The Friendly Empire of Casara, or, more simply, the Casaran Empire or just Casara, is an African Empire that stretches over almost the entirety of the Sahara and Sahel Deserts, as well as most of Africa’s western coast north of the equator. Its capital is at Tepitilan, in the Tamanrasset Oasis, home to an estimated 5,649,123 people, emerging as one of the world’s most important cities by the end of the 1970s.
Its chief societal qualities are its matriarchal structure and its spirit of communalism and overall equality and tolerance, qualities that have changed very little over its history. The Casarans have gained through this a reputation as the "world's friendliest people", becoming a popular tourist destination. It has also become a haven for refugees and vagabonds worldwide, and, although Casara has been able to integrate them seamlessly in their country, there are concerns it could upset the Casaran balance.
According to Casaran lore, the Empire of Casara was traditionally founded by Arges I in 1548 under the ideals of tribal communalism. Later archaeological research- especially by Roman historian Rufus Martinus- has shown that Arges was a fabrication, created to serve as a "societal role model" with Casaran communalism dating back several centuries prior to Arges’ supposed rule. Still, Casaran society lives by Arges’ principle, with each Casaran city owning all supplies imaginable, with the people only using them when they need it. Income taxes are extremely high, but only because the only thing Casarans have to pay for is entertainment- all the necessities are provided by the government. Thus, the largest industries in Casara are entertainment and tourism, with the hospitality sector providing the highest paid jobs.
Historically, it has maintained its independence save for a 148-year period from 1832 to 1970 where the French government (and later the Germans) held it as a protectorate, where it still held effective internal autonomy. Following the ouster of the Germans from its territory, it waged war with the Germans until 1970 that ousted the Germans from Africa, with Casara taking over the central third of the former colonial grouping known as “German West Africa”. Thus, the current period is held as Casara’s “Golden Age”, as the empire has become one of the world’s strongest nations economically and militarily. Due to its cultural ideology, Casara is primarily a peacemaker and a trader, very rarely engaging in offensive campaigns. Its economy is primarily resource-based due to its desert locations, although, due to its friendly reputation, tourism in places along the coast as well as in historic Timbuktou and in Tepitilan (home of weekly festivals) has also contributed greatly.
“In Casara, you are measured not by what you have but what you can do for others. They say that this makes them better than capitalists, but at least a capitalist isn’t shy about the true motivations behind their actions.”- William Dalton, Scottish historian, “The Inevitable Keynesian Empire” (1924)
At A Glance
Nation Name: The Friendly Empire of Casara
Independence or Founding Date: May 9, 1548 (traditional founding by Arges I, archaeological research suggests this date should be closer to 1562)
Population: (see list of countries by GDP)
Official Language(s): Casaran
Government Type: Constitutional Democratic Monarchy
Head of State: Empress Genera Fallang
Head of Government: Empress Genera Fallang, Chancellor Kylio Ritty
Official Religion: None
Largest Religion: Frenetas, (“Casaran Church of Happyology” in English)
Economy Type: Socialist
Currency: Casaran cram (¤) (¤100=US$1)
Summer Time: No
Calling Code: +777
Internet TLD: .ce
Maritime Boundary (nm): 24
Aircraft Registration Code: CAS
Political Rating: Liberal Socialist Republic
Military Size: 2% of the population in peace time, can reach up to 5% at wartime or higher if needed.
Military Capability Score (out of 100, rating by Worldwide Defence Trade Association (WDTA)): 100 (3rd)
Technological Innovation Score: Military (WDTA): 60/100 (average), Scientific (University poll): 100/100 (top), Other (University poll): 100/100 (top)
Economic Rating (by Standard & Poor): 100/100 (Strong) (See list of countries by GDP)
Economic Freedom Index (by Standard & Poor): 10/100 (almost near complete control of the economy by the government, very limited private practices are available)
Health Care Rating (by Doctors Without Borders): 100/100 (3rd)
Health Care System: Universal
Political Freedom Index (by Reporters Without Borders): 100/100 (top)
Drug Laws: Recreational drug trade is legal, but licensed.
