Administrative divisions of Sierra

From Constructed Worlds
Jump to navigation Jump to search
 This article is a good article. It is written to a high standard. This article is part of Altverse II.
Kingdom of Sierra

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of the
Kingdom of Sierra


The administrative divisions of Sierra are organized within the context of its federal constitutional monarchical government, under the penumbra of the Kingdom of Sierra and its Charter. Territorial-wise, Sierra is composed of 23 provinces, 14 territories, and 2 crown dependencies. Sierra itself, as a whole unit, is a constituent country of the Kingdom, sharing equal status with three other autonomous constituent countries: Bajaría, the Deseret, and Hawaii.

In federal Sierra, the government's power and responsibility is organized, shared, and divided into three main levels: the federal, the provincial, and the local (often further divided into the county and municipal governments).

There are explicit constitutional provisions concerning the territorial organization of Sierra although territorial units such as the electorate, parliamentary districts, and wards also serve an important, albeit unofficial function in organization and operation.

Although the federal government and the provinces hold shared sovereignty, the provinces themselves do not hold absolute sovereignty in its traditional sense. Only the federal government retains the full jurisprudence and powers akin to a country but it too is subservient to the national government of the Kingdom, which has ultimate control on matters of foreign affairs and national defense. However, in both conventional and practical senses, the overlap between the Sierran federal government and the Kingdom's national government is overwhelmingly substantial enough in that it acts as a sovereign government (although the federal framework and political division of Sierra does not itself apply or extend to Bajaría, the Deseret, or Hawaii, three other autonomous constituent countries of the Kingdom. Many various powers are guaranteed or relegated to the provinces as established by the Constitution. The Constitution even provides for several exclusive powers unto the provincial government and allows them to create their own form of government, constitution, and laws so long as it does not violate the federal constitution or the Charter.

Provinces[edit | edit source]

Flag map of Sierra

The primary administrative and political division of Sierra is the Province. All of the provinces share their sovereignty with the federal government (and ultimately the Kingdom). Consequently, a Sierran citizen is simultaneously a citizen of Sierra and the Kingdom as is his/her province of domicile. Any powers forbidden to or not expressively granted to the Kingdom or the federal government are given to the provincial governments. As such, provinces generally concern themselves with local law enforcement, public education, family law, public health, transportation, and infrastructure. The province of Sonora uses the official title of "State'' instead of "Province". Although not constitutionally mandated, all of the provinces are organized into a semi-republican form of government headed by a popularly elected governor, who serves as the provinces' heads of government. The heads of state for each province are the Monarch's official representatives in each province, the Lords or Ladies Superintendent.

All 24 provinces were admitted into the Kingdom following the ratification and promulgation of the Constitution of Sierra, the validating document that created the Sierran federal government. The actual process of admitting new provinces is not expressively outlined in Article VIII of the Constitution. The article itself only places restrictions on what types of provinces may be accepted. It explicitly forbids the creation of new provinces from existing ones without "the Consent of the Legislatures of the Provinces concerned as well as of Parliament."

Secession is a right granted to the provinces through Amendment VI of the Constitution. The act and process itself however, would require that a supermajority of the seceding province's citizens to vote in favor of secession, another supermajority in the federal Parliament, and an explicitly signed proclamation from the monarch. Since the amendment's passing, no major or notable legal attempt has ever been made. Unilateral secession is not recognized and perpetrators would be considered performing high treason under Sierran federal law.

Counties[edit | edit source]

The county is the geographical and political subunit of a province. While the extent of a county's role and scope of power varies from province to province, most counties exist to coordinate provincial policy at the local level (such as the collection of taxes or oversight of public school districts). In the Channel Islands, parishes function as county-equivalents.

Counties with larger populations tend to provide facilities for its residents such as airports, libraries, and water works. Some counties (more prevalent in northeastern Sierra) serve no purpose beyond statistical organization for official government activities such as the census conducted by the federal government and offering basic services (e.g., a police department). Some municipalities may function as both a city and a county through consolidated city-county status. A notable example of this form is the capital city of Porciúncula, which, although not an independent territory in its own right, maintains county-level status within the province of the Gold Coast. Within most counties, wherever there is an area that is unincorporated, it falls under the direct control of the county government.

