Pilar is a very large and older nation with citizens primarily of German ethnicity whose religion is Christianity. Its technology is first rate and its citizens marvel at the astonishing advancements within their nation. Its citizens pay high taxes and constantly express grievances about their government and work environments. The citizens of Pilar work diligently to produce Cattle and Rubber as tradable resources for their nation. It is a mostly neutral country when it comes to foreign affairs. It will usually only attack another nation if attacked first. When it comes to nuclear weapons Pilar will not research or develop nuclear weapons. The military of Pilar has been positioned at all border crossings and is arresting all drug traffickers. Pilar allows its citizens to protest their government but uses a strong police force to monitor things and arrest lawbreakers. It's borders are closed to all forms of immigration. Pilar believes in the freedom of speech and feels that it is every citizens right to speak freely about their government.
Because of the humanitarian endeavours of its ruler and the former national religion of Mahayana Buddhism, the government gives whatever is necessary to help others out in times of crisis, even it means hurting its own economy. Pilar will not make deals with another country that has a poor history of inhuman treatment of its citizens, and the country is proud to say that it has the highest per capita number of humanitarian aid workers than any other nation in the world.
Pilar is a proud member of GATO.
In comparison to other countries, Pilar is a very young nation, having started just after the Black Plague swept through Europe. Despite having such a short history to go by, Pilarians, even ex-patriots, tend to be very proud of what their nation was and what they hope it will be.
Pilar, a tiny country in the middle of the Indian Ocean, was first settled in the mid-1300s by a group of mixed German and Swiss citizens escaping their plague-ravaged continent. The settlers travelled by foot from the centre of Europe to the Sinai Peninsula, where they caught ships down the coast of Africa. Although some settled in Madagascar, most continued out to the tiny islands in the middle of the ocean. It is said that they hoped to find Indonesia, famous for fine spices, but charted their voyage incorrectly and ended up far below where they were planning on going, hitting the chain of islands making up Pilar rather than sailing the extra thousands of miles to reach Indonesia.
The country itself, although founded by German and French speakers, is named for the Virgin Mary in Spanish, Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar). According to legend, the Virgin appeared to St James at a location in Spain along the Ebro River where there was a basilica that one of the settlers visited when stricken with the plague and miraculously healed. Impressed by his story, the other settlers decided to call their nation Pilar, in the hopes that it would be blessed by the Virgin and all the saints to protect it from the plague that was bringing so much destruction and death to their homeland.
In the late 1800s, Pilar received a highly unexpected rush of Japanese settlers following the opening of Japan to foreign trade. The culture was, for a short time, extremely novel and popular, but very little has held on except for the state religion. Despite being a nation very tied to the Roman Catholic tradition, by the early 1900s, Pilar was a mostly Buddhist country. When Chinese began entering after the Communist Revolution in their own country, the religion became even more widely practised, and finally, when the Vietnam War was being fought, refugees from the former Indochina made their way into Pilar, making the Buddhist prevalence over 70%.
Although a monarchy since the early days of the country, in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a huge revolution that brought about a republic in Pilar. The Pilar Republic remained until the late 1990s, but the economy had never recovered from the revolution and the very out-of-touch Pilarians found themselves increasingly behind the times with very little money to bring themselves up to the world stage in terms of industrialisation and technology. Millions left the country to pursue other means in other countries, and finally, in 2006, the Parliament found that it was in dire straits. Listening to their constituents, the Parliament decided to bring back the monarchy to establish a national figurehead, someone that all Pilarians could look up to as the perfect portrait of everything their country stood for. Searching the national records, the Parliament found that the great-great-great grand-niece of the fabulous Empress Magdalena III still resided in the country as the daughter of a governor of a small province and immediately dubbed her the Grand Countess of Pilar, a new title created just for her.
Currently, many citizens are pleased with this change. Tabloids are already picking up on the royal gossip, concerning themselves and the public about Adia I's love life, the status of royals in exile, and more.
From Magdalena's Nachrichtenbüro, 17 August 2006:
- The occupation of Pilar by New Jamaica has ended, but the nation has been thrown into anarchy.
