Valcluse

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Republic of Valcluse
République Valclusienne
MottoÉgalité, Liberté, Justice
(Equality, Liberty, Justice)
AnthemAllons Valclusiens
Location of Valcluse in Maredoratica
Location of Valcluse in Maredoratica
CapitalValence
Largest city Lyon
Official language(s) French
Recognised regional languages Occitan
Demonym Valclusian
Government Parliamentary Democracy
 -  President Michel Dubois
 -  Prime Minister Céline Martingy
Independence
 -  Secession/First Republic 15 June 1800 
 -  Second Republic 1 September 1968 
Area
 -  Total 1,046,400.00 km2 (7th)
404.02 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.8%
Population
 -  2012 estimate 22,739,615 (32nd)
 -  2010 census 20,648,163 
 -  Density 16.1/km2 
56.20/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $607.2 billion (27th)
 -  Per capita $28,370 (18th)
HDI (2011) 0.867 
Currency Franc (F)
Time zone Valclusian Standard Time UTC+3 (UTCUTC+3)
 -  Summer (DST) UTC+4 (UTC)
Internet TLD .va
Calling code ++515

Valcluse, officially the Republic of Valcluse (French: République du Valcluse or République Valclusienne) is a parliamentary federal republic in north-eastern Maredoratica. It shares land borders with Prekonate in the north, Arnautia to the south and Kolketia to the southwest. Valcluse shares two maritime borders with Prekonate and Hasmonea in the west and Van Luxemburg in the southeast. It is the seventh largest country by size in Maredoratica.

Valcluse sits at a historical crossroads between the Germanic, Latin and Slavic peoples of eastern Maredoratica and has a history of small but often violent conflict. Although a predominantly Francophone country, Valcluse has many linguistic minorities, many of whom speak different dialects of French as well as other languages, such as Occitan in nearly all parts of the country, Austland German in the northern border regions and in the province of Lorraine as well as Nord-Brutlandese in southern parts of the country. Despite this, provincial and national governments have taken measures to preserve the language and the associated cultures within the areas.

The country has its origins in a series of wars of unification between 1780 and 1800, culminating with the War of Secession in 1800 when colonies under the control of Van Luxemburg rebelled. The independent republic was proclaimed on 15 June 1800.

History

Early Settlement

Archaeological evidence unearthed in southwestern Valcluse near the town of Amirat suggest that humans had been inhabiting the area at least 120,000 years ago having moved north from warmer areas further south. Stone tools and other evidence from the Grotte d'Armirat and other archaeological sites has been compared with those found in Jungastia and western central Wilassia. The similarity indicates that a culture or family group had occupied these two areas. Skulls unearthed from the site show that the earliest inhabitants were homo sapiens wilassis, a species of early human that is presumed to have died out around 12,000 BC.

Cro-Magnons, or modern humans have been inhabiting southern Valcluse since 30,000 BC. Both sapiens sapiens and wilassis competed for the same food sources. However, whist sapiens sapiens continued to thrive and expand in both range and population, wilassis were driven into more and more difficult territory, eventually dying out in sparse family bands in the high plateaus of the Massif d'Argent.

By 2000 BC, the populations living in the southwestern part of Valcluse had begun to move north along the coast as well as expand inland. By 1900 BC, they had reached the modern border with Prekonate and had firmly established themselves in the region. The Hugemont culture, named after the town where several pots were first discovered in 1892, flourished on the back of an agricultural boom brought on by warmer climate conditions. Although the population is believed to have expanded significantly, diseases, famine and a climate shift in the 5th century BC saw substantial population drops in the region, as well as mass migration southwards to make use of warmer climates.

In the 3rd century BC, the arrival of Slavic tribes from the north eventually ended the Hugemont culture and little, if any trace was left by the culture dawn of the 1st century BC. The Slavs were mostly Karskars, who were well established in modern day Prekonate and were also moving south looking for better pastures and warmer weather. Unlike the Hugemonts, they were organized and better armed and were able to subdue those who resisted. This was followed by a large period of expansion and migration, known as the First Great Migration, where Kaskar tribes expanded all the way to the borders with modern day Kolketia and northeast along the Great Northern Plain and into the Durance river basin. Kaskars also expanded eastwards to the Carpathian Mountains and began exploring the Argonne river basin. By the early 1st century AD, Kaskar peoples were living in the westernmost portion of the Massif d'Argent, although the largely inhospitable climate there meant few people inhabited the region.

