it was made from the northern half of Louisiana.

Being savages, the government of the Indians would be a Kingdom, as that is the first step of civilized government. The first King would be the Chief of the Cherokee. His daughter would marry the son of the chief of the Sioux (Soo) to produce the next king...

...Today, Upper Louisiana is still lay half way between savagery and civilization, just as its founders intended. In the East, great cities exist along the Mississippi, prime among them Indian City, which is little different from New York, Philadelphia, or Port Tecumseh. Here most of North America's beef is produced and potted. In the West, however, much of the country is sparsely inhabited and wild - here, it is rare to find electricity, railways, or airplanes.

The Government was reformed in the 1920s to end the domination of the Cherokee and the Sioux Horsemen, to increase the power of Parliament, and to grant more rights to the nations who were denied their own Council Fires. The capital was moved from Indian City to the newly built city of Covenant, which is much closer to the center of the Kingdom...

... The prime industries of Upper Louisiana are lumber, mining, and agriculture, namely cattle. English is the common language of the country with the most speakers. However, it is the second language of many who prefer to speak their tribal tongues. The largest religion in the kingdom is New Israelism, a religion peculiar to that country. It was founded by the Unionite Solomon Spalding in 1808, who lived on the border between Iroquois and New Connecticut (which was then still a part of Connecticut). He claimed that an angel had visited him, and revealed to him that the American Indians were the result of the intermingling between lost grandchildren of Noah and the lost tribes of Israel. He further claimed that they were God's Chosen People, and that the gods and heroes of the Indians were in reality Saints and Angels. He then wrote a book he claimed to be an ancient manuscript, the third book of the Bible. After his death, his followers were invited to Indian City by a Cherokee salon society, and they began spreading their religion. Today, around forty-five one hundredths of the Louisianan Indians are New Israelites, thirty one hundredths are Christians, fifteen one hundredths are Catholics, and ten one hundredths maintain their ancient religions..."

The Cherokee Phoenix, English Edition. September 8th 1942.

COVENANT, West Dakota - After months of negotiation, Prime Minister
Chitto Red Eagle,Baron of Tuskegee, has announced that his government
has reached an agreement with the Rhinebunder firm Neumann-Blatzy to
begin construction on several dams for the purposes of improving the
basin of the Snake River.

"The Snake River project is of paramount importance," the Prime Minister
told the Phoneix's correspondent. "Sosoneland and the Snake River as
a whole have enormous industrial and agricultural potential. It's about
time we help bring the western half of our country into the 20th century."

The Prime Minister went on to describe his vision for the modernization
of the Western Council Fires, which is key to the platform of the Progress
& Democracy Party. "If we are to become a civilized country, than we
not only must extend the values of equality and freedom to all of our
nations - we must materially improve their lives."

Republican Union firm Industrious Solutions has also been hired to
participate in the improvement project. Negotiations are ongoing with
Ouragon over water and electricity rights, but are expected to be concluded
by the end of this Session of Parliament.

Notably absent from negotiations, however, were the Atlanteans. Atlantean
firm Ars Magna, which has previously aided in industrialization and
modernization programmes, was lobbying to be the prime contractor, but it
has not even received part of the contract. Some commentators suggest that
this may represent a move on the part of the government away from Bensalem
and towards New York and Paris.

In a speech on Thursday, Atlantean President Nash said that he was "very
disappointed" by the PM's decision. "Can we not put the past behind us? If
the Red Man wishes to prove that he is capable of being a builder of the New
Jerusalem, he must first act like one and not allow ancient squabbles
to cloud his judgement. Our nation [Atlantis] is the most advanced in the world.
We generously offer to aid in the transmutation of mankind, but first mankind
must let us."

Continued on page 8

Sovereign's Herald, Pale of the Prairies. October 22 1942. Bureau of Heraldry, Chamber of the Pale of the Prairies.
"Good evening, Subjects. This is the Sovereign's Herald for the Pale of the Prairies.

Yesterday, there was a mass attempt at smuggling Hudson's Bay company property through the Pale of the Prairies. 24 units of tribe #1020 were found in a railway car in Caledon-Upon-Red-River. They were attempting to illegally make their way to the Lands of the State of Nature and ungratefully throw off the caressing grasp of the Sovereign. All 24 units will be taken to Hobbes and decommissioned by drawing-and-quartering on the morrow for public enjoyment - a more merciful fate than being cast into the State of Nature. All immediate surviving family members of the 20 Units are to be outlawed and exiled to Patagonia. All members tribe #1020 are to be subject to twenty lashes and a reduced ration.

