Kingdom of Ostboland
Coat of arms
Motto: (royal) Gratia et Virtute
(English: Virtue and Grace)
|Location of Ostboland (dark green) – in Anterra (light green & grey) – in Western Artemia (light green)|
|Demonym||Ostban / Östben|
|897,550 km2 (346,550 sq mi)|
• 2020 estimate
• 2016 census
|50.5/km2 (130.8/sq mi)|
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|Currency||Ostben krona (OSK)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (WAT)|
Ostboland (Swedish: Östberige) officially the Kingdom of Ostboland (Swedish: Kungariket Östberige) is a country in Northern Artemia that spans along the Skagerrak Straits and into the center of the continent. Ostboland has a total land area of 897,550 square kilometers (346,546 sq mi) and a population of 42,893,202 (as of the 2016 Census). Ostboland is bordered by Northern Veikaia to the south and west, Modrovia to the south, Gardarike to the southeast, and Ringerike across the Skagerrak Straits. North Ostboland's predominately sub-arctic climate is characterized by long, very cold winters and mild summers, while the southern regions of the country are more temperate with longer summers. Northwest Ostboland in particular is a sparsely populated region covered in dense boreal forests, whereas the south is primarily agricultural.
Ostboland is a unitary state with a constitutional monarchy and developed parliamentary democracy. The current King of Ostboland is Christian III, reigning since 1998, however, since 2016 the nation has been under a regency given the King's incapacitation from a mental illness. The current Prime Minister is Karl Järnberg of the National Center Party, which has been in government for most of the past 30 years. Politically, Ostboland is also known for its large, but peaceful abstentionist movement headed by several anarcho-syndicalist federations. This lead to reforms in local government in 2014, which devolved some powers to the nation's counties.
Ostboland has a highly developed liberal free market economy with a large social welfare system, providing universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. The country's primary industries include forestry products, machinery, electronics, telecommunications, and financial services, with a heavy emphasis on international trade. Ostboland ranks highly on measures of economic competitiveness, social equality, rule of law, civil liberties, and human development.
Ostboland maintains an official foreign policy of neutrality, however the country is an active participant in several intergovernmental organisations, such as the Northern Coregnancy and the Artemian Economic Area. The country is also the home of the Anterran International Tribunal and several peace building NGOs.
Clan and Viking Period
Kingdom of Ostboland
Wars of Expansion
Following changes to the succession laws of Ostboland, Queen Alicia was crowned as the first Queen Regnant of Ostboland in 1898. She is still widely considered the most beloved of Ostboland's monarchs in the 20th century.
Grand Campaigns & Civil Unrest
Ostboland was official neutral during the 10 years of the Great War from 1915 to 1925. However, the country faced immense pressure as Ostben merchant vessels were routinely harassed by both Republican and Crown Alliance naval forces in the Baleric Sea. Ostben pursued a policy of Armed neutrality during the war, guarding its ships and citizens abroad. Ostboland did allow volunteers to fight in the war. Crown Alliance volunteers were called Watchmen, while members of Republicans brigades were called Craftsmen. In the mid-1920s Ostboland supplied humanitarian relief missions to war-torn areas, and took in refugees from across Artemia. Ostboland emerged from the war with a completely intact industrial base, expanding its economy to help supply the rebuilding of Artemian nations like Gardarike. Ostboland fervently supported the Lusjvan Oil and Steel Commission, and acted a mediator between Modrovia and Gardarike.
Post-war Ostben politics were extremely divisive, especially given the rise of syndicalism and militant strike action in the country. Poor economic management lead to stagnation in the early 1930s, and industrial conditions gradually worsened. Political campaigns were exceedingly bitter in 1930, and 1934 as fragile Conservative-Agrarian-Liberal coalitions were followed by minority Progressive-Labour governments. Left wing and trade union militancy gradually increased, culminating in the General Strike of 1933, where up to 1/4th of industrial workers went on strike in May. Violence against the police and military forces then broke out throughout the country. Though revolutionary activity subsided, it syndicalism in Ostboland increased in the 1930s, with its autonomous organizations actively funding, equipping, and supporting the syndicalist coup attempt in Modrovia in 1937.