Establishment of the First Kingdoms

The Karskar tribes had largely organized themselves into three kingdoms by the mid-2nd century AD. In the north was the Kingdom of Legnica, which contained the Karskar homeland in modern Prekonate as well as most of western Auxerre and northern Bayonne regions in western Valcluse. It was the largest of the three kingdoms but one of the poorest, as it mostly relied on agriculture and didn't have the same mercantile orientation as the central Kingdom of Krnov, which was essentially a city-state on the shores of the Prekovi Sea close to modern day Chatillon. It was the smallest of the kingdoms but one of the wealthiest, acquiring its wealth through the imposition of trade tariffs and charges on cargo passing through its port. To the south was the Kingdom of Żagań, which was one of the most populous and also considerably wealthy, as it contained substantial fertile areas growing cereals as well as raising cattle and other livestock. It contained the rest of southwestern Valcluse as well as small expansions into the western part of the Argonne river valley.

Peace and prosperity lasted until 205 AD, when Żagań king Kiril II attacked Krnov after it raised tariffs on goods from Żagań passing through the city. Although the city and port was fortified, the kingdom was not fortified on land and the small army it possessed was outnumbered and outmatched by the forces at Kiril II's forces. The Battle of Krnov lasted a day and saw the complete destruction of the Krnov forces and the annexation of Krnov. Kiril II then assumed full control over the port and continued the tariffs against Legnica in the north.

Kingdom of Pannonia

Colonization

The earliest attempted settlements in eastern Valcluse were by Morivaine traders who had established small trading ports along the central and northeastern coast. The first major settlement to be established was near the city of Montreau where the Baie des Ouiseaux offered shelter for ships travelling along the coast. Established in 1589 by entrepreneur Jean-Pierre Laval, the modern town of Laval was the first major non-Slavic and non-Magyar settlement established in modern Valcluse. However, the swampy nature of the land surrounding the mouth of the Laval River meant that few of the original settlers who arrived aboard the ship Saint-Lô stayed beyond the winter. The lack of arable land and bitterly cold winters contributed greatly to the exodus of settlers during the initial colonization period. The town was eventually abandoned after a flood in May 1591 which destroyed most of the buildings and killed many of those who had chosen to stay.

In January 1599, Morivaine explorer Antoine de Rosier returned from surveying the eastern coast of Valcluse and reported that there was "much land suitable for the cultivation of crops" in the south, although this land was already becoming increasingly settled by migrants from Van Luxemburg, although no official settlement program had begun. Wishing to seize upon the opportunity to be the first to establish a colony in the north of Wilassia, King Charles VI authorized the creation of the North Wilassia Company, which would set about the recruitment of settlers as well as the design of the settlements which were to be built.

Under the authority of Antoine de Rosier, the first settlers arrived in the modern Tarbres region on the 5th of May, 1602 and established the first permanent Morivaine settlement in Valcluse; the modern day resort town of Saint Rémy. The town was founded the day after the landings, with the Morivaine flag raised on a makeshift flag pole in the center of the camp. More and more settlements were established in the coming decades, with many Morivaines moving inland and establishing large farms, producing great amounts of cereals which became the territory's first major exports. The settlements thrived, as the land in the south not only composed of better soil, but the climate was better suited to agriculture, although the winters were still harsher than what they were used to in Morieux.

However, the settlers soon found themselves in competition, primarily from Van Luxemburg, who had also established trading posts on the eastern coast. As with the Morivaines, many of the settlers from Van Luxemburg moved inland. Both Morieux and Van Luxemburg sought to expand their territories inland, acquiring more and more land. This was often at the expense of the Slavic and Magyar populations. Thousands of primarily ethnic Prekovi and ethnic Magyar were seized and put into indentured servitude or open slavery, working on the now vast farms and plantations for either Van Luxemburger or Morivaine masters.