- Polled on the streets, a good number of Pilarian citizens professed their adoration for the Grand Countess, but looting still continues in razed areas of Magdalena. According to news reports, much of rural Pilar has been basically unaffected, but the losses in the capital were so great, it has destroyed the delicate balance created by the Countess after the destructive reign of her great-uncle.
- Aid immediately flooded into Pilar after the ceasefire was declared. The largest amount was from the Minister of Defence for GATO, Paderino of the nation of Patagonia. Included with his large aid package was apology for the lack of military aid during the conflict. After a conference between Pilar and members of GATO, the Countess expressed that she was very pleased with the attention given to her ailing nation.
- The nation that attacked Pilar, New Jamaica, has been expelled from the Grand Global Alliance because of the ruler's breaking of GGA by-laws prohibiting attacks upon affliated members of international organisations. As an apology for New Jamaica's actions, a member of the Holy Triumvirate of the Grand Global Alliance, Kevin the Great of Buckmaster Land, has also offered an aid package to Pilar.
- Both aid packages have been used by the Countess to rebuild infrastructure, purchase technology, and strengthen Pilar's army to bring order back to the country.
The great part of Pilar's history has been under the watchful government eye of a monarch. The first Emperor of Pilar was Emperor Wolfgang I, who came to power in 1382, and every single monarch since his reign has been related to him through blood. Pilar has no rules regarding gender in their rulers, and typically there is not a set heir apparent until all children of a ruler are of age. If the ruler dies when the children are young, the eldest child automatically receives the title 'emperor (or empress) presumptive' until the royal council can make the determination regarding which child or relative is best suited to the throne. Beginning in the early 1800s, Pilar became a constitutional monarchy, and this form of government stayed in place until the late 20th century.
Perhaps the most famous of the monarchs of Pilar is the illustrious Magdalena III, for whom the capital city of Magdalena is named. Although she was the twenty-third monarch of the country and even the third with her same given name, Magdalena III stands out amongst the rest for her strengthening of the country with the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, in which the day-to-day matters of government are decided by an elected body. Veto power was still held by the gregarious and intelligent Magdalena, but she had the trust of her countrymen, so little unhappiness resulted.
Magdalena was brought into the monarchy quite suddenly at the age of sixteen after the unexpected death of her father, Emperor Thiery V. As the oldest living child of Thiery, she was put in charge before she'd even finished secondary school. Despite her position, at age eighteen, she was sent to India for the required two years of humanitarian service instituted by the government under her father. When she returned, her focus was more on the happiness of her people rather than the power that her family held as monarchs. Within a few months, the first national elections took place to elect the representatives in the newly created Parliament, finally bringing government decisions to the people of the country rather than keeping it in just a few hands.
Her governmental changes were so monumental and so highly regarded, when she died at the age of 89 in 1893, the national mourning period lasted for three weeks.
Magdalena's coronation is celebrated as a yearly national holiday called Coronation Day. It is held on 21 November.
Unfortunately, despite all the wondrous changes that she brought about, Magdalena never had any children, so after her death, the crown went to her younger brother, who became Emperor Uwe II. The line continued through him to his son, Marcus I, and in turn to his son, Theiry VI. There was not another female regent until the placement of Countess Adia I in the early 2000s, and in that case, Adia's line came from Magdalena's sister Agatha, so many are hoping that the bad genes are all connected to the Y chromosome, as all relations of Uwe II have turned out to be horrendous rulers.
The current ruler is connected to Magdalena through Countess Agatha, her daughter Adalia, and her daughter Constance, Adia I's mother.
In stark contrast to the popularity of Magdalena III, Thiery VI goes down in Pilarian history as the worst ruler ever. The great-great grandson of Magdalena, Thiery was more interested in personal power than the happiness of his people. In what can only be referred to as a 'rape,' the Emperor took not only land and business from the people under his control, he also began taking in their women, claiming that in their religion and in the history of their country, the practise was widespread and acceptable. Outraged, the citizens began to elect Parliament members who powerhoused against him, so Thiery simply disbanded the Parliament, making all decisions from his estate in the seaside village of Jude.
From Jude, Thiery VI stood blissfully by, spending his days at the well-guarded private beach with his wife and three children. Although he was briefed daily on the newest developments in the capital city and the rest of the island, all news was basically ignored. He had no interest in his people and found himself more concerned with the family jewellery, land holdings, and divinity. After only a few months, his followers had dwindled down to a handful, most of whom were his personal bodyguards.
