|Anthem: Khaanii Magtaal|
|Location||The location of Vekhistan in western Crataea.|
|Religion||Pantheonism, tribal religions|
1,117,213 sq mi
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
The Vekh Khanate, or Vekhistan, is a khanate located in western Crataea. While tracing its origin back to the Ulannic horde of Vekhujin of the 16th century, the modern day Vekh Khanate was formed in 1988 as one of two successor states to the defunct Sergeltist state of Ulangazor. Since the founding of the modern Vekh state, the economy has been transformed by the opening of its market to foreign investment, as well as the rapid urbanization of what was previously a largely nomadic people. The reigning monarch, Ögedei Khan, has made the modernization of Vekhistan and the expansion of state authority the top national priorities. In addition, the previously banned Pantheonist faith has seen rapid growth with the encouragement of the central government: as of 2018, 73% of the Vekh population self-identified as Pantheonist.
Vekhistan was inhabited by humans as early as 10,000 b.c., with archaeological evidence of permanent settlements dated back to 5,000 b.c. Historical sources first mention the Kingdom of Midia, which occupied the majority of modern-day Vekhistan, in the 1st millennium b.c., where they are recorded as trading with and providing mercenaries to coastal Quardacian settlers. Midia would go on to serve as an occasional enemy and ally of the various Quardacian city-states until the arrival of the Dumani Republic. Dumani sources note that the Midians were renowned horsemen, whose services were sought by both the Dumani and Quardacians through their various wars in the 1st and 2nd centuries a.d. Following the Second Nucerian War in the 1st century a.d., the Kingdom of Midia fell under Dumani patronage, where it would maintain a degree of independence until its formal abolition in the late 2nd century and its formal annexation by Dumanum.
The Midian culture and language was largely subsumed by Dumani culture and the Ostic language over the succeeding centuries, and the Midians would continue to provide horse-mounted auxiliaries to the Dumani Republic and later Empire throughout the first millennium a.d.
The province of Midia in what is now present-day Vekhistan would remain a secure part of the Dumani Empire until the 11th century a.d. in a period referred to as the Crisis of the 11th Century. During this time, Midia was devastated repeatedly by Axar invaders and wracked by the Tarantine Plague, resulting in the native population being halved in the span of 50 years. The Dumani Empire which had securely held the province for the nearly one thousand years was fractured into multiple successor states. The Semnian Empire, the western Dumani successor successor state, would maintain a tentative hold Midia, and routinely employed a strategy of settling pacified Axars and other tribes to replenish the depopulated province and shore up its defenses against future invaders. Consequently, the region would suffer from numerous rebellions by settled tribes, partly contributing to the gradual depletion of Semnian military and economic power.
In 1487, Bartu Khan succeeded uniting the tribes of the Ulannic Steppe in present-day Gzhelkastan, launching invasions of both the Sukarian Empire and Semnian Empire. Midia was among the first to bear the brunt of the Ulannic invasion, and the Semnian garrison was rapidly defeated and ejected from the province. A mass migration of Ulannic peoples to Midia followed; much of the local population opted to flee in the face of the invasion, resulting in the Midian Diaspora. Those who remained were more often than not integrated into Ulannic society, with a number of native Midians finding positions in the new administration as well as in the army of Bartu Khan.
Dying in 1509, the empire of Bartu Khan passed to his sons Jaghatai, Bo'orchu, Vekhujinn, and Gzelkhur. Following the will of Bartu, the sons partitioned the empire, with Bo'orchu being granted control over the lands extending from Vekhistan extending down through the former Dumani provinces of Quardacia, Semnia, and Motappa Nostra. It is here that historians attribute the sundering of the Ulannic peoples into different distinct hordes, and the origin of the Vekh and Gzelkh peoples. The horde of Vekhujinn, whose descendants would later give the country of Vekhistan its name, was granted a large portion of the southern Sukarian Empire, and would later settle in the fertile land of Potamia in present-day Dumanum.
A period of relative peace followed, with the Borchids consolidating their holdings and beginning the process of settling into farming communities and cities over the next century. The institutional loss of the ability to raise large numbers of horse-mounted archers would contribute to the downfall of the Borchids within a century, as a resurgent Semnian Empire with the aid of Motappan allies was able to drive the Ulans north of the Tuder River into the present-day Dumani province of Quardacia and the former Midia, which chroniclers had begun to refer to as Ulannia Inferior. In 1576, Bo'orchu Khan died without a clear heir, his sons having perished on campaign against the Semnians and in clashes with Ulannic rivals, resulting in a civil war that would see his horde dissolved into disparate tribes.