Gun Control: Guns are banned in Casara except by approved personnel, such as the military and certain types of law enforcement officials
Environmental Policy Rating (by Greenpeace): 100/100 (complete attention paid to environmental concerns)
May 9, 1548: Traditional date of the foundation of Casara at Tepitilan in the Tamanrasset Oasis.
c. 1562: Actual foundation of Tepitilan, based on correspondence recovered by archaeological digs.
March-August 1694: Casaran troops enter the Niger Basin for the first time, annexing northern Niger by the end of August.
December 6, 1832: Following defeat at the Battle of Palms, Casara is made into a French protectorate.
October 31, 1941: Germans take over the French protectorate after the Fall of France.
October 5, 1970: Casaran victory at Dakar against the Germans leads to Casara reasserting its functional independence and asserting control over almost all of Africa west of Chad.
February 11, 2010: “Jubilee Festival” attracts world-record 50 million visitors on grounds west of Tepitilan.
2017: Following the electoral defeat of Psia Gdyunk due to the rise of the alt-left, Genera Fallang, the new Erad, announces intentions to join Virtue and end Casara's isolationism.
In 1547, Arges Sulumansy was on the run. She had been raised a slave at a time when the Songhai Empire, while not quite as strong as it once was, was still a place of incredible decadence. Arges despised her servitude, and rounded up more disenfranchised slaves to join her in one last stand in the desert. In 1548, they had reached the Tamanrasset Oasis, and set up camp for the ensuing battle. In May of that year, Arges and her army- a mixture of men and women who called themselves “Casaran”, the word for "friendship" in their local slave language- waged the Battle of Tamanrasset against the Songhai, finally winning on May 9. At that point, Arges founded the Casaran capital of Tepitilan (“triumph”) at Tamanrasset, and laid down the foundation of today’s Casaran Empire. At its core, Arges insisted that her and her people owned nothing and shared everything, believing that the pursuit of wealth had corrupted societies like the Songhai. It is Arges’ belief that fuels Casaran society today, with every Casaran owing a debt of gratitude to their great founder...and it all started at Tamanrasset.
Or, that’s what the Casarans would like you to believe. Archaeological research- most prominently by 19th century Roman historian Rufus Martinus, with Casaran researchers themselves confirming it- has yet to show any evidence of Casaran activity in the oasis before 1562 when, conveniently, Arges was supposedly assassinated by her daughter, Basala, for “straying from Casaran ideology.” Therefore most historians believe that Basala the Kind was actually Casara’s first erad semptor (“first citizen”, shortened to “erad” in common parlance), with evidence suggesting that Basala conjured Arges as justification for representing the Casarans in Songhai court, since Basala was likely born out of wedlock.
The Songhai, according to sources, likely simply withdrew from Tamanrasset because, at the outer edge of its territory, the area was difficult to maintain. Although sources are sketchy, the more likely scenario was that "Casara" sprang up from the locals adopting a common identity, with this unified front causing the Songhai to reconsider their activities. At the time, the Songhai were known to have brought slaves from not just all over their empire but from all over Africa to operate an ambitious program to irrigate the Sahara (a program the Casarans would continue and themselves perfect). The Songhai believed that by mixing different ethnicities together they would not coalesce into a threat, but as time wore on- the Songhai were estimated to have been in the Tamanrasset Valley for anywhere from 100-150 years- the opposite occurred. It's widely believed that the Songhai Empire, then in decline, withdrew voluntarily when this happened, which is why the Casarans created the Arges myth. Historians do believe that the rise of Casara had to do with a rejection of Songhai ideals, since their identity was that of slaves who had every reason to rebel against their masters' decadence. Evidence suggests that even from that early point in history, the Casaran system of tribal communalism was in full force, with even Basala being forbidden from actually owning anything. In such small numbers (Casara at this time was thought to have no more than 1,000 people), though, sharing resources and necessities was much easier- as the population grew, challenges to the system began to emerge.
