The Commonwealth of Wellon
This article was collated by Dan Hebditch and is mostly based on and includes work from Dave Wilkinson's original Wellon article as well as original work by Dan Hebditch. Additional ideas have come from Bryn Monnery, Scott Ash, David Gillon as well as the other members of the Tirane list. Mapping is by Dave Malesevich. The Wellon flag is by Andy Goddard.
It was our first two hours in Point Sterling, the teeming, southernmost city of Wellon. As our airship Lady Jane Grey had come in to 'Hill 101' (as the locals cynically called the accident prone airship port at Onslow Island) we received a marvellous view over the city. Its towering buildings loomed high over us on the approach, some reaching up from the very water itself. Around and sometimes inside the city a myriad of boats, junks, liners, supertankers and warships plied their way through this one of the busiest of ports on Tirane. Agile amphibious aircraft took off, bouncing across the wake filled harbours. Many of our fellow tourists remarked how much more Point Sterling reminded them of Hong Kong than did Tunghu, the real 'New Hong Kong'.
On the ground the ground in amongst the ultra-modern skyscrapers the resemblance was even more marked. The city was a modern day Babel with seemingly all languages and none being spoken, often at the same time. Glaring old fashioned neon competed with state of the art holograms to grab our attention whilst the tall Scots-Cantonese tour guide (officially accredited with the Wo Xing Lok triad to ensure our safety, or so he claimed) took great pleasure in pointing out the numerous yellow and purple signs advertising pleasure houses to our scandalised Mormon triple from Utah.
Good looking stylish people strode through the throng virtually all chattering away on various personal communicators or fiddling with data input devices. However at the same time migrant workers from the Southern Archipelago clustered at the sides of the streets running ad-hoc stalls selling knock off goods, cut price 'cultural artefacts' or were simply begging.
We then moved on to the main drag of Raffles Street where the Point Sterling Met had cordoned off the thoroughfare so the WBC could record some scenes for their long running 'Inspector Singh' trid series. Most of our party were fans of the programme and so watched enthralled for 15 minutes hoping for a glimpse of Kirpval Singh or Jeanne-Marie Li. Our vigil was interrupted by a short burst of small arms fire, which we all took for part of the filming until we were battered out of the way by a pair of fleeing Biafran gunmen swiftly followed by a cluster of plain clothes Mountain Gurkha tactical policemen. Police sirens began to wail throughout the nearest streets. A boy's high pitched screaming rose from the trailers on the set.
Our guide helped us back to our feet and laughed off our shock. 'Looks like the Ten Fingers Clan are having an artistic disagreement with the San Yee On again. Welcome to Point Sterling!'
The Commonwealth of Wellon is one of the major nations of Tirane and the largest independent state on that world. Wellon was a British colony for much of its existence and even today its head of state is the Queen of the British Isles. However Wellon has enjoyed home rule since 2241 and gained complete autonomy in 2277, although links with Britain remain close. Wellon is a stable, economically powerful state with an increasing sense of its own cultural identity both on Tirane and in wider terms.
However not all is rosy, social divisions between rich and poor remain manifest, whilst the southern part of this vast nation is tainted by corruption and criminal syndicates. Political divisions also exist with republicans and Tiranistas demanding an acceleration of the process of breaking links with the mother country. Also Wellon now has a substantial military force, the Wellon Expeditionary Force, fighting against the Kafers on the French Arm and an increasing number of dead and wounded soldiers as well as politicised veterans are returning home to Alpha Centauri.
Wellon's population has not just been drawn from the British Isles but from throughout the Commonwealth of Nations and from other allied states. Consequently Wellon has a population of great cultural diversity and depth, yet with the exception of the Lion Cape area has largely escaped large scale racial prejudice. Wellon's population and economic strength has already exceeded that of Britain, and has earned itself the tag of 'the New America' in some quarters. As Wellon approaches its first 150 years of existence it remains to be seen what niche this powerful young state will carve for itself in human
Wellon is located on an island continent five major and hundreds of smaller islands located in the northern part of Tirane's eastern hemisphere that runs from the North East to the South West. The main body of the continent is divided into two by the narrow Albion Straits which separate the larger southern island called New Albion from the smaller, northerly New Scotland. The whole area is collectively known as the Tiralbion.