The lands collectively referred to as Ulannia Inferior would remain inhabited by rival city-states divided on tribal lines until the 1660s, when the Sukarian Emperor Theodoros II launched a successful campaign to subjugate the province. A strategy of divide and conquer was employed, with military force utilized as often as diplomatic means to bring the Ulans under Sukarian rule. Successive emperors would launch campaigns to rebuild the province to its former glory. Classically-influenced cities were built throughout Ulannia Inferior as generations of Sukarian veterans settled in the region, pushing the Ulan tribes to the margins. Sukarian cities in the region such as Midia Kalos were thought to be some of the most beautiful in the whole Antarteran world. Ulannia Inferior became a core territory of the empire as it expanded outward, seizing territories from the Semnian Empire and making concerted efforts to move eastward.
Around 1840, as part of the continued struggle between the Imperial Sukarians and Republican Dumani, the Dumani Proconsul Caius Rasce led six legions in an invasion of Potamia. Potamia had remained a largely frontier province during its time under the Autokratoria's control, as Vekh tribes still ranged there and were a serious threat to commerce. The Senate's strategy was to drive the Vekh tribes from Potamia by systematically burning the grasslands, which they ascertained would be more fertile for Dumani colonists after a burn.
Hulegujar Khan, ruler of the Vekhs, chose to flee with his horde westward into what is today Vekhistan by 1850, destroying many Sukarian cities in the process. The Autokrator Latrix II ordered the general retreat of the Themata from much what is today western Dumanum. Borders around Ubaidia and Ulannia Inferior were reestablished and consolidated upon largely thanks to pre-existing ancient fortifications. The Senate was content to conquer large swaths of territory in Crataea, while the Autokratoria fought numerous invasions by Vekh tribes. Autokrator Arteros IV would eventually devise a strategy of befriending certain amiable khans and allowing them to settle their people in agreed upon spots peacefully, though this inevitably led to bloodshed around the grasslands they were given.
From the 1860s through the Great War, Ulannia Inferior became increasingly less governable, as Vekh tribes neglected infrastructure and rejected cities. During this time the area became known as Vekhistan. Nonetheless, it was not until the Empire's loss in the Great War that Vekh independence became an objective of the khans. During the Sukarian Civil War, Vekhistan fully broke away from the empire.
Heavily influenced by by Yunus Kyariv's Sergeltist writings, a young ethnic Vekh officer in the Evzones by the name of Subutai led a revolt against the Autokratoria, which was in the midst of a bloody civil war. Incensed by the events of the Vekh Scourge, and what he considered the breakdown of Ulannic culture at the hands of Antarteran influence, Subutai proclaimed himself Khan of the Vekhs and quickly rallied much of the populace to his cause. The Sukarian garrison in Karakh Vekh, along with the Exarch of Vekhistan, were expelled from the country within six months of Subutai's declaration. By the end of the Sukarian Civil War, Subutai had full control of the country and had successfully expelled what was left of imperial authorities in the country. Timotheos Megas never made an attempt to take the territory back.
His position secured, Subutai proclaimed the Sergeltist Khanate of Ulangazor, with himself as the Great Khan of the Ulans, and organized a new army dubbed the Ordu. National reforms, he decided, would be instituted after all Ulannic peoples had been freed from foreign rule. He looked first to the north in Gzhelkastan, where Saratovia struggled to maintain hold of its coastal colonial territories amidst pressure from the Gzhelk steppe tribes, internal dissent by the largely Sergeltist intelligentsia of colonial Zhelkiria, and an economic depression brought on by the Great War. Aid in the form of surplus arms captured from Sukarian arsenals was smuggled to Sergeltists groups within Saratov Zhelkiria, leading to to increased pressure on the colonial garrison by insurgents and raiders.
In 1921, following several years' preparation, the Ordu was deemed ready for war. Following Ulannic tradition, Subutai publicly demanded the submission of the Saratov colonies in Gzhelkastan to his rule. Subutai dispatched a messenger to the Saratov Viceroy's palace in Gzhelkadar Krai. The Viceroy, Graf Sergei Teleshev, refused to even see the Ordu's messenger, and had his deputy inform the Ordu representative that any attempts to violate territory claimed by Saratovia would be met with an overwhelming response. The threat was hollow, however. While the post-war economy at home was beginning to stabilize, there was little appetite in Saratovia for a major colonial war. Teleshev requested reinforcements for his dwindling colonial garrison. By this time, most of the Saratov forces comprised levees raised from local Gzhelk satraps who had pledged fealty to the Saratov monarch. Many of these local forces had questionable loyalties, and there were known Sergeltist officers and soldiers in their ranks who were expected to desert in the event the Ordu formally invaded.
The Ordu's assault began in September 1921, weeks after the Saratov colonial administration refused to submit. Fighting was light at first, with small skirmishes between mobile Ordu cavalry raiding Saratov frontier forts and settlements. It wasn't until March 1922 that major combat began, when the Ordu launched a combined three-pronged offensive across the mountains that separated coastal Zhelkiria from the bulk of modern-day inland Gzhelkastan. As expected, dozens of local units that had been counted among the colonial administration's auxiliary forces defected and began revolts in several of the major coastal cities.
