The governments in DATE-Pacific tend to fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. Both South Torbia and Gabal are liberal democracies, though not without issues—the former has recently experienced a major political scandal, while the latter is only a few decades old and tribal in nature. Belesia is also a newer democracy that has to continually fight against the autocratic tendencies of its political classes. Both Olvana and North Torbia are one-party autocratic governments that seek to both control their populations and influence their neighbors—the first for hegemonic purposes and the second for regime survival. With economies that are intertwined, the Pacific countries’ political dance is complex and multifaceted, and it is easy for one country to step on the political “toes” of another—either accidentally or intentionally.
Military forces in the region vary greatly in both size and purpose. Gabal, as the smallest country in terms of both size and population, has an equally small defensive military that is focused on the prevention of illegal fishing in its waters. Belesia also has limited military capability with old (tier 3) equipment and poor training, but the country does have some offensive capability and is working to improve both manpower and equipment. North Torbia’s tier 3 military is offensive in nature and very large in comparison to its population. The country’s primary goals are self-preservation through the elimination of both internal and external threats, and reunification with South Torbia—by force, if necessary. In response, South Torbia has fashioned its modernized (tier 2) military as primarily defensive, though the country’s use of armed forces in its fight against internal threats—insurgent groups and criminal enterprises—is decidedly offensive in nature. Olvana fields a large,modern offensive military (tier 1–2) that is focused on both self-defense (internal and external) and regional power projection, with the goal of gaining an equal footing with the United States and Donovia.
The economic conditions in the five countries cover a wide spectrum, ranging from strong capitalistic market systems to oppressive state-controlled ones. Despite their vast differences, the countries’ economies are heavily intertwined. Gabal relies on South Torbia for economic aid while it tries to find its feet after exhausting its natural resources. North Torbia’s command economy is mostly cut off from the rest of the world, but it still trades heavily with Olvana and, to a lesser extent, Belesia. South Torbia’s modern capitalistic economy also relies on trade with Olvana, whose mixed command/free market system is used by its government to buy influence with other nations through a carrot-and-stick approach. Belesia is attempting to diversify its emerging agrarian-based economy via manufacturing and trade with its neighbors, but a lack of high-skilled employment opportunities continues to be an issue. Any major change to just one of the regional economies will have significant ripple effects on those of the others.
The countries all recognize the importance and influence of media and its control. Approaches range from low-level to modern technical capabilities and from extremely loose to tight governmental control. Olvana and North Torbia practice strong control over public communications media in an attempt to control their populations, while South Torbia and Gabal do the opposite; Belesia maintains some media control, but the government has started relaxing restrictions in recent years. The population rapidly adopts new means of information-sharing using modern technology, unless the government intervenes in an attempt to control information flow.Information warfare (INFOWAR) capabilities run the gamut—from Gabal’s basic attempts to portray the country in a positive light to Olvana’s full range of capabilities. INFOWAR is usually directed externally in the region, with countries focusing on their regional opponents in an effort to gain an advantage, no matter how minor. North Torbia is an exception to this rule, as it focuses equally on internal and external targets.Intelligence capabilities are as varied as the region’s countries. Gabal has minimal collection capabilities and relies on either open-source intelligence or support from friendly countries. Belesia’s capabilities are greater, and focused on electronic warfare and cyber security. The remaining countries have large and sophisticated intelligence programs. As with INFOWAR, these are primarily focused on regional opponents except for North Torbia, which also uses its capabilities against its own populace.
The region displays a great mix of infrastructure levels throughout the countries, from old and dilapidated to modern and robust. Around half of the populace resides in cities; the notable exceptions are South Torbia, where nine out of ten residents live in an urban environment, and the eastern portion of Olvana. As is common worldwide, utilities and transportation are both more modern and more prevalent/available in urban than rural areas. Power generation relies heavily on fossil fuels, though hydropower and geothermal are also used. All countries have mass transit, airports, and seaports, though condition and usage varies. The easiest and most common method of international travel in the region is by water, mainly due to abundant sea access and the relatively high cost of airfare. South Torbia and Olvana display the most modern and capable infrastructure, while North Torbia falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. Belesia and Gabal are attempting to expand and improve their infrastructure systems, but are limited by lack of available funds.
Four of the five countries in DATE-Pacific lie in an archipelago bounded by the Philippine Sea to the east, the South China Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea to the south. While Gabal, North Torbia, and South Torbia lie entirely within this island group, Belesia also possesses the northernmost part of the island of Borneo, which lies to the southwest. The islands are mountainous in nature, with interspersed lowland valleys and low coastal plains on the larger islands. Mountain ranges are heavily forested, while valleys are typically fertile and comprise most of the subregion’s arable land. Vegetation and climate are tropical in nature. Major geographic features include peninsulas, volcanoes—both active and inactive—and both surface and subsurface caves. Though common, rivers are not long and are only navigable for short distances, if at all. The most important bodies of water are the seas, which provide both sustenance and a means of transportation. Multiple natural hazards exist, including droughts, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, land and mudslides, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.The fifth country, Olvana, lies in the eastern portion of the Asian continent and borders the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea from north to south. Its terrain contains a mix of mountains, basins, plateaus, and plains, with the only major difference between north and south is that the northern part has highlands, while the south has river deltas. The terrain in the west is extremely mountainous, progressing into basins, plateaus and plains as one progresses eastward. The eastern coast is a mix of plains and urban terrain, with some mountains in the southeast. The fertile Yangtze River Valley starts in the center of the country and flows east to East China Sea. Both vegetation and climate vary greatly, based on location and elevation, and arable land is relatively scarce. Natural hazards include typhoons, flash floods, land and mudslides, earthquakes, droughts and tsunamis.
All DATE-Pacific countries use the Gregorian calendar. Belesia, Gabal, and South Torbia are in time zone GMT +8.0, Olvana is an hour different at GMT +7.0, and North Torbia sets its clocks at GMT +8.5. None of the regional countries observe Daylight Savings Time (DST). Approaches to time vary throughout the region. Gabal and Belesia have a relaxed approach to time and people often work on several tasks simultaneously; doing things “in order” is a foreign concept. South Torbians follow a cyclic approach to time, believing that all opportunities, like the sun, will set and then rise again later on. However, this is not taken as an invitation to slowness or laziness, as their concept of harmony requires an ultra-politeness that extends to strict observation of timetables. The Olvanans are very conscious of time and live by the adage, “He who arrives on time is already late.” North Torbians follow an exacting view of time and are neither early nor late, with the added impetus of extremely negative consequences if one should be tardy.