Apicarta is a monarchical country. It stretches from the northern coast to the edges of the southern wastes. Since the fall of the Old Exekian Empire, the region has been almost exclusively populated by humans, who refer to themselves as Apicartans.
The origin of the name Apicarta is unknown, although it may be a corrupted version of the Old Exekian word epicari, meaning "to wrestle free". Along with Zantium, Apicarta is considered one of the "Slave Kingdoms" due to its foundation myth.
Letholdus Stirling I, a runaway slave, is considered the first king of Apicarta. He founded the Stirling dynasty, which have ruled the kingdom for almost two centuries. At the time of Letholdus' reign, his country only stretched from Carthmere to Bodai. Over the next fifty years, the territory expanded rapidly, encompassing most of the island.
The laws of the land were not established until the reign of King Letholdus II, who also created the Temple as an institution which would manage religious affairs.
The typical native Apicartan is light-skinned, with hair colors ranging from blonde to red and dark brown and hair textures being straight, wavy, or curly. Blue, green, hazel, gray, and brown eye colors can be found among the general population. High cheekbones and small, thin-lipped mouths are considered the hallmarks of an Apicartan face.
Aside from the natives, there are also high immigrant populations from Dardanos, Iskirra, and Zantium found in different regions, with Dardani being most common in the north, Iskirrans in the west, and Zantines in the south and east.
Economically, Apicarta can be divided into three regions: the Industrial North, the Agricultural South, and the Eastern Traders.
The North is populated exclusively by humans, mostly in small self-contained villages/mining towns, or in the only major city, Zemar. The region is humid, almost tropical, and the further north you go the more swampy it becomes. "Rusty" is a common slur against northerners, referring to the heavy industry Zemar is known for.
Dividing the north from the south is the vast Kuhlimani mountain range, which is filled with small hamlets and villages but no major cities.
The South is predominantly rural/agricultural, and includes Bodai, the oldest city in the kingdom. The island of Kataru is sometimes included in the South. The people in this region are considered provincial, uneducated, and old-fashioned.
The East is focused on trade through seafaring, using the Antoi river to move goods throughout the area. Tyr and Hiberia are the two major port cities. The climate is more temperate; it is considered a moderate zone.
Culture and Customs
Apicartan culture is a mixture of customs carried over from the Empire mixed with elements borrowed from other nearby nations.
The Temple is the most prominent religious institution and the one with the most power, exercised through its hierarchical clergy. Historically, the Temple tended to side with the monarch in disputes with the nobles, a tendency which allowed them to enjoy a firm grasp on power.
Racism against Exekians is common, fueled by constant warfare, propaganda, and historical precedent.
Public schooling has recently become available (within the last sixty years) for children, although depending on the region, the quality of education varies widely. As mentioned earlier, the people of the south are considered uneducated because not only do they not value education, their public schools were found to be sorely lacking. Many southern teenagers drop out before they receive their diploma. Those who seek a better education may be inclined to transfer to seminary school, but transferal is a risky business as it is aimed at one day making such students into clergymen. Dropping out of seminary school without becoming a member of the clergy can be considered shameful and may impact their ability to get a job.
Traditionally, only legitimate male offspring could inherit wealth and property, although this practice is being phased out. Currently, it would be considered scandalous for an illegitimate child to be named heir to a noble's fortune, but it is no longer illegal.
Marriage ceremonies and traditions differ depending on the economic status of the couple. The basis of the ceremony regardless of wealth is the ritual of hand-fasting, wherein the couple's joined hands are covered in a sticky golden liquid similar to honey, which is derived from the nectar of the hadzic flower. Rings made out of gold or silver are then exchanged, which mark the couple as wedded. While wealthy women may purchase a dowry consisting of various objects associated with the household and family, poor women have no choice but to make their own dowry, weaving blankets and making tools.