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The Kingdom of Asterdel

The Kingdom of Asterdel
Königreich Asterland




National Flag and Coat of Arms

Motto: Blühe, Vaterland!
Bloom, Fatherland!

Anthem: Lied der Wäld
Song of the Forest


Location of Asterdel in the New Western Empire

Link
Map of Asterdel

Capital: Eidelvig

Official Language: Asterian

Demonym: AsterianAsterian

Population:
• 2016 Census: 5,240,000 (16th)

• Density: 49 per km2

Government: Constitutional monarchy
King: Ludwig VII Von Löwenheim (reign of 43 years)
Speaker: Hänsel Bergman
Prime Minister: Barbara Schraeder

Legislature:
• Upper House: Grand Assembly
• Lower House: House of Representatives

History:
Duchy of Asteria of the Holy Roman Empire (555-1623)
Electorate of Asteria (1623-1806)
Kingdom of Asterdel (1806-Present)

Land Area: 41,043 m² (106,300 km²)

Elevation
Highest Point: 2962m (9,718 ft) Helgantia, Brachovia
Lowest Point: (Land) 87m (285 ft) Kahl am Rheinen, Sachsonia
(Water) -190m, (-623 ft) Lake Beneschau, Brachovia

GDP (nominal): $142.5 trillion
GDP (nominal) per capita: $46,714.79 (8th)

Exchange Rates: 1 Mark = $1.80 / $1 = 0.56 Marks

Human Development Index (NS Version): 0.968 (1st)

Currency: Asterian Marks (ATM)
Time Zone:Central European Time Zone (UTC+01:00)

Drives on the: Right

Calling code: +70
Internet TLD: AST




Asterdel (Asterian: Asterland), officially the Kingdom of Asterdel, is a constitutional monarchy located in the Central Europe region of the New Western Empire. Traditionally established as a duchy during the 6th century CE through the Holy Roman Empire, Asterdel is among the oldest existing kingdoms. The Duchy of Asteria dates back to the year 555, until it later became elevated as an Electorate during the 17th century, when the Duke of Asterdel became a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. Following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, it became an independent kingdom and later fully sovereign in 1814.

Asterdel is commonly known as the "fairytale kingdom", with its extravagant castles, enchanted forests and breathtaking mountains, sprinkled with charming medieval towns and bustling modern cities, all testimony to a nation of rich historical affluence and influence. Asterdel has a historical and cultural affinity with folkore and nature, due to its unspoilt natural surroundings, healthy air, a wealth of culture (ranked 3rd in the New Western Empire) and the proverbially laid-back attitude to life. Asterian medieval castles, romantic towns, magnificent palaces, baroque churches, and bustling cosmopolitan centres, provide the perfect setting for everything from traditional beer festivals to high opera.

The country is split horizontally into two halves by the river Danube, with the Asterian Alps defining the border to the south, the Spessart Forest to the north, and Bavelanian and Grünwald forests to the east, and the Black Forest and Rhine River to the west. The nation’s many clear and sparkling lakes, national parks and nature reserves, its myth-enshrouded forests, romantic Christmas markets, sun-drenched vineyards, dramatic hills and, of course, the majestic Alps, make it the most visited nation in the region.

Despite this, the country still maintains a tranquil atmosphere and even the most famous sights such as Neuschwanstein Castle do not always feel particularly overcrowded. Due to a low total fertility rate and somewhat strict immigration laws, the population has not seen significant growth since the late 1980's, and approximately 70% of the population of 5.2 million live in urban areas. Asterdel has a strong and diverse economy which has helped its status as one of the wealthiest (6th) and most influential nations in the New Western Empire and one of the highest human development indexes in the world (1st in the New Western Empire). Asterians statistically celebrate the longest and healthiest lifestyle in all 600 nations of the region- ranking 1st in lifespan and cheerfulness and last in death rate. Asterian cities are consistently ranked in the top 10 in the world for the highest quality of life and perform favourably in measurements of economic freedom, civil liberties, education and commerce.

Today, Asterdel is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, with the Monarch, King Ludwig VII Von Löwenheim as the head of state. The capital city is Eidelvig, which is also the most populous city in the country. Asterdel is a unitary state, currently divided into 7 counties, with 530 municipalities and 29 administrative districts.

Etymology


The historical area known as ‘Asteria’ during the Roman Empire (deriving for the Latin term 'Auster' meaning 'South' of the Frankish Realm) was modified by King Benjamin II upon the proclamation of the Kingdom of Asterdel and dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. He formally added the suffix ‘del’ (from the term 'delheit' meaning ‘united’ in Asterian, itself a derivative of Old High German), a reference to the Duchy of Asteria and the newly reunited regions of Sachsonia, Luvania and Montebria. It has been argued by scholars that this was additionally an effort to deviate from the similar sounding neighbour, Austria.

It is a popular misconception that the term Asterdel means 'valley full of Aster flowers', which are not particularly common in Asterdel. It is known that the term 'aster' derives from the Latin word for 'star', but it is unknown how the region came to be known as Asteria. The modern nation somewhat geographically resembles a 7-pointed star, which is reflected on the national flag. The national flag consists of a total of 12 golden stars, with 7 stars reflected both horizontally and vertically to represent the unity of the 7 counties of Asterdel. The flag is a horizontal triband of blue and white, with a shield in the center encompassing the 12 stars. It may have seen use from about the 15th century during the time Asterdel was part of the Holy Roman Empire.

History



Prehistory
The Asterians emerged in a region north of the Alps, previously inhabited by Celts, which had been part of the Roman province of Raetia. Asterians are first mentioned in the mid-6th century, in the foothills north of the Alps, on both sides of the Danube river. It is difficult to distinguish the mobile and mixing groups of the Danube in this period archaeologically, as the Luvanians, Bavelanians and Montebrians of the same area hybridized around the same region. The Asterian legal system shows heavy Roman influence, and their unification appears to have been under a Duke installed by the Franks. The earliest Asterian rulers descended from the family of the Agilolfings. Asterdel was nominally Christian by virtue of being ruled by Christian dukes from the 6th century, but Christianization of the population was a gradual process lasting throughout the 7th century and into the 8th.