Subutai's main forces reached Gzhelkadar Krai in November 1922, and began setting up for a long siege outside the city's already partially ruined walls. He sent a messenger into the city under a flag of truce to demand its surrender and submission. The messenger delivered a threat from Subutai that, should the colonial government refuse to accept terms, the entire city would be burned to the ground and all Saratovs and known collaborators would be massacred. Viceroy Teleshev desperately stalled for time while awaiting confirmation of reinforcements from Saratov Ongobongoland or Saratovia proper, but on 16 November 1922, an official order from the Chancellor to immediately evacuate the colony and all essential personnel came through.
By the 20th of December the bulk of the Saratov colony and its Gzhelk loyalists had been evacuated. The remaining troops made for the harbor, and Subutai proclaimed victory over the Saratovs on New Year's Day 1923. He continued his campaign to subjugate the Saratov satraps who continued to refuse to submit, but by early February 1923 the Ordu was able to claim the entirety of former Saratov Zhelkiria.
With the Saratovians finally ejected from Ghzelkastan in 1923, the later was formally incorporated into the Ulangazor. Subutai Khan died later that year, leaving a brief power vacuum that was filled by Tokhtamysh, a former Ghzelkan bandit who had been one of Subutai's most trusted advisors. Tokhtamysh was formally proclaimed Great Khan of the Ulans by the Kurultai in 1924, and quickly set about instituting a series of aggressive Sergeltist-inspired reforms to Ulannic society.
Geography and climate
Vekhistan has a population of 67,010,309 as of the 2018 census. The current growth rate is estimated at 1.5% per year. Vekhistan has a relatively young population: 59% of the population is under the age of 30, and 29% are under the age of 14. Following the collapse of Ulangazor and the founding of Vekhistan, the country experienced a period of declining total fertility rate, dropping from 8.2 in 1970 to 1.4 in 1995. The decline had ended and stabilized by 2010 at approximately 2.1, coinciding with a government campaign promoting childbirth and increased economic opportunity.
Ethnic Ulans account for 97% of Vekhistan's populace, with Vekhs constituting 89% of the ethnic Ulannic populace and other groups such as Gzhelks and Borchids accounting for the remainder. The remaining 3% of the populace consists of foreign nationalities, such as Dumani and Sukarians.
As of the current census, 95% of the population identified as native speakers of the Vekh language, with 95% of the populace being conversant in the language. Other minority languages include Gzhelk and Borchid, spoken by approximately 2% of the populace. Since the opening of Vekhistan to foreign investment, the government has encouraged bilingualism: beginning in 2000, the Ostic language was added to the basic public school curriculum. Approximately 31% of the population reports being fluent in a second language, most commonly Ostic.
The urbanization of the Vekh population has increased dramatically since its foundation, with 75% of the population now residing in cities compared to just 10% in 1970. Under the previous Sergelt system, the populace did not permanently reside in cities, instead roaming in nomadic hordes that would rotate into permanent settlements on a seasonal basis to work in agricultural and industrial sectors. This system was fatally compromised after the partitioning of the former Ulangazor, which saw the fertile Khotont region that fed upwards of 70% of the country being subject to a territorial dispute between Vekhistan and Gzhelkastan. A trend of large illegal settlements, or dzah, on the outskirts of the urban centers set in as the cities became overcrowded with an influx of formerly nomadic peoples. This trend has been curbed in the past twenty years by the construction of numerous new cities, often with heavy Dumani investment.
Government and politics
Vekhistan is a unitary state with the Khan ruling as absolute monarch. The Khan serves as head of state, head of government, supreme judiciary, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Assisting him in his duties are a variable number of burgans, or ministers, who administer various government departments. A legislature comprised of noyans, the Khuraltai, acts in an advisory capacity to the Khan, and elects a successor upon his death. The Khuraltai, in practice, manages the day-to-day affairs of the nation, with the Khan having ultimate veto power over their actions. Provinces, or aimags, are administered by darughachi, officials appointed directly by the Khan. Their principal duty is the enforcement of the Khan's law and the collection of taxes. Local government is by noyans appointed to rule over a municipality by the province's darugha; typically, this will be a prominent local noble with strong community ties, although the darugha may use his discretion to bring in an outsider in the case of particularly uncooperative localities.
The noyans constitute a noble class which any Vekh may aspire to through personal achievement or wealth, though it ultimately depends upon his proven loyalty to the Khan and the political system at large. In addition to being one of the qualifiers permitting a man to sit on the Khuraltai, the title has a deep cultural significance granting one a great deal of gravitas within the local community. The most frequent method of advancement to noyanhood is through the military; however, in more recent years as the Vekh economy continues to develop, prominent industrialists and accomplished businessmen have found themselves appointed noyan with increasing frequency.