Ironically, the failed intervention lead to a sharp decline in the far left in Ostboland. In the 1938 election, the social democratic Labour Party, which distanced itself from the syndicalists, won an absolute majority in the Riskdag. The Labor Party went on to dominate politics in Ostboland for the next 20 years. The government, lead by prime minister Lorens Alvarsson, embarked on a program of state-directed investment, economic planning, the nationalization of select heavy industries, co-operation between trade unions and employers' organizations, and free trade. The Alvarsson governemnt also extended the pre-war welfare state, most notably by making tertiary education free. In the mid-1940s, Ostboland was one of the leading nations in nuclear energy research thanks to labs like the Ekström Institute, in large part funded by the Labour government.
Ostboland was one of the original signatories of the Treaty of Ulnsc, which created the Artemian Coal and Steel Commission in 1950. This sparked a period of what Ostben historians call the Integrationist Era, which lasted in Ostboland from the early 1940s till the 1973 Treaty of Oradea. This era marked a break with Ostboland's history of strict neutrality and cautious isolationism, moving the nation towards an active role in international cooperation, arbitration, and peacebuilding. This shift in foreign policy was most identified with the conservative Lefson government in the late 1950s. The Lefson government is most well known for supporting the Northern Coregnancy and signing the 1962 Treaty of Oradea, which created the Common Artemian Energy Market. The Lefson government also introduced a nationally integrated highway and railway network, and reformed municipal government.
By the mid 1970, the Ostben rate of growth slowed compared to surrounding states. The overall tax burden rose dramatically in the late 1960s, while Government spending increased, then peaked in 1974 at 47% of GDP. Several key industries underwent significant restructuring: the small oil and refining industry was completely discontinued, lumber production shifted into consumer goods, and the steel industry dramatically shrank. Inflation averaged double digits for several consecutive years. The post-war consensus came to an end under the Labour led government of Oliver Lindström, culminating with the 1973 Treaty of Oradea. The proposed Artemian Defense Community and the mutual defense pact sparked massive demonstrations against the Treaty in Ostboland, with the public fearing Ostboland would be drawn into a regional war. The Lindström government's efforts to ratify the treaty created a political and constitutional crisis, which ended with the collapse of the Lindström government and Ostboland refusing to ratify the treaty.
The crisis fractured Labour and the political left, and also revived a, peaceful, abstentionist syndicalist movement. The late 1970s and early 1980s brought to power a center-right Alliance government lead by the first female Prime Minister, Klåre Renberg. The new Renberg government's response to stagflation was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Ostboland's competitiveness, including simplifying the welfare state and privatising public services and goods, tax cuts, deregulation of markets, and a tight monetary policy to curb inflation. This shift in policy was confirmed by the successive Labor-led government of Anna Granholm, which was known for focusing on women's rights, most prominently liberalizing abortion laws.
Ostboland continued to engage constructively with the PAC, but opinion polls showed the public strongly preferring the country continue to remain neutrality. In a nonbinding referendum in 1992, voters overwhelming rejected harmonizing defense and foreign policy with the PAC. The mid 1990s saw a large banking crisis and deep recession in Ostboland, and a groundswell of popular discontent with the social liberalism of the previous decade, particularly on the issue of immigration. The 1994 election lead to the formation of an agrarian government in over 100 years, lead by the National Center Party and Prime Minister Karl Järnberg. The Center Party has been in government for most of the period since the 1990s, its government coalitions vacillating between various populist policies on the right and left.
Much of the late 1990s economic growth was fueled by the success of Ostboland's larger companies, and a shift in central bank management. The current King of Ostboland, Christian III was coronated on June 4th 1998. In 2000, the government announced Green 2050, a plan to reduce Ostboland to net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. Ostboland was also an early adopter of high speed internet and advanced telecommunications technology, making it one of the most digitized economies in Anterra by 2010. Following the large increase in syndicalist support in the 2014 election, the government devolved some services to local counties and organizations upon negotiations.
In 2016 Ostboland entered a regency as the King's mental health deteriorated, the King officially signing over his duties to a regency council headed by his eldest child and heir, Princess Julia. The Center Party was reelected in 2018, this time with Järnberg heading up a majority coalition of christian democrats and radical liberals.