In 1588, the Casarans faced their first test to their independence. The Mali Empire, on its last legs, sought the resources of the oasis to strengthen its hold on recalcitrant vassals, believing the small Casaran kingdom would easily succumb to their forces. However, the Malians underestimated the bond the Casarans forged, losing dramatically at the Battle of Fisher’s Bridge as the Casarans fought as a far more cohesive unit. The ensuing peace deal allowed Casara to expand into Malian territory, eventually reaching Gao by 1599.
In 1629, the Casarans had their first interactions with the French, exploring from trading posts in Senegal. At first, their interactions with the French were cordial, as the Casarans and the French became close trading partners. The Casarans also proved helpful to France in increasing their influence in sub-Saharan Africa, with the French in turn helping them enter the Niger Basin. This meant that by 1700, Casara and France shared a common border at the Niger River’s eastern half.
The 18th century saw the kingdom enjoy a period of extended peace, but towards the end, signs of trouble with the French began to brew. The Barbary Wars pushed the coastal Berbers southward, putting pressure on the new kingdom. Not long after Napoleon sent his troops southward in Algeria, culminating in the first Casaran-French conflict, the Battle of Yamaret in 1803, with the Grand Armee and its technological prowess pulling off a decisive victory. Pressures in Europe forced Napoleon to abandon the attempt at conquering Casara, but Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo would only delay the inevitable.
By 1832, the French were completing their conquest of Algeria and began to look southward. Rene Savary, the Duke of Rovigo, knew the importance of spreading French influence to the other coast of Africa, thus making Casara a target. After a long siege of Tepitilan from March to November 1832, the French decisively defeated the Casarans at the Battle of the Palms just outside of the capital. Logistical concerns prevented the French from properly establishing administrative control, but since the French found the Casarans to be “useful”, France kept the nation as simply a protectorate.
Under the French, the Casarans enjoyed local autonomy, although its defence and foreign affairs were handled by Paris. The nation was unlike its colonial neighbours around it in that its citizens were not entirely under the whims of France and had limited self-determination, but this was due to the Casarans remembering 1832 and deciding that fighting the French was fruitless instead of having any liking to its exploitative “protector”. Still, from time to time, uprisings would occur only for the French to put them down. The Casarans realized in the aftermath of the French conquest their country was behind Europe in terms of infrastructure and technology, so they determined that the only way to eventually evict the French was to learn from them.
In 1916, Camara Eshoj led a hunger strike outside of a factory protesting an increase in French taxation in Casara. Eshoj would lead a number of other civil disobedience campaigns- such as the 1922 Cactus March- that brought Casaran nationalism to the global spotlight. It is said that Indian nationalist Mahatma Ghandi would be inspired by Eshoj, although the extent of this is debatable.
Eshoj’s peaceful approach had a way of igniting passions against the French, with the rest of Western Africa prepared to join the Casarans in their struggle with France. When the Germans, under Thomas Rotler, captured Paris, the Casarans hailed the development, as Rotler had promised to restore Casaran independence. However, Rotler soon went back on his word when he realized the resource wealth of the Sahara, also noting the remoteness of the desert provided him the perfect destination for his Rotler Work Camps, a system of death camps. The Casarans thus quickly turned on Rotler as a result, with Eshoj and Ilari Guinan, who oversaw a Work Camp herself, ramping up pressure on Germany by being the first to reveal the existence of the Work Camps.
Rotler at first shot down any mention of the death camps and thoroughly denied their existence, but still resolved to stamp out the Casaran independence movement. Guinan was killed in July 1962, with a picture of her dead body- the "Unknown Woman"- being plastered all over Tepitilan as a propaganda tool against the Casarans. The Unknown Woman did its job, shocking the Casarans and stunting the independence movement. It wasn't until Atima Flack, a Khorsuni-Casaran, became General later in 1962 did the Casarans revive their independence movement for good. Buoyoed by a large contingent of Khorsuni fighters and financial assistance from Jewish businessmen in Germany, Flack raised an enormous army of Western Africans to campaign against the Germans, winning their first battle at Gao on July 13, 1967.
