Bijhan and Laharn
United Republic of Bijhan and Laharn
Unuiĝinta Respubliko de Biĵanio kaj Laharnio
Motto: "Per konkordo, etaj aferoj kreskas"
("Unity makes strength")
Anthem: Sample Anthem
and largest city
|Ethnic groups||Bijhani, Laharna|
|Government||Federal representative democracy under a multi-party parliamentary directorial republic|
|House of Representatives|
• Dutch Colony
|2 September 1783|
• Seizure by British
• Anglo-Dutch Treaty
|13 August 1814|
• Allied Administration
• Restoration of Dutch Rule
|1 July 1946|
• United Nations Administration
|1 January 1965|
• Foundation Agreement
|10 October 1985|
• Constitutional Referendum
|20 April 1992|
|1 January 1993|
• 2019 estimate
• 2017 census
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||JH|
Bijhan and Laharn, officially the United Republic of Bijhan and Laharn (Esperanto: Unuiĝinta Respubliko de Biĵanio kaj Laharnio), sometimes called Bijhan–Laharn and often known informally as Bijhan, is an island country in the South Indian Ocean. Hadaro is the capital and largest city.
A volcanic island formation, Bijhan's flora and fauna evolved in relative isolation, producing unique wildlife, much of which can be found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the growing human population and other environmental threats.
Today, the United Republic of Bijhan and Laharn is constituted as an independent state in the form of an indissoluble partnership, with a federal government and two equal constituent states, namely the State of Bijhan and the State of Laharn. Bijhan and Laharn is a member of the United Nations and has a single international legal personality and sovereignty. The political system is heavily influenced by the Swiss federal model, with a collective presidency and a bicameral federal parliament. As of 2017, the population of Bijhan and Laharn was approximately 15 million, of whom 40 percent live on less than two dollars per day. Reflecting the diverse ethnic and cultural background of is citizenry, the United Republic adopted the international language Esperanto as its official language. The majority of the population adheres to Christianity, while Bijhan and Laharn is notable for its relatively large Bahá'í community, approximately five percent of the population. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with greater investments in education, health and private enterprise, are key elements of the island's development strategy.
The island covers 295,997 km², making the Bijhan and Laharn the 73rd largest country by area (smaller the the Philippines and larger than Ecuador). Roughly star-shaped and with a heavily intended coastline, the island is 584 km long from north to south and 656 km long from east to west at its greatest extents.
The State of Bijhan covers 194,038 km² (65.55%), taking in the island's north and west. The State of Laharn covers 101,960 km² (34.44%) of the island's southeast.
Initial human settlement of the island occurred between 250 BCE and 450 CE by Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from Borneo. Other groups continued to settle over time, each one making lasting contributions to Bijhanian cultural life. The Portuguese and later the Dutch established contact with the island in the fifteenth century, and Bijhan was occasionally used as a transoceanic stopover point. Until the late 16th century, Bijhan was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting sociopolitical alliances. Beginning in the early 17th century, most of the island was united under two kingdoms comprising the two main ethnic groups on the island: the Bijhani and the Laharna. The kingdoms were initially ruled by a series of local nobles, while European powers established an increasingly influential presence on the island. An object of colonial interest by both the British and the Dutch, the indigenous monarchies collapsed in 1783 when the Peace of Paris formally incorporated Bijhan into the Dutch colonial empire.
During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of 1793–1813, France reduced the Netherlands to a satellite state and finally annexed the country in 1810. After the incorporation of the Netherlands into the French Empire, Britain took over most of the Dutch colonies, including Bijhan, which they had seized in 1797 following the British defeat of the Dutch fleet. Britain ruled Bijhan until the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, which returned the colony to the Dutch. Bijhan remained a Dutch colony into the 20th century.
The island was ruled by a British (and later American) military administration from 1940 until 1946, at which point the Dutch civilian administration resumed. In the years following World War II, the nascent independence movement was thwarted by rising inter-ethnic violence and the lack of consensus on the type of government the island would adopt. In the late 1950s, Bijhan became the focus of a political dispute between the Netherlands and two competing separatist movements both seeking to be the island's legitimate government. The Bijhani-led faction called for the creation of an all-island unitary state, while the Laharna faction advocated either partition or reconstitution of the island under a federal system. The Dutch colonial administration maintained that the Netherlands would continue to administer the territory until it was capable of self-determination.