No doubt this is another attempt by the savages of the State of Nature and their confederates to bolster their numbers and ride against the Sovereign, which could only end in their slaughter - though of course, it would end with them killing each other first, as that is the nature of the savage.

Let this be a lesson to all Subjects, Servants, and Tribals who may hear this - the Sovereign's Grasp is all that there is. Anything outside of it is death, death and misery. We must be stern to teach the savage this lesson so that he may one day be subsumed into our Leviathan, but even this sternness is more merciful than what lay beyond the Pale, or indeed beyond the Company Lands.

This is the Sovereign's Herald for the Pale of the Prairies. Next is 'Rule Britannia', followed by the times for the posting of this month's Proscription Lists..."

Inspiration for this map came from my scenario Enlightenment Now.
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- An excerpt from the famous Celtcianese poem "The Place Where Exiles Be"
The History of the Hemisphere, 1900 Edition
"The island nation of Caerulia is an interesting topic, and probably one of the most discussed when we talk about the Eastern Hemisphere. It was first settled by the Britons in 1709 and an outpost, now Port Caerulia, was established for trading and checking foreign ships coming into Celtcia Gulf and through the opening of the river Baton. When Celtcia gain independence from the Britons in 1779, the Congress of the Celts discussed the status of the island in the peace conference with the Britons. The small population there, only about 97 official settlers, despised Briton rule and didn't want to become part of the larger Celtcia, so a compromise was made: the island would gain independence under the condition that both Celtcia and the Britons had the right to use Port Caerulia for trading. The Caerulian state was born.
The island, in its current form, is a sort of republic but the leader rules until he dies. The population has barely grown since their distant day of independence, although Celtcia guarantees its protections and any sort of aid needed by the small nation. It provides funding and even some of its population. By the 2020 census, the island state has a counted population of over 250 citizens, most of which are retirees from the mainland and descendants of the first settlers there from the recent past. The island is beautiful, and its highest peak. Mount Freedom, is ranked a National Environmental Treasure. Its also a popular tourist destination for travelers from all over the world. Its also notable that it is home to the world's smallest railway system ever set on an island, with only 7 stations.

Its main source of income domestically is agriculture, trade, fishing and cattle raising. Crime is essentially unknown in the island, a thing still unknown as to why. The current "President" of Caerulia is Peter Mackensen, a descendant from one of the original settlers years and centuries ago."
Pretentious Japanese who want to talk about their worldliness like to say one cannot truly understand the concept of cosmic dualism without living in Pacifica.

In many ways, the country appears a paradise on earth: a warm, sunny climate, stunning natural beauty, rich agricultural land, bountiful mineral resources, and a life far, far away from the steadily-deteriorating Manchu-Siamese nuclear standoff. But foreigners who start looking into visa applications and the implausibly-cheap real estate soon come to a rude awakening. The price its inhabitants pay for all this is devastating and frequent natural disasters. Pacifica rarely goes three years or so without losing a city and tens of thousands of its citizens to earthquakes, typhoons, kaijus, wildfires, or mudslides. Emigration, both to safer areas and safer countries, is endemic. And as the planet heats up, the fault continues to shift, and commercial fishing removes more natural prey from the Pacific, these dangers are only becoming more frequent and more destructive as time goes on.

This fact of life has functionally erased the politics of the past. The two major parties are primarily defined by their stance on disaster preparedness and response. Broadly speaking, the National Safety Party (technically National-Safety, but there are few old enough to remember voting for the National or Safety parties) calls for stronger regulations and vast government spending on construction subsidies, while the Public Interest Party argues to focus on increasing growth in safe times and making it easier to rebuild. From this all else follows: NSP is the party of the exposed homeowner or businessman, the educated, and of those most vulnerable to disaster, especially along the coast; PIP is the party of the tenant, those with less to lose in general, and of those inland tired of higher taxes to support those who choose to live on the more dangerous coast.

This makes them nearly undefinable by broad-stroke ideological descriptions used elsewhere; in casual conversation, the NSP and its allies are considered the 'rear' to the PIP's 'front'. There are various claimed origin stories for this terminology; one 'just-so' and almost certainly apocryphal version has it that the two sides were arguing over a timeline for disaster response SOP - the PIP side wanting to use resources 'up front' before disaster hit, the NSP wanting to save them for 'further back' in the timeline. Another more popular, but probably also apocryphal story says in one of the many Sacramento state houses built before the de facto capital moved up to Pacifica City (formerly Carson City), the old Safety party chose to sit by the emergency exits in the back. The most likely actual answer is that when the official language of debate changed from Japanese to English immediately before independence, Japanese-speaking delegates, who were overrepresented in the NSP's various predecessor parties, sat towards the back to have closer access to interpreters - but this version is boringly practical and brings up memories of the bad old days of racial politics, so it's rarely raised.