Flack kept the pressure on, clearing the Germans from the Sahel and the Sahara by the end of 1967, allowing them to turn their attention to the more fortified coastal cities. In January of 1968, Flack captured Niamey, which opened the door for her to attack Bamako and Abidjan. By the summer of 1968, Bamako was in Casaran hands, and by spring of 1969, Abidjan was captured. Flack then set her eyes on Dakar, which would enable the Casarans to gain an important port.
It was at this time that the instability that plagued the German Empire reared its head. Since the early 1960s, Casaran expats talked openly about Rotler's human rights abuses, which led to calls for Rotler and the Falken Party be put on trial. Those calls only intensified after the Kristallnacht, which Rotler ordered after learning several Jewish businessmen were assisting the Casarans. Eventually, support in Germany eroded completely for the Falken as a result, allowing for the easy arrests of Party officials, including Rotler. They would stand trial at the Edmonton Trials from 1968-71 with extensive worldwide interest, with all eventually convicted on December 21, 1971.
In Algeria, local administrator Hans Albrecht renounced his Falken Party membership, allowing him win control of the vast majority of German forces in West Africa. This forced Flack to abandon her plans on Dakar to face the northern threat, as Albrecht- technically the highest ranking German official- was making noises that he intended to eventually stake a claim as Rotler's successor. In the first half of 1968, surprise attacks allowed the Casarans to stunt German momentum, and by the end of 1968, the Casarans had Albrecht fleeing to Senegal, where he hoped to regroup. Sensing the tide had turned for good, Flack made her decision to march on Dakar.
However, the distances involved gave Albrecht enough time to make a few adjustments to his army and tactics, which he used to score a decisive victory over Flack outside of Kayes, momentarily stopping Casaran momentum. A further string of victories in the summer of 1969 gave Albrecht confidence to start an offensive of his own, and on August 30, he marched on Bamako.
Flack anticipated this move and used her connections in Khorsun to bolster her ranks and gain much needed supplies. She also organized "raid groups" to harass the advancing German army and any German garrisons established along the supply lines. Despite swift reprisals from the Germans, Flack had the numbers to continue to send the groups, severely disrupting the supply lines for Albrecht's group.
Faced with logistical nightmares and dwindling supplies, the Germans were repulsed at Bamako, and the Casarans didn’t look back. In October, after several skirmishes, Dakar fell to the coalition forces, and colony of German West Africa was no more, officially annexed by the Casaran Empire.
With the incorporation of German West Africa, the Casarans rechristened their Empress, erad priori cazari, or “first among friends”, acknowledging the helpfulness of the other peoples that helped it evict the French and Germans. This rechristening is held as the beginning of the Casaran Empire, with the first Empress, Arges IX, taking the inagural throne on October 31, 1970.
This move upset the Khorsunis, who believed the Casarans were “giving up too soon” and should use the opportunity to press onwards and take over Germany itself. Eshoj countered that the Khorsunis were driven by their own selfish desires and that continuing the war would be damaging. Public opinion sided with Eshoj, which prompted Lavar Sayatana, a Khorsuni nationalist, to assassinate Eshoj. The move inflamed nationalistic tensions and threatened sectarian violence. Various attempts were made to bridge the differences between the Casarans and Khorsunis but they ultimately were ineffective. On January 11, 1992, an agreement was reached where the Niger and Gambia Rivers became the dividing lines between Casara and the Khorsuni sphere of influence. An independent Senegalese republic was founded with both Casaran and Khorsuni spheres of influence, with the hopes that a federation could make the two countries work together but with both countries having different foreign policy outlooks, it was a pipe dream. After Senegalese terrorists attacked the Vatican (following the Pope's call for peace in Senegal), Rome launched an invasion of Senegal in response, annexing the country in 2013 to the joy of the Senegalese, constantly worried about Khorsuni interference, but also to Khorsun's consternation.