In June 1622, Lombardy was proclaimed as a Morivaine colony.

Independence

Modern History

At the turn of the 20th century, Valcluse had largely transformed itself from a sparsely populated agrarian nation into an industrialized and moderately wealthy state. Politically, the state was transforming itself as well. The President, Jacques Raffarin, had been in power since 1896 and was intent on transforming most of Valcluse's existing political structure. In 1901, during his last year of governance, he announced his "de-centralisation" policy of handing over some administration of the provinces to provincial authorities based in designated capitals. This was passed through the National Assembly and the Senate in December 1901.

In the 1901 Valclusian general election, Jacques Raffarin was succeeded by Liberal candidate Honoré Schumann.

Roland Era

Post Revolution

Following the Revolution of the Roses in 1945, Valcluse was financially ruined. The government, headed by François Daladier, managed to find enough money to hold an election in November 1945 in which liberal candidate Antoine Laguillier was elected President.

One of Laguillier's first acts as president was to restore the 1800 Constitution which had been suspended following the July Coup. He also reintroduced freedoms of the press, assembly and other freedoms enshrined in the constitution. Laguillier also presided over the Winter Purges which took place between December 1945 and March 1946, in which supporters of Pierre Roland in the military and elsewhere were arrested and imprisoned, usually without trial. Laguillier personally condemned of the mass arrests and trials of known Roland associates and supporters. In May 1946, he introduced an amendment to the constitution abolishing the death penalty which proved extremely controversial, as the amendment was passed in Parliament on the same day Pierre Roland was being sentenced. What would have been a death sentence for treason and crimes against the Republic was commuted to indefinite house arrest. He also began issuing pardons to people who were currently being held in prison without trial.

In 1947, Laguillier began a series of economic reforms

Geography

A field of wheat in the plains in northeastern Tarbes Province.

Valcluse is situated in the northeast of Maredoratica and is largely dominated by large alluvial floodplains in the centre and northeast of the country centred around the Garonne river. The area is referred to as the Valencian Plains and is the primary agricultural area of Valcluse, with much of the country's grain and wheat output coming from this area. The Coeur du Pays is also where many of Valcluse's larger cities are located, including Valence and Lyon. These extend from the eastern highlands of the Massif d'Argent in the west, the Chaîne des Puys in the north and the coast of the Marmorian Sea to the east and the southeast and the Alps in the south. The Argonne Plain in the north of the country is the second largest plain in Valcluse in terms of size and extends from the Gulf of Charpentier and the Appennine Mountains in the north to the southwest through the Argonne Basin and to the south through the Marais Gap. This is where much of Valcluse's industry is located. The western coast is primarily dominated by the Occidental Coastal Plain which extends from the border with Jungastia to the south, the border with Prekonate to the north and the Massif d'Argent in the east. It is also bordered by the Alps to the southeast. Much of this area is also primarily agricultural, focusing on horticulture and viticulture.

Topographic map of Valcluse.

Most of the west and south of the country is dominated by a series of mountain ranges. In the central and southern part of the country is dominated by the Massif d'Argent, which shelters the southwestern coastal plains from the colder weather elsewhere. In the northwest of the country, the Appenine Mountains, referred to in French as Les Appenines. The mountain rage, which stretches from the Massif d'Argent to the northwestern border with Austland, is seen as the traditional land border between the Lorraine and Tarbres provinces. The southern border regions of Valcluse are also mountainous with a different mountain chain the main feature, often referred to as the Carpathian Mountains. A small chain of volcanic mountains in the northeast known as the Chaîne des Puys separates the coastal plains from the Durance river basin. It is not known whether these lava domes and volcanoes are active or not and research is currently underway to determine any potential for volcanic activity.