To the north of New Scotland there are a number of smaller islands leading all the way to the North Polar continent and the Wellonic holdings around the mining town of Pendelton and the city of Knightsbridge. Largest of these islands is New Highland which despite of, or perhaps because of, its cold and somewhat bleak climate has been heavily settled by a mixed population of Scots (including Gaelic speaking communities) and Scandinavians.
The island of New Albion has far more diverse fauna than its northern neighbours with the south of the island dominated by the Equatorial Rain forest. Just to the north of the rain forests there is a region of extensive Savannah which gradually becomes drier as it merges into the desert known locally as the Blight. North of the Blight as the climate becomes gradually wetter are located the main farmlands of the country around the cities of New Birmingham and Victoria on the North Albion Plain. Often referred to as the 'Heart of Wellon' is the densely populated Cam River Valley that stretches across the east of the country and is the site of four major cities.
Below: General Map of Wellon (click to enlarge)
2137 - ESA unmanned starship arrives and surveys Alpha Centauri system, and drops ESA flag package lodging ESA's claim to the system.
2137 - First ESA team lands on Tirane
2139-2143 - ESA survey party orbits the planet for four years, and makes more manned landings, to survey and reassert their claim.
2142 - First ESA team initial survey of the Tiralbion..
2153 - British scientific team (BACS) lands for in-depth survey of Tiralbion.
2162 - Alpha Centauri War
2166 - British Alpha Centauri Station established.
2167 - Settlement of New Camelot initiated
2169 - Foundation for Practical Knowledge formed at New Camelot from the roots of members of the Royal Society, Royal Geographical Society and other intellectuals. The first Chair is Professor A F Ashton FRGS, the leader of the original BACS survey team.
2169 - Settlement of Dartmoor
2170 - Settlement of New Birmingham
2171 - Settlement of Victoria
2187 - Formation of New Scotland, North Albion and South Albion. Under the British Tirane (Government) Act. Assemblies established in each area, MP's from each area also sit in the UK Parliament. Colonist requirements loosened and first waves of under prepared colonists arrive, eventually to result in increased crime and banditry.
2191 - First high speed inter-city railways built in North Albion.
2193 - Hawking Station replaces original BAC Station, still referred to as BAC Station.
2194 - First discovery of the 'Southern Problem'. Ilegal immigration through the Neuvas Malvinas to the south coast of the Tiralbion. First deployments of paramilitary police and military units to the area.
2200 - Discovery and first exploitation of widespread petrochemical resources in the south.
2202 - Start of short-lived 'dumping' policy of forced movement of asylum seekers from Britain to Wellon. Soon overwhelmed by numbers of people seeking free emigration to Tirane.
2205 - First major settlements of New Highland.
2209 - Agreement with the Netherlands government sees the start of the Doorn settlement in the Cam Valley.
2214 - Start of Tax Revolt in New Highland.
2241 - Dominion of Wellon formed from three settlements, Wellon (Government) Bill passed giving substantial autonomy to new Wellon Assembly meeting in New Camelot. The unsatisfactory practise of 'absentee MP's' abandoned. Royal Wellon Constabulary formed from British Tirane Police. (BAC Station not included in Bill)
2259 - Wellon establishes an official settlement at Knightsbridge on the North Polar continent and begins mineral exploitation. This causes considerable diplomatic repurcussions in the relationship with Tirania which also claims that area.
2275 - The British Government attempts to put limits on non-British immigration to Wellon in the so called 'June Madness'. Caused the fall of the UK government and assured the final political independence of Wellon.
2277 - Wellon (Home Rule) Bill passed. Whilst still economically and militarily linked to the UK, the Wellon Parliament now has complete control over its own affairs. Commonwealth of Wellon formed. (BAC Station not included in Bill).
2293 - Under Prime Minister Singh Wellon extends diplomatic and privately offers military support to Freihafen/Garten in their dispute with Germany.
2300 - The present day.
The nation now known as Wellon was founded officially in 2167 with the establishment of the first colonial settlement of New Camelot on the banks of the River Cam. However the first permanent presence on the continent of Tiralbion was made up of the members of the long term exploration team of the British Alpha Centauri Survey. Under the command of Professor Anne Ashton the BACS team arrived in 2153 and set up their main base at Cook's Town (now a district of New Camelot.)
