The Antarctic countries are a group of independent polities that exist on the continent of Antarctica. Many of them are essentially glorified tribal communities with very limited governments (if at all) and while the international community largely recognizes their existence, only Korval are recognized as a legitimate government- the rest are seen as simply nomadic tribes operating in "unclaimed" Antarctica.
The origins of the Antarctic communities is unknown. The Korvalians officially list their origins in the 6th century, with their country founded by a group of Picts displaced in Caledonia by invading bands of Scots. Research suggests that the Korvalians' origin story may have some merit, with the rest of the Antarctic communities growing from there, although the only evidence of this is circumstantial. Written records of the Antarctic communities only date to the explorations of Publius Demarcus in the 16th century, whose crew was shipwrecked in the Empire of the Snake after miscalculating the winds after departing New Zealand. Demarcus, having "discovered" Antarctica, went to visit several more times, documenting the peoples who lived there. In his memoirs, Demarcus wrote:
"In such extraordinary conditions, it is remarkable that people can live here in Antarctica, let alone thrive. They tell me that they have been living here for hundreds of years, doing nothing but living off the penguin and scavenging for the limited resources that they have when the weather allows them to do so. The Antarcticans are such a remarkable people, creative in their ways to gather the things they need, having turned their hindrance into an opportunity."
-Publius Demarcus, On The Voyage to Antarctica (1578)The source for the countries' names- except for Korval, which was the only group of people Demarcus claims gave him a name- comes from Demarcus, who deduced them from how the other local tribes described them. In three cases, that of Seven, Nine and Eleven, Demarcus does not officially bestow a name on the peoples in those areas, with their name simply coming from the blank spaces in the list of nations Demarcus provided. It is unclear if Demarcus did this on purpose or intended to fill in the details later and never got around to it- his memoirs were largely rushed as he needed to sell them in order to fulfil a bankruptcy order.
The Antarctic communities survive on a subsistence diet largely on whale and penguin meat, as well as scavenging for supplies when the Antarctic weather allows them to do so. Thus, all of the communities are as close to the Antarctic shore as possible, with none of them operating deep into the continent. Each of the communities use "foragers" who go on expeditions deep into the continent when the weather permits them to, as this is the period when the communities can escape the coast and gather needed supplies. Most of the supplies are in the form of rocks (particularly coal) and vegetation, which is used for fires and building supplies.
The Korvalians claim they were the first Antarcticans to create ships out of Antarctic rock, and a ship matching their description was noted by Inca explorers to have been shipwrecked in South America in the 15th century, but the wreck had no survivors so it is unknown where the ship originated from. What is known is that each of the Antarctic communities have their own designs for rock-based ships that derive from the Korvalian design, although only the Korvalians have (until recently) been able to design ships for long distance travel.
Infrastructure in Antarctica is largely non-existent, as there are no roads or other means of formal transportation networks, other than seafaring. Communication is restricted entirely to radio, with each community operating a single radio tower that issues communiques for the town, aside from in Korval and in Dominus where the communication infrastructure is more developed. The Internet arrived in Antarctica in the form of wireless communication in 2010 (although Korval connected much sooner), though Internet speeds are but a fraction of what is available elsewhere in the world.
Politically, the situation in Antarctica is unknown. Demarcus lists 28 countries that he says are "distinct political units", but the extent of this term is unknown. The various Antarctic communities claim they are distinct countries in their own rights, and each have a leader (under various different monikers) that represents them on the international stage. However, as record keeping within Antarctica is sparse and the fact that the Antarctic climate is volatile, there can be conflicting reports on how many villages exist on the continent at any given moment. Demarcus himself even said that he had doubts the polities he described "would exist a year from now", but given that there are people who continue to identify themselves via Demarcus' identifications, it is clear that at least some of the polities do have staying power.
The extent of those polities' independence is disputed. Demarcus' memoirs account numerous episodes where the polities were seen assisting each other in their foraging, and researchers at various times have noted that some of the polities oscillate between subservient and dominant of other polities. Only in Korval and the Empire of the Snake has it ever been deduced that an actual independent and stable government exists, and, indeed the two countries are the only ones that possess sizeable cities- Coldtown in the Snake and Sestin in Korval. The Korvalians are the only one with a consistent international presence, which helps explain why their government is more readily accepted as legitimate by the international community.
Officially, the Antarctic countries are unaligned, although informally they have heavy ties to Rome, which has invested in the continent. The extent of the Romans' alliance with the Antarctic peoples is disputed, with Roman officials asserting they are simply "offering friendship" while others assert that the extent of the Romans' friendship is exploitative, as Rome's interest in building up Antarctic infrastructure is to develop their own economic exploits in the region. The Romans are the only nation that has a colony in the Antarctic, in the Peninsula (the English also have a land claim but no one except researchers use it), and have sent many expeditions with the intent on exploring Antarctica for its resources, especially coal. However, Rome has on numerous occasions stood up for Antarctica when the communities have been threatened, and several Roman businessmen have invested in the continent on their own accord.
List of Antarctic countries as defined by Demarcus Edit
- Eastern Antarctic Empire
- Empire of the Snake