At 1,046,400km², Valcluse is the 12th largest country in Maredoratica by land area. It's area is also composed of a number of islands. The largest archipelago is the Chantilly Islands, located off the southeastern coast. Comprised of four islands, the group sits atop a large deposit of chalk which extends further to the southeast to Van Luxemburg and is a primary tourist attraction. The second largest is the Hyères Islands located 1300km to the northeast of Valcluse. These islands are important in deep sea drilling and gas operations in the area for companies from all over Maredoratica. Closer to the continent lie the Louvois Islands, an archipelago of two islands and three uninhabited rocks and islets.

Climate

The climate of Valcluse differs according to region and is predominantly influenced by the geography of the area. Much of the north, east and southeast have humid oceanic or humid continental climates. The eastern plains is dominated by the warm summer subtype climate which is marked my mild summers and long cold winters and generally have less precipitation than coastal areas, most of it falling as snow between October and March. Inland areas of the southwest share a much more milder version of the same climate, with some areas showing distinctly Mediterranean traits.

The coastal areas of Valcluse can be defined into two specific climate types: oceanic subpolar, found in the extreme north of the country and in the Hyères Islands and normal maritime climates. The subpolar climate in Valcluse is much more wetter than elsewhere, with much of the precipitation falling as rain as opposed to snow, which is much more common in the Hyères Islands although not uncommon. Additionally, winters here are much more milder and less prone to extreme weather events and overall temperatures are much milder than stereotypical subpolar climates due to more prevalent southeast winds. Coastal areas of the southwest and west of Valcluse also share the same climate as those on the east, with the differences being that the temperatures are a lot warmer than elsewhere and less rainfall occurs, mainly because weather systems coming from the east and north are blocked by the Appenine Mountains and the Massif d'Argent.

Politics

Government

Valcluse is a semi-unitary parliamentary republic, with the government divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches. The Legislative branch of the government, the Parliament, comprises the National Assembly and the Senate. The roles of the individual branches as well as the powers of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are outlined in the Constitution of Valcluse. The current constitution was approved by referendum on the 1st of September 1968 which established the Second Republic.

Executive power is vested in two offices: the President of Valcluse and the appointed Prime Minister of Valcluse. The President of Valcluse is the supreme office of the executive within Valcluse. They have the final approval of all legislation that is passed through Parliament. Other powers vested in the office include the appointment of a Prime Minister, the commander in chief of the armed forces and the associated roles as head of state. Each President is elected to a four year renewable term. The incumbent President is Madeline Pellet who was elected in December 2011. The Prime Minister of Valcluse is the appointed head of government within Valcluse. They appoint cabinet ministers and have full control over government policy. The Prime Minister is subordinate to the President. They also function as the deputy head of state, acting in place of the President when they are not present in office officially. If an imcumbent president dies, is impeached or resigns, the incumbent Prime Minister assumes office and appoints a successor as well as call elections. Term limits are entirely dependent on the President's satisfaction with the Prime Minister's performance as well as changes in government. Presidents who are reelected may keep an incumbent Prime Minister on whilst they serve a second term. They can also serve under two different presidents if the presidential candidate is from the same party as their predecessor. Essentially, there are no term limits to the Prime Minister.

The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), which comprises 356 Deputies (députés) is the lower house of the Parliament. Each deputy is the elected representative of a district within Valcluse. It does the majority of debates when it comes to legislation and unlike the French system, the Prime Minister presides over proceedings. Each deputy is elected to a renewable five year term to the National Assembly.

The Senate comprises 210 Senators and is the upper house of the Parliament. Each Senator represents one prefecture in Valcluse. Unlike the National Assembly, the Senate is presided over by a President. The Senate is used within government to finalise legislation before it is sent to the President to be signed into law.

Judicial power is vested in two legal institutions. The first is the Court of Cassation which is Valcluse's court of last resort and the Council of State. The Court of Cassation has jurisdiction over criminal and civil law. The Council of State has jurisdiction over administrative law and also functions as an advisory body to both houses of Parliament and the President. Both have members appointed by the President, with the Court of Cassation having six appointed judges and the Council of State having 12 appointed members. The latter is composed of members of both the Senate and the National Assembly who have served at least two terms in either house.