Ostboland is situated at the cross sections of Central, Western, and Northern Artemia, with an extensive coast along the Skagerrak Straits and sea border with Ringerike to the northwest. In the far south stretch the Modrov Mountains, which form a part of Ostboland's border with Modrovia. approximately between latitudes 50° and 64° N, and longitudes 32° and 44° E. At approximately 897,550 sq km, Ostboland is one of the larger countries in Artemia, and one of the largest countries of Northern Artemia. The distance between the country's northern and southernmost points stretches approximately 1,465 kilometers (910 mi). The lowest lowest elevation: in the country is near Lake Morrumsan, at 1.93 m (−6.33 ft), while the highest elevation is Norrbotten, at 2,296 m (7,533 ft). Ostboland is a land of over 75,000 lakes, the largest lake, Holmaren, is situated in then center of the country and near the capital city, Elleholm. The country's primary rivers run from the southeast to the Northwest, feeding into the Straights, such as the river Älbe, the longest river in Ostboland.
Much of Ostboland's geography was a result of an Ice Age, with the slow glacier recession leaving parts of the north very flat, with rolling hills but few mountains. In other parts of the country, particularly the west, the landscape is more hilly and mountainous. The country has several diverse biomes. Southern and Central Ostboland are predominantly agricultural, with mixed-forests and shrubbery. In the northeast, the landscape is covered by coniferous taiga forests and fens, with very little cultivated land. The far southeast of the country consists of a semi-arid soil, with small shrubs and very little vegetation; this region is home to large ranching estates rasing animals like cattle and horses. Approximately 45% of Ostboland's land area is agricultural or ranch land, another 45% consists of forests, 8% resides on built up land, and approximately 2% is unviable.
In the climate classification system much of Ostboland falls within the arable contiential climates. The western part of the country is characterized by more moderate temperatures influenced by the oceans, while the center of the country features warmer summers and cooler winters. The bulk of the country's population lives within these climatic zones in the center, northwest, and south-central parts of the country. In northeastern Ostboland, particularly above the Veljaksan River, is characterized as having a subartic climate. There is a small, underdeveloped section of the southeast which is far more arid, and is associated with a dry steppe biome, and is sparsely populated. The winter in the south is usually very mild and has few days of snow and sub-zero temperatures, unlike the colder north. Ostboland autumns are known to be quite diverse, with mixed-forests in the center of the country known for turning vibrant colors around Höstfestivalen, a national holiday in August.
At Ostboland's high latitude, the length of daylight varies greatly. In the capital, Elleholm, in the northern sections of the country daylight lasts for more than 17 hours in late June but only around 7 hours in late December. In the far south, daylight lasts much shorter in the summer and longer in the winter (as much as 9 or 10 hours by comparison). Ostboland receives approximately 1,100 to 2,400 hours of sunshine annually, depending on the section of the country. During July there may be some difference in temperature between the north and south of the country. With the exception of in the mountains, the whole country has an average temperature in June of 16 °C (61 °F) to 20 °C (68 °F) , while in December temperatures vary from 0 °C down to below −15 °C (5 °F).
Similarly, Ostboland has a diverse and extensive range of flora and fauna. There are at least fifty native mammalian species, 270 different kinds of breeding and migratory bird species, and over 50 different kinds of unique fish species. The most widely recognized mammals in Ostboland are the brown bear (the national animal), grey wolf, the steppe dog, rabbit, and the deer. The most iconic bird species in the country are the owl, and the eagle, of which Ostboland is home to 5 unique species; warblers, finches, and thrushes are the most common breeding birds. The straights are home to several species of mussels and fish, including salmon and cod. Ostboland is also home to a highly endangered seal species, the Albe Seal, and the critically endangered North Artemian Otter.
Government & Politics
The Kingdom of Ostboland is a unitary constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. According to the Constitution of Ostboland, adopted on January 29, 1808, power is divided among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. In accordance with the Constitution, executive power is formally exercised by the Monarch upon ministerial advice. The King of Ostboland is the head of state with primarily representative and ceremonial functions. Constitutionally, the Monarch wields limited powers, which must be exercised through the Cabinet. Depending on the Monarch's personality and relationship with their ministers, a individual Monarch may wield tremendous political influence.
Most executive powers are in fact exercised by the elected Government. The Government is comprised of the Council of Ministers (Ministerrådet), otherwise known as the Cabinet and a Prime Minister (Statsminister). The Cabinet is generally comprised of between 10 and 20 ministers, state secretaries, and ministers without portfolio. The Prime Minister is the head of government and leader of the Cabinet - who is appointed or dismissed by the King on the advice of the Riksdag. The Prime Minister, in turn traditionally nominates the Cabinet, drawn from members of the same political party or coalition of parties. Traditionally, the Prime Minister is the leader of their political party in the Riksdag. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet, are collectively responsible for the conduct of day to day administration and are responsible to the Riksdag. As a single party often lack the power to form a government its own, Ostboland is routinely run by coalition governments.