In May 1961, a United States diplomat proposed a scheme for using a "special United Nations trusteeship over the territory for a limited number of years, at the end of which time sovereignty would be turned over to the people of the island under a constitutional framework of its own creation." In March 1963, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations asserted that "the [Bijhani] once contended that UN trusteeship would be anathema under any circumstances. Now, although they have not gone so far as to be willing to call a trusteeship a trusteeship, they talk in terms of 'one or two years' of some kind of interregnum being acceptable."
On December 4, 1963, Laharna paramilitary troops attacked the headquarters of the main Bijhani pro-independence party, and the lack of intervention by the Dutch colonial authorities prompted a political crisis. The following day, Bijhani soldiers attacked installations in several Laharna villages. Facing the threat of a full-scale civil war, the United States helped mediate the dispute and this led to the signing of the Philadelphia Agreement of September 1964. The agreement offered to transfer the administration from the Netherlands to a United Nations temporary authority on January 1, 1965, and give the United Nations a discretion to turn over all or part of the administration to local institutions. Although the United Nations Temporary Administration Mission (UNTAM) was expected to last for no longer than five years, the lack of progress toward a peace agreement and Cold War politics resulted in it remaining in place on the island until the entry into force of the new constitution on January 1, 1993.
See also: Politics of Bijhan and Laharn
The politics of Bijhan and Laharn takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democracy, in which the federal executive power is vested in the Presidential Council, the federal legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament called the Kunveno, and the federal judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court. At the federal level, power-sharing is an integral feature of all governmental institutions, and the allocation of political authority is delicately balanced between the constituent states to prevent the dominance of one by the other.
The federal parliament, called the Kunveno, is composed of two cambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each chamber has 120 members. Seats in the Senate are equally divided between the constituent states, while seats in the House of Representatives are divided in proportion to the number of citizens holding the internal constituent state citizenship status of each constituent state, provided neither state can be allocated fewer than one-quarter of the seats.
Unlike many other bicameral legislatures, both chambers of the Kunveno have identical powers. Decisions of the Kunveno require the approval of both chambers by simple majority vote, provided at least one-fourth of voting senators from each constituent state vote in favor. A so-called "special majority" vote is required for matters of certain importance, which requires the at least two-fifths of senators from each constituent state to vote in favor, in addition to a simple majority in both chambers.
Federal elections are held on the first Saturday and Sunday of May for a term of five years, during which it cannot be dissolved. Elections are held under a system of party-list proportional representation. The most recent federal election was held on 3–4 May 2018. Contrary to most countries with a federal system, state elections tend to be more publicized and have higher turnout than federal elections.
The Presidential Council (Prezidanta Konsilio) functions as both a cabinet and a collective head of state, and is based largely on the Swiss federal model. The Presidential Council is elected by the Kunveno to a five-year term, and comprises six voting members and a variable number of non-voting members. Each member of the Presidential Council leads one of the federal government's departments. The Presidential Council elects two of its members to serve as President and Vice President of the Council, alternating every fifteen months during the Council's term. Aside from chairing its meetings and acting as a representative of the Council as head of state, the President and Vice President of the Presidential Council are equal to the other members.
The constitution establishes three independent federal offices: the Central Bank, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of the Auditor General.
The Supreme Court (Suverena kortumo) is charged with ensuring all laws and actions of the federal and constituent state governments comply with the constitution. Among its other duties, the Court resolves disputes between the constituent states, or between one or both of them and the federal government. It also has the power to resolve, on an interim basis, deadlocks within federal institutions if this is indispensable to the proper functioning of the federal government. The Court is composed of four Bijhani and four Laharna judges, and three non-citizen judges. Judges are appointed by the Presidential Council for a term of nine years, which is not renewable.
Relationship between the federal government and the constituent states
The federal government sovereignly exercises the powers specified in the constitution, which ensures that the United Republic can speak and act with one voice internationally and fulfill its obligations as an independent, sovereign state, and protect its integrity, borders, resources, and heritage. The constituent states are of equal status, and within the limits of the constitution, they sovereignly exercise all powers not vested by the constitution in the federal government. Each constituent state has its own constitution, government, legislature, laws and institutions.
The constitution expressly states that there is no hierarchy between federal laws and laws of the constituent states, and that the federal government and the constituent states shall not infringe upon the powers and functions of each other. In some respects, this makes Bijhan and Laharn more akin to a loose confederation than a federation proper. However, it also stipulates that any act in contravention to the federal constitution shall be null and void.