Foreign Policy

Main Articles: Foreign Policy of Valcluse and Foreign Relations of Valcluse

Since its formation, Valcluse's foreign policy has largely been focused on maintaining cordial relations with neighboring states, especially Prekonate with which Valcluse has a long and sometimes frosty relationship with. Overall foreign policy has mostly been orientated around neutrality and free trade. The latter has included maintaining relations with countries that border both the Prekonati Sea and the South Wilassian Sea as well as those that control the Wilassian Canal System. In recent years, especially during the administration of Pierre Roland, Valcluse pursued a pro-Francophone, semi-nationalist foreign policy which appeared in some instance to be openly belligerent to some neighboring states. Since then, Valcluse has aligned itself with various Francophone states in Maredoratica.

Valcluse is a full member of the Maredoratic League. It has representation on the General Assembly and has the headquarters of the International Children's Educational Fund. It is a member of two economic organizations: the Brezier Group and the Martigues Agreement as well as a member of the Francophone Organisation.

Armed Forces

Main Article: Armed Forces of Valcluse

The Valclusian military consists of the Army, Navy and Air Force as the main service branches as well as the Gendarmerie Nationale, Valcluse's only paramilitary force. In total, the armed forces number nearly 95,000 active personnel with around 45,000 reserve personnel and 38,000 gendarmes. The government's foreign policy with regards to military action is largely that of non-intervention in conflicts. The recent conflict in Karaman and the subsequent foreign intervention has shown the government's reluctance to become involved in complex regional affairs. Under the Mariner administration in 2008, the government began a campaign to curb foreign trafficking of illegal contraband and narcotics, especially in the Prekonati Sea, where arms trafficking is common place. The military, especially the Gendarmerie, has also been employed in anti-trafficking operations overseas in the Maredoratican Antilles where they cooperate with other regional authorities.

Regions of Valcluse.
Provinces of Valcluse
Entity Capital
Auxerre Saint Denis
Avranches Avranches
Bas-Alpes Beaufort
Bayonne Châteroux
Bourges La Fontaine
Bouverre Masènne
Chatres Argenteuil
Cherbourg Mannerheim
Colbourg Colbourg
Durance Angoulême
Haute-Alpes Révanne
Istres Aurillac
Lugano Montellino
Lorraine Molsheim
Mézinne Périgeux
Péronne Montreuil
Tarbres Argentan
Vienne Valenciennes

Administrative Divisions

Valcluse is a federation, divided between regions, prefectures and communes. Originally, Valcluse was to become a unitary state but the difficulties of administering a small population over a wide area proved to be difficult. Although attempts were made throughout the 19th century to federate Valcluse, it wasn't until the adoption of the 1904 Federation Act that Valcluse decentralized.

Initially, twelve regions were created out of the Federation Act with another six regions created between 1904 and 1971. The Federation Act serves as a de facto constitution outlining the powers of the federal and regional governments.

Regions

Valcluse is divided into 18 regions. As outlined in the Federation Act, each region has control over education, healthcare, transport, finance and environment with regions given powers to levy taxes in addition to those levied by the federal government. However, federal taxes apply and regions are not permitted to levy taxes on property and services that the federal government already levies.

Each region has an elected parliament as well as an elected president. Regional parliaments are elected to terms concurrent with those of regional presidents. Each member of a regional parliament as well as the regional president is elected to a renewable five year term. Political parties registered with the federal government as well as with the regional government are allowed to contest elections. Regional parliaments can pass laws that apply specifically to the region itself. As with taxes, regions are not allowed to pass laws in addition to or subverting laws passed by Parliament.

Regions are created through two ways: by referendum and by petition. A region may be created through referendum where a vote is held in the proposed area, with a simple majority needed to establish a region. A region may also be created by petition levied by residents of the proposed region. A petition must obtain at least 20,000 signatures before it is passed to government which then makes the decision to create a new region. If a region is approved, it is passed via decree signed by the President.

