|Republic of the Lazar Islands
Republika Lazarih Otoka
|Motto: Slobode i slobode
Freedom and Liberty
|Anthem: Otok Slobode
Island of Freedom
Location of the Lazar archipelago (red bracket) relative to Veridis
Topographical map of the Lazar Islands showing cities
|Recognised regional languages||Zegoran, Bogatovian, Sanskovian, Chrobatian, Flamaguayan, Veridian Creole|
|Ethnic groups (2015)||Zegoran, Bogatovian, Sanskovian, Chrobatian, Flamaguayan, Mijesovi, Veridian Islander|
7,700 sq mi
|GDP (nominal)||2015 estimate|
|Currency||Lazari Liv (Lzo)|
|Drives on the||right|
Lazarih Otoka (Lazar's Islands), commonly known as the Lazar Islands, is a small sovereign island state formed of several volcanic archipelagos in the southern Ingenic Ocean. It consists of two main islands and a number of smaller archipelagos, coral reefs, and atolls. The capital, Lazarograd, is situated on the largest island of Veliki Otok along with roughly half of the national population. The country takes its name from famed Zapaslavian explorer Lazar Draskovic, who first sighted the islands in his 1698 - 1703 Veridian Voyage. It has maritime borders with Poyapáno in the north and Zavala to the west.
The Lazar Islands have been inhabited by native Veridians for over fifty thousand years, but were officially colonised by the Zapaslavian state in the early 19th century after being used as a trading post for the Rubber Coast colony for several years. It received its independence in 1965 after two decades of self-governance as an autonomous princedom of the Zegoran Crown.
Despite its geographical isolation the Lazar Islands have attempted to play a part in Veridian politics. In particular it is a leading voice against global climate change and regularly advocates for control of carbon emissions in international forums.
The Lazar Islands suffers from a higher than average incidence of natural disasters including hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and periodic drought, and is considered vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. In recent years it has attempted to move away from its previous dependence on the Zegoran state by developing its tourism sector. However, problems such as high unemployment continue to effect its economic development and Zegoran foreign direct investment continues to supply the Lazar Islands with over 60% of their annual operating budget.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Politics
- 4 Geography
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
The Lazar Islands were named after Lazar Draskovic, the first Wallasean to sight and land on them. Lazar was in the process of his 1833 Veridian Voyage, which aimed to map the atolls and islands of the southern Ingenic. The islands were originally referred to in government documents as simply the Far Islands (Dalekih Otoka) but were renamed to commemorate Draskovic upon his death in 1851.
The Lazars have a vague and relatively unexplored prehistory, with archaeological expeditions to the island limited by its geographic remoteness and inhospitable terrain. Homo-Sapiens speaking a crude proto-Veridian language are first thought to have arrived in the Lazars roughly seven thousand years ago, and fragments of pottery and metalwork have been dated back to around 3,000BO.
Lazar Draskovic was the first Wallasean to physically land on the islands, and began trading Wallasean goods such as clothing and weapons with the native tribes on the shoreline of Veliki Otok. After a number of trips back and forth to the islands, Lazar built several houses for him and his crew at a small peninsula on the north shore of Veliki Otok and named the settlement Lazarograd. Three years later in 1840, the Zaposlav King ABCDE took note of Lazar's growing riches and heard tales of the bountiful islands he had discovered. ABCDE issued a royal decree declaring the islands the property of the Zaposlav crown, but allowed Lazar to retain Lazarograd under concession.
Zaposlavia followed a similar colonial policy to that which it implemented in Rubber Coast. Zaposlavia's own rapid industrialisation and mechanisation was leaving scores of farmers destitute and had the potential to erupt into a full blown political crisis. Zaposlavia addressed this concern by offering rural farmers who moved to the colonies generous benefit packages including promises of free land and government contracts to purchase produce. Junior civil service diplomats were assigned to colonial ministries and government branches to gain practical experience before entering the civil service within Zaposlavia itself.
The colonial policy was relatively successful, particularly on the large island of Veliki Otok, which saw 40% of its forest cover and jungle areas cleared to make way for large tobacco and sugar plantations. Wealth was rapidly concentrated into the hands of the Zaposlavian colonial elite and a handful of co-opted local tribes and tribal chiefs. Blue-collar Zaposlavs moved to Lazarograd to work in the large port or open taverns. Natives were employed as labourers on the plantations. Slavery was not practised in the Zaposlav empire, however pay and benefits for native labourers were markedly lower than those paid to Zaposlavs.