Holy Roman Empire (555-1806)
The Duchy of Asteria was a stem duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, established in the 10th century, derived from an earlier duchy ruled by the Frankish Agilolfings during the 6th to 8th centuries. Eidelvig, now the capital and cultural center of the Duchy of Asteria, was founded in the high medieval period. In 1623, Asteria was elevated to Electorate status.

Early Modern History (1700's - 1806)


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The regions of the Electorate of Asteria shortly before
the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.

The period of 1662 and 1726 is regarded as the Asterian Splendour, when Asterian baroque flourished under the reign of Elector Max Emanuel. However, the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748), which involved most of the crowned heads of Europe in deciding the question of whether Maria Theresa could succeed as archduke of Austria (or otherwise known as the Holy Roman Emperor) turned the Electorate into chaos. After the war, the powers of the neighbouring Electorate of Asteria (which had been one of the enemies during the war) proved intolerable to Maria Theresa, who immediately laid claim to a number of lordships —forming one-third of the whole Asterian inheritance – as lapsed fiefs of the Bohemian, Austrian, and imperial crowns. These were at once occupied by Austrian troops. Moreover, in 1792, French revolutionary armies began to overrun various regions of central Europe. In 1795, the French, under General Jean Victor Marie Moreau (adviser to Napoleon), invaded the Electorate of Asteria itself, advanced to Eidelvig – where they were received with joy by the long-suppressed Liberals – and laid siege to Baumgarten. The Elector at the time, Johann Christian, who had done nothing to prevent wars or to resist the invasion, fled the country, leaving a regency. The members of the regency later signed a convention with Moreau, by which he granted an armistice in 1796 in return for a heavy contribution.

At the turn of the 19th century, now divided between the French and the Austrians, Asteria was in a bad situation. By the early 1800’s, Austrians had begun further occupying the country, in preparation for renewing the war with France. In view of the scarcely disguised ambitions and intrigues of the Austrian court, the new elector Heinrich Montgelas now believed that the interests of Asteria lay in an open alliance with the French Republic; and, on 24 August, a separate treaty of peace and alliance with France was signed at Paris. In 1803, accordingly, in the territorial rearrangements consequent on Napoleon's suppression of the ecclesiastical states, and of many free cities of the Empire, Asteria retrieved the former territories back from France. Montgelas now aspired to raise Asteria to the rank of a first-rate power without permitting Asteria to sink into a mere French dependency. In the war of 1805 (War of the Third Coalition), in accordance with a treaty of alliance signed at Monschau, Asterian troops, for the first time, fought side by side with the French, ultimately resulting in French victory and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.

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Benjamin II, the first King of Asterdel.

The 1805 Treaty of Pressburg allowed Benjamin II, the Elector at the time, to raise Asteria to the status of a kingdom. Accordingly, Benjamin II proclaimed himself king on 1 January 1806, officially changing the Electorate of Asteria to being the Kingdom of Asterdel, adding the suffix 'del' (from 'delheit' meaning 'unity' in Asterian, in reference to the unity of the Duchy of Asteria and the newly reunited regions of Montebria, Luvania and Sachsonia, even though these regions were still not officially recognised as Asterian territory by Napoleon. King Benjamin II still served as an Elector until Asterdel officially left the Holy Roman Empire (3 April 1806), which later became the national day. The new kingdom faced challenges from the outset of its creation, relying on the support of Napoleonic France. Asterdel faced war with Austria in 1808-1810 and lost several small southern territories, including Innsbruck. However, in 1814, with the defeat of Napoleon's France in 1814, Asterdel was compensated for some of its losses, and received back complete autonomy of Montebria, Luvania, and Sachsonia, which officially became part of the Kingdom of Asterdel. Later that year in 1814, Asterdel was granted a constitution. From then onward, Asterdel embarked on a new era of constitutional reform. In 1925, Sachsonia was divided as Waldonia, and, six years later, Juravia, became independent states.

Modern History (1814 - Present)



From 1825, King Ludwig I, son of King Benjamin II, ascended the throne. Under Ludwig, the arts flourished in Asterdel, and Ludwig personally ordered and financially assisted the creation of many neoclassical buildings and architecture across the country. Ludwig also increased Asterdel's pace towards industrialization under his reign, making Asterdel a centre for both culture and the sciences as well as industrial infrastructure and manufacturing. From 1864 to 1886 was the reign of King Ludwig II, otherwise known as the "Fairytale King". Ludwig II became increasingly detached from Asterdel's political affairs and spent vast amounts of money on personal projects, such as the construction of a number of fairytale-like castles and palaces, the most famous being the Neuschwanstein Castle. Although Ludwig used his personal wealth to finance these projects instead of state funds, the construction projects landed him deeply in debt. These debts caused much concern among Asterdel's political elite, who sought to persuade Ludwig to cease his building; he refused, and relations between the government's ministers and the crown deteriorated. However, the reign of Queen Guinevere I managed to sway political opinion back in favour of the monarchy, by implementing effective institutional reforms and allocating greater powers to the government away from the crown. Throughout the latter-half of the 19th century, Asterdel increased its political, legal, and trade ties with neighbouring countries and further afield in the New Western Empire. A much publicised and popular royal marriage with Rolven in the Scandinavian Peninsula in 2010 epitomized the peaceful collaboration of two historic kingdoms and initiated a more robust and profound foreign policy in Asterdel.