The BACS team conducted their missions and slowly expanded, exploring increasingly large areas, starting to prepare for the colonisation effort that was to follow. The path that Wellon eventually followed was very much shaped by the members of the BACS and their actions in the early years. The first colonisation wave was planned for 2164 but the hostilities of the Alpha Centauri War pushed back this timetable. It wasn't until 2167 when the British Alpha Centauri orbital station was completed and the preliminary colonial infrastructure in place that colonisation began.
Initially only at New Camelot, but later at a number of other sites scattered around Wellon, colonists from Earth began to fill up the countryside at a remarkably rapid rate, nearly 100,000 colonists arrived in the first year. All of these colonies had to pass stringent tests at first and were all highly trained before leaving Earth in the requirements of survival on Tirane. This policy was very successful and continues to be standard British practise to this day. Nevertheless a change in government resulted in a move to force mass emigration measures through parliament, resistance to this measure was one of the key reasons behind the formation of the Foundation for Practical Knowledge.
In the early years each of the settlements, New Camelot, New Birmingham, Victoria and Dartmoor and their satellites were independently governed by a Commissioner appointed by the Colonial Office and reporting back to Parliament. As memories of the Alpha Centauri War were still fresh, substantial garrisons of British soldiers were deployed to the colony, and many soldiers chose to stay on world rather than return to Earth when their contracts expired. By the early 2180's the success of the settlements was undeniable, the populations were beginning to spread out around the colonies and new hubs were due to be opened.
It was decided to change the method of government in the colony. The colony was to be divided into three geographical areas, North Albion, South Albion and New Scotland and each was to be run by a Governor responsible back to the UK. Elected assemblies in each region were established to advise the Governor, and each region would elect a number of Members of Parliament (numbers dependent on population) that would sit in the House of Commons. In a more controversial measure several notables in the settlements were ennobled and thus entitled to sit in the House of Lords. A national paramilitary police force was also to be created.
These measures were contained in the British Tirane (Government) Act that received Royal Assent in 2187. However the act also lessened the previously stringent requirements required to emigrate. This resulted in a wave of under-prepared and occasionally unwilling colonists being disgorged into British Tirane society. Whilst many of these new colonists thrived and prospered some fell by the wayside, without a social security safety net many turned to crime. Banditry in the countryside was not unknown before this, but in some places became an epidemic which required military intervention. Crime in the cities often brought about a brutal response from the newly formed British Tirane Police.
Despite these problems the settlements had developed beyond mere self-sufficiency. Most major cities had thriving economies and a supporting array of towns and agricultural areas, consumer goods were becoming more common. Trade had now begun, especially along the coast of North Albion and along the Cam Valley. The first inter-city railway was beginning to be constructed in the north.
The Southern Problem
In the mid-2190's a further problem came to light, the South of New Albion was largely un-populated with only smallish scientific based settlements at Livingstone and in the Rain Forest. However a team from the FPK discovered a settlement of refugees from the Indian sub-continent on the southern coast, further reconnaissance by the military turned up many other settlements populated by refugees of many nationalities. Investigation soon revealed that these desperate people had entered Tirane through the failing Argentine colony on the Nuevas Malvinas islands. The refugees were desperate to flee Earth to reach the 'Eldorado' of Tirane and were willing to pay to do so. The inhabitants of the Nuevas Malvinas had been largely abandoned by Argentina but still had the backing of INAP, so they were willing to take the money of the refugees and send them on elsewhere. This wave of illegal colonists would also be their revenge on the ESA nations who were complicit in the failure of the main Argentine colony of Santa Maria.
The British and South Albion governments were at a loss to what to do about the illegal settlements, so a form of benign neglect grew up, although a military base was established at Vectis Nova off the Sterling Peninsular. The military could monitor the influx of refugees but had no mandate to turn them back or stop them landing, although after a series of unexplained explosions in the ports of Nuevas Malvinas, privately owned rather than government ships moved the refugees. Diplomatic protests brought Anglo-Argentine relations to an even lower level than their traditional simmering hostility. A small settlement was started on the edge of the Sterling Peninsular by a group of Cantonese colonists to provide services to Vectis Nova, that would eventually become the major city of Point Sterling.