Prefectures

Prefectures in Valcluse are a sub-provincial administrative body similar to districts in many other parts of the world. As of 2012, there are 563 prefectures in Valcluse. Unlike provinces, prefectures are not administered by a elected council but instead are controlled by a government appointed intendant. Intendants do not have any separate control over affairs within their prefectures or over the communes which exist within the prefectural boundaries but prefectural councils (which are elected) may pass bylaws which apply to the respective prefecture only. Additionally, these councils are comprised of mayors from communes located within the prefecture. Each prefecture is roughly the size of one large city or one medium city and some surrounding towns and villages within the city's metropolitan area or multiple towns and villages in rural areas. Prefectures also have control over the management of the police and firefighters stationed within the prefecture as prefectural taxes are used to fund their operations.

Communes

Communes are the third and final level of local government administration in Valcluse, with a status equal to that of a township or municipality. There are 37,809 communes in Valcluse, with each one varying in size from a town of several thousand to tiny hamlets of less than a dozen. The administration of the communes is different to each commune because no commune has the same size or population and therefore, the government doesn't stipulate how a commune should be governed. Most communes have the basic equivalent of a town mayor (maire) and those which have a large population have a municipal council also. The mayor of a commune doesn't have any separate powers to that of the intendant of the prefecture that the commune is located in or the provincial council. Intercommunal governance comes in the shape of a prefectural council which acts in place of a district council. Communes are permitted to form municipal councils, but these have no powers independent of the prefecture nor the region.

Economy

Main Article: Economy of Valcluse

Valcluse has a modern industrialsed high income social market economy. In 2011, the nominal GDP was $607.2 billion, making it one of the smaller economies in Maredoratica. Traditionally, the economy has been protected by state subsidies with regards to primary industries such as agriculture and manufacturing although it has diversified since the 1960's to include such industries as tourism, information technology and more recently, consumer goods such as household appliances.

Energy

The energy sector in Valcluse comprises nearly half of the revenue generated by primary industries in the Valclusian economy, the other two being agriculture and manufacturing. Because of limited coal and natural gas reserves, Valcluse has invested heavily in nuclear energy, with the country's 18 nuclear plants producing 74% of the country's electricity. This, coupled with a smaller population than most other Maredoratic states means that Valcluse is a net energy exporter, with the largest markets being Jungasita and Arnautia. All the plants are owned and operated by state electricity company SNEV. Additionally, 20% of Valcluse's electricity comes from hydroelectric power plants located along the Durance and Garonne rivers. The use of nuclear power means Valcluse is one of the smallest emitters of greenhouse gasses.

Oil and natural gas production in Valcluse are limited to offshore oil fields located near the Hyères Islands, specifically the Pointe Noire oil field, which is the largest. Natural gas production comes from the limited Avignon natural gas fields and pipelines from Arnautia.

Agriculture

Valcluse has historically been one of the more important agricultural states in Maredoratica and certainly within Wilassia itself. Vast fertile plains in the northeast and southwest of Valcluse are the location of most of Valcluse's crop-growing industries, in particular cereal grains such as wheat and barley. Meat and dairy exports are also an important aspect of Valcluse's agricultural sector and are collectively worth $41.2 billion annually. Valcluse is one of the largest exporters of agricultural products in Maredoratica. Other export products include fruit, vegetables, wine and fertilizers.

Tourism

Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector in Valcluse is largely led by heavy industries such as automotive manufacturing as well as locomotive and rolling stock manufacturing, the largest is Köhler respectively. A small but robust aviation manufacturing sector also exists and produces and produces around 350 aircraft per year. Around 1.1 million motor vehicles are produced in Valcluse annually, the vast majority of them CKD or new build assembly of motor vehicles from foreign companies. SNFL in involved in the manufacturing of railway locomotives and rolling stock for customers across Maredoratica.

Valcluse has a healthy aviation and information technology sector, with companies such as Caudron and Modus being active in the aviation and information technology industries respectively. Both manufacture components that are involved in the aviation industry, with Caudron manufacturing private and commercial passenger aircraft and Modus recently becoming involved in the design and manufacture of electric systems used in aircraft. Both have seen record profits in recent years. IAS, or Industries Aéronautiques de Savoie is also involved in the aviation industry, manufacturing turboshaft engines for helicopters and small private jets.