During the Great War the Zaposlav 4th Naval (south) Squadron was based at Lazarograd, along with a marine detachment of 3,000 soldiers. The islands were effectively cut off from the mainland by Flamaguayan naval patrols in the Ingenic, but recently laid telegram cables on the ocean floor allowed for the metropole to continue communication with its colonial periphery. Fighting was localised mainly to the NORTHERN ISLANDS closer to the Flamaguayan Islands, with neither side able to gain a decisive naval advantage over the other.
At the conclusion of the Great War Zaposlavia's colonial empire collapsed, largely due to economic and political pressures brought about by the conflict, and the "crown jewel" colony of Rubber Coast was ceded to Flamaguay. Zaposlavia itself similarly dissolved and was reconstituted as Zegora and Bogatovia, and retained the relatively insignificant Lazar Islands as an overseas territory. In 1945, Zegora and representatives of the Lazari Assembly agreed a twenty-year timeframe for Zegora to officially Decolonise the Lazar Islands, during which the Islands would remain a part of the Zegoran state as an autonomous entity. The Lazari Independence Plan set in law a date of independence of 1 June, 1965, as well as obliging the Zegoran state to subsidise the training six hundred future Lazari civil servants, politicians, doctors, and entrepreneurs in Zegoran Universities. The Lazari Independence Plan was hailed by many in Wallasea as a prime example of responsible decolonisation, and the reason for avoiding brutal colonial wars that occurred elsewhere in Veridis around the same time.
Lazar Islands and Zegora followed the text of the Independence Plan, and the Islands became independent on June 1st under the government of the unelected First Congress. The Congress was a hand-picked selection of technocratic administrators chosen from the Independence Plan's university-trained pool by Zegora and the Lazari Embassy, under the leadership of ethnic-Lazari President Hopo Papolipato. Papolipato's government was initially extremely popular with ethnic Lazaris due to the fully compensated land redistribution plan implemented in the late 1960s, despite protests from the ethnic Zegoran and Mijesovi Islanders. Landowners who had been forced to sell swathes of their plantations to Lazaris opened channels of contact with the military high command, staffed with mainly ethnic-Zegoran officers, to retaliate against the First Congress.
On March 3rd 1968, a group of officers of the Lazari Armed Forces, led by Brigadier Ante Duzerovic staged a bloodless coup against the Papolipato government, arresting members of the First Congress and placing the islands under a State of Emergency. The ruling Council for Salvation of Law and Order was not strong enough initially to reverse the First Congress' equalitarian policies, but did put a halt to the compulsory land transfers on Veliki Otok.
Under the CSLO government the military exercised supreme power over all ministries, staffing them with loyalist military appointees. The slow diversification of the economy that had occurred under the First Congress government was halted, and plantation-farmed crops continued to represent almost 80% of Lazari exports. Arbitrary detention was common, and dissenters were often sent into internal exile in the smaller Lazari Islands where it was believed that they would cause less trouble for the CSLO. Lazar Islands became internationally isolated, save for its close links with Zegora and Puerto Blanco. Poyapano cut diplomatic relations with the CSLO government, which it deemed "reactionary", and began a program of harbouring Lazari political refugees.
In 1973 a spontaneous demonstration on the price of fuel on Lukovi Otok evolved into generalised discontent with the CSLO regime's authoritarian politics, economic mismanagement, and ethnic discrimination. Several thousand demonstrators marched on the military headquarters in Lukagrad, the islands' capital, demanding the end of the CSLO government, and camped outside of the complex. When Duzerovic flew in by helicopter to address the crowds and refused to step down, demonstrators clapped coconut shells together to drown out his voice. Within weeks the protests had spread to Veliki Otok, with the coconuts becoming a symbol of the demonstrators, leading to international commentators dubbing the incident the Coconut Revolution. When Zegora informed the CSLO it would in no way support them if they fired upon demonstrators, the government collapsed. Duzerovic and several other high-ranking CSLO members were flown to Puerto Blanco before Zegoran troops deployed in Lazarograd and returned Papolipato's First Congress to power.
The First Congress remained in power until elections were held in 1978, where the Veliki Lazari Island Justice party won a closely contested election. The IJ government was seen as tribalist in its policies, which disproportionately allocated resources to Veliki Otok. In particular the population of the Far Islands made repeated complaints to Lazarograd that IJ policies extending municipal water and public road systems on Veliki Otok were making their plantain exports uncompetitive both domestically and internationally. by 1980 the Daleki Independence Organisation political party, led by local farmer Nemanja Ra'ratocho'ma had emerged in the Far Islands, where it quickly gathered local support.