Afterwards, Casara spent millions restructuring its infrastructre in order to properly incorporate its new territories. The other ethnicities embraced Casara’s sense of communalism, given that most were impoverished themselves due to French and German exploitation. Reforms were still necessary due to the vast increase in territory, but by the end of the decade, Casara’s economy would stabilize.
Since independence, Casara has enjoyed immense prosperity, due in no small part to the nation’s abundant resources. They also gained a reputation for friendliness as a peacemaker during the Cold War troubles, and have maintained their role as peacemaker in today’s world in light of the renewed English-Roman rivalry, a reputation that has meant they have the greatest number of diplomatic relations worldwide.
However, since the rise of Rekhan Taneltar in Khorsun, the Casarans have been forced to acknowledge the Khorsuni threat for the first time since Eshoj's murder. This is because the previously fractured Khorsuni base has finally found a unifying force, and Taneltar has made it no secret that he intends to use it.
In 2017, Genera Fallang won a surprise electoral victory over Psia Gdyunk on the heels of alt-left populism that swept up the Casaran Empire. Fallang specifically ran on a platform to ban Nathanism just as American Confederacy President Haylie Modine did, in a bid to "end rape culture" in Casara. Gdyunk opposed it, labelling the young Fallang as a "demagogue" and calling her rhetoric "divisive", but fear held much higher sway. After her victory, Fallang began negotiating for Casara's entry into Virtue, ending Casaran policies of isolationism.
The Casaran Empire’s economy, given its desert location, is primarily resource-based, dominated by oil and natural gas. Thus, it is prone to “boom and bust” cycles, although reforms in the 1970s have gone a long way in making the Casaran economy that much more diversified.
The other major sector of the Casaran economy is tourism. Due in no small part to the coastal areas’ natural beauty and the reputation of Casaran citizens as friendly, millions of tourists visit Casara’s many attractions every month. The largest draw is the Tepitilan Jubilee Festival, held throughout the month of February, which draws an average of 30 million visitors annually, with a high of 50 million in 2010. The Nouakchott Sunrise Festival, held in the first weekend of April, rivals the Jubilee Festival, averaging four million visitors over the course of the four-day holiday.
The economic system of Casara has been described by outsiders as “socialist” due to the fact that Casarans have almost everything provided for them, but the term isn’t wholly accurate. The Casarans allow extensive privitization, with corporate tax rates that are comparable with the economies of Rome and England. Casaran citizens, though, are burdened with a 60% income tax, which can reach up to 70% based on certain wealth thresholds. This is because essentials such as housing, food, education, medical services, public transport, clothing, utilities and the like are provided for the people completely free of charge, with the government going out of its way to provide services of good quality. The responsibilities of provision fall to the urban centres, which collect the taxes (a portion of which goes to the central government). Citizens, though, are permitted to purchase some items the government could provide for them anyway, such as clothes or a car, although, in practice this is rarely done.
Workers who provide municipal services- such as food creators (except in specialized contexts), maintenance personnel (for municipal structures), hospital workers, and law enforcement officers- are exempt from taxes, though their pay is provided at a point where their "take home pay" is competitive to those in other countries, where those workers would get taxed.
Unemployment is practically non-existent, due to government placement programs and the option for citizens to register themselves as "independent contractors", which is the classification used for those who work in the arts. Abuse of this system is rather high, since it is not required for one to prove that they are actually "producing work", though local governments- through their placement programs- can investigate cases of abuse and force abusers into another line of work, deporting them to another jurisdiction if need be.