The Emperor was finally assassinated five years after the disbandment. It is believed that he was killed by one of his bodyguards when he was at the beach, but his body has not been recovered. Countess Adia I has an ongoing investigation into its location so that she might return his body to her still-grieving great aunt, HIH Duchess Hannalore of Pilar, who is in exile in Germany, her home country, with her three children.
When Adia I came to the throne, she was pressed to sign a bill that stated if she were to die suddenly, neither HIH Duchess Hannalore nor her children could make claim to the throne of Pilar. Urged by her council and personal assistant to sign the bill, she finally did so, and by signing, stripped her aunt and cousins of all power and titles. Considering that Hannalore and her children have settled into a normal life in Germany, this is not too bad of a punishment, and it is typically overlooked that because Hannalore remarried once moving to Germany, she automatically gave up all claim to the throne.
- Main article: Adia I of Pilar
Constance Adia Virginie Margarethe von Büchlein-Dannenberg, or Adia I, is the first monarch to rule in Pilar since the Revolution. Her current task is to restructure the failing economy and revitalise the destroyed infrastructure and technology. Although plagued with poor financing and a cripplingly low literacy rate, the young monarch is extremely hopeful about the future of her country and considers one of her greatest role models to be her great-great-great aunt, the Empress Magdalena III.
Although young at 28 years of age, Adia is considered almost painfully old-fashioned when it comes to the culture of her country. Known as 'the old maid' to the tabloids, Adia prefers to be dressed in the heavy silks and stifling corsets that defined the monarchy's fashion for so long. She is well trained in native dance, cooking, manners, and language, and always has a very calm air about her. It is a matter of concern to her subjects, however, that the Countess shows very little interest in suitors, instead spending most of her time studying or holding conferences in her chambers. She is a stunningly mousy woman, preferring to be quiet and listen to grievences rather than fight over topics. She has a great brain for problem-solving, however, so once the crowds disperse, she is more than happy to explain the answers to anything anyone asked her during conference.
Because of her shyness, most of the questions and concerns about the government and royal family are directed to her head assistant, Aiden Zaragoza. The luckiest people are those who can get Zaragoza's ear, because like the adage that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, the quickest way to the Countess' mind is through her lover.
The Countess is popular in the tabloids because of her reknowned, yet offbeat, beauty. She has very long, dark red hair and blue-green eyes. Her skin is very pale, and that is usually very noticeable because of the pale dresses she is so fond of wearing. Unless she is seen in person, most people have no idea what she really looks like because all released pictures of the royal family are hand-colourised, a tradition going back many years in the monarchy. Sources close to her, however, say that the colourisation is nearly spot on, and that Adia really does sort of fade into her clothing.
Under the weak but terrifying rule of the current ruler's great-uncle, Thiery VI, the government of Pilar fell apart. Protests went on in the streets, entire city blocks were burned, and huge groups of citizens left the country. Parliament took power and ousted the ruler's family from the country after the Emperor's death.
Thiery VI disbanded the Parliament in April 1978. Within a month, Magdalena was in ruins, the landlines carrying information in large cables under the oceans to other countries were cut, and Pilar's formerly technology-savvy country fell into the darkness. Around the world, rumours circulated that the monarch had okayed testing with nuclear weapons and they had destroyed the tiny but formerly efficient country during an attempt to create a controlled explosion underground. By the time Pilarian ex-pats reached the shores of the closest country, Madagascar, The entire infrastructure of the country was destroyed by fighting between monarchists and republicans.
The revolution continued even after the Emperor's death in early 1984, and it wasn't until 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall that the people got their wits about them and released the country from anarchy into a republic. Parliament was elected and kept rule of the country until the early 2000s.
Outcry and RevolutionEdit
After a decade of transitioning rulers, the people of Pilar decided that they wanted to have structure once again. The monarchy was re-established with the young Countess Adia I of Behrends, a small island off of the coast of Pilar. Her family, during the First Revolution, fled to Behrends for safety, but given the chance to take back the family name and grace, Adia came forward and was crowned the Grand Countess Adia I rather than Empress Adia the first so that there was a slight break from the previous monarchy. From the moment she was crowned, Adia has taken it upon herself to participate fully in the government's rebuilding of her civil war-torn country, devoting all of her time and resources to rebuilding. At the same time, she must keep an ear out for discontent amongst her new supporters and followers.