The official stance of neutrality in foreign affairs has meant Asterdel has avoided conflict on the world stage, and is rarely involved in global military disputes or affairs. It is, however, a member of the World Assembly, and regularly participates in dialogue at the General Assembly and Security Council. Asterdel has strong cultural, political and economic ties to Rolven.

Climate


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Southern regions of Asterdel see heavy
snowfall in winter.

Asterian climate is classified as Oceanic, with a temperate seasonal climate. The summers are generally warm, but not hot, and cool, but not freezing, winters. The average annual temperature in Asterdel is 12.7°C and the average rainfall is 1016 mm. The warmest month of the year is July, with a maximum average of 28.5°C and a minimum of 17°C. The coldest month of the year is January, with a maximum average of 6.5°C and a minimum of -2°C. The wettest month is June. The winter months tend to bring lower precipitation, on average, and February is the driest month of the year.

The higher elevation of Eidelvig and the proximity of the Alps play a significant role on the climate, causing the city to have slightly more rain and snow than the northern parts of the country. Indeed, the southern regions of Asterdel have a mountain climate with significantly lower temperatures. Being at the center of Europe, Asterdel is subject to many climatic influences, so that weather conditions there are more variable than in other European areas, especially those further west and south of the Alps.

Tourism


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The town of Rölverstadt is a popular travel destination.

Tourism is the major industry in Asterdel and a significant contributor to the national economy. It is currently the 2nd most visited nation in the New Western Empire of all 578 nations, with the number of annual tourists still on the rise. In 2014, an estimated 18 million people, almost 4 times the national population, visited the country for its fairytale castles, enchanting medieval towns and cosmopolitan cities. This brought over US$12 billion in international tourism receipts to the country. Domestic and international travel and tourism combined directly to contribute over EUR11.2 billion to the Asterian GDP. Including indirect and induced impacts, the industry contributes 22.5% of the Asterian GDP and supports more than 1 million jobs (20% of total employment).

Since the 1930s, local and regional governments have set up various theme routes, to help visitors get to know a specific region and its cultural or scenic qualities. The most prominent of these are the Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse) which stretches for 366 km and is thought by many international travellers to possess "quintessentially Asterian" scenery and culture, and the Asterian Fairy Tale Route (Asterian Märchenstrasse) which portrays 600 kms of the places associated with the fairy tales and legends of the Brothers Grimm. More than 30% of Asterians spend their holiday in their own country. According to Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Reports, Asterdel is rated as one of the safest travel destinations worldwide.

Politics and Government


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Prime Minister Barbara Schraeder has been
in power since 2014.

Politics of Asterdel takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Executive power is exercised by the government, led by the Prime Minister of Asterdel. They are elected for a 4-year term. As a constitutional monarchy, the Monarch has a mainly symbolic power. The functions of the King, Ludwig VII, are mainly ceremonial, but he has influence as the symbol of national unity. The text of the Asterian constitution dates back to 1807. Therefore, it has been interpreted by jurists to suit modern conditions. In a formal sense, the Monarch retains the ability to deny giving a bill royal assent. In order for a bill to become law, a royal signature, and a countersignature by a government minister, is required. The Monarch also chooses and dismisses the Prime Minister, although in modern times a dismissal would cause a constitutional crisis. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament, elected within a multi-party system. Asterdel has a typical Western European history of democracy, beginning with the elevation of Asterdel to a Kingdom in 1806. Historically, as a Duchy and later Electorate of The Holy Roman Empire for over 1,000 years, Asterdel adhered to the concept of translatio imperii; the notion that the Emperor held supreme power inherited from preceding emperors of Rome, which was fundamental to the prestige of the emperor. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although frequently controlled by dynasties. Several Asterian prince-electors, who were the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire, usually elected one of their peers as "King of the Romans," and he would later be crowned emperor by the Pope. The tradition of papal coronations was discontinued in the 16th century. The current democratic regime is a product of a stable development of successively added democratic institutions introduced during the 19th century up to 1921, when women's suffrage was introduced. The Government of Asterdel has adhered to parliamentarism — de jure since 1975, de facto since 1917.

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Bornestag is the seat of the Asterian government.

The Bornestag is the national legislature and the supreme decision-making body of Asterdel. The highest executive authority of the State is vested in the government, which consists of a Prime Minister and roughly 16 Ministers who head the ministries. The Ministers are appointed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is nominated by the Speaker and appointed following a vote in the Bornestag itself. The Monarch plays no part in this process. Eligible to vote and stand for elections are Asterian citizens who turn 18 years old no later than on the day of the election. The current governing party is the Asterian Social Democratic Party. The Social Democratic Party is generally recognized as the main architect of the progressive taxation, fair trade, low-unemployment, welfare state that was developed since the late 1940's. Under the Social Democrats' administration, Asterdel retained neutrality, as a foreign policy guideline, during the wars of the twentieth century, including the Cold War. Neutrality preserved the Asterian economy and boosted Asterdel's economic competitiveness in the first half of the twentieth century, as other European countries' economies were devastated by war.

The Bornestag building in Eidelvig is the meeting place of the two houses of the Asterian Parliament and the administrative centre of the government. Bornestag was a summer residence of the Asterian Kings and Queens until a devastating fire destroyed most of the complex in 1934. Since then, it has undergone numerous renovations and only a few interior medieval structures of significance have survived to this day. However, it remains as one of the largest building complexes in Asterdel and became the official seat of the government in 1952. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. As of November 2016, 40.7 percent of the members of the Bornestag are women. This is one of the world's highest proportion of females in a national legislature and among parliamentary democracies. Current Prime Minister Barbara Schraeder is the third female to hold the position of Prime Minister.

