Dhram Phá

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Dhram Phá is a small country in Southeast Asia bordered by China (Yunnan province), Vietnam, and Laos. The country has close to 900,000 inhabitants, of which 387,000 live in the capital Dhram Ɖú.


Dhram Phá
country in Asia
Official name: Democratic People's
  Republic of the Dhram River Valley
Capital: Dhram Ɖú
Population: 887,350 (2012)
Surface: approx. 9050 km²
Population density: 98 inh/km²Official language: Dhram Guô
Government: Socialist Republic
GDP: 2,246 mln US$ (2011)
GDP/capita: 2,531


The name 'Dhram Phá' means 'valley of the river Dhram' (or just 'Dhram valley'), and that indeed is all the country consists of. The Dhram (or Dhram Siôŋ) is a tributary of the Black River, running from its source in South China through Vietnam, where it flows into the larger Red River.

The Dhram valley is relatively broad and has some (marshy) flat land around a small lake. This makes the area more suitable for rice cultivation than much of the very mountainous surrounding regions. Because of that it also has a higher population density.

Aside from the north, where the Dhram exits the valley and flows into the Black River, the country is completely surrounded by mountains.

The country's climate is moderate. January average temperatures range from 8°C to 19°C; July averages vary from 20°C to 29°C. Average annual rainfall varies from 500 mm to 2,500 mm. Usually most of that falls between June and August.


Little is known about Dhram Phá's prehistory. According to legend, the Dhram people originally inhabited a much larger region, but this is impossible to verify.

During the 8th and 9th centuries it was part of the kingdom of Nanzhao (南詔), from 937 to 1253 of the kingdom of Dali (大理), and after that of the Mongol / Yuan empire, but throughout most of this and the following period it remained relatively independent thanks to its (geographical) isolation. The period after the end of the Yuan dynasty until the end of the 19th century is rather unclear. The country was sometimes claimed by its neighbors, and was officially part of China for most of this time, but in practice it was left alone.

In 1867, the valley was ransacked by the Black Flag Army, a Chinese former bandit group in the service of Vietnam. In 1887 Dhram Phá officially became part of French Indochina as a province of the protectorate Vietnam. During the Second World War, a communist resistance movement took control of the valley. During the First Indochina War and thereafter this government sided with the Việt Minh and may have been indirectly involved in the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ, which took place just southeast of Dhram Phá in 1954. The Geneva Conference that took place after France's disastrous loss in that battle led to the official recognition of the country.

In the Vietnam war, Dhram Phá was bombed by American airplanes leading to civilian casualties, but aside from that, there has been little significant events in the post-WW2 period.


The Dhram river is a tributary of the Black River, and perhaps as a joke, for that reason the French called it 'la Fleuve Grise' (Grey River). The name stuck, however, and in French the country became known as 'Val-gris', short for 'Vallée de la Fleuve Grise'. This name was translated in English as 'Grey River Valley', or alternatively the French abbreviation was used but without the hyphen: 'Valgris'.

After the Geneva Conference, the endonym 'Dhram Phá' (IPA: ðɹɑm˧˩ pʰa˥˦) also became the official exonym in English (but in France, the name 'Val-gris' is still commonly used). There are, however, several spelling variants of 'Dhram Phá' in English, most common being 'Dhrampha'. The English adjectival form and demonym are derived from this: 'Dhramphanese'.


The flag of Dhram Phá has three vertical bands: red, dark green, and red, fimbriated gold (since June 2012). Red stands for socialism, the national ideology, and dark green for the tea, tobacco, rice, and other agricultural fields in the country. The dark green band is defaced by two symbols on top of each other: a red star representing socialism, and a black tea leaf, which both represents the commercially and culturally important Dhrampha tea (a variety of Puerh tea) cultivation, and the country itself. Traditionally, maps of Dhram Phá have always been drawn as tea leafs with the stem and veins representing the Dhram river, and the south (or south-southeast) pointing upwards. Until June 2012 there was a third symbol on top of the red star, a hammer an sickle (in black), but for unknown reasons these disappeared from flags at government buildings soon after the 2012 power shift within the Central Committee.