A few months into Adia I's reign, public outcry arose, but it was for a completely different reason. Pleased with her demeanour and skills, the once radical republicans of the country cried out for a dictatorship. On Coronation Day, Adia I was crowned Her Illustrious Highness Grand Countess Adia I of Pilar, and all power was invested in her and her council. The Parliament was disbanded at the same time, and Adia I became the supreme ruler of all of Pilar.
Her youth and previously mentioned shyness have led to her being called 'the reluctant dictator' by most of the media around the world. Unlike the stereotype of a dictator, Adia I is a very underspoken girl who seems more suited to nursing or humanitarian work than the position of supreme dictator of a small Indian Ocean country. Across the world, the question has arisen of whether Adia I is a figurehead for a larger, behind-the-scenes government or if the young woman is actually the power behind the government of Pilar.
After eight months of dictatorship, the system (or rather, Adia I) broke down and there was a return to Monarchy.
Despite its tiny size, Pilar has an extremely varied terrain. From the sandy beaches of the shore to the volcanic mountains of the inner island, Pilar is a beautiful and fabulously tropical place. The water off of the coast is a beautiful shade of aqua with coral reefs just below the surface, a favourite place for SCUBA diving tourists.
Most cattle ranching is done around the centre of the island in the valleys between the mountains. There are 177 kilometres of coastline just on the main island. The land is almost 50% arable, but only 3% is used for permanent crops, and another 3% for the pastures needed for Pilarian cattle. 22% of the island consists of forests, which are used for latex tapping for the production of rubber.
The weather of Pilar is decidedly tropical with warm, dry weather in the spring and fall and hot, humid weather in the winter. During the winter, there is an increased danger of tropical typhoons and cyclones.
Pilar has an ecosystem unlike any other African or Indian country. Whilst there are no native mammals to the island, there are many different endemic plants and animals including beautiful flowering plants and geckoes. At one time, there were many more kinds of flightless birds, but the settlers who first came to Pilar made many kinds extinct by bringing in their common European animals such as cats and dogs.
It has been said that Pilar is one of the most beautiful places on Earth; a famous writer once commented that first Pilar was created, then Heaven, and Heaven was copied from Pilar.
Pilar's economy is based mostly on the rubber and cattle industries, neither of which are particularly powerful because of the limited amount of space on the island. In the wake of the Revolution, most formerly large cities are now piles of rubble covered over with new land, so many times, people live amongst the cattle that provides all of the meat and fertiliser for Pilar. Despite numerous attempts, Pilar has been unable to cultivate wheat or even catch fish off of their island. Additionally, Pilar has, in the past, had great difficulty finding trading partners because of their lack of improvements such as working harbours and their great distance from other nations.
Despite this, Pilar has recently entered into an economic and political organisation known as GATO. In trading with fellow GATO members, the nation has been able to acquire fish, lumber, water and wine. This trade has also opened an entirely new facet in Pilar's economy and has contributed greatly to an increase in the GNP.
All things considering, Pilar is doing quite well with an 95.74% literacy rate. Typically, Pilarians earn 66.52 Baht a day and take home 51.89 of that after taxes.
Pilar is amazingly diversified, and that's apparent even looking at the monarchy itself. Although nearly 75% of Pilarians can trace some part of their ancestry back to Germany or Switzerland, the biggest differences from this ancestry are found in native Pilarian costume and Pilarian religion. Huge comparisons can be found between the dress of the Pilarian monarchy and that of Russian aristocrats at the beginning of the last century, and the origins of this costume relate directly to a state visit by the young Magdalena III to the courts of Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. During the visit, she became enamored of the extravagant costume and when she returned home, created quite a fashion following with her new Russo-Victorian clothing. Although normal citizens no longer wear the ornate clothing, it continues to be worn by royals and the wealthy.
Because of an influx of East Asian citizens in the last century, Mahayana Buddhism has become the religion of Pilar, a formerly Roman Catholic country. Almost 57% of Pilarians are Buddhist, and the remaining 43% subscribe to such religions as Islam, Baha'i, Jainism, and more. Currently, the royal family consists solely of very devout Buddhists.
