The Faelish Isles are a group of islands in the Atlantic which includes the island of Faeland and over three hundred smaller islands. There is one sovereign state located on the islands: the Valanian Federate. The Faelish Isles do not include the protectorate of the General Government, the Siawnsri Islands, although they are a political part of the island group.
The oldest rocks in the archipelago are in the west of Fíl and are 2,700 million years old. During the Silurian period the north-western regions collided with the south-east, which had been part of a separate continental landmass. The topography of the islands is modest in scale by global standards. Mt. Ryan rises to an elevation of 1436.22 meters (4,712 ft) and Lake Athlóa, which is significantly larger than other lakes on the island, covers 13.2 square kilometres (5.096 sq mi). The climate is temperate marine, with mild winters and warm, wet summers. The North Atlantic Drift brings significant moisture and raises temperatures 11 °C (52 °F) above the global average for the latitude. This led to a landscape which was long dominated by temperate rainforest, although human activity has since cleared nearly half of forest cover (much of which, incidentally, has been replanted). The region was re-inhabited after the last glacial period of Quaternary glaciation, by 12,000 BCE. At that time, Faeland was still a peninsula of the European continent extending from Brittany.
The island had a rich and isolated culture and history for much of the distant past. The Celts arrived in the 5th century BCE, and in large part subsumed the local culture. Celtic Faels were inhabiting the islands by the time of the Roman Empire, which expanded to control the northernmost part of Faeland. Viking invasions began in the 10th century, followed by more permanent settlements – particularly in the south – and political change in the midlands. Subsequently the islands were the object of European colonialism. And eventually came to be dominated by the United Kingdom. The expansion of the British Empire and migrations following the Irish Famine radically altered the ethnic and cultural composition of the island, displacing many local languages for a time. Most of Faeland seceded from the United Kingdom the during the events of the Faelish War of Independence, and the rest followed suit or were granted independence at the close of hostilities in 1925.
Main article: Names of Faeland
The earliest recorded name for the island of Faeland (as a whole) was listed by the Greek geographer Hecataeus of Miletus in the 5th century BCE in his Περίοδος γῆς ("Travels round the Earth" or "World Survey') as "Bounessos," meaning "mountain-island." This name was given over by the Massaliotes —Greek colonists of southern Gaul— as a calque from the Gaulish name Đliapoelen.
During the period known as The Washing, Celtic tribes called it Fhaehlann (gen., "of the"), after its common totem, the wolf. This term led to the Latin name Valania and medieval names for the island (Fáel, Fohln, Fel, Foálnah, etc).
Main article: Geography of Faeland
The Faelish Isles lie at the juncture of several regions with past episodes of tectonic mountain building. These orogenic belts form a complex geology which records a huge and varied span of earth history. Of particular note was the Pentapolian Orogeny during the Ordovician Period, ca. 477–433 Ma and early Silurian period, when the craton Brettonica collided with the terrane Favalonia to form the mountains and hills in western and southern Faeland. Brettonica formed roughly the western half of Faeland. Further collisions caused the Colonnial orogeny in the Carboniferous periods, forming the mountains north of Valaduria, in southeast Faeland, and along The Shore.
The islands have been shaped by numerous glaciations during the Quincenary Period, the most recent being the Devensian. As this ended, the central Celtic and Irish Seas were de-glaciated and flooded, with sea levels rising to current levels some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, leaving the Faelish Isles in their current form. There is no evidence to suggest a land bridge between Faeland and the Atlantic Archipelago at this time, though there was certainly a single ice sheet covering the entire sea.
The islands' geology is highly complex, though there are large numbers of limestone and chalk rocks that formed in the Permian and Triassic periods. The west coasts that directly face the Atlantic Ocean are generally characterized by long peninsulas, and headlands and bays; with the eastern coasts being "smoother".
There are about 85 permanently inhabited islands in the group, the largest two being Faeland and Grït. Faeland is to the east and covers 20,594 square miles, over 98% of the total landmass of the group. Grït is to the southwest and covers only XXX. The largest of the other islands are to be found in the Vinesene Archipelago, the Aroëse Archipelago, and the Ferraione Archipelago in the north.
The islands are at relatively low altitudes, with central Faeland and coastal Pentapoli particularly low lying. The Faelish Highlands in the western part of Fíl are mountainous, with Mt. Ryan being the highest point on the islands at 4,712". Other mountainous areas include Valaduria and Lito, however only three peaks in these areas reach above 1,000 m (3,281 ft). The isles have a temperate marine climate. The North Atlantic Drift ("Gulf Stream") which flows from the Gulf of Mexico brings with it significant moisture and raises temperatures 11 °C (20 °F) above the global average for the islands' latitudes. Winters are cool and wet, with summers mild and also wet. Most Atlantic depressions pass to the northwest of the islands, combined with the general westerly circulation and interactions with the landmass, this imposes an east-west variation in climate.
Flora and Fauna
Originally forests covered all parts of the islands but today only accounts for about 48% of the land area of Faeland. These forests were cleared extensively over the past millennium to make way for crop and pasture land and have since been replanted per federal law. Most forest land in Faeland is protected by state forestation programs. Almost all land outside of urban areas is protected or regulated farmaland. However, relatively large areas of old growth forest remain in the west and northwest of Faeland. Oak, elm, ash and beech are amongst the most common trees, along with pine and birch. New growth forests contain oak, ash, elm, birch and pine. Beech and lime, though not native, are also common. Farmland hosts a variety of semi-natural vegetation of grasses and flowering plants. Woods, hedgerows, mountain slopes and marshes host heather, wild grasses, gorse and bracken.
Larger native animals, such as wolf, bear, boar and reindeer are today extinct, but in some cases have been reintroduced. Some species such as deer are protected. Other small mammals, such as foxes, badgers, hares, hedgehogs, and stoats, are very common. Many rivers contain otters and seals and are common along coasts. Over 200 species of bird reside permanently on the islands and another 200 migrate to them. Common types are the chaffinch, blackbird, sparrow and starling, all small birds. Large birds are declining in number, except for those kept for game such as pheasant, partridge, and red grouse. Fish are abundant in the rivers and lakes of the islands, in particular salmon, trout, perch and pike. Dogfish, cod, sole, pollock and bass are among the sea fish as well as mussels, crab and oysters on the coastline. There are more than 21,000 species of insects found on the islands.
None of the islands are inhabited by many reptiles or amphibians. Only three snakes are native: the common