Vehicle manufacturing is one of the smaller industries in the manufacturing sector. Formerly the largest manufacturing sector in Valcluse, car manufacturing has fallen after a series of crises in the industry as well as the bankruptcy of several key vehicle manufacturers. Valcluse's car industry suffered a massive decline following the return to democracy in the 1950's, losing essential subsidies that helped the industry to survive. Industrial action and strikes were common at Valclusian car plants during the 1950's and 1960's, with economic issues lasting into the 1970's. However, the economic boom of the 1980's and 1990's and the steady markets into the first decade of the 21st century saw the vehicle industry stabilize. Today, manufacturers like Safrane, Allard and Medici continue to produce new vehicles each year and export their products around Maredoratica.

Transport

Main Article: Transport in Valcluse

Because of the large size of the country as opposed to the size of it's population, the government has invested billions into creating an extensive network of railways and highways in Valcluse connecting all the major regional cities and towns. In it is in the transport sector that the government is most involved. Valcluse's two largest airlines, Air Valcluse and Air Inter are both state owned. Additionally, CFNV, the country's largest rail services operator, is also state owned.

Valcluse is covered by 985,000km of roads, approximately 722,300km of which is paved. These include over 12,000km of expressways and motorways. The country also has around 42,300km of railways. These are entirely in standard gauge. The railways are principally operated by state owned company CFNV which operates the majority of passenger and cargo services.

Demographics

Ethnicity

With an estimated population of 21.1 million people, Valcluse is the x most populous country in Maredoratica. Ethnically, Valclusians are a mixed people with varied ancestries. Approimately 60% of Valclusians are of Luxemburgish descent and another 10% claiming Germanic descent. Of the non-European ethnicites in Valcluse, 17% are of Prekovi descent 12% are of Magyar descent and 1% are of another ethnicity.

Both Prekovis and Magyars are the largest populations of their respective diaspora groups, with approximately 3.5 million Prekovi people living in Valcluse. There are also 2.5 million Magyar people in Valcluse, most of them having lived in the region since the 4th century AD although a number of Arnautians live in Valcluse. Both Magyars and Prekovis are the considered to be the first modern inhabitants of Valcluse, as the peoples they displaced were absorbed into their respective groups.

Van Luxemburgish peoples first arrived in Valcluse around the mid 17th century and were the first peoples to widely settle the eastern coast. They also established the first defined provinces and regions within Valcluse, many of which exist today. By the 18th century, the populations had spread inland, encountering more and more Magyar and Prekovi people. Although they were initially outnumbered, successive settlement programs and initiatives soon saw many Van Luxemburgish communities outnumber those of Prekovis and Magyars.

Language

Main Article: Languages of Valcluse

Valcluse has a single official language: French and this is used as the lingua franca of the country and is spoken as a first language by 45% of the population. This increases to 90% for those who speak French as a second language. Valclusian French is an internationally recognized dialect of the French language.

Valcluse also has several minority languages. These are Prekovi, Magyar, Van Luxemburgish, Dutch and Italian. The largest of these minority languages is Prekovi, with 15% of the population speaking it as a first or second language. The second largest is Magyar, with an estimated 10% of the population speaking the language.

Historically, Valcluse's diverse range of languages has hampered the development of the nation, as well as been a part of ethnic tensions in tyhe country. In an attempt to unify the populace, the government implemented a "One Nation, One Language" policy from independence until 1980. During this policy, slogans such as "Parlez français, soyez nette." (Speak French, Be Clean) were common in schools, hospitals and other government institutions. Since 1980, all regional languages have had limited recognition at a national level.

Religion

Main Article: Religion in Valcluse

Officially, Valcluse is a secular nation according to Article 17 of the Constitution denoting "that the state and its operation must remain free of the influence of the Church and the likewise shall apply to the state with regards to the Church". However, the Constitution also guarantees the freedom of religion, thus maintaining the rights of Valcluse's many dominant and minority religions. Between 1880 and 2005, Valcluse had followed the French laïcité concept of religion that was progressively drawn back following the repeal of the Religious Symbols Act of 1962 in May 2005.