Casara is a constitutional monarchy, with the Empress, or “Erad” in local parlance, elected via a direct vote. The citizens also directly elect the provincial governors as well as their municipal mayor. The leaders then appoint their own ministers to assist them, with the Casaran Constitution outlining the jurisdiction for each level of government (with undefined roles left to the Erad). Their powers are essentially restricted to that of a veto, except when a "national emergency" is declared (which can only be done via plebiscite), as all laws passed by Casara- at any level- must gain a majority of votes from its citizens. The laws are vetted through the Casaran Constitution, which protects the central rights of Casaran life (including communalism), and each level of government has oversight through judiciary committees, which are also directly elected by the people (with the highest court being the Casaran Imperial Oversight Court, or ECO from its Casaran language acronym). The judiciary has no legislative power of its own, but it does have the power to strike down unconstitutional laws on its own accord, or if enough subjects at that level of government ask for a review of the law via a plebiscite.
Administratively, the Casaran Empire is divided into 7 provinces:
-Central Sahara (cap. Adrar)
-Mali (cap. Timbuktu)
-Mauritania (cap. Nouakchott)
-N Chad (cap. Kebir)
-Cyrene (cap. Benghazi)
-Fezzan (cap. Sabha)
-Tamanrasset (cap. Tepitilan)
The capital of Casara is Tepitilan, which was the name of the Tamanrasset Oasis to the Casarans before they arrived in the area via the Berbers. An Islamic court exists in Adrar to cater to the Casaran Muslims, although its decisions are still subject to Casaran law and the Casaran Constitution.
The Casarans have their own unique language and culture, cultivated and evolving over the years with the influences of other cultures it interacted with in its history, such as the Berbers or the Tuareg. Politically, the Casarans generally lean socially very liberal (even amongst its Muslim population) due to its history of multiculturalism and communalism, although abortion continues to be a divisive issue.
At the root of Casaran culture is the fact their societal structure is matriarchal. Lineage is determined from the mother's side, and women dominate most sectors of society, including almost all decision-making roles. The only sectors of society where men play a primary role are those where there is heavy labour, such as in a factory, although there are still considerable amounts of women in those roles as well. However, gender inequality- or any kind of discrimination- is not an issue in Casara and never had been, as Casarans have always believed that marginalization goes against communalism. Thus, while a Western observer might believe that a Casaran man would have a hard time becoming a decision maker in Casaran society, the Casaran man never believes it, since there would be no stigma if it were to happen (nor a law forbidding it) and, though not a common occurrence, it can and has happened in the past.
Casarans are known for their sunny disposition and friendliness, with people opening their homes to complete strangers- even tourists- being not uncommon. Casarans are very affectionate in general, greeting each other with a hug, even someone they are meeting for the first time, with people who are closer to each other might kiss each other on the cheeks. Friends- even if they are both male- are known to hold hands with each other without any sexual connotations, although those not in a relationship do not interlock the fingers.
It is considered rude to ignore someone you know when passing by them in a setting like a hallway or the streets, unless one is in a hurry. When entertaining guests or simply meeting someone’s guests for the first time, it is considered improper to ignore a guest, and one must start from the oldest and proceed to the youngest.
Grudges in Casara are also extremely frowned upon, as anger in general is seen to build up one’s negative energy. Too much negative energy is believed to cause hardship later in life and in the afterlife, so if one wants to avoid the hardships, they must atone for their misdeeds and commit acts of kindness. Kindness, on the other hand, is said to build positive energy that rewards the person later in life. Forgiveness also builds this energy, meaning Casarans are expected to “turn the other cheek” in most situations, with the only allowance being if one needs to defend themselves from further harm.
Alcohol and other recreational drugs are legal in Casara and are prevalent at its many festivities, but one can only purchase such items from government-run stores. It is also illegal to be intoxicated at work or while operating any kind of heavy machinery.