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A map of the counties of Asterdel.
Administrative Divisions
Asterdel, a unitary state, is divided into seven first-level administrative regions, called counties. The nation is essentially divided into two halves, a north (lower Asterdel) and south (upper Asterdel), by the River Danuben. The three northerly states are Bavalania in the east, Luvania in the center, and Sachsonia in the west. The four southerly states from east to west are Brachovia (also the biggest and home to 40% of the population), Montebria, Juravia and Waldonia. The counties form the first-level subdivisions of Asterdel and are further divided into 530 municipalities. They have no significant administrative function, but remain historical legacies and the means of cultural identification. Dialects and folklore follows the provincial borders rather than the borders of the counties. All counties have maintained their historical names dating back to the Roman Empire. Several of them were subdivisions of Asterdel until the 1700's, when they were replaced by the counties of Asterdel upon Asteria's independence as a kingdom. Waldonia and Juravia were subsequently formed when Sachsonia dissolved, and others, like sections of present-day Tyrol in Austria, were lost. The aims of the county administrative board is to supervise the local state administration that is not otherwise assigned to other government agencies, and to coordinate the political goals with the central government. The county council is the elected regional political assembly for the municipal affairs of the county, primarily regarding public healthcare, public transport and culture.

Asterian Counties by Size

Rank

County Name

Total Population

Asterdel %

1

Brachovia

2,030,000

39%

2

Sachsonia

1,025,000

20%

3

Montebria

660,000

13%

4

Bavalania

535,000

10%

5

Luvania

520,000

9%

6

Waldonia

290,000

6%

7

Juravia

180,000

3%

Environment


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A map of the national parks of Asterdel.
As per World Bank data from 2011 to 2015, nearly 44% of Asterdel's land area is protected, one of the highest rates in the world. Asterdel has 8 national parks, 581 Special Protection Areas, and an assortment of nature reserves, landscape protection areas, and sites of community importance, as well as other types of protected areas. Many of the national parks use the term "forest" (wald) in their names, even when the terrain may not consist entirely of strictly wooded land. Approximately 65% of Asterdel is forested area. Such is the affinity Asterians have with the forest, "Song of the Forest" is the name of the national anthem. While the forest policies in Asterdel are framed by the Bornestag, individual counties are responsible for managing the protected areas and implementing the forest policy targets. Such a system is meant to ensure the ongoing, responsible use of Asterdel's forests for both nature conservation and economic development. The kingdom is currently the 5th best performer in Eco-Friendliness in the New Western Empire, and ranked 3rd in Environmental Beauty.

Plants and animals include those generally common to Central Europe. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one-third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. Wild animals include roe deer, bear (the national animal), wild boar, Eurasian lynx, fox, badger, hare, alpine ibex, chamois, heron, woodpecker, robin, hedgehogs, owls, pheasants, swans, raccoons, squirrels and small numbers of the Eurasian beaver.

Alpen National Park

The scenic Alpen National Park stretches along the southern border for hundreds of kilometres. It is home to many of the famous Asterian castles.

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Helgantia is the highest Asterian mountain.
Stretching along the southern Montebrian and Brachovian border for more than 200 kilometres, the Alpen National Park is one of the most iconic and visited areas of Asterdel. Nestled around the Asterian Alps, it contains perhaps the most famous castle in the world, the Neuschwanstein Castle, which was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive King Ludwig II, but now sees more than 1.8 million annual visitors, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Alpen National Park also includes hundreds of other castles, including Hohenschwangau Castle, which was one of the summer residences of the Asterian royal family. The most popular national park in the country also includes the Allgau Valley, a picturesque valley amidst the Asterian Alps, including the town of Schätzenwald, Asterdel's most southerly town. Helgantia is the highest mountain in Asterdel, soaring at 2,962 meters above sea level, and often sprinkled with snow. The mountain is also home to three glaciers and Asterdel's highest ski resort, boasting 20 kilometres of natural snow for skiing and snowboarding for six months of the year. Cows grazing on mountainous pastures are a typical image of the southern regions of Brachovia. The Alpen National Park may be the most popular National Park, but it is easy to escape from the crowds into a landscape of gentle hiking trails and Alpine vistas.

Black Forest

The Black Forest National Park is known for its dense, evergreen forests and picturesque villages. It is often associated with the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

Home of the cuckoo clock, the Black Forest (so named first by the Romans who were remarked by its dark, slightly sinister canopy of evergreens), and rightly so- this is where Hansel and Gretel encountered the wicked witch and her gingerbread house. The vast expanse of hills, valleys, rivers and forests stretch from spa towns through to the Western border, and from the Rhine to Lake Constance. With nature always a brisk walk from populated spots, the Waldonian countryside is dotted with traditional farmhouses and amiable dairy cows, and thick forest where Little Red Riding Hood's wolf may lurk. The northern section, with its hilly but relatively gentle terrain is home to several charming towns. Many also regard the Black Forest's most impressive sight as the lively university city of Zauberstadt. Within its protected areas, an adventurous sporting scene has sprouted around the Black Forest, with possibilities for kayaking, biking, and hiking. In winter, the terrain is ideally suited for cross-country skiing. A river cruise along the Rhine is worthwhile at any time of year, with its unique perspective on the landscape.

Beneschau

The Beneschau National Park is an alpine region of spectacular and pristine natural beauty. The opening and closing scenes of The Sound of Music were filmed here.

Wedged into Austria and framed by six formidable mountain ranges, the Beneschau Land is a drop-dead-gorgeous corner of Asterdel steeped in myths and legends. Local lore has it that the angels given the task of distributing the earth’s wonders were startled by God's order to get a move on and dropped them all here. One of these is certainly the pristine Lake Beneschau, regarded as Asterdel's most photogenic (and cleanest) body of water. Only electric-powered passenger ships, rowing, and pedal boats have been permitted on the lake since 1909. Much of the area is protocted by law within the Beneschau National Park, which was declared a 'biosphere reserve' by UNESCO in 1990. The village of Beneschau is the obvious base for hiking circuits into the park. The area is popular with hikers, outdoor activities, and fans of the film The Sound of Music, the ending scenes of which were filmed within the national park.