Legislative power in Ostboland officially vested in a Parliament, the Riksdag, and an unofficial second chamber: the State Council (Statsrådet). The 401 members of the Riksdag are directly elected via a system of party list proportional representation for a maximum 4 year term. Of the 100 members of the State Council, 80 are chosen by an electoral college to serve 8 year terms (with 20 elected every 2 years), and 20 are appointed for life by the monarch (upon advice). The Riksdag initiates primary legislation, controls government finance, and may appoint or dismiss the government. The State Council's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the Riksdag has the final say. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority from both bodies, followed by a public referendum.
Judicial powers are vested in a Supreme Court and a system of legal appelate courts from the national to the county and municipal level. The Supreme Court of 20 judges and one Chief Justice. The Prime Minister nominates Supreme Court justices from a list of judges currently serving on the bench. These nominees must then be approved by the Riksdag and formally confirmed by the Monarch sitting in the State Council. Judges for lower courts are formally appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister or Justice Minister. Unique to Ostboland's constitutional structure is a body known as the Council of Revision (Revisionsrådet), which acts as the highest constitutional authority in the nation, and officially advises the Monarchy on the use of the royal perogative. The Council of Revision consists of some Supreme Court Justices, ex-Justice Ministers, and appointed law officers. The Council's main activity is to rule on the constitutionality of Riksdag legislation (and whether it should be veto'ed), and/or the legality of administrative acts. The Council of Review receives cases submitted to it by the Riksdag, the Supreme Court, or via citizen petition.
Ostboland has a multi-party system with proportional representation, meaning it is very rare for a single party to have a majority in the Riskdag. The last time a single party won a majority was in the General Election of 1942. Since the advent of universal sufferage in the 1910, the Ostban political system has been dominated by two coalitions of political parties: the strongest were the Social Democrats, represented now by the Labour Party, and the Conservatives represented today by the Progressive Conservatives. The Labour Party was traditionally more dominant and could form single party minority governments or pacts, while the Progressive Conservatives regularly had to form full coalitions with Christian Democrats, Liberals, or Populist parties to form governments.
Since the 1970s, the party system became more volatile: the Labour Party lost much of its rural voters, while new parties became successful, such as the populist and agrarian Center Party, the Green Party, and a revived Liberal Reform Party. Additionally, the Workers Federation, the abstentionist syndicalist party began competing more vigorously in national elections. The Workers Federation aims to secure a majority in parliament and block the formation of a national government; since its revival it has polled no more than 10% of the vote.
In the 1994 election, the Labour Party lost its dominant position, with a socially conservative cabinet formed by the Center Party, the Chrisitan Democrats, and the Progressive Conservatives, lead by Prime Minister Karl Järnberg. The new cabinet set out on a pledge of immigration restrictions, halting further socially liberal legislation, and investing in rural areas. In 1998 a new Labour, Green, Center coalition was formed under a new ministry, but halfway through its term Järnberg returned, which pursued an ambitious environmental agenda. In the 2002 a new cabinet was formed again from the Center, Christian Democratic, and Progressive Conservative parties lead by Järnberg, devoted to market reforms and transportation.
Järnberg and the Center Party would continue to be in government for much of the early 21st century. The Center Party would win the most votes in several elections, and have the opportunity to form coalitions across the political spectrum, depending on the election outcome. The election of 2006, for example, brought to power a center-left cabinet of the Greens and Radical Liberals, but after 2010 the Center Party formed a coalition with the Progressive Conservatives and the Greens. Järnberg's personal popularity and political strategy lead many commentators to label him the Svängdörr ("revolving door").
Both trade unions and employers organizations are consulted before majority policymaking issues. These organizations regularly meet with the government on various governmental bodies. Ostboland has a long political traditions of social tolerance and pluralism, though populism was a rising force in the late 1990s due to the rejection of the political consensus.
Ostboland is a unitary state divided into 17 Counties (Län). Each county is administered through its town directly elected county council (landsting) and led by a County Governor (landshövding), who is now elected rather than appointed. The government and the King are represented by an ex officio County Commissioner (Kommissionär), and officially coordinate policy with localities. The counties are further sub-divided into 682 municipalities (kommuner), which in turn are administered by their own municipal council. Local governments operate under cabinet-style governance with a local manager.
