Tanah Burung

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A once great nation is no more.

Tanah Burung is a sun-drenched tourist trap making occasional forays into world politics. The country's name means "the land of birds."

The land & people

Tropical, with lush rainforests on the coast and great mountains inland, Tanah Burung is sunny and warm throughout the year, and very wet during the monsoon. The people of Tanah Burung are known for their anarchistic spirit and their friendliness to visitors. They come from many races and cultures. Most are indigenous, coming from Malayo-Polynesian or Melanesian descent.

Provinces & politics

There are 6 autonomous states - Matebian (mountains), Burung Paradis ("bird of paradise," the densest rain forest), Loro Sae ("where the sun comes up," eastern coastal), Ukun Rasikan ("independence," central coastal), Burung-yang-membuat-dunia ("bird that created the world," western coastal), Tiga Burung ("three birds," a large offshore island). Tanah Burung is a professed anarchy which is governed on libertarian socialist principles of direct democracy. All major decisions are taken by national referendum with protections built in for minority rights and ecological conservation. There is no national capital. The collective presidency rotates among the six state capitals, each named for its province. The presidency is made up of the six provincial governors plus five elected people's representatives (ministers): foreign affairs, territorial defence & sports, social justice, economic affairs and justice. There are no political parties.

The current elected people's representatives are:

Silas Simparieff, Governor of Loro Sae, is concurrently people's representative for the environment.


Mired for decades in poverty, Tanah Burung has experienced rapid economic growth since joining the International Fair Trade Agreement. Tanah Burung's leading trade partner is its western neighbour, Eauz while important trade is carried on with other IFTA signatories in Aperin and the Non-Human Union. The economy is driven by gambling and tourism under the direction of the occasionally truthful Sunny Tanah Burung Trade and Tourism Bureau (motto: Your Dreams Made Flesh).


The land of birds

Stories tell that a great raven created the world and populated it with birds of all kinds, and then with other animals. When the birds had no place to land, the Creator Bird called up a great crocodile, and the bird rested on its back. The crocodile grew and grew over the years, until it became solid and fixed in place, and its body became the earth that is Tanah Burung. Six kelurahan (roughly, kingdoms with varying degrees of centralization) held sway over most of what is now Tanah Burung: the northern mountains of Matebian, the inland Burung Paradis (bird of paradise), the southern coastal principalities of Loro Sae, Atsabe, and Burung-yang-membuat-dunia (the bird that created the earth), and the offshore island of Tiga Burung (three birds), itself a welter of small principalities.

Early modern trade

The four maritime kelurahan came under the influence of Portuguese traders in the 16th century and absorbed many aspects of Portuguese culture, including the Catholic faith and sports like cockfighting and football (soccer) which quickly became national passions. This is why many Tanah Burung citizens have Portuguese names. (However, the language has all but died out.) The maritime areas were integrated into Portuguese-controlled international trading networks, but political control remained with local rulers (and more usually, with local village assemblies practicing consensus-based democracy). Portuguese traders were heavily resented, and many people turned to another new religion, Islam. Muslim traders offered the same economic links but were more sensitive to local concerns and less militaristic than the Portuguese. The Liurai (ruler) of Burung Paradis was the most prominent convert to Islam. Jayawarnam I named himself as the first Sultan of Burung Paradis and began to centralize the kingdom.

The colonial period

In the nineteenth century, Tanah Burung was brought under colonial rule. Traders from the Knootian East India Company first took over the island of Tiga Burung by force, and gradually began to extend their economic dominance over Tanah Burung. At the same time, coastal kelurahan came under pressure from the expanding Burung Paradis inland empire under Jayawarnam III, who brought Matebian, Loro Sae and Atsabe under his rule and weakened Burung-yang-membuat-dunia to the point where it became easy prey for the Knootians. Eventually, Tanah Burung became a colony of Knootoss. The Sultanate attempted to maintain its independence through technological borrowing and the use of foreign advisers, but was unable to do so. After the death of Jayawarnam VI, the Sultanate fell into a succession dispute. Rival claimants emerged and after Knootian intervention, the kingdom was split into three parts, based in Burung Paradis, Atsabe and Loro Sae. The court of Atsabe came under Knootian dominance and allowed the Knootians to establish their capital at a city they called New Hoorn. From here, they extended their colonial rule by stages until all of the present land of Tanah Burung was united as the Knootian East Indies, a colony owned by a European corporation.

Nationalism & revolution

Anti-colonial movements began early in the twentieth century. Rejecting the name East Indies, the nationalist movement began to teach that the colonized “natives” were in fact a single people. Tetemelayu, the language of Tiga Burung and parts of Burung-yang-membuat-dunia, was declared as the national language. (Such was the anger at the colonizers that English quickly replaced Dutch as the second language.) The country was dubbed “Tanah Burung,” the land of birds, as a sign of unity among its people. A national flag was chosen bearing the colours red for the blood of the patriots, black for the soil and the resolute spirit of the people, and yellow for the sun.