Government and politics

Referencearrow.png Main Article: Politics of Dhram Phá

Since the Second World War, Dhram Phá has been ruled by the Communist Party (officially "Revolutionary People's Party"). No other political parties are allowed, and there are no 'free' elections. The Central Committee holds executive power. Its members are 'elected' by the National Congress, the parliament, which consists of representatives of party committees in villages, factories, neighborhoods, and so forth. Officially the National Congress has legislative power, but the main lines of policy are determined by the biannual Party Congress, and it is also the Party Congress that nominates the candidates for the Central Committee.

Current Chairman of the Central Committee (head of government) and chairman of the Communist Party is Niam Qhuat (since 2012).

Foreign relations

Dhram Phá was one of the founding members of the Forum for International Cooperation and Trade (FICT) and the first country to ratify its founding treaty on July 1, 2011. The country hoped that FICT may help in overcoming its economic problems and break its isolation, but left FICT when it turned out in early 2012 that that organization is unlikely to achieve any results. With a group of other former FICT members and some other countries, it then founded the Exumbran Convention. However, a year after the foundation of that organization it suddenly adopted measures that effectively exclude Dhram Phá from its most important subsidies. The effect of all of this is a rather abrupt end to Dhram Phá's "experiments" at broadening its international relations, and a return to the relative isolation it has been familiar with.



Referencearrow.png Main Article: Dhram Guô

Dhram Guô is the official language of Dhram Phá. The language is often classified as belonging to the Sino-Tibetan language family, but also sometimes considered an isolate. Its morphology and syntax are relatively simple, and especially the latter is very similar to Old or Classical Chinese. Although the language was originally written with its own writing system (by Buddhist monks), it is now nearly always written in the roman alphabet with a few additional letters.

See also: Dhramphanese Names


Referencearrow.png Main Article: Buddhism in Dhram Phá

Officially, most Dhramphanese are not religious, but in reality a majority of the population adheres to Buddhism. Dhramphanese Buddhism is a hybrid of Mahāyāna and Theravada with further influences from Daoism (both directly and through Chinese Buddhism), and to a (much) lesser extent also Confucianism.

Economy and society

Dhram Phá's economy is predominantly agricultural. Commercially most important crop, and main export, is a variety of Puerh tea known as 'Dhram Phá Cha' (Dhrampha tea). Hence, the black tea leaf in the national flag. The only other agricultural export is tobacco.

There is little manufacturing in the country. Historically it has been a copper producing region and still there is some copper-related industry and, as a spin-off, some other specialized small metal industry. Most of this industry is export-based, and aside from the copper industry, its raw materials are imported.

To boost the economy, the government has created a 'special industrial zone' next to the airport, where foreign companies can establish branch plants with a special tax exemption provided that they stay at least 5 years and create a certain number of new jobs relative to area used.

The country is also trying to stimulate tourism as an additional source of foreign currency.

Foreign trade

main export products:
aged and compressed Dhram Phá Cha   US, Europe, East-Asia Usually aged between 10 and 50 years; very expensive.
raw Dhram Phá Cha China (Yunnan) Mixed with Puerh tea by some manufacturers.
tobacco Burma, India
small metal parts China, Japan, Thailand   Mainly car and machine parts.
main import products:
technological goods China, Japan
agricultural goods Vietnam, China


Radio and TV are state-owned and censored. Xuók Cu Quât is the official newspaper of the Communist Party, and the only daily newspaper in the country. The most reliable source of independent news and commentary on current events in Dhram Pá is the Dhram Phá Observer, an irregularly appearing newsletter from the department of Southeast-Asian Studies of Fuuhian University in Huenan.


Dhram Phá has two universities: the Dhram Phá People's University and the much smaller National Defense Academy. The former is a more or less normal university, the latter is a Party school that almost guarantees a career in army or Communist party. Admittance to the National Defense Academy depends on high school grades and/or connections (children of high-rank army and Party officials are almost always admitted).