In 1981 Lazarograd was infiltrated by over fifty Daleki rebels belonging to the DIO, who attacked the Congress of Representatives Building with grenades. The next day DIO supporters armed with automatic weapons occupied government buildings in the Far Islands and declared the independent Republic of Daleckia. The government publicly blamed Poyapano for supplying weapons to the Daleki secessionists, and accused them of attempting to annex the Far Islands. Five days later the Lazari Armed Forces deployed to the Far Islands, quickly taking back control of the small towns and villages from DIO loyalists. The remaining secessionists retreated to the jungle, but due to the small size of the Far Islands they were quickly located and neutralised. Three weeks after the military deployment Ra'ratocho'ma surrendered to LAF troops and hostilities ceased.
The Lazar Islands is a republic, with a government divided into a judicial branch and representative branch. There is a Unicameral system of government, with a Congress of Representatives of thirty members, elected in first past the post elections on five-year terms. Any Representative may call for a dissolution of the Congress, which will automatically occur and trigger fresh elections on a majority vote in favour.
The Lazar Islands practice universal suffrage for all male citizens over 18 and all female citizens over 21. Each Representative in the Congress is elected from a single Electoral District of the Islands. The President is elected by the Congress of Representatives and has little executive power, save for in times of war or natural disaster. The President chooses one Representative to head each of the government ministries.
The internal politics of the Lazar Islands are characterised by ethnic- and class- based politics. Typical fault lines are seen between ethnic Zegoran ex-colonial settlers and native Lazaris, rich and poor, and between inhabitants of Veliki Otok and the periphery. Governments are often unstable coalitions, with minor interest parties wielding disproportionate power when forming alliances with more established parties. votes of no confidence and early elections are common, and Ministers are often shuffled between various ministries on the whims of either the President or junior coalition partners.
The Lazar Islands Supreme Court is staffed by three permanent judges, who are elected by popular vote and remain in post until retirement or death. It is the highest court of appeal in the Lazar Islands.
Lazar Islands is a member of several international organizations, including the Ingenic Island Community and International Federation of Climate Vulnerable States, and is an observer state of the Sistema de Integración para Aseugrar la Estabilidad Veridiana.
The Lazar Islands maintain a close relationship with the former colonial power, Zegora, and is considered by the latter to be a reliable ally in international forums. Relations with Poyapáno have historically been fraught, with Lazar Islands accusing its larger northern neighbour of supporting Dalekovi rebels in the brief Plantain War of 1981, but in recent years the two island states have taken steps to normalise relations. Lazar Islands also has a positive working relationship with Arriyiñatos, due to both states' shared Veridio-Zegoran identity and despite the historic enmity between Flamaguay and Zegora.
Law enforcement and military
The Lazari Self-Defence Forces are a seven-thousand strong military force broken into three arms - the Lazari Ground Forces, Lazari Coast Guard and Lazari Air Force. The military is under-staffed and under-funded, and has not been involved in any armed action since 1981. It is divided into three under-strength brigades. The air force is primarily composed of light transport aircraft, although it has recently purchased two helicopters from Quiberon to improve inter-island military manouverability.
By contrast the Lazari Coast Guard is a small but well-equipped force. It uses a number of cutters and corvettes donated by Zegora and North Point during the early 1980s, at the height of the Veridian Cocaine Wars, for the purposes of halting drug trafficking through the Lazars and into Wallasea. The Lazari Coast Guard also conducts disaster relief and search and rescue operations, particularly after natural disasters such as hurricanes, typhoons or tsunamis strike the islands.
The Lazari Self-Defence Forces have been firmly under the command of the Ministry of Defence since the Coconut Revolution of 1973, and military actors do not influence civilian politics. An abortive coup d'etat attempt in 1989 firmly established the authority of the civilian state over the army establishment.
Lazar Islands is divided into 30 Electoral Districts, including the Lazarograd Special Capital District. >Map/Table<
Lazar Islands is an island nation spread over two large archipelagos and with dozens of islands: Veliki Otok, X, Y, Z, the Far Islands, and several uninhabited reefs and atolls. A number of islands in the chain have been formed by active volcanoes. The highest point in the Lazari Islands is Vatrena Gora, an active volcano on Other Big Island which is 1,210 metres above sea level.
The country straddles the equator, and is spread over a large sea area with roughly 1,000km dividing the easternmost and westernmost islands. The Far Islands are particularly isolated, and are situated over 200km away from the next closest Lazari landmass.