Bavalanian Forest

The Bavalanian Forest is a wooded low-mountain region in eastern Asterdel. Together with the Bohemian Forest, it forms the largest continuous woodland area in Europe.

The largest national park in the country, the Bavalanian Forest together with the neighbouring Bohemian Forest form the largest contiguous area of forest in Central Europe. The National Park opened in 1967. It is the solitary home of the Asterian bear, the national animal, which recovered from an all-time low population caused by intensive hunting. Most experts agree there are approximately 300-400 bears in the forest now, with this figure on the rise due to hands-off management. Other important animals include the wolves, sea otters, lynx, deer, elk, wildcats, owls, European bison, foxes and rabbits. The recently opened 25-meter-high tree-top trail is a popular walk above the forest floor amidst pristine nature, offering tourists a unique perspective of the forest.

Spessart Forest

The Spessart Forest (Asterian: Woodpecker Forest) is a region of studded hills and forested valleys which for centuries were the private hunting domains of Asterdel's nobility and bishops, and remained more or less untouched by the outside world. The tale of Snow White is said to have been located in the Spessart.

Located in the north of the country, the Spessart Forest (colloquially known as "Snow White's Forest") is one of the most beautiful and deciduous forests in Asterdel. A range of low wooded mountains, the National Park is celebrated for the ancient beech and oak forests that cover large parts of its gently undulating hills, occasionally giving way to clearings, streams and river valleys. Where bandits and poachers used to roam, the Spessart is an area rich in folkore. It is best known for laying claim to be the home of the inspiration for the Grimm Brothers’ "The Tale of Snow White". Lohrer Castle located within the National Park claims home the magic mirror itself (which can be seen in the museum today), and local glass production is said to have been the inspiration for the glass coffin featured in the fairy tale. However, it is the Mespelbrunn Castle (pictured above, left) which is the most famous tourist attraction in the area. The swans that circle the surrounding lake are said to be the lost twin princesses who, in return for their father's life, were turned into swans by a the wood's witch.

Demographics


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Chart of the largest Asterian immigrant groups which comprise
16.4% of the national population, or approximately 852,800 people.

Since the early 2000’s, Asterdel's population has been characterized by zero or declining growth, with an aging population and smaller cohort of youths. However, in the last decade, Asterdel has become home to increasing numbers of immigrants and foreign workers from various parts of the world, but mainly from Europe. Ethnically, the residents of Asterdel are predominantly ethnic Asterians who are of North Germanic/Nordic descent, although there are several small communities of Scandinavian native people living in Asterdel. According to 2016 figures, 83.6% of Asterdel’s population was of Asterian descent, defined as having at least one parent who was born in Asterdel and has Asterian citizenship. Many of the remaining 16.4% were immigrants, or descendants of recent immigrants. Of these minority groups, 76% have a Western background and 24% have a non-Western background. The largest minority group is German, at 21%, but there are significant Rolvish, Turkish, Italian and Croatian populations as well.
The cities or municipalities with the highest share of immigrants is Eidelvig (26%), with other significant immigrant populations in Löwenbraü (18%) and Sachsenberg (16%). Ethnic peoples who have immigrated to Asterdel have brought their culture with them, including their own language, food and cultural values. These cultural values have been passed down to their children and descendants who maintain these traditions.

Asterian Culture



From its roots, culture in Asterdel has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. As of 2016, Asterdel is one of the top 10 most respected nations in the world, with a global opinion poll revealing that Asterdel is recognized for having one of the most positive influences in the world, most recently in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Asterian is the official and predominant spoken language, but 90% of the population identifies as fluent in English as well. The Asterian language derives from Old High German, and thus is linguistically similar, so most people are semi-fluent in German, too. Other recognised native minority languages are Turkish and Rolvish.

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Asterdel was home to famous composers such as
Wagner, Strauss, Orff, Pachelbel and Lachenmann.
Opera remains very popular today.

Music
Despite its relatively small population, in the field of music, Asterdel claims some of the most renowned classical composers of the world, including Wagner and later, Strauss, who marked the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music. Strauss represents the late flowering of Asterian Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style. Other composers of the Asterian tradition who achieved international fame include Carl Orff, Johann Pachelbel and Helmut Lachenmann. Modern Asterdel has one of the strongest operatic traditions in European culture. This is also evidenced by the large number of opera houses, where almost every major city has its own theatre for staging such works, as well as internationally renowned operatic events such as the Eidelvig Music Festival, Richard Wagner Festival in Aelen, and the Kogenheim Festspiel.

World renowned for its classical music, Asterdel is not the biggest exporter of international rock and pop-bands, thought there are a few notable musicians and bands. Helene Fischer, Santiano and Oonagh are some of the biggest pop acts in the country, each reflecting the diverse music and entertainment industry scene. Pop and schlager are the most popular music style, followed by rock, pop-folk, and electronic.

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Helene Fischer is a best-selling Asterian pop singer.
Asterdel debuted in the Norsevision Song Contest in 2016 with ethno-pop act Oonagh. It finished a respectable 3rd place. Schlager is a style which is generally a catchy, often traditional instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of pop music with less demanding, often sentimental lyrics. Asterians view schlager as their national music, much like Americans feel towards country music. It is commonly associated with a middle class habitus, typically heard in folksy pubs, at festivals, and event venues.

Festivals
Oktoberfest is a world famous beer festival which originated in Eidelvig in 1806 when the Electorate of Asterdel received elevated status of a Kingdom. It is a 16-18 day festival celebrated by more than 3 million people throughout Asterdel, however the central attractions take place in Eidelvig. It is an important part of Asterian culture where visitors enjoy numerous attractions, such as amusement rides, along with a wide variety of traditional foods including roast chicken and pork, grilled ham, sausage, pretzels, potato and meat dumplings, cheese noodles, potato pancakes, red cabbage, spicy cheese-butter spreads and a myriad of desserts.

