Dark Berry Islands
|Federal Republic of the Forgotten Dark Berry Islands|
|- Adjective||Dark Berrian|
|- Chairwoman of the Council||Sofia Fasthey|
|National food||Dark Berry|
The Dark Berry Islands (officially: Federal Republic of the Forgotten Dark Berry Islands), is an island nation of the western coast of Keltia. Often forgotten by the rest of Micras, the islands are known for the copious amounts of the dark berries, which are indigenous to the islands. The nation is comprised of two islands (North and South Island), which are separated by a small channel.
Whilst the islands were conquered and ruled by a variety of different empires and nations throughout their history, perhaps the most significant rulers of the islands were Tokidoki (later Toketi). Under Toketi's membership of Gralus, the islands were under Tokish control between 1552 and 1615, where they were subject to Tokish magic and witchcraft, which has lead some scholars to speculate on the impact of magic upon the islands' shrubbery.
Between 1658 and 1665 the islands were ruled by Gerenia as the autonomous republic of New Siekeria. The Gerenians promoted to colonisation of the islands by the Siekerians, however this rule last for a mere seven years before the fall of the Gerenian state, with the Siekerians fleeing the islands and allowing the natives to re-establish their control.
However, during both of these periods, the natives were largely self-sufficient, retreating to the countryside away from the imperial settlers where they were able to continue their own cultural practises free from foreign interference, often ram-sacking the fallen cities of these empires after their demises.
In the following decades, the cities of Mountainview Bay and Grapeseed established themselves as viable economic hubs for the islands, with many residents migrating to these settlements in order to gain their own share of economic fortune. In the foothills of the mountains, Mountainview Bay had great soil that could be exploited for agriculture, whilst Grapeseed became a hub for fishing.
The northern most point of the Dark Berry Islands is located at 50.3°N, whilst the southern most point is located at 46°N. The western most point is located at 40.8°E and the eastern most point is located at 44.7°E. The two islands are located in the sea just off the coast of Keltia, yet are culturally isolated.
Vast swathes of the islands, particularly the interiors, are uninhabited and the landscape is dominated by the Ascophosynus bushes. The landscape can also be quite barren in these areas, but the density of the bushes in some areas makes travel to the barren areas significantly harder.
The coastlines are relatively flat however, making large swathes of the coastline suitable for harbours and fishing. The two major cities of the country, Mountainview Bay and Grapeseed, are both located on large bays which form natural harbours, whilst a ferry service exists between the two islands.
The two islands maintain their own political structures, with a federal government co-ordinating on issues such as defence and foreign affairs. The individual island councils wield a large amount of power, including setting their own education, health and transport policy. The South Island tends to be a bit more liberal and business friendly, where as the North Island has the political tendency to follow large-state planning whilst being slightly more socially conservative.
The Federal council is comprised of the leader of the party of majority of each island, the executive of each island, as well as a fifth elected official which is voted on every 6 years by the population and serves as the President of the nation. They meet twice a month in Mountainview Bay to discuss and set federal policy, which is then acted upon by the President. The President is unable to set policy without authorisation from the Federal council.
Underneath the island councils, local village councils exist in both. Both Grapeseed and Mountainview Bay hold their own town councils, which wield power on a great number of, particularly financial, issues.
The people of the Dark Berry Islands are largely rural, with local village identities often being more important than national identities. The two islands are culturally distinct, with the North Island's culture tending to be more secular and agrarian, whilst the South Island is more spiritual and focuses on festivals involving the sea.
Much of the traditional music of the Dark Berry Islands focuses on songs that are sung during the festivals, mainly folk songs which are sung around the fires of these festivals and are passed down verbally from generation to generation. Many of the songs found on the islands refer to their agrarian lifestyles.
The Dark Berry Islands participated in the Microvision Song Contest 2020 in Shirekeep, Shireroth, with the song "Mother Pheasant Plucker" by Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers. The song scored 22 points from six nations and finished 27th out of 32 participants, and reflected the agrarian lifestyle of the North Island.
Flora and Fauna
The Dark Berry Islands are most famed for their eponymous berries. The Dark Berries, which grow on Ascophosynus bushes, are a common sight across the two islands. These bushes are often maintained by locals to form boundaries between their properties, as well as growing wildly beyond the settlements. The berries are widely considered to be an important symbol in the culture of the Dark Berry Islands and are featured on the nation's flag. They are one of just a few species to grow on the islands, which otherwise have a rather landscape, particularly on the hills inland. The bushes are particularly rampant around the town of Grapeseed, where the bushes are often very dense and grow quickly, requiring a high level of maintenance by the townspeople.