The Islands are extremely warm and humid throughout the year due to the ocean-equatorial climate. The mean temperature across the year sits at 27 degrees Celsius, with variance of over 4 degrees in either direction incredibly rare. Lazar Islands' coldest recorded temperature is 13 degrees Celsius and its warmest 34 Celsius. Typically July through September are the coolest and rainiest months of the year, although rainfall occurs annually and distinct seasons cannot be readily identified. The average rainfall for the year is around 3,500mm. August to October bear the heaviest prevalence of extreme weather events.
The Lazar Islands is covered by one single terrestrial ecoregion known as the Lazaro-Ingenic rain forest ecoregion. All islands in the Lazaris are coated with thick jungle, although deforestation on the main island of Veliki Otok has taken place for plantation farming activities. Many islands feature rich volcanic soil that promotes rapid plant growth, although the aforementioned deforestation has degraded soil quality on Veliki Otok. The Lazar Island chain features over 300 species of endemic orchid and other tropical flower. mangrove swamps are common around low-lying river estuaries.
The Lazar Islands also host several endemic animal species, primarily birds and arthropods. The Lazari Fruit Dove and Lazari Bird of Paradise are two of the most spectacular local species, although numerous species of finch and bee-eater can also be found on the islands. The Giant Lazari Orb Weaver, an orb-weaver spider discovered on the side of an outhouse in Lazarograd in 1965, is thought to be the largest spider in the world by legspan.
A number of whales and dolphins are frequently spotted in the shallow waters off of the Lazars, and the numerous reefs are recognised as one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Many species of sea turtle, such as the Green sea turtle and Template:Hawkbill turtle, regularly nest on the beaches of Veliki Otok.
In recent years poaching of birds, reptiles and sea animals such as sharks has had a negative impact on the Lazari ecosystem and several species have experienced a marked population decline. Illegal sand mining and logging are also accelerating the process of environmental degradation and enhancing the effects of climate change.
The main pillars of the Lazari economy are Fishing, Agriculture, Tourism, and Logging. The first is a primary occupation for the majority of Lazaris, but fish are often caught for either subsistence or are packaged, sold and consumed entirely within the islands. In recent years Lazar Islands has leased several concessions in its Template:Exclusive economic zone to larger states such as Songia and Zegora, as well as fishing conglomerates in Questers. The Islands' main export products are sandalwood and beef, which has a good international reputation for being organic and commands high prices in Wallasea. Lazar Islands imports fuel, foodstuffs and electronics as well as a variety of other items unavailable locally.
Lazar Islands has conducted exploratory drilling of oil deposits in the deep seas off of the Veridian continental shelf, but deposits were deemed too difficult to access and not economically viable for full-scale exploitation. Some phosphate deposits are present on Lukovi Otok, and small-scale exploitation of these deposits has been ongoing since 2005. A small light industry sector on Veliki Otok serves the needs of the local population.
The tropical climate facilitates the cultivation of numerous tropical crops such as bananas, mangoes, avocados, watermelons, pineapples, peanuts, chili peppers, sugarcane, tobacco and vanilla. Some of these fruits are domestically canned and exported, but the majority are consumed within the country.
Lazar Islands was connected to the Zegoran mainland via the Ingenic Island Fiber Relay Cable in 2015, and was the last country in the world to connect to a fiber-optic cable. Since the connection of the cable 4g services have proliferated on Lazar Islands, with a number of mobile operators forming a healthy competitive market. The majority of Lazaris access internet via their mobile phones or wireless dongles, but fixed-line broadband connections are available in Lazarograd.
Tourism has provided Lazar Islands with a steady flow of foreign hard currency. The islands primarily cater for cruise ship tourism and luxury package tourism, although backpacker tourism has steadily increased its share of the market since the late 1990s. In particular Lazar Islands is internationally renowned for its premier scuba resorts, and a number of shipwrecks from the Great War are located at shallow enough depths to provide unique diving experiences.
Beach tourism is a major revenue generator and many smaller islands, particularly those to the north of Veliki Otok, are leased almost exclusively by large international resorts. Lazari beach holidays are popular with middle-aged, retired or honeymoon tourists. Private yacht owners also frequently stop in the Lazar Islands as a key stopover in round-the-world trips.
Younger tourists to Lazar Islands are drawn to both cultural and natural attractions on the islands. The city of Lazarograd features well-maintained Zaposlav colonial architecture, and a number of museums detailing the colonial period exist. Several national parks offer opportunities for bird-watching and eco-tourism.
In 2017 tourist numbers to Lazar Islands were estimated at 341,974 - an increase of 21% of ten years' prior. There is growing concern in the islands that the increasing tourist load will quickly become unsustainable and the large increase in entries has already affected accommodation and food prices in Lazarograd.