Side note: A fun side effect of this convention is that applying it anachronistically to the early free elections of the '70s makes council diagrams look like the future independent Pacifican flag (assuming you use yellow instead of green for the Reform and Autonomy party). Actual historians and pro-Japan nostalgics HATE this, so you can believe nationalistically-inclined graphic designers like to sneak it into as many textbooks and cyberarchives as they can get away with. National Councilors don't actually sit like this (they sit in their sectoral groupings), but evidently the Election Administration Commission has used the rear-front convention for its official records anyhow, probably for that exact reason.

2034 was an unusually quiet year; wildfires smoked a few thousand homes in the north, a quake levelled part of the southern Valley, and an adolescent kaiju ate a suburb of Los Angeles, but beyond that the country was largely safe and prosperous. As such, the NSP, overextended from a massive wave election following the disastrous 2029 breach in the Carquinez Dam, was predictably creamed - though it turned out worse than it had a right to be by the actual vote changes. One of the many consequences of disaster democracy is those who stay in devastated areas have their vote powers expanded dramatically, and in this case, the depopulated Valley gave the PIP a seat result strongly disproportionate to their voting power.

But there will be no rest for the Pacificans, for cosmic dualism comes for all. Even now, the faults continue to shift, the Valley continues to dry, sea levels continue to rise, and whalers and fishers continue to stir up kaiju nests.

Such is life in Pacifica. Enjoy the white, sparkling beaches - while they're there!


I had initially planned to do a 'cyberpunk Godzilla disaster Japan' evacuation route map for this after having melted my brain looking at HOI4:TNO's interface, but then had the idea to put it together with a party system concept I've been thinking on for a long time, based on the idea of 'blue-orange morality,' i.e. a society which faces problems so conceptually different from ours as to be unrecognizable. I haven't yet been creative enough to think up that particular white whale idea, but this is something similar but slightly more modest: a political system very similar to ours, but with priorities so different that parties' coalitions and ideologies are near-unrecognizable. Previous ideas along the same line: a democracy in a neo-feudalist society and a democracy in a polythiestic world, with parties advocating for placating different sets of gods. Feel free to steal those if you're inspired, they are faaar back on my back burner.

I'd be very interested to see how well I did, so if you're so inclined, please consider taking this strawpoll!
Wabanaki: The Land of the Rising Sun
AD 1620

“The argument has been made that if North America had been settled from west to east, instead of the other way round, New England would still be uninhabited.” - Joel Garreau, The Nine Nations of North America

TLDR: An industrializing Japan discovers North America in 1445 and settles it starting from the west coast and the lower Mississippi. New England and neighboring Canada are just about the last places they reach, and they mostly leave the region alone on account of its bad climate and dearth of resources and farmland. The St. Lawrence valley has been thoroughly colonized, but elsewhere the native people remain predominant, mostly living something close to their traditional lifestyle.

Tribal territories and towns with populations over 10,000 are shown, with red diamonds indicating native settlements and black circles for those of the Japanese and other colonists, as well as rail and rail barge routes (rail being the primary form of transit).



“Silent leaves,
the Wabanaki forest’s
Solitude, their
scarlet conquest.” - Kosei, The Bluewater Book of Tanka

“That lonely sea where the coal steamers, veiled in snow, begin to appear as natural as the dark shore behind them--those bright, wintry lakes flowing toward a sun at the Earth’s last edge--that valley of the distant North where the boxcars trundle to the iron’s meager end to load a few bushels of potatoes--those are no more than cusp of Wabanaki, the lip of the cup of the wild. You have not understood the Dawn Country if you have seen only those outer, over-civilized places. They are merely desolate, but the wilderness is an animate desolation. They are merely frigid, but the cold of Wabanaki excites an inner fire, like a star born from the void of space. Their inhabitants are merely poor, but the hard-featured hill people have nothing, not even poverty. Those who come to Wabanaki are searching for some such unfathomed paradox, which could exist only there in all the world, where the yellow light of our morning still drifts among the branches of birch and elm like a lost kite, and hangs like a dream on the minds of men.” - Jozefu Korosuki, The Sun in the East: A Coastal Tale