Finally, the flag of independence was raised in New Hoorn and in the Matebian mountains. The Knootians were quickly able to re-establish control of their capital, but the revolution continued from the interior. It gained the support of the Liurai of Loro Sae and the Sultan of Burung Paradis, while the Liurai of Atsabe remained loyal to the colonial rulers. (As a result, after the revolution, the Atsabe kelurahan was abolished and renamed Ukun Rasikan, which means independence.) The events around Tanah Burung Independence remain disputed, but independence was achieved under the leadership of people like Markus Rumbiak. The resistance practiced guerrilla warfare and blended in with the people who supported them almost universally as active participants in the territorial defence system. The war was too expensive, and they cut their losses, though not without great emotion. Tanah Burung was independent at last.


After gaining its independence, Tanah Burung remained in isolation for some years, building itself up. Tetemalayu became the national language, and along with English is spoken by all citizens alongside their indigenous languages. A major accomplishment was universal literacy. Education is in fact the central concern of the government. Lovefest University in Ukun Rasikan City is a world-class university and symbol of the country’s commitment to educational excellence. Gradually, democracy was built from the village level up. Six provinces were established and given extensive autonomy. Burung Paradis and Loro Sae were ruled by their traditional Liurai at first, but the struggle for internal democracy finally transformed these two into constitutional rulers. Finally, national elections were held for an 11-member collective presidency to replace the revolutionary council that had governed Tanah Burung since independence.

Third World nationalism

After emerging from colonial rule, Tanah Burung pursued an assertive Third World nationalism designed to build a bloc of poor and non-aligned countries able to stand independent from the hegemony of wealthy countries. It made common cause with other less-developed countries such as Larkinia, Hell Bovines, and Iansisle at the first Developing Nations Summit in Golden Agate, and hosted the second summit in Matebian.

Invasion and occupation

In 20xx, the armed forces of Knootoss invaded Tanah Burung on the pretext of rooting out "terrorism" by the Rumbiak Brigade. Efforts to resolve the conflict through the International Mediation Council were unsuccessful, and a guerrilla war continues to rage. A government-in-exile was established in the Commonwealth of Galdago, composed of members of the collective presidency. Peace talks are currently under way in Pantocratoria.

International Relations

Tanah Burung's foreign policy is based on the promotion of international peace and human rights (human rights is understood to mean rights for all sentient life forms). This includes an extensive network of embassies in overseas countries as well as regional neighbours. Foreign policy is directed by the elected people's representative for human rights. The first representative was Violeta Bi Bere but the office is now held by Mari Alkatiri.

International Memberships


One of the most readily evident features of the country is the almost total lack of roads. There are many footpaths through the rain forest and rice paddy, but cars are almost unknown. Only cars fuelled by natural vegetable oils are permitted, and then only in urban areas. Trasport between cities is done by walking, bicycle, on an extensive rail network connecting all major cities in Tanah Burung and Eauz, and by inter-city hot-air balloon flight. The major cities are linked by the country's famous kapal-terbang, or airships (blimps, zeppelins). Airship service also links Tanah Burung to many other countries. The only airport at which jets can land is located in Tiga Burung City. Coastal tranport is also available by regular ship between the country's four major ports and beyond via fishing-boat charter. Recently a high-speed coastal maglev line was built connecting Loro Sae, Ukun Rasikan and BYMD City.


There are three major faiths and a multitude of minor cults. The major faiths are Roman Catholicism, Islam and the Church of the Rocks and Trees, an indigenous nature religion. One Catholic diocese, led by Bishop Mangunvijaya, has begun performing same-sex marriages. As homosexual activity has been frowned on by the orthodox Catholic tradition, this practice has generated a significant amount of controversy internationally. Nevertheless, the diocese remains in communion with the Holy Vatican See for the time being. Cults tend to form around the fortunes of the nation's sports teams. They include the 24-Hour Church of Gil, the International House of Smiting, and the Church of the Holy Wombat.


Tanah Burung is a pacifist country, maintaining no navy, air force or offensive land forces of any kind, although the government-in-exile recently obtained a single Galdagan warship, the Fiermonte. Anti-aircraft and anti-missile defences are complemented by a network of surveillance balloons and unmanned stratospheric blimps and a small coast guard. A lightly-equipped army operates on a territorial warfare basis and using the principle of the "poisoned shrimp," whch admits that an armed invasion cannot be turned back but attempts to make the country impossible to govern for enemy forces. "Diplomacy is our first deterrent, unending resistance our second," as the saying goes.

An anti-colonial para-military force, the Rumbiak Brigade, is believed to operate in the jungles of Loro Sae province, without the consent of the government.


With little interest in warfare, the military devotes most of its attention to sports. Tanah Burung is active in a number of sporting competitions. It has hosted and twice won (formely a joint-record for wins with Starblaydia and Robotopolis) until Starblaydia took a third title) the Cherry Cup in ice hockey and finished second in the World Cup of football, and hosted World Cup 5 as well as the inaugural Field Hockey World Cup. Tanah Burung is the world champion of international competitive piercing, the grisly national sport of Gilmeecia.

Sentient races

Tanah Burung is composed of over four billion humans plus assorted non-humans, who enjoy full rights of citizenship. There are two non-human species: Evisceratomatoes and Giant Evil Tarantulas. There are also small resident colonies of the member races of the Non-Human Union. The government of Tanah Burung does not recognize the existence of elves: anyone believing in elves is considered to be certifiably insane and is entitled to free psychiatric care in the Hospital for the Terminally Delusional in the unfashionable end of Tiga Burung City.

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