Municipalities[edit | edit source]

With the exception of the provinces of Washumko, Eureka, and Apache, provincial governments make no distinction between a township (town) or a city. The terms are both interchangeable and refer to the same form of local government: the municipality. As such, the municipality, regardless of its size or population, is considered the primary subdivision of a county. Like counties, municipalities vary in the extent of its responsibilities and role from region to region. Generally, any part of the county that is incorporated is considered a municipality. Municipalities derive their status not from the county government but from the provincial legislature. Organized population centers established through a county statute are not municipalities in the true legal sense but may serve the same purpose as a regular municipality. Such centers are known as villages wherein although they may act as municipalities, they may not enjoy the same extent of autonomy that true municipalities do. Some municipalities derive their power from charter status (which must still be approved by the provincial government) which allows them to create its own laws semi-independently from a province's general city laws.

Towns and townships[edit | edit source]

In the provinces of Washumko, Eureka, and Apache, townships (towns) are distinct from municipalities. As opposed to municipalities, townships function and govern similarly to a county government. Townships have broader scope on local affairs and powers than most municipalities in other provinces do. In all three of the provinces, with fewer people and more open space, the need of a municipal government is considered unnecessary as the township can cover both the scope of a traditional municipal government with that of the county (similar to a consolidated city-county).

Territories[edit | edit source]

The main distinction between a province and a territory is that the sovereignty of these areas do not rest in the hands of its local populace but in Parliament. In addition, territories are not officially considered a part of the Kingdom but nonetheless, citizens whose domicile is in a territory are legal citizens of the Kingdom. While such citizens are Sierrans, they are not obligated to pay the federal tax, allowed to vote in prime ministerial elections, or receive services from certain federal programs such as Social Security.

With the exception of the Pacific Crown Islands, all of the territories have an organized government. With the notable exception of the Channel Islands, all of the territories are not incorporated and thus, do not constitute a part of the Kingdom proper. As a result, these territories are under the direct control of the Parliament instead of the Constitution but do retain a large degree of autonomy and home rule comparable to the provinces. Each organized territory features its own executive, legislative, and judicial branch with the Territorial Governor as its head of government. Similar to the provinces' Lords and Ladies Superintendent, all of the organized territories' heads of state are the Monarch's appointed viceregal representatives, the Lords or Ladies Proprietor who perform all the ceremonial and functional duties of the Monarch in the territories on the Monarch's behalf and pleasure.

For the Pacific Crown Islands, much of its composition consists of uninhabited islands distributed throughout the Pacific Ocean. These islands include:

The dispute arose over the fact that Sierra's predecessor, the California Republic, obtained the disputed areas through the Treaty of Guadelupe Hildago in 1848. In that document, large areas of former Mexican territory were ceded to California and the United States. The Mexican government claimed that California's, and subsequently Sierra's control over the peninsula and the Sonora were regarded as illegal occupation despite much of the international community recognizing Sierra's claims by the 1880s.

Following the collapse of the Second Mexican Empire, the Mexican government dropped these claims. For the first 80 years of Mexico under its current fascist rule, the Mexican government did not revive any territorial claims of the region. In 2003, the Mexican government began proactively claiming the former territory as its own. Eventually, tensions heightened through the 2014 Baja California crisis.

In addition, Sierra is involved in a territorial dispute with Colombia and Nicaragua over Saint Andrews, Providence, and the Corn Islands, which Sierra acquired control over in 1950.

Native Sierran reservations[edit | edit source]

Native Sierran (also known as Native American or Indian) reservations are areas of land held in trust by the federal government on behalf of a Native Sierran tribe. The Indian Affairs Agency (IAA), a department within the Ministry of Interior, is the designated federal institution charged with directly managing Indian lands.

Tribes possess limited tribal sovereignty, and manage their own form of government, laws, court system, and facilities. In general, reservation lands are subject to the immediate jurisdiction of the tribal government, not the federal or provincial governments. Tribal courts possess criminal jurisdiction over residents living within the reservation but do not usually possess the same jurisdiction over non-Indian visitors who committed crimes within the reservation. The modern Sierran reservation system was established in 1862 through the Compact Indian-Sierran Friendship Act, an act of Parliament that granted tribes federally provided parcels of land and limited autonomy.