The constitution encourages cooperation and coordination between the constituent states and between the federal government and one or both constitution states through Cooperation Agreements and more formalized Constitutional Laws, the latter of which must be approved by both the Kunveno and the legislatures of both constituent states. It also provides a framework by which the constituent states can establish commercial and cultural relations with foreign states and sub-state entities.
Politics and political parties
Almost all political parties are organized with one constituent state or the other. A few cross-community parties exist, but none has managed to receive broad voter support. More commonly, parties will coordinate with their ideological counterparts in the other state.
Both constituent states have multi-party political systems. Bijhan has two major political parties, Republic—The Independence Party and Democratic—Moderate—Progressive, while Laharn has four. Although they tend to compete with each other at the state level, the power-sharing federal executive usually results in opposing parties all holding seats on the Presidential Council, and traditionally adversarial parties will cooperate federally to advance the interest of their state.
Political parties or organizations that advocate partition, union of the island in whole or in part with any other state, or any unilateral change in the constitutional system of the United Republic are prohibited by law. In practice, however, Republic—The Independence Party includes the reconstitution of Bijhan as an all-island unitary state as one of its objectives.
Bijhan and Laharn's market economy is supported by its well-established agricultural industry and emerging tourism, textile, and mining industries.
Additionally, Bijhan and Laharn's status as a developing nation exempts its exports from customs protocol in some areas, notably the United States and European Union. This in particular has supported the growth of the island's textile industry. Despite ample natural resources and developing industries, the fragile and contentious political situation continues to deter foreign investments in Bijhan and Laharn and cause its economy to stagnate.
Education is the province of the constituent states. The states have separate educational systems, though there exist more similarities between them than differences. Article 16(3)(f) of the Constitution identifies education as one of the matters on which the constituent states shall strive to coordinate or harmonize their policy and legislation. Article 16(7) requires the constituent states to accept as valid each other's educational credentials.
In Bijhan, children begin compulsory education at age 6, though most are enrolled in non-compulsory kindergarten from age 5 (and less commonly, from age 4). The 6 years of primary education are divided into lower primary (Years 1-3) and upper primary (years 4-6). Following primary education are 5 years of secondary education, which begin at age 12. The final two years of secondary education are divided into three tracks. Track 1 is geared toward university-bound students (and requires an additional year of university preparatory study after compulsory education ends). Track 2 is geared toward technical and trade programs that require some post-secondary study. Track 3 continues the academic studies of secondary education with some emphasis on career and life skills, but without preparing students for further qualifications beyond the secondary education credential.
In Laharn, children begin compulsory primary education at age 5, though the vast majority begin non-compulsory kindergarten at age 4.
|Age of student||Bijhan||Laharn|
|5||Kindergarten||Primary Year 1|
|6||Primary Year 1||Primary Year 2|
|7||Primary Year 2||Primary Year 3|
|8||Primary Year 3||Primary Year 4|
|9||Primary Year 4||Primary Year 5|
|10||Primary Year 5||Primary Year 6|
|11||Primary Year 6||Primary Year 7|
|12||Secondary Year 1||Lower Secondary Year 1|
|13||Secondary Year 2||Lower Secondary Year 2|
|14||Secondary Year 3||Lower Secondary Year 3|
|15||Secondary Year 4||Upper Secondary Year 1|
|16||Secondary Year 5||Upper Secondary Year 2|
|17||University Preparatory Year||Upper Secondary Year 3|
According to the 2017 census, the population of Bijhan and Laharn 15,435,013. The population is projected to reach 20 million by 2035, and 50 million by 2094.
The Bijhanian population has been increasing at approximately 1.29% per year since 1992, while the Laharnian population has been growing much faster, at a rate of 1.95% per year, over the same period. At this rate, Laharn will overtake Bijhan as the more populous constituent state by the year 2135.
The constitution establishes, in addition to Sundays, the following six public holidays:
- 1 January: New Year's Day (Novjaro)
- 20 April: Federal Day (Federala Tago)
- 10 October: Foundation Day (Tago de la Fundamento)
- 24 October: United Nations Day (Tago de la Unuiĝintaj Nacioj)
- 15 December: Language Day (Tago de la Linvgo)
- 25 December: Christmas Day (Kristnasko)
The constituent states are free to determine and observe their own holidays, provided they also observe the federal holidays. Federal public servants are entitled to observe the federal holidays and the holidays of one constituent state or the other.