Two things changed at the turn of the century that dramatically effected the situation in the south. One was the discovery of rich petrochemical deposits in the Great Bay area and southern coast. The other was the policy of the Conservative Party government of the day in the United Kingdom to give refuge to all asylum seekers to the United Kingdom, but only if they emigrated to Tirane. This essentially racist policy designed to please 'Little Englanders' backfired when a flood of asylum seekers arrived in British ports and airports. The Government responded by dumping them on Tirane, the South Albion government responded in turn by dumping most of them onto the south coast.
Many of the refugees did their best to make their situation bearable, but groups from the more established settlements sometimes preyed upon them. In addition the presence of shipping removing the petrochemical riches from the area gave rise to piracy in some communities. When this situation came to light, thanks to exposes in the Victorian, the policy came to a rapid halt. The South Albion government attempted to bring the communities properly into the fold, but their actions were resented by many of the people of the region. Military intervention against the piracy brought about further resentment, although managed to cure the region of the worst excesses.
Despite, and often unaware of, the problems happening in the far south of the continent life in the colony began to loose its frontier quality. Whilst New Camelot had always maintained impressive cultural assets due to its place as the first settlement and de-facto capital in addition to the presence of the FPK and several major educational establishments. Now other cities began to launch their own cultural institutions and improvement programmes. In a neo-Victorian spirit of self-improvement the major settlements undertook a wave of construction and establishment, financed principally by both local government and philanthropic donations by those early colonists who had made their fortunes.
This took the form of the neo-classical Town Hall in New Birmingham, the Black Library of Victoria and the first Colleges of the Cameron University to name but a few. Schools, libraries, theatres, galleries, sports grounds, churches, temples and monuments all were constructed at this time. Often cities would vie with each other to produce the greatest civic improvements. It was also at this time that the first regional sporting competitions began to grow up, previously due to economic constraints most sports leagues were confined to cities and their surrounding areas. Now regional leagues were set up, inter-regional competitions established. The British Lions rugby tour of the colony in 2203 was seen as a sign that the colony was finally achieving sporting maturity.
In addition to the cultural flowering of the original settlements new areas were being opened up to colonisation. Hardy pioneers moved onto the relatively barren New Highland, whilst the Livingstone Peninsular was developed after being subjected to a lengthy and ultimately successful planning process by the FPK The FPK and other scientific and exploratory groups continued to make many and profound discoveries about the nature of the colony and its native life. Indeed the city of New Cleckheaton was established initially as a scientific base for exploration of the Rain Forest.
In 2193 the original orbital British Alpha Centauri Station was replaced by the much larger and more permanent Hawking Station. Hawking Station in addition to the usual personnel and cargo transit facilities also included large living quarters and scientific facilities, ship repair facilities and a naval base HMS Dare. The station has expanded several times since its construction, and now is also home to one of the major British shipyards. In addition to building many warships here the station also hosts most of the Royal Space Navy's flight testing and experimental work.
The British had always had a relatively open and forward looking immigration policy, allowing immigration to the colony to any citizen of the Commonwealth providing they passed certain requirements, the stringency of which declined over time. This meant that the population mix of the colony was often eclectic. Those from the British Isles mixed with Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Azanians, as well as others from a scattering of countries. As part of agreements within the ESA countries some French, mostly from the Northern departements of metropolitan France, and Bavarian citizens also settled in the colony. Traditional Anglo-American links also brought some Anglophile Americans to the colony either direct from the US or via Tirania in the years of that colony's corporate mismanagement.
As the major colonising powers began to develop their own colonies non-British immigration began to come more from the other parts of the commonwealth. British Asians had been prominent in the early years of the colony's establishment, and had especially made a success from the initially unpromising New Birmingham settlement. They paved the way for relations from the war torn sub-continent to move out the colony, which would also be reinforced by occasional waves of refugees fleeing that area's wars. British Caribbean and African communities brought about similar increase of colonists from those areas.