Members of a federally recognized Native Sierran reservation are also citizens of the province that the reservation is physically located within and the Kingdom. Like other citizens, people who reside within the reservations must still fulfill certain legal obligations including paying federal taxes (although there are certain exemptions granted to the tribes) and are subject to federal law. Although reservations are inherently sovereign, none exercise absolute sovereignty as it is constrained by the limitations by the federal government and the constitution. Similar to the provinces and the federal government itself, the extent of sovereignty is limited but not undermined by the other channels of governance.

Usually, the law of the province the reservation is physically located within holds no binding legal impact on the reservation. Typically, the province and reservation may engage in bilateral cooperation, often solidifying unified action in the form of compact agreements and other legal documents. Provisions from the Sherman-Baker Act of 1893 however, grants some provinces limited criminal jurisdiction over citizens residing in tribal lands. Nonetheless, despite withholding tribal sovereignty, much of the federal law applies within tribal lands, with exceptions unilaterally decided and subject to the discretion of the Parliament or the Supreme Court. Communication between provincial and tribal governments are mediated through the federal government which holds the sole authority to regulate relations with such tribes.

As of 2014, there are over 645,000 Native Sierrans who live in one of the 72 federally recognized reservations. The largest reservation held by the Navajo people have a population of 315,000 registered members (constituting nearly half of the entire tribal population) and over 1.5 million acres of land.

Unofficial divisions[edit | edit source]

In addition to the official divisions of government used to organize administration, there are other defined areas that do not hold official status but nonetheless, hold political and organizational significance.

Electorates[edit | edit source]

Electorates, or electoral districts, are a class of territorial subdivisions in Sierra with the primary purpose of organizing areas into constituencies. Electorates determine what specific election may be held in that area and which individuals in power represent the local area.

Parliamentary districts[edit | edit source]

In the House of Commons, the number and allocation of representatives is based on the population of a given province. Each province is divided into electorates known as parliamentary districts and each district is represented by a single member of parliament in the House of Commons. Districts usually do not follow or take into consideration of county boundaries established by the provincial government. The area, shape, and size of a district is reorganized every ten years when a census is conducted, based on demographic changes through redistricting. This practice sometimes leads to gerrymandering, a legally ambiguous act done to improve the political standing of a particular party or interest group.

There are also similar districts at the provincial-level for the provincial legislature. Such districts do not always necessarily follow official boundaries although the frequency of redistricting varies from province to province.

Wards[edit | edit source]

A ward is a subdivision of a local area, usually a municipality, and is generally created for the purpose of representing specific areas within the context of the local government. In some cities, wards have additional purposes beyond being an elective district, including maintaining public parks or upholding/implementing city codes. Below a ward is the smallest unit of the electorate district, the precinct.

Other[edit | edit source]

Baronies[edit | edit source]

Sierra features a peerage system and as such, individuals or organizations may be given an honorary title over a ceremonial area known as a barony. Holders of such titles are known as barons or peers. Baronies hold no legal impact on the areas it consists of and is formed purely for the purposes of organizing and designating one's status within the Sierran peerage system. Baronies may overlap (usually a large barony may consist of smaller, geographically inconsistent baronies) and thus, a ceremonial area may have multiple barons. The terms viscountcy, earldom, and march are variations of baronies that typically indicate the ceremonial area's relative size. A normal barony might be no larger than a square acre while a march may encompass an entire province. The term duchy is a type of barony usually given to members of the Sierran Royal Family and other distinguished members in the peerage system. Technically, the Kingdom of Sierra is the highest form of a barony, a kingdom, and its baron, or monarch, is Elizabeth II, who, also serves as the fount of honor of the system.

Homeowner associations[edit | edit source]

A homeowner association is a corporation which holds quasi-legal jurisdiction over a residential area or neighborhood. Associations are formed to administrate, maintain, and regulate leased lots and property as well as to provide services for its residents. Generally a democratic organization, nonetheless, homeowner associations function similarly to a specialized municipal ward and may impose financial obligations or fines on its members. Homeowner association laws vary from province to province and are more common in suburban areas where tract housing is common.

Special districts[edit | edit source]

Special districts may be legal or corporate entities that exist at the local area tasked with a certain responsibility, service, or role. Such districts are generally established by the provincial government and are independent from the control of the county or municipal government. Examples of such districts include water districts, conservation areas, waste management districts, and in some cases, school districts.

See also[edit | edit source]