This wiki-like document is intended to be a compendium of facts about Borschland, its people, culture and history, and will grow over time as more contributions are made.
The Continent, Borschland's home
Borschland is one nation out of seven on a very large island or small continent that many scientists theorize lies in the Indian Ocean, a thousand or so miles southwest of Australia.
"Theorize," because Borschland's "Continent" isn't always there, cannot be "seen" by satellites, and is sometimes difficult to find by travelers from the outside world. The most popular theory about the Continent is that it is partly located in an alternative-universe earth, and partly located in our earth, and often "phases" between the two.
The Continent has been erratically colonized by the outside world for thousands of years, which accounts for the eclectic mix of heritages represented in the nations.
Borschland, a colony mostly of the Dutch in the late seventeenth century, is one of the youngest nations on the Continent. The Continent hosts indigenous peoples whose origins are unknown (the nation of Zimroth, and other tribes), as well as a race of sentient Upright Bears. The earliest outside settlers seem to be what some characterize as a lost tribe of Israel (the twin nation of Dann-and-Katz). The lands later known as the nation of Vinasola were colonized by late antique Romans, and Latin is still the official language there. There is also an Irish nation (which uses a pure and ancient form of the Irish language) known as Celtlands, and a Swiss/French/Dutch colonized nation called Anvoria. Bearland, the place of the Upright Bears, was for several decades a colony administered by the United Kingdom; English is widely spoken there and the UK maintains a military presence similar to that in Cyprus. Finally, there is a race of barbarous foxes who are the Bears' main rivals.
People, language, religion
The Borschic language is a combination of Dutch, West and East Frisian, German, French, and even some indigenous elements. The Borschers had to pacify the already-present Loflins (who are not ethnically related to the Zimrothians) when colonists arrived in the coastlands and bottomlands cut by the Borschland River, and the Loflins have a homeland on the north coast of Borschland. This people has resisted total assimilation into Borschic culture, and has a rumbling undertone of resentment and resistance.f
The Borschers are a proud and independent people defined by their hard-working, pragmatic spirit and love for ice hockey. Inured to centuries of relative separation from the outside world, and in fierce competition with other distinctly-peopled nations, the Borschers think of themselves as the epitome of the civilized world.
This self-esteem (or, as some would say, insecurity) does not translate into belligerence or a desire for conquest. The borders of the nations have been remarkably stable for a very long time. There is a continent-wide distrust of advanced technology, which has retarded adoption of military systems such as airplanes and missiles. The technology of most of the continent resembles that of the beginning of the twentieth century, with some exceptions such as the presence of modern automobiles, used almost exclusively in cities. There are no computers or televisions, though radio is universally popular. The bulk of the populace travels by rail or horse-drawn carriage. In large cities, electric subway trains provide mass transit. There is some hydroelectric damming in the mountains.
Religion and Sports
Ice hockey, for Borschers, acts as a de facto national religion. The Church of Borschland, an institution supported by the national government, does not follow orthodox Christianity, opting instead through a large network of state-supported "deacons" to venerate ancestors, saints, and Biblical figures. The people do not normally attend church, but will make visits to deacons and chapels for special needs, such as baby dedications, puberty rites, weddings, mid-life crisis ceremonies, retirement ceremonies, and funerals, and may have a shrine in their own homes. Large churches are used for special holidays or for conventions of deacons who worship together with smatterings of lay devotees. The lighting of candles as a sign of devotion or need is universal in high-latitude Borschland, which has long, cold, dark winters.
In the cold climate of Borschland, ice hockey has flourished, and with the advent of refrigeration (brought in from Bearland with many modern technologies), the ice hockey season can go even longer. Normally played on outdoor rinks, the professional Borschland Hockey League season lasts from mid-November to mid-March, with matches played on Wednesdays and Saturdays for sixteen weeks. The Borschland Cup, a 64-team tournament pitting the 16 teams of the professional league with semi-pro, university, and amateur teams, takes place on various nights in the six weeks after Epiphany, a Festival of Lights which is the most important religious holiday in the nation. The championship game of the Borschland Cup is held at the conclusion of the season in March.
Before refrigeration, ice hockey could only be played at a high competitive level about three months out of the year, December, January, and February, and out of these 12 weeks there would be 15 matches, one with each of the league teams. Nowadays the sport runs from October 31 (All Saints' Eve) to March 24, St. Elojz's Day, and there are 30 matches per year, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The Borschers' second favorite sport is soccer, although they are consistently in the lower tier of nations in international Continental Cup soccer event. Field hockey and other summer stick sports are popular as well, and there is a fierce rivalry with Celtlands and Zimroth in these sports.
Geography and Demographics
Borschland comprises an area of about 50,000 square miles (the size of Alabama) dominated by a long east-west running southern coast and bisected by the deep Borschland River. It is bounded by Vinasola in the west and the Celtlands to the south, and the Borschland River is fed by three large mountain ranges whose top heights are over 9,000 feet.
The population of Borschland is about 6 million, with about 75,000 Loflinlanders in addition. Almost all of these 6 million are native Borschers whose families have lived there for up to 300 years.
Borschland, if it were able to be mapped in our world, would probably be considered the most populous nation closest to the continent of Antarctica. Its southern coast reaches south latitude of about 50 degrees, the same as southernmost Chile and Argentina. The maritime nature of most of Borschland moderates the climate somewhat, especially in the summer, when Borschers flock to beaches from the coastal cities of Lojren, Bevinlunz, and the resort island of Itasca. Only the south coast of Vinasola is farther south than Borschland.
By contrast, sunny Bearland's northernmost peninsulas extend to 33 degrees south latitude, which is able in a small microclimate to support rubber trees.
Borschland is blessed with abundant natural resources, of which its greatest is the grand peat bog of the Upper Borschland River, which is used for 33% of the nation's energy needs. There is also large stores of coal (42% of energy needs; petroleum and other fossil oils 14%; wind and water 10%) and iron which fuel Borschland's industry. The plain north of the Borschland River is a grain and livestock producing area, while the area between the river and the coast is fertile farming land for dairy, fruits (apples dominantly), vegetables, wine grapes, and hops for beer.