Owing to its communal nature, it is considered a taboo to be a “hermit” and refuse to engage in social activity. The only reason one can give for staying at home is if they are tired from working or if they have chores to finish at home, otherwise the expectation in Casaran culture is that one mingles with the rest of society. Thus, “hermits” are looked upon with greater suspicion than they may be in Rome or Britain
Nudity and Sexuality
Casarans have no cultural taboos against public nudity, owing to its Saharan roots, with the practice of nudity and toplessness being widely accepted across Casaran culture. Nudity- of both genders- is quite prevalent in Casaran art, advertisements and other forms of media, with Casarans not at all thinking twice about its presence. Nudity is more widely practiced in coastal areas and oases where the humidity and heat make it more comfortable for one to shed their clothes, whereas in desert areas nudity is less common as it is more practical there to dress in layers.
Because of Casara's openness about nudity, they are also quite open about discussing and displaying sexuality, of all forms across all kinds of media. Casarans are not afraid to discuss sexuality and sexual topics in casual conversation, and can be quite frank about the topic. The Casarans' openness can be quite jarring to foreigners, as their views are often in stark contrast to the cultural practices elsewhere in the world.
The Casarans' openness has also led to foreign depictions of the country where the people are seen as particularly exotic and erotic, with some depictions suggesting that Casarans are sexually "available" and aggressive. While Casarans have no qualms about casual sex, it is a misconception to assume a Casaran will have sex with literally anyone. This misconception can have harmful consequences for Casarans traveling abroad, as they find law enforcement agents are less likely to believe their claims of sexual assault and rape when they are reported.
The Casarans have their own religion. It is thought their practices evolved from a previous sub-Saharan grouping that has since gone extinct, but research on this topic is still ongoing. Thus, their language is unique as are many of their other rituals. There are no formal gathering times required, but Casarans are still expected to salute the gods (most of which are actually goddesses, and the salute one does towards a god or a goddess depends on the activity) before partaking in an activity and are expected to visit one of the many temples for Resto, the goddess held to “inspire” Arges I, and pray to her. Thus, Casaran parlance is full of many different salutations and sayings and it is not uncommon to hear them uttered in daily discourse.
One of the more unique aspects of Casaran religion is their funeral ritual. Upon someone’s death, the Casarans believe one transfers to another lifeform, with that transfer based upon their conduct as a human. Creatures such as birds, owing to the freedom of air and the proximity to the heavens, are seen as favourable creatures to turn into, while creatures such as fish, owing to the restrictiveness of swimming and the proximity to the underworld, are seen as undesirable. Most of the time, the creature selected is a bird, although at the funeral of convicted killers it is more common for fish to be used. Thus, you will see at a funeral the skeleton of the desired lifeform (the skeletons now being made synthetically) hanging above the casket, with prayers being said to implore the gods to transform the dead person into the desired creature. The skeleton is then taken down and brought to a room that only the priest is allowed into. This room connects to the back of the temple, with doors that open to the outside. These doors are connected to a bell, which rings when the doors are opened. According to lore, after the skeleton is brought into the room it is actually transformed into the intended creature which is then promptly released, although in practice it is just stored in a special box with the doors opening to air. Sometimes an actual creature, held in a cage, is used to mimic the transformation by having it released into the wild, but settings and the particular temple’s finances may not allow for that to happen. Once the release is finished, a party celebrating the deceased person’s life begins, which oftentimes lasts into the night.
Casarans are known for their entertainment, with numerous different kinds of festivals and musical tastes being found across the Empire, with the year filled with events. Of particular note is the “Jubilee Festival” in Tepitilan, which runs for the entire month of February and is designed to be a celebration of Casara’s many different cultures. Sports is also a favourite pastime of Casarans, with soccer overwhelmingly at the top of the list.
The Casaran criminal justice system is remarkably different than those that exist in other countries. The main difference is that Casara does not maintain a traditional police force, either at the national or local level. Instead, local authorities may choose to hire groups of individuals known as "peacekeepers". The peacekeepers have only one job, and that is to observe their assigned neighbourhoods and respond to distress calls, although the peacekeepers have leniency to intervene if they believe a distressed person is unable to call for assistance. Peacekeepers are not allowed into private establishments except when requested, and are required by law to stay until the requesting party states they no longer need their services. Typically peacekeepers are unarmed and are trained in deescalation techniques to prevent the use of non-lethal force, though if an armed force is required, members of the Army can be called in.
