Gotland : Jewel of the Baltic

Gotland is the oldest state in the Baltic region, and one that’s definitively the best organized along with Peimar. Gotland was spared nuclear devastation and famine during the Destruction, and the locals had time to prepare, which lead to implementing a strong communal system of government after the Swedish state collapsed.

After a bit of trial and error, Gotland managed to create a stable state in the late 21st century. The fundamental principles of government in Gotland are mandatory participation in government for all citizens, mandatory labour and mandatory schooling. Thus the Commonwealth of Gotland was born.

Essentially, Gotland is divided into 94 sockens (parishes) which all are represented in a riksdag (parliament) where every socken has three representatives. Representatives are chosen for a period of eight months, and every resident in a socken serves at least once during their lifetime. The 282 members of parliament choose among themselves a Styrelsedirektorat (Managing Directorate=, which consists of 16 members who serve for sixteen months. The Styrelsedirektorat is the executive branch of the government of the Commonwealth. All decisions by the Styrelsedirektorate are done on a unanimous basis.

For a time, Gotland remained relatively unimportant and managed itself as a subsistence farming and fishing community, until the sea trade started picking up again. With open seas navigation being risky, Gotland became a popular port of call for Hanöan and Pomeranian traders. The Styrelsedirektorat at the time realized the possibilities and enacted the Commerce and Trade Regulation. The Commerce and Trade Regulation forbids foreign traders from selling their wares directly to the citizens of Gotland and also requires all traders passing through Gotland to pay a toll of either 15% of their cargos value in coin or 20% in goods. The Pomeranians, Hanöans and Peimarese complained a lot but eventually accepted the situation, since there were few viable alternatives.

This resulted in Gotland becoming rich over night. All local taxes were abolished and the CTR Toll allowed the Styrelsedirektorat to share the newfound wealth with the citizenry. Mandatory labour wasn’t abolished since productive labour is seen as a cornerstone of a working society, but in general most Gotlanders see farming and fishing more like hobbies now.  Previously Gotland had no army, but conscription was implemented after the Commonwealth entered a treaty with Kirkoslet to help Kirkoslet train and arm a defense force.

Gotland has about 35000 inhabitants in the 94 parishes and the capital of the Commonwealth is Visby with 7000 inhabitants, which is also the most important seaport. The second largest city is Hemse with 1500 inhabitants. Hemse is situated on the south side of the island while Visby is on the north side. Nyhamn is Hemse’s port which is on the east side of the island but doesn’t see as much traffic as the port of Visby. There are a number of smaller ports and docks which are mostly used by local fishermen.

Gotland technically has an armed force of 14000 soldiers, since all inhabitants between the age of 14 and 50 are part of the defense force. In practice, the island only has a standing force of 400 soldiers and a navy of 15 sloops and brigs, mostly used for to collect the Toll. Most of the soldiers who serve in the standing army are used to man the guns at the forts on the island. Gotland is very serious about protecting it’s independence after being raided by a mercenary army funded by Riga in 2290.

Every inhabitant is guaranteed a job, housing and if unable to work, a modest income. The currency of the island is a paper currency called the krona. Laws of the Commonwealth forbid the use of foreign coin on the island, which forces traders to accept the krona when buying and selling from the commonwealth. The Commonwealth gets it’s hands on foreign currency by selling surplus goods that the Toll brings to the Island.

Politically, the need to have unanimous decisions in the executive keeps the island fairly stable if not even stagnant. This has lead to Gotland being highly isolationistic and not involving itself in military adventures, since Gotland would need to mobilize their conscript force for overseas adventures. A significant number of the islanders serve in the state apparatus, which includes the Commonwealth Taxes and Excise Bureau, the Chancellery of the Commonwealth and the Ministry of Well-being. Gotland has a fairly active law enforcement agency called the Nämndesmän (Sheriffs).

Despite the orderly government, Visby is considered to be a great party town for sailors and travellers. Foreigners are not allowed to purchase property on the island, since all property belongs to the Commonwealth, but they are allowed to rent warehouses and places of business in Visby and a few other ports on a monthly basis. The one exception that the Commonwealth has made was that the Polymaths were allowed to rent a villa in Visby on a permanent basis in exchange for labour service in the Commonwealth. The dockside bars of Visby are a great place to have fun, hear news from the continent and partake of exotic food and drink. Foreign coin has to be exchanged into kronas, though, before you can buy anything on the island.

 

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