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Old 04-14-2018, 10:29 PM   #1
Phantasm
 
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Default [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

Names removed to protect the innocent - and the guilty.

Let's make a hypothetical insular nation on Lake Victoria in Africa, about the size of Lichtenstein or Andorra, nestled in a sliver of land between Kenya and Uganda. The region has been settled for over a thousand years by tribes descended from both Bantu and Kushan/Nubian stock. The rulers of this area have only recently (say, the last 40 years) discovered a source of Unobtanium present nowhere else in the world, and while they've exported a small amount of the Unobtanium for a sizable amount of wealth, the ruling family has benefited from the wealth the most. This essentially makes the nation a "banana republic", though because they've had a national identity for hundreds of years they're more stable than most. In western political terms, they were part of the British East Africa colony, though they managed to retain practical self-rule even through WWII. This nation declared independence and closed its borders almost entirely in '63 when its neighbor Kenya also obtained independence from Britain.

However, something happened at some point in the past to make them an insular culture, possibly even before the Unobtanium was discovered.

What could this "something" be? Ideas?
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:03 AM   #2
Michael Cule
 
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
Names removed to protect the innocent - and the guilty.

Let's make a hypothetical insular nation on Lake Victoria in Africa, about the size of Lichtenstein or Andorra, nestled in a sliver of land between Kenya and Uganda. The region has been settled for over a thousand years by tribes descended from both Bantu and Kushan/Nubian stock. The rulers of this area have only recently (say, the last 40 years) discovered a source of Unobtanium present nowhere else in the world, and while they've exported a small amount of the Unobtanium for a sizable amount of wealth, the ruling family has benefited from the wealth the most. This essentially makes the nation a "banana republic", though because they've had a national identity for hundreds of years they're more stable than most. In western political terms, they were part of the British East Africa colony, though they managed to retain practical self-rule even through WWII. This nation declared independence and closed its borders almost entirely in '63 when its neighbor Kenya also obtained independence from Britain.

However, something happened at some point in the past to make them an insular culture, possibly even before the Unobtanium was discovered.

What could this "something" be? Ideas?
1) Religion. They believe that they possess the 'one true religion' and that it would be wrong to allow foreign influences to turn the people from the Way. (For extra weirdness points have them be right.)

2) They aren't actually human. They are either a variant of homo that has a dim view of their cousins ability to live with another rival species or some humanoid aliens who want to keep their uniqueness hidden for similar reasons.

3) They are hiding a Big Secret and know that once betrayed their lives will never be the same again.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
They are hiding a Big Secret and know that once betrayed their lives will never be the same again.
This one's difficult. If most of the people know it, someone will be fool enough to think he can make a lot of money by leaking it. If most don't know it, how is this different from a tyranny?
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Old 04-15-2018, 06:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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However, something happened at some point in the past to make them an insular culture, possibly even before the Unobtanium was discovered.

What could this "something" be? Ideas?
Many, perhaps most, cultures are fairly insular by default. Our tribe is human, everybody else are some sort of scum no better than animals, or possibly worse than demons, is a standard human belief that rather discourages outside interactions. If you want to support that somehow, the standard method is the same one that provides you with the word insular - geographic isolation. Put them on an island, or a valley, or crater, or mesa, that's hard to get into or out of.
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Old 04-15-2018, 10:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

The biggest thing that generates insularity is physical boundaries that impede travel anyway. You need to be surrounded by rough, even dangerous terrain, and probably hostile neighbours.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

Remember, though, I've put this
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on Lake Victoria in Africa, about the size of Lichtenstein or Andorra, nestled in a sliver of land between Kenya and Uganda
, so the location is already pre-determined. This would be on the north end of Lake Vic (head-waters of the Nile River, btw), with two much larger nations bordering it (and each other).
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Old 04-15-2018, 10:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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Remember, though, I've put this, so the location is already pre-determined. This would be on the north end of Lake Vic (head-waters of the Nile River, btw), with two much larger nations bordering it (and each other).
Have you looked at information on Rwanda and Burundi? They're somewhat comparably small, I think, and in the same general region within sub-Saharan Africa. They might spark some ideas.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:52 AM   #8
Michael Cule
 
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
This one's difficult. If most of the people know it, someone will be fool enough to think he can make a lot of money by leaking it. If most don't know it, how is this different from a tyranny?
If they all know it and revealing it affects them all in the same way then they will keep quiet.

I admit I'm thinking of Very Weird secrets like: Our nation is the homeland of all tulpa...
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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Have you looked at information on Rwanda and Burundi? They're somewhat comparably small, I think, and in the same general region within sub-Saharan Africa. They might spark some ideas.
Rwanda area 10,169 square miles, population 11 million.
Burundi area 10,747 square miles, population 10,5 million.

The countries mentioned as comparable in size to the fictional country in the opening post:

Andorra area 181 square miles, population 77 thousand.
Liechtenstein area 62 square miles, population 37 thousand.

So, how are they somewhat comparably small?
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: [World-Building] Hypothetical insular banana republic - why insular?

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Rwanda area 10,169 square miles, population 11 million.
Burundi area 10,747 square miles, population 10,5 million.

The countries mentioned as comparable in size to the fictional country in the opening post:

Andorra area 181 square miles, population 77 thousand.
Liechtenstein area 62 square miles, population 37 thousand.

So, how are they somewhat comparably small?
I hadn't looked up statistics. I was just going by "Rwanda and Burundi are a lot smaller than any of the countries around them" (they're right next to Congo/Zaire, which is really huge). There is something of a question of "what forces keep them independent?" because of that size discrepancy.

Though the prototypical "banana republics" are Guatemala, population around 17 million, and Honduras, population around 7.4 million; Rwanda and Burundi seem to fit that scale a lot better than those European postage stamp countries do. If you want a European country that's the size of a banana republic, you look at Denmark, not Iceland. Whatever forces keep Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, or San Marino independent are likely very different from those that keep Guatemala and Honduras so. Though it may be that the problem is not the choice of examples but the choice of a misleading label for those examples.
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