The British government itself concluded several agreements with other nations for the establishment of enclaves within Wellon. Some of these were concluded easily, the agreement with the Netherlands over the foundation of Doorn in particular. Others were less easy, in spite of large numbers of individual Norwegians, Danes and Swedes colonists on Wellon agreements with the newly formed Scandinavian Union proved almost impossible to reach and discussions foundered. Other nations lacked the resources, or wanted to avoid the loss of prestige involved in admitting they could not found their own colony, to found an official enclave and instead large numbers of colonists settled in the same area and formed unofficial settlements. Most complex was the deal with Arabia founding the city of Masira for many of that nation's Omani rebels.
In 2241 modern Wellon was founded with the passage of the Wellon (Government) Act. This created the single Dominion of Wellon from the former New Scotland, North Albion and South Albion settlements with an elected Wellon Assembly meeting in New Camelot. A single Governor General was still appointed by Britain, but was a Wellon citizen more often than not. The Wellon Assembly had substantial powers over the Wellonese economy and over home affairs, only Wellon's foreign and defence policy remained in the hands of Britain.
Other reforms included a re-jigging of regional government, New Scotland remained but North and South Albion disappeared. North Albion became West New Albion, but most importantly South Albion was split in two. East New Albion included the Cam Valley communities and the whole northern part of the region. South New Albion was created to oversee those southern communities that had grown up and had been largely overlooked by the old regional government. The formation of South New Albion was vital for the growth of the region and was a major factor in the calming of a fractious region, although the south remains culturally very different to the rest of Wellon to this day.
The Wellon (Government) Act also changed Wellon's relationship with the United Kingdom in a more fundamental way. The old system of Wellonese MP's sitting in Westminster was abandoned, it had long been condemned as unworkable and the MP's as 'absentees', condemned by the influence peddling of a few as corrupt. Although Wellonese nobles still sat in the House of Lords the last direct institutional links had been broken. The British parliament could no longer vote on Wellonese domestic policies and neither could Wellonese vote on British affairs. It was the first concrete proof that Britain expected Wellon to gain complete political independence sooner rather than later.
This was a controversial move amongst certain political parties who believed the Anglo-Wellon Union should be 'eternal and immovable'. However it was a recognition that Wellon's population had now surpassed that of the United Kingdom and fewer than half of those were British or had British ancestry. Wellon was a growing giant whose potential power was as yet unknown. Prevailing British opinion was that that power was best exploited by close economic, cultural and diplomatic links. Rather than by constantly recasting a close political relationship based on legislation every five years or so. So far the synergistic relationship between Britain and Wellon has proved this train of thought right.
The last major reform was the reorganisation of the British Tirane Police to become the Royal Wellon Constabulary. The RWC differed from its paramilitary predecessor by concentrating much more on its role as a national police force rather than as an arm of the military. The change of name was a symbolic one, representing in its own way another advance of Wellon's maturity. The Wellon defence forces also came into being, taking units from the old territorial defence forces, the British Army's Wellon raised auxiliaries and by creating new units. Although still largely led by British soldiers and supported by British regular units it was a the start of a national defence force.
The creation of the Dominion had many differing effects. Some resented the removal of power from local regions, this was especially noticeable in the North Albion cities. However most celebrated the success story they had worked so hard for and the nation experienced a surge of nationalistic spirit.
Wellon continued to develop with the cities of New Cleckheaton and Knightsbridge either being founded and developing into true cities. Knightsbridge became something of a test for the new Dominion as the settlement and the nearby mines it supported were actually located on the continent claimed by the American colony of Tirania. The American colony however had never really been the success of that some of the others had been and the area around Knightsbridge had never been explored or settled. American complaints were the subject of diplomatic interventions in the nascent Tirane Council which eventually came down in favour of the Wellonese who continued to develop the settlement. The situation still remains one which inflames Tiranian opinion and is the biggest bone of contention between the two colonies.
The period of Dominion saw a real economic boom in Wellon. Trading links had been firmly established with the other colonies on Tirane. The Wellonese had always relied on the seas for food, but now a substantial merchant marine also began to develop with Wellonese registered ships being found in every port on Tirane. This economic development also saw the last major surge in colonial immigration as new workers were needed for factories and farms across the Dominion.