Bluten is the traditional folk costume which were formerly worn for hard physical work; they were more durable than a fabric garment and easier to clean. Today however, they are mostly worn as leisurewear and festive occasions. The attire is common at Oktoberfest events around the world. Fräuten, the female Bluten, consists of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. While appearing to be simple and plain, a properly made modern Fräuten may be quite expensive as it is tailored and sometimes cut from costly hand-printed or silk fabrics.

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Strudel is the quintessential ending to an
Asterian meal.

Cuisine
Asterian cuisine varies from region to region. Pastries, pretzels, pork sausages, cheeses and black forest cake are the signatures of Asterian cuisine. Pork, beef, and chicken are the main varieties of meat consumed in Asterdel; pork is the most popular. Throughout all regions, meat is often eaten in sausage form. More than 1500 different types of sausage are produced in Asterdel. A popular Asterian saying has the meaning: "Weisswurst for breakfast, frankfurter for lunch, and bratwurst for dinner." Weisswursts are made of pork and are boiled rather than fried (hence their white colour), and flavoured with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger and eaten with sweet mustard. Frankfurters can be either beef and pork meat, and are smoked and seasoned in a variety of ways. Asterian bratwursts have an aromatic flavour, and are usually filled with pork, beef and cheese, and eaten with mashed potatoes and fried cabbage or roasted vegetables. Bakeries are extremely common and popular, and breakfast is usually a selection of breads, pretzels or croissants with jam and honey or cold cuts and cheese, sometimes accompanied by a boiled egg. Cereals or muesli with milk or yoghurt and berries is also widespread. Italian cuisine is especially popular as well as international burger chains, and Chinese, Greek, Indian, Thai and Japanese restaurants have gained popularity in recent decades. Although Asterian wine is becoming increasingly popular, and is the preferred alcohol in the Northern wine growing regions of Luvania, the national alcoholic drink is beer. Asterian beer consumption per person is among the highest in the world.

Royal Family


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Queen Agneta and King Ludwig VII

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Queen Agneta, King Ludwig VII,
Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Augustus
and Princess Brigitta circa 1988.

King Ludwig VII Von Löwenheim (born: 1939) and Queen Agneta Söderberg (born: 1946), who married in 1965, have been the Asterian King and Queen since the death of King Oscar II in 1973. Ludwig ascended the throne at 34 years of age and is the 4th longest reigning Asterian monarch at 43 years. The longest reigning Asterian monarch was King Hedwig I who ruled for 58 years in the late 1800's. King Ludwig's rule has been long and stable, and he is in excellent health so there are no signs he will abdicate any time soon, if indeed at all. Queen Agneta's grandparents were Swedish immigrants of noble connections who came to Asterdel in the early 1900's. The pair met in Rome at the 1960 Olympics, and in 1964, when they took shelter from a blizzard in a barn during an evening stroll in the Asterian Alps, Ludwig proposed. The two are known for their fondness of art, literature, opera, and their charitable, warm natures. Today, the Asterian throne remains as secure as ever, and its occupant is firmly rooted in his subjects' affections. Ludwig is largely attributed to being responsible for building a new bridge of sympathy and understanding between throne and subject.

Ludwig and Agneta have four children and four grandchildren:

  • Crown Prince Frederick Von Löwenheim (born: 1975) is the eldest son and heir to the throne. In 2006 he married Baroness Margarete Von Bergman, now Princess Margarete. The couple have a son Johannes (born: 2008).

  • Prince Augustus Von Löwenheim (born: 1975), younger twin brother to Frederick, was born 1 minute after Frederick. He married Maria Anna Blomqvist in 2000. They have two daughters, Helena (born: 2001) and Genevieve (born 2003).

  • Princess Brigitta Von Löwenheim (born: 1977), the eldest daughter to King Ludwig VII, married Christen Von Handel in 1998. They have one daughter together, Astrid (born 1999).

  • Princess Else Von Löwenheim (born: 1982), the youngest daughter, married Prince Soren of Rolven in a lavish ceremony in 2010. The wedding was highly publicised and further strengthened the cultural ties between Asterdel and Rolven.

    All aforementioned royal family members belong, either by birth or by marriage, to the House of Von Löwenheim. The royal family live primarily at the Kognmaden Palace in nothern Eidelvig, although there are several other palaces throughout Asterdel in which they spend holidays and reside at during official duties. Today, they often perform ceremonial and social duties throughout the kingdom and abroad on behalf of Asterdel. Aside from the monarch, their only constitutional role in the affairs of government is to serve.

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    The Allianz Arena in Eidelvig is one of the largest,
    state-of-the-art stadiums in Europe.

    Sports


    Like much of the New Western Empire, soccer is the national and most popular sport in the kingdom. The Asterian Football Association (Asterland Fussball-Bund, or AFB) is one of the largest regional sports organisations, and the Asterian top league, the Oberliga, attracts an average attendance of 30,000 fans per game. The Asterdel National Soccer Team are known as the "Weisslöwen" (die weissen löwen - The White Lions), which have participated in 5 World Cups (2010, 2002, 1990, 1978, and 1966), but have never made it beyond the Semifinals (1990). Asterdel currently has a FIFA world ranking of 36 and a high ranking of 4 (September 2003). The country co-hosted the UEFA European Championship in 2008. The home stadium is the Allianz Arena, which boasts a 75,024 seating capacity (the 10th largest in Europe). It is widely known for its exterior of inflated ETFE plastic panels and is the first stadium in the world with a full colour changing exterior. The arena opened in 2005 at a cost of around €340 million, ahead of the 2008 UEFA European Championship and is frequently one of the playing venues of international friendly games.
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    The Weisslöwen (White Lions) is the national
    football team.