Counties and municipalities have different governmental functions and responsibilities. Health care, public transportation, tertiary education, and strategic planning are administered by the Counties. Primary and secondary schooling, public utilities, garbage disposal, social care, and emergency services are administered by the municipalities. The localities are funded by a combination of government grants, land taxes, and business rates.
The municipalities with larger populations are officially designated as cities. The cities of Elleholm and Nordsham are the nation's most populous municipalities, with a further 104 settlements are classified as cities in Ostboland. In most cases, the city borders are contiguous with the municipality, and may be redrawn or merged with surrounding areas to reflect boundary changes. Finally, there are several thousand historic parishes (församlingar) which are subdivisions of the Church of Ostboland, and three ceremonial Län.
Ostboland has a civil law system but without a comprehensive code, relying instead on customary law. The judicial system of Ostboland is divided between regular courts (allmänna domstolar) with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction, and administrative courts (allmänna förvaltningsdomstolar) with jurisdiction over cases between individuals and the authorities. Each system has an appellate tier at the county level. There are special courts created by statute, which hear on narrow specific cases (such as family or bankruptcy law). The Constitution guarantees judicial independence, providing that judges shall only interpret the law, and monitor the other government branches. The Supreme Court is the highest civil and criminal court. Cases concerning constitutional interpretation are reviewed by the Council of Revision.
The Constitution itself outlines a set of universal legal rights for defendants, including subsidized defense counsel. Government surveillance and searches only allowable via signed judicial warrant. Civil forfeiture is also extremely regulated. In criminal cases a supermajority of a judicial panel, which includes lay judges, must vote to convict. The death penalty is controversial: having at various times been abolished then reinstated (and is an ongoing political issue). However, the has only ever been applied to crimes involving murder. The most recent application of the death penalty in Ostboland was in 2004, via firing squad.
Ostboland has an average crime rates compared to its neighbors. The nation has above-average levels of assaults, burglary, and consumer fraud. By contrast, the nation has low levels of homicides, auto theft, and drug problems. Ostboland uses a day fine system, where fines increase with wealth (especially on automobile citations). In general, institutions in Ostboland are characterized by a high degree of transparency, and accountability: and the perception and the occurrence of corruption are seen as low. Ostboland prisons are known for emphasizing rehabilitation; the recidivism rate is considered one of the lowest in the region.
The law is enforced by the Ostboland Police Service, comprised of County Police (länspolisen) districts and several specialist agencies. For example, the Special Crimes Agency (SBB) assists in specific criminal investigations such as white collar crimes, gang related activity, and particularly violent offenses. The Ostboland Security Service (Säk) is the smallest agency, administering border patrol, counter-espionage, and counter-terrorism operations. Each police district and agency is headed by a Commissioner, appointed via an independent commission. The Police Service and the specialist agencies are run by the National Police Directorate, which itself reports to the Ministry of Justice.
The Royal Armed Forces are the military forces of the Kingdom of Ostboland, with the Ostben Ministry of Defense being responsible for the operation of the armed forces. The commander-in-chief of the Ostben Military is pro forma the King, but in reality all functions are overseen by the Supreme Commander (Överbefälhavaren, ÖB) and the Military Directorate, who jointly report to the Minister of Defense. According to the Constitution, the Military can only be deployed in a defensive capacity, complicating the country's role in peacekeeping operations. By law, all oversees military operations can only be composed of volunteers. Foreign and Military Intelligence operate out of a single agency: UTÄ/Jän (Utländsk Underrättelsetjänst).
Ostboland has 2 years of compulsory national service for all male adults and some women (women were first included in 1989) who have reached adulthood, which can be served in the military. Referesher trianing is still mandatory once every 3 years, though the government has considered abolishing this requirement.
In 2020 military expenditures were approximately $80.5 Billion, or 3.2% of GDP. The Royal Armed Forces has slightly over 400,000 active duty personnel divided into three branches, an Army, Navy, and Air Force, along with a Home Guard. The Ostben Army is capable of fielding up to 10 divisions and a further number of reserve divisions. Its primary task is the defense of the homeland; the Army is mainly concentrated in the west near the Northern Veikaia border. The Ostben Navy is a green-water navy, comprised mainly of destroyers and submarines, is tasked with defending Ostben's trading interests along the Skagerrak Straits and in the Boreal Ocean. The Ostben Air Force, as it is constructed, participates in few tactical operations and largey coordinates with the Army in defense of the frontiers. The Ostben Home Guard is a special miltiary reserve and paramilitary force consisting mainly of local, rapid response units. Most members of the Home Guard maintain a civilian jobs and serve part-time. The Home Guard generally is only called upon in the event of a state of emergency to aid local law enforcement or defense, a power which has not been exercised in the 21st century.