This increase in mostly non-British immigration brought the Wellonese into their final direct conflict with British politics as the British government of the day (in response to pressures within their own party) attempted to put limits on Wellonese immigration. Although allowed in terms of the Wellon (Government) Act it was seen by the Wellonese and the British political opposition as an unwarranted intrusion into Wellonese affairs. This so-called 'June Madness' of 2275 was only ever a political dispute but it cut the ground away from the moderate Unionists in Britain and Wellon who had hoped that the last reform of the Anglo-Wellon Union had been conducted in 2241. The British government was forced to back down and lost the general election the next year.
In 2277 the new British government passed its final piece of Wellonese legislation, the Wellon (Home Rule) Act. This freed Wellon of any lingering political control from Britain whilst retaining her cultural and economic links. The Wellon Assembly became the new Lower House of the Wellon Parliament and a unique Upper House was formed. The British Monarch was remain as the Wellonese Head of State represented by the Governor General, but as in the UK the Monarch was simply a figurehead and symbol of national continuity. Wellon gained control of her own foreign and defence policy and became the Commonwealth of Wellon.
In real terms however little change actually took place. Although many Wellonese politicians made a big deal out of the change most of the population were relatively unmoved as practical effects on their everyday lives were few and far between. Instead the formation of the Commonwealth was simply a measure that most Wellonese expected. Some politicians tried to re-write history by saying that theirs was the first colony to gain its independence, neatly ignoring tiny Tanstaafl that had been independent since the 2250's. Most believed a final constitutional settlement had been reached, although minorities put forward moves towards a republic and others a total renouncing of likes with Britain and Earth. These views have not gained any major support however.
Wellon slowly began to emerge on the Tiranean diplomatic scene under the leadership of Oliver Singh, Prime Minister for most of the 2280's and early 90's. Singh was a canny and astute politician who had cut his teeth in West New Albion politics before being elected to the Wellonese Parliament. At first Wellon's new position was regarded with suspicion, some states notably French Nouvelle Provance refused to believe anything had changed. Others saw Wellon as a threat, Tiranian Unionists in particular worried that a successful independent state on Tirane would encourage Tirania to declare independence. Some radical Wellonese-Americans even suggested that Wellon should 'buy out' the American government and take control of Tirane as a new region of Wellon. This is very much a minority opinion but one that continues to alarm some Tiranians.
Singh neatly balanced his role-playing off his nation's British links when needed and whilst being willing to show his Wellon credentials when the time was right. Singh was a quiet populist, it was his idea to have the then Princess of Wales become Wellon's Governor General, whilst reinforcing Wellon's links with the other British colonies. It was at his prompting that Wellon developed plans for a possible colony in the Chinese or American Arm. Singh was an able statesman who defined the 'new' Wellon as much as Anne Ashton defined the first settlements of the Tiralbion. Until his retirement in 2295 he was a leading figure in the Commonwealth of Nations, setting the standards for Wellon's involvement in human affairs.
The Kafer War has become the major issue for the new state, as she takes her first military steps alongside the British. Domestically Wellon is still growing with a stable economy, and even though there are difficulties in some regions the coherence of Wellon as a nation is strong. It's future is bright.
Wellon one of the largest economies off Earth, with a per capita GDP slightly over the Terran standard, and only Freihafen rivals it as an independent colonial state. The size of the country and the geology of the area means that natural resources are plentiful. Wellon's membership of the British Commonwealth and the Sterling Bloc give it access to off-world markets denied to Freihafen, the other major independent nation on Tirane.
Wellon has a population of 212 million people, of which over 98% of adults are educated to university level. This vast resource of highly educated workers gives Wellon very productive industry and business and entrepreneurial spirit is widespread. However it also means that low level workers are often vastly over-qualified and can sometimes lead to industrial unrest. Wellon relies on a constant influx of immigrants to ensure that such positions are filled.
Wellon has several huge mineral resource areas that are exploited in bulk by large corporate concerns. The largest are bulk materials such as Iron, Copper and Aluminium, which are used mainly in local manufacturing, and exported to some other Tiranian colonies, Wellon supplies Freihaven with over 60% of her steel for example. Radioactives are known, but are yet to be exploited in anything but minor, government sponsored operations. These products are used in some starship plants, and in medicine.
The real find of Wellon is a stream of several rare minerals in the Blight region of South New Albion, and a spur to the colonisation of that relatively uninhabited region. Chromium, Manganese and Lithium are mined in this area.