This story begins in southern China in the 12th century AD. Under the pressure of the Jin dynasty, their rivals the Southern Song were beginning to organize, combine, make efficient. The factory and early steam engine appeared. Then came the Mongols, and the empire fell. It had only its new methods, its mass production and theoretically interchangeable parts, to help it, and they were not enough. The blow the Mongols struck ruined the new standards. The beautiful harmony of the industrial State disappeared, and the dreams of the last Song emperors seemed dead. Then something strange happened. The invaders could not hold down the country. That was not strange--it was mountainous and full of resistance, after all, and there was civil war in the north of China and rebellion in their empire’s far west. What was strange was that the factious, grasping warlords who opposed them seemed to know more about industry than the majestic, wise emperors they had succeeded. In fifty years of fierce warring and competition, external and internal, they invented rifles, steam power, telescopes, and spinning jennies. The most successful drove the Mongols back towards their homelands, farther and farther each year. The newly-conquered coal deposits of the north were fought over by the new soi-disant emperors, and in the end one man ruled the whole of the Huang He plain. But the south would not be reconquered, or reunited. No single state controlled the new technologies and methods, and they spread rapidly across East Asia.

Progress was not smooth. East Asia’s relatively underdeveloped sciences could not support cumulative technical improvements, and many disruptive new practices were suppressed by emperors and kings for good reasons and bad. The Asian industrial revolution was a slow, conservative affair by our standards. Growth, expansion, exploration, the Glorious Future, were not much romanticized. In 1445, when a Japanese steamboat thought lost at sea returned with tales of an unknown eastern land, where the natives lived in perfect innocence and simplicity off the freely-given abundance of the Earth, it was a vessel with hardly a technological superior anywhere in the world--yet the ship was decades old.

The overcrowded, sooty Old World poured out into the New. The Japanese, from their first settlements in Oregon, spread up and down the coast, bringing their way of life with them. The desperate poor and restless rich of Asia’s cities swarmed the new lands, always driving farther than the last railhead. They wanted liberty, a return to nature, escape from hereditary debt peonage, the mythical plenty of the first sailors’ descriptions. And life really was better there, for most of them, but at a cost to the world. They came much faster than the Europeans of our timeline did, driven by greater population pressure and aided by better technology. The Cascades and Sierra Nevada filled with poor farmers when the valleys brimmed over, who felled the redwoods and lived hardscrabble on the eroding slopes. All the settlers were brutal to the people they encountered. In the mountains where colonial plows and rifle-barrels did not reach, new diseases wiped out many of the natives and then swept eastward across the continent. Mesoamerica was conquered by a Korean exile proclaiming himself Emperor of the East, and subsequently warred over by Japan, Korea, and Fujian. The Japanese ended up with little of it, but enough to make the transcontinental hop to the mouth of the Mississippi.

Rail travel had been common in Japan for over a century. Now, in the Mississippi basin, rail had its golden age. The system became highly sophisticated, with many tracks in parallel, even above and below one another, specialized to different kinds of transit. Every village and neighborhood had its stop, often on multiple lines, and schedules were made more flexible and responsive to demand. The word “road” now meant a train track in colloquial speech, and its old meaning had to be specified with a phrase like “foot-road,” “path,” or “carriage road.” New lines were built as fast as the land could be cleared for them, and by 1550 the Mississippi colony was quasi-independent and growing in power. It had spread to the St. Lawrence valley and shipping its abundant coal to the new markets in Europe as well as the old ones in western and southern North America. Oil, a new favorite fuel source in the home country, was discovered too. Trains and riverboats crossed the flat expanse of its territory with ease, bringing prosperity to the whole country.

Besides the far north, only the coast east of the mountains have not shared in this rapid development. Between the Carolinas and Quebec, the often swampy, often rocky, inaccessible Atlantic shore, with its relatively poor soils and scanty resources, has few Asian settlers at all. In the Susquehanna, Delaware, and Hudson valleys, homesteaders are the majority. They are typically suspicious of the big, collective, train-riding civilization of the plains, and want their own little slice of ground, a horse and a cow, and privacy. The St. Lawrence valley is more thickly settled, being decent farmland on a shipping route to Europe, and more like the rest of the country. Between these two regions of sparse settlement lie the forested hills and granite shores known as Wabanaki. “Wabanaki,” or variants of it such as “Wampanoag,” means “Dawn Country” in the Algonquian languages, and the coincidence of meaning with “Nippon” may have done something to soften the Japanese attitude towards the tribes dwelling there (collectively called “Wabanaki” too). More important, no doubt, were the exhaustion of imperial desires, the feeling of guilt over past exterminations, the increasing awareness that the continent was finite in size and resources, and most of all the simple uselessness of the land for anything that an industrial people might care to do with it.