Article 31 of the Ostben Constitution declares that Ostboland adheres to a twin policy of non-aggression and neutrality, and that the state's primary objectives are to maintain the independence and the welfare of its citizens. The Larson Memo of 1926, largely seen as an interpretation by the Crown, outlines additional foreign policy goals such as:
- Alleviate global poverty;
- Promote human rights and democratic governance;
- Promote the peaceful coexistence of nations;
- Advocate for the preservation of natural resources. (Added in 1978)
These objectives reflect Ostboland's pledge to to undertake social, economic, and humanitarian activities which should contribute to world peace and prosperity. This is manifested by the country's diplomatic activity, assistance to less developed countries, and support for the extension and maintenance of international law.
Ostboland has a strict policy of avoiding military alliances or political integration which would compel military action. Ostboland thus rejected full membership of the Pan-Artemian Coalition. Ostboland strives to maintain diplomatic relations with all countries, maintain its neutrality, and has historically served as a neutral intermediary and host to international treaty conferences. The country has no ongoing dispute in its bilateral relations. Ostboland (primarily the capital Elleholm) is home to many international organizations.
Ostboland has a highly developed free market economy, characterized by a high level of government-provided services (health care, child care and education), large income transfers, streamlined government regulations, and a high dependence on foreign trade. Ostboland is considered a high-income country, with a GDPPC of over $55,000, economic growth at about 2.8% per annum and unemployment at just over 5.25% in 2020. After taxes and public transfers, income inequality in Ostboland is low compared to the regional average. The Ostben economy ranks highly on indices measuring economic freedom, global competitiveness, and ease of doing business. Ostboland has a vibrant start-up culture, with SMEs representing almost 13.5% of Ostben companies.
Ostben labor laws are considered flexible by international standards, and are largely self-regulated by labor market actors. Trade unions, employers' associations and collective agreements cover large portions of the nation's workforce. As much as 56% of the workforce in Ostbolan belonging to a union or craft guild. The prominent role of collective bargaining and high rate of coverage have reduced the state's active involvement in industrial affairs. For example, Ostboland has one of the highest minimum wage rates on the continent, but no official legislation. The government actively promotes Co-determination policies between management and employees: mandating company works councils or employees serving on corporate boards of its larger firms. Given the country's active syndicalist movement, worker and consumer cooperatives are popular and incentivized. The Ostboland Co-Operative Alliance (OKA) is one of the largest in Anterra.
The Ostben economy is dominated by the service sector, which comprises 60% of GDP, followed by manufacturing comprising 36% and the primary sector less than 4% of GDP. The nation's top industries include financial services, forestry, consumer durables, electronics, biochemicals, metal refining, food processing, and telecommunications. The country's main export goods include lumber, furniture, electronics, appliances, electricity generation equipment, semiconductors, dairy products, pharmaceuticals, chemical products, and beer. Ostboland is one of the largest exporters of commercial nuclear technology. Deregulation, globalization, and high R&D investment have been key productivity drivers over the past decade. Regulations of product and financial markets are relatively light. Starting a business takes an average of 7 days, with no capital requirements. Ostben banks are among the securest in Anterra, and bank privacy customs are notoriously tight.
As a medium-sized open economy, Ostboland is heavily reliant on international trade and adheres to a broadly liberal trade policy, with exports and imports making up approximately 66% of GDP. The country actively purses free trade and interational investment agreements with many other countries. Ostboland's top trading partners are Gardarike, Modrovia, XXXXX, Ringerike, and Akiteiwa.
Ostboland's national currency is the Ostben Krona (OSK) or Okie. The issuance of the Krona and the conduct of the nation's monetary policy is regulated by the Royal Bank of Ostboland, or Riksbank. Founded in 1671, the Riskbank it is one of the region's oldest central banks. The Riksbank's has a mandate to stabilize nominal economic growth, which it achieves by adopting a nominal income target of 4.5% each year. Since the adoption of its current policy, the Riksbank is judged as one of the top performing central banks in Anterra. Inflation has averaged between 1.5 and 2% in the past decade, and as of Q1 2020, the Ostben economy had gone over 25 years since it was last technically in recession. Bank failures or liquidations are still regarded as highly rare events.
