Southmaryland

Geopoeia

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Southmaryland (previously "Houtmanland") is the provisional (?) name of a group of islands some 1000 km west of Australia (at the approximate same latitude as Perth). The main island, which makes up 86.4% of the archipelago's landmass is approximately 1000 km long, stretching from west to east with a slight southwards angle. The archipelago has been inhabited for approximately 4.000 years (?), and was 'discovered' in 1619 by Frederick de Houtman.

This is a page about a geofictional project in progress. Starting with the basics - geological history and physical geography - the project will slowly take shape. Many parts of this page (and related pages) will remain sketchy for a long time. (Or possibly for not so long, depending on time and inspiration.)

Names with a * prefix are provisional and are likely to be changed at some point.


*Southmaryland
country west of Australia
capital: ?
surface: 251,236 km²
population: 7,150,000
density: 28.5 inh./km²
languages: English, *Velderan,
indigenous languages

Contents

geography

*Southmaryland consists of one large island, *Main Island, which makes up 86.4% of the total land surface and houses 91.7% of the population, and hundreds of smaller islands and islets (the two largest of which are 2.7% and 2.5% of total land surface respectively). *Main Island is approximately 1000km long (east to west) and on average some 250km wide, with a large extension in the eastern part. The main geographical feature of *Main Island is the mountain range, *Dampier Range, along its southern shore. The highest peaks of these mountains are a bit over 3km. Directly south of this mountain range is a trench (in sea) that reaches depths over 4km in some places.

geological history

Geological history of the Indo-Australian Plate. (Press ESC to stop animation.)
Land masses and major submerged lands in green except on the last few maps, where submerged lands are in blue-green. Present-day map also shows fault lines in red.

When Australia, India, and Antarctica separated some 120 million years ago, a fourth minor landmass, the Kerguelen Plateau, was formed in between them. Around 50 million years ago, the Kerguelen Plateau, which was then already mostly submerged, started to break apart. The northern part, which was on the Indo-Australian Plate, moved north with Australia and eventually became Southmaryland. The southern part (which is on the Antarctic Plate and did not move much) is submerged except for Kerguelen and some smaller islands.

Aside from its main landmass, Southmaryland includes a few small islands on the Ninety East Ridge, which separated the Indian and Australian Plates. Although those plates joined together approximately 30 million years ago, earthquakes still occur in the area.

climate

Mean annual precipitation.

The climate is determined mainly by two factors: the subtropical high pressure area, and the mountain range along the southern coast of *Main Island. This mountain range separates the very wet southern coast from the much drier inland region.

Most of *Southmaryland has very dry summers, and a subtropical climate. The southern coast is a bit more temperate, and the inland region climate is close to steppe.

flora and fauna

(large number of unique indigenous species, probably many threatened or already disappeared)

(more to be added)

land use

(Relatively dry inland mostly for wheat farming and grazing (dairy/meat/wool).)

(more to be added)

territorial divisions

(to be added)

demographics

indigenous peoples

immigrants

(Dutch, British, Chinese, Indian, African, ...)

current population statistics

languages

English, *Velderan (Dutch 'dialect'), many indigenous languages

religions

mainly (protestant) Christian

historical notes

Some of these notes are already 'out of date'. That is, the more elaborate historical sketch that has not yet been published significantly deviates from some of the below.