For all these reasons, the Wabanaki nations have retained their autonomy, lands, and lifeways--though naturally somewhat have changed since the time of contact. Most live by subsistence farming, hunting, and fishing, as well as logging and other resource extraction for Japanese companies. Some areas are popular with tourists, but most of the interior is inaccessible by rail, the Wabanaki having never adjusted to that aspect of modern life. Boat travel is the most convenient method on the coast, and small airplanes are common in the mountains, typically one or two held in common by each village. There are about 800,000 Wabanaki and 600,000 Japanese and others of Old World descent in the region covered by the map. The two communities interpenetrate in places and live in peace, but for the most part they remain separate, speaking different languages and following different laws. A few fragments of Wabanaki culture, such as maple syrup, have become ubiquitous in North America--but most people do not know their origin.

The Wabanaki are commonly associated with an imagined primeval epoch in Japanese history. Through the generations, the significance of that association has varied: sometimes they have been viewed as brutal savages, sometimes as wise quasi-ancestral beings, more rarely as mere detritus of the past. As the 17th century enters its third decade and the centuries of coal and oil use catch up with global society, they are becoming objects of envy and admiration. The imperfect chemical and atmospheric sciences of the day can construct only the vaguest understanding of climate change. Many, however, hold some aspect of modern life responsible, naturally or supernaturally, and see the Wabanaki as untainted, with simple and resilient lives in a time of recession and uncertainty. Others see them as unfortunate victims, too poor and too specialized to their land to adapt as the industrial nations remake their world by accident.

This map, fictionally produced by Bluewater Charts in AD 1620, shows the Wabanaki region in that year. Towns of more than 10,000 are marked with a red diamond (for native-majority towns--most of these have almost 100% native populations) or black circle (for Asian-majorities). Railroads and rail barge routes appear, as well as tribal names and territories and special symbols for places of cultural significance: the city of Hiroimizu (at the site of Montreal) for the Japanese settlers, and three sacred mountains for the natives. The tribal territories don’t imply jurisdiction over the entire population within their borders, or have any legal status at all outside of certain agreements between tribal governments. Some of these areas are primarily Japanese in population. Note that some of the tribes included are not properly Wabanaki, i.e. not speakers of eastern Algonquian languages--a common error among the settlers.


This map combines two ideas I’m fond of--a low-population US northeast and a Song Dynasty industrial revolution--with my total ignorance of Japanese. Apologies to those who can read hiragana and spot my errors!
Were it not for the fact that it has the lowest population density of any country in the world, the Republic of Rupertia would easily be the dominant power in North America if not the entire Western Hemisphere. With port access on both sides of the the sprawling landmass, and abundant natural resources, Rupertia is the country of tomorrow. Established and largely still governed along corporate lines, Rupertia welcomes foreign investment. Recent economic and security agreements entered into by Rupertia with the Empire of Japan have drawn considerable criticism and consternation from the governments of Alta California and Louisiana.
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Lords of Gold and Salt
How the Vandals built the Sahelian Civilisation

Among the most fascinating twists History might have been the fate of the Vandal tribe, who arose first by the margins of the Vistula River, deep into the heart of Europe, and would end their existence as a separate people by the margins of the Niger River, deep into the heart of Africa. In that process, they would help establish an entire new civilisation, built upon the ancient settlements of its native people and bond by its Vandal lords to the Mediterranean world, to the benefit of both parties and, above all else, to the benefit of the Vandal middleman.

The Vandals were part of the Great Migrations of Germanic peoples that ravaged the Roman West through the 5th century, together with the Goths, the Suevi or the Franks. In 406, the Vandals led the charge against Mainz where, together with other Germanic peoples, they broke the seal over the Rhine passage held by the Franks in the name of the Roman Empire, unlocking the pathway into wealthy Gaul, crossing the frozen Rhine, and devastating their way west and south to Aquitaine during three full years. In late 409, they crossed the Pyrenees into Hispania, where they'd stay for a full twenty years, an entire generation, fighting among themselves and the Romans, as conflicts arose over donated land and other such matters.