    Other popular sports include winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, figure skating, and especially ice hockey. The Asterian men's national ice hockey team has participated in the IIHF World Championships since 1967. In 2013, they reached the final for the first time, but lost to host nation Sweden 5-1. Water sports like sailing, rowing, and swimming are popular as well. Popular spectator sports include tennis, handball, volleyball and golf. Tennis is the second most played sport in Asterdel, after soccer. There are more than 4,000 tennis clubs in Asterdel and an estimated 20% of the total population play the sport regularly. The most famous Asterian tennis player is Julia Hammerstein, who won eighteen Grand Slam doubles titles during the 1990's during a six year reign at no.1, along with gold and silver Olympic medals. In 24 appearances in the Summer Olympic Games, Asterdel has won a total of 68 medals, along with 96 in Winter Olympic history, giving a grand total of 164 medals. Some of the most successful Asterian athletes in their respective sports include Justus Schwartz (soccer), Johannes Beck (athletics), Andreas Blumberg (swimming), Christina Heidler (skiing) and Bastian Krüger (ice hockey).

    Capital City: Eidelvig


    Eidelvig, the Asterian capital, is home to approximately 900,000 people. The walkable centre retains a small-town air but holds some world-class sights, especially art galleries, palaces and museums.

    Known as the "cosmo-medieval city", Eidelvig is the historic Asterian capital and home to some 870,000 people (roughly 20% of the population). It is the historical seat of the royal Asterian throne and is thus renowned for its magnificent architecture, extravagant palaces, cathedrals, museums, beautiful rivers and luscious green parks, but also a modern, exuberant atmosphere buzzing with creative energy. The small Altestadt (Old Town) area (right), is drenched in history and oozes medieval charm.

    Eidelvig, the Asterian capital, is home to approximately 900,000 people.

    Eidelvig boasts a number of remarkably well-preserved medieval squares, particularly the Helvenplatz (left), which hosts the popular annual Winter market, and the Fögenplatz (center). The Englischer Garten (English Garden) is a vast, sprawling park in the center of the city occupying a larger area than New York's Central Park. Especially popular in summer, the park attracts visitors for its riverfront restaurants, beer gardens, river surfing, waterfalls, swimming and other outdoor activities.

    Eidelvig, the Asterian capital, is home to approximately 900,000 people.

    The Bruhenz Kathedrale (second to left) is a symbolic building in Eidelvig. It is considered an outstanding example of Protestant sacred architecture, featuring one of the largest domes in Central Europe. The Althausen (left) is the historical residence of the Asterian sovereigns, from 1675-1834. It is still occasionally used by the royal family as a summer residence, however it now primarily operates as a museum. Together with its park, it is one of the most famous sights of Eidelvig. The Baroque architecture and sprawling gardens attract up to 300,000 people per year. Bensberg Castle (right) is a historical building, built and designed in early 1700's, it was only finished one hundred years later and over the centuries functioned as a military hospital, cadet school, boarding school and refugee centre. Now it is one of the leading hotels in the world of the international luxury class.

    Eidelvig: Kognmaden Palace

    Eidelvig, the Asterian capital, is home to approximately 900,000 people.

    The Kognmaden Palace in Eidelvig has served as the official residence of Asterian sovereigns since 1834 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Located in the north of the city, in the Roschaeden district, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality, and also serves as an art gallery and tourist attraction. It is one of the largest residential buildings in Asterdel and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1928.

    Asterian Major Cities by Size



    Sachsenburg, Sachsonia

    Sachsenburg is the second largest Asterian city, with a population of 650,000.

    The second-largest city of Asterdel, and the largest city of the northern states, Sachsenburg, like its bigger sister Eidelvig, maintains a “big town, small city” feel. This is largely due to the numerous green strips, parks, woods and historic buildings that scatter the city. In spite of this, Sachsenburg is nonetheless regarded as the industrial capital of Asterdel, and it is known as “the city where work is pleasure”. It is most famous for its automotive industry - both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have their headquarters and respective car museums here. The Industrial Revolution propelled the city into the machine age and production instantly boomed, helped its proximity to other large industrial hubs of Europe. So named by the tribes known as the Saxons that emerged in the area by the late Roman period, Sachsenburg is rich in Roman history which can be evidenced in its many free museums, including the Sachsonian Mausoleum, and the historical town of Bonstadt, where visitors can find a small piece of history on every corner, including Roman settlements and architecture, fine wines and mineral baths.

    Jügenhagen, Brachovia

    Jügenhagen is the third largest Asterian city, with a population of 480,000.

    The third-largest city in Asterdel, Jügenhagen is distinguished by its medieval architecture, including the fortifications and stone towers of its Altstadt (Old Town). At the northern edge of the Altstadt, surrounded by red-roofed buildings, stands Kaiserburg Castle. It is known as the "Gingerbread City", not solely for the distinctive tint of its skyline, but it has more than 3,000 gingerbread shops scattered throughout the city. For centuries it was Jügenhagen that was the undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the preferred residence of most Asterian kings, who kept their crown jewels here. An energetic place, it is alive with visitors year-round, and is especially popular with fans of 17th century composer Johann Pachelbel, who was born and raised in Jügenhagen.

    Löwenbraü, Bavalania

    Löwenbraü is the fourth largest Asterian city, with a population of 245,000.

    Perhaps due to its world-famous export, its namesake beer, or simply its relaxed setting on the River Danuben, Löwenbraü is generally considered as the most hearty and welcoming city in Asterdel. A Roman settlement completed under Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Löwenbraü was the first capital of Asterdel, the residence of dukes, kings and bishops, and for 600 years a Free Imperial City. Inspite of this, today's Löwenbraü is a happy, laid-back and unpretentious city, its centralised location and proximity to nearby attractions helping it to be the third most visited city in Asterdel after Eidelvig and Kronenburg. The large town contains many buildings of exceptional quality that testify to its history as a trading centre and to its influence on the region from the 9th century. The beer gardens of Löwenbraü are heralded as the best in the nation, and Löwenbraü brewery tours are a popular attraction. The famous Weltenburg Abbey (pictured right), the oldest monastery in Asterdel situated on a hairpin turn of the Danuben, is just 15 kilometres outside of Löwenbraü.