For crimes that require an investigation- such as murder, theft, harassment or sexual assault- the Casaran Department of Justice provides a network of investigators who can be called upon known as the Detectives' Association. Membership is open to anyone, though members must still be approved by the Department of Justice. Local municipalities pay for the Detectives through local taxation, and because Detectives are paid for by the government, their pay is exempt from taxes. Law prohibits citizens from paying for Detectives out of their own pocket, and the Department of Justice has auditing powers to curtail abuse.
Once hired, Detectives investigate the crime that has been alleged, keeping the citizen regularly updated on its progress. Cases may only be closed by the citizen, though if a Detective recommends a case be closed, typically the citizen will accede to this request.
After the information has been collected, citizens then present their case to a magistrate, who is also paid by the government. The magistrate then reviews the evidence and interviews any witnesses that accuser names in their case. Should the magistrate feel the case is compelling (and many times they do), the magistrate can order the accused party to answer the charges at a hearing. The accused do have a right to hire a lawyer to assist in defending their case or represent themselves if they so choose, but if the accused opt for representation, they can request government assistance to pay for it. The accused is given the right to examine the evidence and provide counter-arguments to the evidence, calling on witnesses if need be.
Following the review of the evidence and its counter-arguments, the magistrate then makes a ruling on the merits of the case. Rulings do not have to be "either-or" propositions- the magistrate can determine that only some parts of the case require compensation and thus orders that this compensation be made. Usually judgements are made for monetary compensation, though magistrates can order those who are convicted to attend rehabilitation services or to provide 100% taxed work to the government. Only in rare cases are criminals sent to prison, with prisons being built and maintained only to house the most dangerous of offenders.
Contrary to popular belief, the Casaran legal system observes the policy that the defendant is "innocent until proven guilty", but, because magistrates are given broad sentencing powers (allowing them to convict a defendant on a different charge than what was alleged), Casaran conviction levels are much higher than in other countries. Critics assert this places undue burdens on the defendants to defend themselves against crimes they didn't know they committed, as well as allowing magistrates to abuse their powers, as there are several cases where magistrates "fished" for a conviction out of non-existent evidence. The Casaran legal system allows for appeals though a body known as the Appeals Board, but the Board- whose standard of evidence is extremely high- rarely grants appeals, especially to the defendants.
Automobile ownership in Casara is severely limited by law, as the only people allowed to own vehicles are those who require it for their business (such as a landscaper) or those who frequently travel outside of the country (such as a trucker or diplomat). Thus, the public transportation system in Casara is extensive, with coverage in every city and town in the Empire. High speed trains are utilized between the major urban centres, with more conventional buses running in smaller locales. Public transportation is run by the central government under the Casaran Transport Authority. A zone-based fare system exists, with the cost of travelling in one zone similar to rates of travel in cities such as London or Toronto.
Casara is home to several international airports, the busiest of which are in Nouakchott and Tepitilan, as well as numerous seaports along the coast. Immigration
A visa is required to enter the country, whether as a tourist or as an immigrant, although restrictions vary depending on the individual’s income. Visitors with documented proof of decent income are less vetted than those who are struggling, with individuals wishing to invest in Casara and provide jobs being given almost free reign to enter providing there is a need for the service in the Casaran economy. Visitors subject to deportation are given a lifetime ban on returning to Casara, with those found to have overstayed their visit being given immediate deportation, with manhunts for overstayers being treated the same as those for serious offenders. The strict policy on immigration has been criticized many times in its history, although the Casaran government maintains that it requires the strict policy in order to ensure that the costs of providing goods to Casarans stays as low as it can be- if the Casarans have too many “freeloaders” this would drive up the costs. Deportations can be challenged on appeal, though.