The vast oil reserves of the Great and Golden Bay areas are well known and have been exploited for more than a century and still show no sign of running dry. However many analysts predict this resource could be exhausted in the next twenty years. Consequently prospecting is well underway across Wellon, with great hopes for recent finds in the Koevoet Desert and in the New Albion Rain Forest. Petrochemicals in Wellon are mainly used for industrial lubricants and creation of plastic polymers for commercial exploitation.
Wellon's mining sector employs some 15.6 million people, and generates a massive excess of minerals, most of which are traded with the UK on Terra. This is responsible for the employment of some 60 merchant ships on the Sol-Alpha Centauri run. Wellon's mines provide a backbone to the economy, although the slowdown in economic and population growth across Tirane is leading to some concern.
Wellon is a large agricultural exporter, mainly to Earth. Farms tend fall into two major categories those small family run farms in places like the Cam Valley and New Scotland and the larger corporate or co-operatively owned and highly mechanised farms most famous in the New Anglia region. Principal crops are mainly grasses like wheat and corn and strains of rice are grown along the East Coast. A number of spices along Eastern New Albion and in the South which fetch very high prices on Earth. Potatoes are grown in New Scotland, and are a staple of the diet there. Overall virtually every Terran plant than can survive on Tirane is planet and harvested somewhere on Tirane along with all Tiranean plants palatable to humans.
Livestock consists of cows, pigs, sheep, and poultry from Earth, and native strains of fish. Some native animals are used extensively in certain parts of the country, such as the Herring Duck of New Scotland, an amphibious avian analogue that looks nothing like a duck but tastes surprisingly like Terran Herrings, and is part of the New Scots fried breakfast, generally served with sautéed Potatoes and extra cholesterol.
Just over one third of Wellonese live in Rural areas, often on family farms ranging from several hundred to several thousand acres in size. The agricultural workforce is approximately 12 million, producing an agricultural excess of 50%. Almost 3.9 million tons of agricultural produce are exported from Wellon every year, mostly to crowded Terra, and especially Britain. A fleet of 30 merchant Starships is dedicated to just this purpose. Agriculture is a major contributor to the country's balance of payments.
Wellon derives almost all of her power via solar energy, and does not operate any major public nuclear reactors. Wellon has an excess of power provided by it's constellation of power satellites, and is a large scale energy supplier to Tirania, Freihafen and Tundukubwa who all have major power deficits. However many smaller Wellonese communities operate their own auxiliary power generation systems usually renewable types with wind and solar generators most popular. Some northern communities in the Wellon Arctic Territories and New Highland have geothermal energy stations which provide both heating and power to isolated communities.
Wellon is home to some 20% of Tirane's total industrial capacity, although overall it is a relatively small sector of the Wellonese economy. Wellon's manufacturing sector is often overlooked by commentators who have not revised their opinions over the last 50 years and are dazzled instead by Freihafen's heavy industry and Nouvelle Provance's mammoth shipyards. Whilst Wellon's industry started out as local workshops to provide consumer goods for colonists and heavier equipment for mining and agriculture it has advanced substantially since those days.
The bulk of today's manufacturing sector is still concerned with the production of goods for local consumption. Almost all of these are built locally, either from Wellonese designs or from designs or blueprints from off-world and many factories have sophisticated CAD/CAM facilities. It is a very rare household indeed that possesses an item actually produced off Tirane.
Heavy industry is something of an underdeveloped field as large industrial goods are usually produced more cheaply in Freihafen and imported to Wellon. Similarly Wellon's major mag-lev rail development projects have been supplied by Nouvelle Provençal railway companies in the early years and these companies still have controlling stakes in many factories located in Wellon. Nevertheless several Wellonese corporations and entrepreneurs are making headway in this field thanks to the last ten years of political instability in Nouvelle Provence and Freihaven.
One field where Wellon is forging ahead is in the field of armaments manufacture where Grafton Arms has shown an impressive and sustained growth. The Kafer War has especially seen Grafton's share price rise, however many Wellonese are concerned about the possibility of gaining a reputation as 'merchants of death'. Wellon has also benefited from the increased size and business being done in the shipbuilding yards at Hawking Station. The space industry is a growth sector in Wellon.