  • prehistory: Archeological evidence suggests that the first humans arrived in *Southmaryland around 2000 BCE. These first immigrants was a small negrito tribe of uncertain origin, but it is commonly assumed that they came from Borneo by outrigger canoe. This tribe descended from the first settlers of Borneo, the same people that spread throughout Southeast Asia during the Great Coastal Migration around 60.000 years ago. They were gradually displaced by Austronesian immigrants in Borneo (like they were displaced in most of the rest of Southeast Asia), but not before adopting some technologies from those Austronesian immigrants, including the aforementioned outrigger canoe. Probably, most of this tribe was assimilated or died out, but a small part set out to sea in search of new land. (Most likely, some of them ended up in Australia and mixed with the indigenous population of that continent.) Around 300 BCE a second group of immigrants arrived, Austronesians from Borneo, hence the very people that drove the first settlers out of their previous homeland. The numbers of immigrants in this second 'wave' were small, however, and they were quickly assimilated by the earlier negrito immigrants, but not without influencing language and culture.
  • In the early 15th century, a large Chinese ship (or perhaps, a small fleet of small ships) got stranded in Southmaryland. According to a grandson of one of the survivors (whose writings were found in the 20th century), the ship in question was part of Zheng He's fleet and was damaged in a storm after which it got off course. Given prevailing winds in the Indian Ocean, this is unlikely, and there is no mention in the official history of Zheng He's travels either (although it is not unlikely that a relatively minor event like this (considering the size of his fleets) would not be mentioned). Most plausible explanation, is that the ship in question (if there was one) traveled south along the African coast, beyond waters previously explored by the Chines, who did not go much farther south than Somalia, turning east (back home) south of Madagascar, possibly even after Cape Hope. Dominant westerly winds would then blow them right to Southmaryland, especially if somewhere during that journey the ship was damaged and lost some steering ability (perhaps this was also the reason why the ship did not turn back back to travel back the same way it came, but turned towards open sea instead). If this is what happened, then much of the crew would not have survived the journey (and the few survivors where very lucky to find *Southmaryland). The reason, why this explanation is considered most plausible by most historians, is that all other explanations are much less plausible. In any case, there is evidence that a small group of Chinese arrived in the early 15th century, and that the survivors thereof founded a small village and married local women. It is most likely from these survivors that the indigenous population learned agriculture (or improvement thereof) and a few other technologies and ideas, including a form of very basic picto-/ideographic writing.
  • By the end of the 15th century a local chief that traced ancestry to the Chinese spread his power over a growing part of *Southmaryland, spreading agriculture in the process. This was the first (and last) kingdom in the history of *Southmaryland, and it survived (and thrived) until it was destroyed by colonial powers. It flourished mainly thanks to the growth of agriculture, and the lack of real enemies or opponents.
  • "Discovery" in 1619 by Dutchman Frederick de Houtman as captain of the VOC ship Dordrecht in an expedition together with captain Jacob d'Edel on VOC ship Amsterdam. Later they spotted Western Australia, which they called "d'Edelsland". Originally there was an "s" in "Houtmansland" too, but that disappeared soon. The name "d'Edelsland", on the other hand, disappeared completely.
    • Possibly, perhaps even likely, the northwestern archipelago was seen or even passed through in March 1522 by the Spanish-Basque captain Juan Sebastián Elcano, who finished Magellan's circumnavigation. If he did, he probably neither named nor visited the islands.)
  • First European to set foot on Southmaryland was the Dutchman Willem de Vlamingh in 1696, followed a few years later by the Englishman William Dampier in 1699.
    • Willem de Vlamingh may have renamed Southmaryland (or part thereof) Nieuw Vlieland after the Northern Dutch island of Vlieland where he was born. William Dampier renamed the island Queen Mary Land after Queen Mary II of England, wive of King William III (also Stadtholder of the Netherlands), who was influential in Dampier's appointment to the navy as captain of the Roebuck.
    • If the VOC decided to explore the possibilities of establishing a base camp (for restocking etc.) at *Southmaryland (which is possible), then this would have happened around 1660. (Hence, prior to de Vlamingh's and Dampier's visits.)

(more to be added)

name

(Like everything on this page, this is not definitive yet.)

Queen Mary Land is the most important former English province/district and location of the capital. As a compromise, the country was called *Southmaryland after unification/independence (the Dutch republicans didn't accept the "queen" part), but no one really likes this name. It is still in use because all other names are liked even less. (Every few years, there is a referendum about the country's name. No name ever got more than 40% (or less?) of the votes, but *Southmaryland thus far always got most votes.

government and politics

Possibly constitutional monarchy (Queen of England), unless there is a good reason why it became a republic at some point.

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