Christianity is the largest religion in Valcluse with 70% of the population identifying as Christian. 30% of Valclusians have no religion and 10% belong to a minority religion such as Islam or Judaism.

Of the 70% of those who identify with Christianity, 60% are Catholic, 30% are Protestant, 3% are Eastern Orthodox and the remainder are from various denominations.

Health

Main Article: Healthcare in Valcluse

Healthcare in Valcluse is delivered through a universal public system that runs on a mixture of private and public funding. Health insurance in Valcluse is entirely privatized but it is regulated. Providers are not allowed to refuse customers under any conditions. All approved providers are required to have basic health plans which cover emergency and some non-essential hospital treatment. Plans are also capped at a rate of 5% of monthly income. Valcluse also has a state provided insurance company known as the Accident Compensation Agency (French: Agence du Dédommagement d'Accidents) which funds hospital and post-hospital treatment and recovery in the event of an accident. The ADA is entirely funded through taxation, with specific accounts for accident specific levies.

Hospitals in Valcluse are run at the regional level, with each region responsible for the maintenance and funding of public hospitals. Private hospitals exist either on a for profit basis or on a non-profit basis, often run by charities. Regions are also responsible for the provision of emergency medical services in Valcluse outside of private or government provided services.

Private healthcare in Valcluse exists outside of private hospitals. Doctors, general practitioners and other specialists operate independent of the public health system. Unlike in other Francophone countries, doctors in Valcluse have the ability to treat patients as well as refer them to other specialists. Doctors also prescribe medicines and drugs to patients. Dental care is free in Valcluse until 18 years of age and all medicines are subsidized by the government.

Life expectancy at birth in Valcluse was at an average of 80 years in 2009.

Education

Main Article: Education in Valcluse

The education system in Valcluse, like many other countries, is structured along a three-tier system of compulsory primary education and secondary education and optional tertiary education. Valcluse's current system is loosely based on that of France, having inherited much of the system from former Morivaine colonies when Valcluse became an independent state in 1800. However, it can trace it's current system back to the 1880's when it was decreed that education should be free, secular and compulsory until 12 years of age (the age today is 16).

Both Primary and Secondary education is administered largely by the state and is free for all ages, secular and attendance is compulsory until age 16. All public schools are required to teach within a curriculum set by the Ministry of Education, although private schools are permitted to teach subjects which do not fall within the government curriculum, such as religious studies.

Tertiary education is privately run and is divided between the general public universities and polytechnical institutes and the selective Grandes écoles, exclusive higher education establishments that do not fit within the normal classification of universities. These establishments produce the majority of Valcluse's top politicians, CEO's, business people and civil servants.

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Cuisine

Because of Valcluse's multi-ethnic history, there are at least six major influences on Valclusian cuisine: Morivaine French, Van Luxemburger French, Van Luxemburger Dutch, Van Luxemburger German, Van Luxemburger Italian, Prekovi and Magyar. Cuisine differs according to geographic regions and every region has at least one specialty or delicacy. Ethnic influences are not limited to a specific region of Valcluse, with two or more ethnicities often living within the same region.

Regional dishes and diets in general can be differentiated according to geographic regions. Diets in coastal areas in the north, east and west tend to have a lot more fish and other sea creatures, depending on availability. Fish dominates the diets of eastern coastal areas but in the north, scallops, oysters and other shellfish are more common and crustaceans dominate regional dishes on the west coast. In the interior, diets are dominated by more meat and crops such as wheat and potatoes, as well as animal byproducts, especially dairy products such as milk and cheese. Various regions of Valcluse are well known for their cheeses.

Influences from Prekonate include knedlíky, known as pain aigre (sour bread), bread dumplings made from sour dough and Svíčková, known as boef lyonnais, a specialty dish from the city of Lyon. Van Luxemburger German cuisine includes Sauerkraut, Strudel and in inland eastern areas, Schnitzel. Van Luxemburger Italian influences include Lasagne, where several regional variations exist. Other imports include Vanillekipferl from Van Luxemburger and Arnautian cuisine and are known as croissant blancs and Dobos torte, known in French as gâteau magyais and is a popular dessert among many Valclusians.

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