Wellon's greatest strength-in-depth perhaps lies in her intellectual industries. Fuelled by the presence of so many excellent universities and the R&D arms of several major corporations, Wellon is becoming a major force in design fields.
The service industry on Wellon is well developed. The vast majority of Wellonese are employed in local service industries supporting communities across Wellon.
Wellon also has a large sector of financial, legal and other services operating on a national, international and occasionally interplanetary scale. Victoria is a major financial centre in Tiranean terms and home to the national Bank of New Albion. Victoria's freewheeling business practices have been a major draw to overseas corporations who felt somewhat stifled by neo-colonial protectionism prevalent in some of the Tiranean states.
Tourism in Wellon is also a major draw, in the low volume, high spending interstellar tourism market, and the booming inter-Tiranean market and internally. Major resorts include Lyonesse Island, the Bourne River resorts and some superb skiing areas in the Pendragon Mountains.
Overseas and Offworld Trade
Wellon is one of the network of trade economies on Tirane with a minimum of protective tariffs on imports and exports. She is also a member of the British Commonwealth and has ready access to the UK's colonial markets. Major Tiranean trading partners on Tirane are Nouvelle Provence, Freihafen and Amaterasu.
Wellon has long been famous for its merchant marine, which has only recently begun to decline in the face of competition from Tirane's other nations. However bulk movement of resources and goods has at times been almost a Wellonese monopoly. Air transport of good is much less commonplace but used for passengers and high value goods.
On average, 34 starships call at Wellon or its orbital facilities every week, carrying good and passengers, overall roughly 120 ships are dedicated to serving Wellonese off world travel, both in goods and people. Most of these ply the vital route between Sol and Alpha Centauri exclusively but others continue on to the French and Chinese Arms.
Wellon covers a huge area of land, and in spite of its 220 million population still has a remarkably low population density. One of the initial colonisation concepts was to create 'hubs' which would be self sufficient in the early years of the colony yet also be able to plug into a much more developed regional and then national economy as the settlements matured. This pattern is still evident in the way in which Wellon's transport network is arranged.
The major cities are all built around efficient public transportation systems, usually trams or underground trains. Consequently the city centres of most major metropolises are refreshingly free of cars when compared with cities on Earth. Around the cities a road and rail network connects with the outlying towns, villages and settlements to the central hub.
Inter-city travel is based around the mag-lev network. This was started with three separate projects, one linking the Cam Valley settlements, one spanning the North Albion Plain and one traversing New Scotland. When Wellon gained dominion status it was one of the first acts by the government to nationalise all three companies into one body and take charge of expanding the network. Famously the mag-lev doesn't reach below the Blight and the citizens of the South must make other arrangements.
For those who insist on driving across Wellon's vast expanses, roads are available but away from the city hubs they are often in a parlous state. Conventional railways also exist away from the hubs although of course these are much slower than the mag-lev. The steam powered, narrow gage railways of the High Pendragons (originally built to support the military effort against bandits in the area) are renowned for their views and a mecca for railway enthusiasts.
Air transport is especially important in the south. Large airships are a common sight and take the place of railway transport in the area, especially in the movement of freight and cheap movement of large numbers of people. Fast Transatmospheric aircraft link the major cities within Wellon and serve international routes to most of the important cities across Tirane. Light aircraft are available for local and regional transport.
In the early days of settlement travel on the waterways and around the coasts of the Tiralbion was vital for the success of the colony. This is still the case today, the Cam is still the backbone of the economy in the east as raw materials are transported along it to the manufacturing centres. Similarly Point Sterling relies on maritime movement along the south coast and islands. Much of this movement is of resources by large barges or freighters, but passenger transport is still popular. Large river liners plying the tourist and gambling trade along the Cam are a common sight as are prestigious cruises in the far North.
Wellon's position in the inter-Tiranean economy is cemented by her large merchant fleet. Parts of which can be found in almost every port across Tirane. The movement of tankers out of the Great Bay region is especially important and a common target of piracy as it passes through the restricted channels of the Southern Archipelago. Passenger liners moving between the continents do exist but have to fight for business with aircraft and airships.
Wellon has four major spaceports to handle interface traffic at Point Sterling, Dartmoor, New Birmingham and Riverside. Riverside is also home to Wellon's catapult and has grown up around this resource.