The 10 largest Ostben companies (by turnover) in 2018 were: Fordon (automobiles), HEJA (furniture), Maraton (pharmaceuticals), Utilware (software), Gavle (electronics/semiconducters), FAAB (appliances), Wallin-Nelsson (financial Services), Boreal Chemical (chemicals), E-Tek (electrical equipment), and Rhythm (streaming).
In the late 10th century, the peoples of the Ostboland region practiced a form of polytheistic paganism, worshiping a pantheon similar among other Northern Artemian cultures. It's religious capital was the Temple of Laussbund, which was a major pilgrimage site up until Christianisation in the early 11th century, when public worship of the old gods was prohibited. The Christian church in Ostboland was broadly in line with the Marian Communion for the next five centuries. In the mid 16th century a more evangelical, reformist movement lead by the clergyman Peter Månsson, abolished the old Marianite Church and established the Evangelical Petrine Church of Ostboland, known today as the Church of Ostboland. After the Råd (Council) of 1545, Petrinism became the official state religion. With the Edict on Religion in 1608, other smaller Christian sects were tolerated so long as they did not worship openly in public. However public offices were only available to Petrinites as prescribed in the Articles on Communion.
After the Constitutional Revolution in the late 18th and early 19th century, the restrictions on believers other faiths, were repealed. By 1835, public offices were open to all faiths. It remained illegal for citizens to convert away from Petrinism until 1857 with the passage of the Non-Conformity Act. The 19th century also saw the arrival of secularism, which has steady increased in Ostboland to this very day. In 1993, the Church of Ostboland was officially disestablished.
As of 2015, 61% of the population belonged to the Church of Ostboland, far lower than the 93% in 1905. Only about 2-5% of the church member's attend weekly services. However, a recent revival in the church has lead to an uptick in the number of baptisms and marriages officiated in the church. Of the 39% of the rest of the population, the vast majority identify as "Irreligious". About 5% of the population identify with another Christian sect, the most popular being churches belonging to the Marian Communion. Finally, about 2-3% of the population belong to non-Christian faiths.
State education is compulsory in Ostboland for those between the ages of 7 and 16. All newborn children are guaranteed spaces in a public kindergarden (forskola). The Ministry of Education is responsible for the oversight of independent and public schools, but local counties and municipalities have special funds for the maintenance of school buildings and buses. All primary and secondary schools are funded by a system of education vouchers (kupong), granting the same amount per child. Ostboland's network of Religious schools are funded by tuition fees and scholarship funds. Anyone can establish an independent charter school, and the municipalities must pay new schools the same amount. School meals, including breakfast or lunch, are free for all students.
Those wishing to further their education apply to upper secondary school (ages 16-19), preparing students for one of the three tracks in Ostboland's higher education system: university, polytechnical, or trade school. Through aptitude and placement exams, students automatically qualify for the school they are placed into. This classification is considered quite fluid, as students may retake the exams. trade schools (Handelsskola) prepare students for manual or practical professions and require three years of study. Polytechnical (Polytekniska) schools encompass white collar professions requiring more rigorous background education; a degree requires anywhere between 3-6 years of education. Universities the most prestigious and cover the liberal arts, humanities, and research fields. University and Polytechnic schools accept cross-over professions like law and medicine, though certain technical schools have emerged specifically for such fields. Higher education is free for Ostboland citizens, funded by the government.
Ostboland has a universal health care system financed by a system of compulsory health insurance. Ostben residents are automatically insured by a basic government plan (Socialtjänstplan or '['STP'[') that covers long-term treatments or semi-permanent hospitalizations. Citizens choose their own private top-up insurance plans (hälsoplan) for short term medical treatments and care. Potential insurers have to offer a universal package, regardless of age or state of health – and it is illegal to refuse an application or impose special conditions. However, the government partially pays the premiums of those with pre-existing conditions. Affordability is guaranteed through a system of income-based premiums. Other smaller sources of funding include out of pocket payments, employer contributions, and general taxation. In 2018, Ostboland spent 10.1% of its GDP on health care. Premiums average about 525 ₭r per month (about $100) with a yearly deductible of 3000 ₭r ($571).