The Khan of the Vekhs has absolute control over the country's foreign relations, although he typically delegates diplomatic activity to his foreign minister. Vekhistan is a client state of the neighboring Dumani Republic; although Vekhistan enjoys complete de jure independence, its foreign policy is heavily influenced by the Senate in Urbs Dumanus. Consequently, it enjoys close diplomatic relations with Dumanum, who guarantees its independence and the sanctity of the Khan's person by treaty. Domestic policy is similarly impacted, with members of the Khuraltai often having the patronage of prominent Dumani. Relations with other Dumani-aligned Pantheonist countries, such as the Wolohannic Confederation and Sharfland, are also close. It is in a virtual cold war with neighboring Gzhelkastan, itself a satellite state of the Sukarian Empire, and has likewise chilly relations with Sukaria.
One of the current major diplomatic efforts is the achieving of international recognition of its sovereignty over the disputed Khotont region bordering Gzhelkastan. Currently, Dumanum and its Pantheonist allies universally recognize the claim, although Gzhelkastan's claim over the region is backed by Sukaria and Prekovy. Lobbying efforts with various countries in Crataea and Wallasea are ongoing.
The military of Vekhistan is known as the Ordu Vekh, and includes the Tsereg, or army, and the Büleg, or air force. Along with the Gzhelkan military, is the direct successor of the Ordu of Ulangazor. Its defeat by the Dumani in the 1987 Ulannic War had resulted in severe casualties among the officer corps and saw much of its materiel destroyed. The new Vekh government built the Ordu Vekh along Dumani lines, with much funding and training coming from Dumanum proper; some equipment was initially retained from the Ulangazor, but its personnel were drawn from the ranks of the rebel Pantheonist Nöhöröl that had fought against the Sergelt government.
Today, the Ordu Vekh is manned by 200,000 active duty personnel, with an additional 400,000 in reserve. The Tsereg organized into five mechanized divisions and a special forces brigade, and the Büleg maintains a fleet of 126 fixed wing aircraft. Vekhistan does not have a separate navy, but the Tsereg does maintain a fleet of coastal patrol ships. The Ordu is a professional all-volunteer force, and is a major beneficiary of Dumani foreign aid in the form of equipment and training. Much of its equipment is aging Dumani surplus, although strong efforts at modernization commenced in 2015 with the introduction of newer systems like the AV.29D Fulcrum multi-role fighter and MAD.IV Mod. ExV main battle tank. Recruitment is fairly selective: applicants must be a male at least 16 years in age, meet stringent physical fitness standards, and must have a letter of recommendation from a current or former member of the military; additionally, recruits are selected for their loyalty to the government and Pantheonist faith. Service time is for a minimum of four years active duty. Military service is a prerequisite for many government jobs, and is required to serve in any public office. Former members of the military are enrolled in a national militia, the Tsagdaa, which may be called up in emergencies such as natural disasters or public disorder.
Vekhistan has a developing central legal system with a written legal code and a class of legal scholars known as Shüügchs that act as a judiciary that answer directly to the Khan, who constitutes the supreme judiciary. An individual Shüügch is typically responsible for overseeing the courts of a municipality, with a council of Shüügchs constituting an appellate court at the Aimag level. Final appeals are heard by the Khan himself, or a chosen representative. The Vekh legal code is broadly based on the traditional Ulannic legal code of Yassa, which dates back to the time of Bartu Khan, with heavy Dumani influence evident in various sectors such as corporate law. Although great strides have been made in the past thirty years in applying the legal code universally, tribal law still prevails at the local level in many areas, especially rural localities and within dzah. In these areas, government influence is low and the rulings of local elder councils are more typically adhered to than those of the Shüügchs. The government continues to make the application of the Khan's law on these areas a national priority.
Law enforcement is carried out by a national police force, the Manah, which maintains garrisons in all municipalities and has both investigative and patrol functions.
The economy of Vekhistan is the 9th-smallest in the world by PPP GDP at around $650 billion in 2018. With a per capita GDP of $9,700 and an HDI of 0.696, Vekhistan is considered a developing country. A century of Sergeltist government, coupled with high inflation, caused foreign investors to flee Vekhistan, halting its industrialization until the 1990s. The economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and light manufacturing, with agricultural products, light engineering, and mineral forming the basis of the country's exports. Following the conclusion of the Ulannic War in 1987, the Vekh economy was opened to foreign investment, with neighboring Dumanum becoming its largest investor and trade partner. Vekhistan's state capitalist economy is dominated by major nationalized corporations, which make up more than 25% of total national income. The tax burden is approximately 25% of GDP.