Led by Genseric, the slave-born bastard prince, the Vandals crossed into North Africa in 429, with 80,000 of his people remaining by his side throughout these trials. They marched eastward through the coast, eventually coming to besiege the city of Hippo Regius, where, among the huddled masses, was none other than Saint Augustine, a native son of the city who now braced himself for what was to come - an army of barbarian heretics was besieging them and, when their walls broke, the blood of the faithful would be shed. However, those fears never came to be. In an episode that hagiography has all but made impossible to study accurately, it seems the Saint-to-be decided to approach the conquering king and, through oratory or devotion, persuade him to abandon his attack on the city, which allowed for its leaders to escape to Carthage, where they met a Eastern army, led by general Aspar, with which, in late 431, they struck a mighty defeat against Genseric, who was forced to flee with his people to the hinterlands.

All of this will be claimed by the Catholic Church to be a miracle, one that is still celebrated highly by the faithful in Hippo and Carthage, though the Gothic Church would beg to differ.

Pursued by a punitive Roman army, who knew better than to allow for marauding Germanic bands to be a permanent thorn on the Province of Africa, the very breadbasket of the Empire, Genseric would eventually, in a move of despair, lead his people south, into the sands, where, to their Roman pursuers, nothing but death would await them. As it turns out, they were wrong. To the south of the Empire, in the untamed lands of Lybia, Genseric and his people found a rising civilisation, starting to build a place for itself, born out of the water springs in the middle of the deserts and, further to the South, from the praires beyond the dunes, and the great rivers that existed there, from which the Romans had heard only rumours.

They weren't flourishing as of yet, but Genseric saw potential in these small hamlets and the small routes they knew leading between them, which the Vandals quickly explored, mapped and expanded, making themselves experts at moving long distances and keeping communication between the settlements. They'd abandon their horses to instead use camels, much better suited to the harsh climate of the region, capable of facing the long desert treks. The Vandals fulfilled a niche that this rising civilisation was in dire need of - they protected the travels, the trade and they established order, laws and customs among the city. A single currency, minted by the King, a single law code, established by Vandalic principles, and a single army to call on to defend against unhappy tribes. The 80,000 Vandals became prominent citizens of each hamlet, traders, admnistrators and soldiers. They brought their language and that of the Romans to enrich the local tongues. And they brought their own religion, the Arian version of Christianity that, under their guise, would become the Gothic Church, which is still followed by most of the people in the region.

But what made this sand empire of oasis hamlets and long dune routes work was, above all things, trade. To the south, there were vast goldfields that produced ridiculous amounts of the precious metal, while to the north, in either the rocks of the desert or even in the Roman lands, there were salt deposits which were quite more precious than gold to the southern peoples, who needed ways to store their food in the warmer weather. The Vandals conducted and ensured this trade could flow - gold would go north and salt and other necessary things found their way south. With that trade, they financed their great projects, developing their own civilisation, establishing churches and strenghening their cities against the desert tribes, always the nuisance.

Then, the question is - where are the Vandals today? Well, like all ancient people (where are the Romans? the Huns? the Goths?), they evolved and mixed with the people they coexisted with through the many centuries. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the region who looked even mildly Germanic nowadays - turns out blond hair and fair skin aren't good traits under the desert sun and nowadays the peoples who inhabit the region aren't much different from those who the first Vandals must have encountered 1500 years ago. However, the tongues of the region - of a family still called Vandalic to this day - even though they're mostly made of a core of a Mande language and even use the Tifinagh script of the native Berbers, there are still many Vandalic and Latin terms and influences in it, showcasing their influence. And this influence still shows itself in the strength of the Gothic Church that, while in contact with the Catholic World, remained distinct and attached to its principles originating from the Egyptian prebyster Arius, the last surviving remnant of this faith that once was held by great and powerful kings. The gold and salt trade the Vandals began formed the economic livelihood of the region for centuries to come, through all the iterations it would suffer.

The Vandals built the Sahel, and connected it to the wider world. In that regard they are still around, and always will be


Oof, really last minute entry, can't believe I made it. And it's a bit of a silly scenario, but I found it interesting and wanted to try it out. The idea of a Germanic tribe building a kingdom in the Sahara fascinated me ever since I came up with it and why not join the infamous Vandals as civilisation-builders for the setting?

Anyway, hope you like it. The map is... a tad bit emptier than usual, but taking into account the challenge that may be forgivable. Turns out the Sahara is a bit hard to label. At least I got to train my French skills while researching the toponymy of the region