The Ministry of Health is responsible for administering the healthcare system and regulating the structure of hospitals and providers. Local general hospitals (Allmänna sjukhuset) may be charitable, not-for profit, or publicly run by local governments. In addition to local hospitals, there are also, specialized medical centers which focus on the treatment of select illnesses. One example is the Erquist-Javenson Institute of Oncology, Ostboland's leading medical facility in the study and treatment of cancers. There are approximately 3.95 doctors per 1,000 people.
The average life expectancy in Ostboland is 79.5 years (75.6 years for men and 81.4 years for women). In 2017 the infant mortality rate was 2.5 per 1,000 live births. Chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and alzheimers are among the most endemic conditions. Ostbans are considered healthy for the region, but are though to drink at rates slightly higher than local averages. Ostboland has low levels of pollution as measured by particulate matter and toxic emmissions. By one environmental assesement, the amount of toxic particulates in the atmosphere and water is far lower than most developed countries. This is largely seen as a result of a reliance on cleaner energy, tough environmental laws, and a high level of environmental consciousness among citizens.
Ostben cuisine is characterized by hearty meat compliments, light pastries and breads, and the prevalence of alcohol, with large maritime influences. Fish, Potatoes, Meat, Breads (particularly dark bread), and Legumes form the primary staples of the Ostben diet.
Ostben meals are divided into two courses, with an optional after course. A traditional first course is a small salad or bisque. Popular main dishes include spiced fish (salmon or cod), a goulash, pork or veal meatballs, or lutfisk with a flat break. Sides include items like roasted potatoes, crisp salads, and fried mushrooms. Regionally important foods include mutton dumplings in the southeast, fried venison in the west, and eel in northeastern Ostboland. For Höstfestivalen, a traditional potato flatbread is served, usually topped with large amounts of butter and sugar.
Breakfasts are highly filling and considered crucially important in Ostboland's "morning culture". Breakfast main courses may include spiced sausage, crepes, or poached eggs. Small sides that may accompany such a meal include fried cheese, fruit, or toast with a variety of jams (lingonberry, raspberry, and strawberry are the most popular) are accompanied in the meal. The most popular morning drink is milk, followed by coffee (Ostboland consumes over 315 kg of coffee per capita).
Pastries are a national addiction and are one of the most well known food exports of the country. Waffles, Pancakes, Strudels (with popular fruit flavors like apple), Honey Puffs, Chocolate filled sweet cakes, and Cinnamon Roles are some of the most famous Ostben pastries. They're typically served with sour cream, brown cheese, butter and sugar, or strawberry or raspberry jam, which can all be mixed or eaten separately. With such a wide variety, many local bakeries now function as full cafes, and are popular for evening social outings. It's hard to understate the Ostben love of such items: when the city council of Elleholm attempted to place a $0.10 tax on sweets in 1999, it sparked riots so severe the proposal was dropped.
Alcohol is served with most lunch and dinner meals, and on occasion beer may be served at breakfast. Given the amicable climate for both grains and grapes, there are a wide variety of national wines and or beers to choose from. Akvavit and snaps are popular alcoholic drinks to consume, as well as lighter varieties of wines. Statistically speaking, vineyards and breweries are responsible for substantial portion of rural incomes. These south-central regions of Ostboland are dubbed by alcohol connoisseurs as The Barrel Belt.
The two leading sports in Ostboland are ice hockey and football, drawing the large attention from the media and local support groups. The Ostboland National Football Team, considered average against other national teams. Hockey is very popular in the north of the country and in grade school. The country's ice hockey team preforms better internationally, and is considered a top competitor, especially against trained teams in Northern Artemia. In general, international matches involving Pollona's ice hockey or football team draw public attention. Tennis, volleyball, and track (sports imported from the west) are quickly rising in popularity. Other popular sports include golf (popular among the older demographic) and cycling: in recent years, Ostboland has emerged as a strong cycling nation. Ostboland's numerous resorts are popular locations for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and many other water-themed sports.
The northern regions are known for holding annual, international competitions in varying aquatic events; swimming and especially sailing are highly popular. The premier international regatta is the Artemian Cup: a course running along the Ostboland coast spanning seven days. The competition draws, on average, 2000 boats annually from a dozen countries. The nation's most popular sailing organization, the Nordsham Yacht Club, is the largest in Artemia: attracting a membership of over 26,000. In the south and mountains, hiking and skiing are more common. They are ideal activities for regional tourists and new beginners. Ostboland claims a centuries old tradition of trail markers, and safe paths carefully selected over time. This network contains over 30,000 km of perfectly marked short and long distanced trails, crossing the country's mountainous regions.