Approximately 68% of Pilarians are German Creole, 27% Desi, 3% African, and 2% declined to list a race in the census survey. The ratio of males to females is nearly even; in terms of age, 68% of citizens are between the ages of 15 and 64, 26% between infant and 14, and 6% over 65. Life expectancy is in the mid- to high-70s. Currently, with the changes being instituted by the new government, the population of the island is growing.
The de facto language of Pilar is English, but many people speak German. Other languages with a fair amount of speakers include French, Chinese, Japanese and Hindu.
Everything from the location of Pilar to its history has created an extremely varied culture. Contributions to the culture have come from not only the first inhabitants of the country, but also groups as far afield as West Africans and Japanese. An extremely diverse country, Pilar is considered very open-minded and almost culturally pluralistic.
To an outsider, perhaps the most noticeable culture is Russian tsarist. The style of the Russian monarchy, pulled from the home country back during Magdalena III's reign, are very much alive today. The current Countess is known to be extremely fond of the almost off-the-wall clothing, wearing to every public function—when she is photographed wearing modern clothing, it's mentioned in nearly every periodical across the country. It is extremely rare, however, to find other Pilarians wearing this fashion except in cases of gala events and state functions.
In matters of artistic culture, the greatest influence comes from Chinese, Japanese and Indian settlers. Within the country, the arts are intimately tied with the religion, so folk music and dance are all from Buddhist sources. All of this music and dance comes together on Saga Dawa, the largest holiday for the entire year, spanning over an entire week.
On Saga Dawa, devout Buddhists gather in temples before dawn for the ceremonial hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher—these symbolic offerings are to remind followers that just as these items decay, so too is life subject to decay and destruction. Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples. Devout Buddhists understand how to lead a noble life according to the teaching by making a daily affirmation to observe the eight Precepts. However, on special days, notably new moon and full moon days, they observe additional disciplines to train themselves to practice morality, simplicity and humility.
Devotees are expected to listen to talks given by monks. On this day monks will recite verses uttered by the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago, to invoke peace and happiness for the Government and the people. Buddhists are reminded to live in harmony with people of other faiths and to respect the beliefs of other people as the Buddha had taught.
Celebrating Saga Dawa also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate. To this end, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country. The holiday is also a time for great joy and happiness created by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating scenes from the life of the Buddha for the public. Devout Buddhists also provide refreshments and vegetarian food to devotees who visit the temple to pay homage to the Blessed One.
Other Religious and Cultural HolidaysEdit
The festivals listed below are not celebrated at the same date every year. Therefore only the months when they are likely to be celebrated is given.
- Chinese Spring Festival (Between January and February): Red, symbol of happiness, is the dominant colour. Food is piled up to ensure abundance during the year and the traditional wax cake is distributed to relatives and friends. Firecrackers are lit to ward off evil spirits.
- Thaipoosam Cavadee (February): Along with the fire-walking and sword-climbing ceremonies, Cavadee is among the most spectacular Tamil events. The body pierced with needles and the tongue and cheeks with skewers, the devotee, trance-like and in penance, walks in procession to the temple bearing the "Cavadee", a wooden arch covered with flowers with a pot of milk at each end of its base which he or she places before the deity.
- Maha Shivratree (Between February and March): Maha Shivaratree is celebrated in honour of Hindu God, Siva. Hindu devotees, clad in spotless white, carry the "kanwar" - wooden arches covered with flowers – on pilgrimage to Grand Bassin, to fetch holy water from the lake. The whole scene is reminiscent of the great rituals on the banks of the Holy Ganges in India.
- Ugadi (March): Ugadi is the Telegu New Year.
- Ganesh Chathurthi (Between August and September): This holiday marks the birthday of Ganesha, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles according to Hindu mythology.
- Divali (Between October and November): Divali is the most jovial of all Hindu festivals. It marks the victory of righteousness over evil in the Hindu mythology. Traditionally, clay oil lamps were placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights; these have now been replaced mostly by decorative electric lights.
- Eid-Ul-Fitr (Between October and November): Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. It is a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing for Muslims. Prayers are offered at mosques during the morning.