    Zauberstadt, Waldonia

    Zauberstadt is the fifth largest Asterian city, with a population of 220,000.

    Sitting plump at the foot of the Black Forest’s wooded slopes and vineyards, Zauberstadt is a sunny, cheerful university town, struttled with picturesque little brooks. Its medieval Old Town is a story-book tableau of gabled town houses, cobblestone lanes and cafe-rimmed plazas. Party-loving students spice up the local nightlife. The capital of Waldonia, Zau (as it’s commonly known) is the primary tourist entry point to the area of unrivalled natural beauty, a rich cultural landscape, and centuries old traditions. Blessed with 2,000 hours of annual sunshine, this is also Asterdel’s warmest city. Indeed, while neighbouring hilltop villages are still shovelling snow, the trees in Zauberstadt are clouds of white blossom, and locals are already imbibing in canalside beer gardens. Literally translated as “Magic Place”, Zauberstadt’s history is shrouded in the same mystery and folklore of its surrounding forest.

    Bachenstein, Luvania

    Bachenstein is the sixth largest Asterian city, with a population of 210,000.

    Located between Aelen and Löwenbraü, Bachen (as it's commonly referred to) is a disarmingly beautiful architectural masterpiece with an almost complete absence of modern eyesores. Bachenstein's entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Asterdel's unmissables. Generally regarded as one of Europe's most attractive settlements, the town is bisected by rivers and canals and was built by archbishops on seven hills, earning it the inevitable sobriquet of 'Luvanian Rome'. Students inject some liveliness into its streets, pavement cafes, pubs and no fewer than ten breweries cooking up Bachenstein's famous smoked beer, but its usually wide-eyed tourists who can be seen filing through its narrow medieval streets. The town can be tackled as a day trip from Eidelvig or Jügenhagen, but, to really do it justice and to experience the romantically lit streets once most visitors have left, an overnight stay is usually preferred by visitors.

    Baumgarten, Montebria

    Baumgarten is the seventh largest Asterian city, with a population of 180,000.

    Even by Asterdel’s elevated standards, Baumgarten is astonishingly affluent. Auto manufacturer Audi has its headquarters here, flanked by a clutch of oil refineries on the outskirts, but industry has left few marks on the medieval centre, with its cobblestone streets and historic, if slightly over-renovated, buildings. Baumgarten’s museum-church has the largest flat fresco ever made, and few people may know that its old medical school figured in the literary birth of Frankenstein. Local myths hold claim that the city originated when an old witch escaping from persecution planted an apple tree in the valley, in order to successfully diverge her captors. The tree grew and grew and the abundance of apples were said to be so delicious it soon became the stable food source for many families, and the town grew around it. The old witch is said to have returned years later and burnt the tree down out of spite, but the town remained. Thus the town came to be known as "tree garden" in Asterian. Locals claim that the witches magic continues to contribute to the city’s prosperity.

    Kronenburg, Sachsonia

    Kronenburg is the eighth largest Asterian city, with a population of 145,000.

    It is no secret that Kronenburg is a jewel among Asterian travel destinations. Located in the Rhine river valley, and surrounded by the legend-rich Hirschwald Forest, Asterdel’s oldest and most famous university town (founded in 1386) is renowned for its baroque Old Town, spirited student atmosphere, beautiful riverside setting and evocative and mysterious half-ruined hilltop castle, which draw 2.2 million visitors a year, making it the second most visited city in Asterdel. The red-roofed townscape is one of Asterdel’s most enchanting cities, due to the harmonious ensemble of Castle, Old Town and river, in the midst of mountains, which led it to be an inspiration to the poets and artists of the Romantic period. Today it has lost none of its fascination for millions of visitors from all over the world.

    Monschau, Luvania

    Monschau is the ninth largest Asterian city, with a population of 125,000.

    'If I could choose my place of birth, I would consider Monschau', wrote author Hermann Hesse, and it's not difficult to see why. This scenic town in the heart of Luvania straddles the Mitten River and is renowned for its art, architecture and delicate wines. A large student population guarantees a lively scene, and plenty of hip nightlife pulsates through its cobbled streets. What beer is to Löwenbraü, wine is to Monschau. Monschau has been growing grapes since its first contact with the Romans. It is the center of the Luvanian wine country, counting for 80% of all wine production of Asterian wine. Asterdel may be world renowned for its beer, but wine is its hidden treasure, and the city is filled with numerous wine bars, cellars and wineries, and the surrounding vineyards are a popular attraction. Marienberg is a fortress on Marienberg, the hill to the west of the town centre, overlooking the whole town area as well as the surrounding hills. Most current structures date to the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but the foundations of the chapel go back to the 8th century.

    Aelen, Bavalania

    Aelen is the tenth largest Asterian city, with a population of 105,000.

    The festival city of Aelen in Upper Bavalania is relatively quiet most of the year until the Richard Wagner Festival settles in for 30 days every summer. Wagner was a long time resident of Aelen, who lived and composed much of his music there. Although he died in Venice, his final resting place is in Aelen, in the garden of the house in which he lived. Aelen also features a wealth of impressive baroque and rococo architecture, as well as freshly-brewed Bavalanian beer in the local beer gardens. However, it is the annual music festival, Asterdel's most prestigious, which has achieved worldwide fame for the city. The Magravia Opera House is considered one of the most beautiful baroque opera houses in the world. Although Aelen remains fairly tame compared to the much larger cities in Asterdel, the presence of almost 10,000 students at the University of Aelen means an active nightlife is easy to find.

    The Kingdom of Asterdel

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