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Why might a relatively long coastal land get destroyed a lot but not captured?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Electric Bone Flute, Mar 12, 2021.

  1. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

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    I want a land to go the way of the Phoenix; defeated often but rising again, usually with new people, each time, in its history. I'm already stuck with it being a long stretch of coastal land with a few important natural harbors with a climate like Stockholm. I want to know how this could plausibly be so; why doesn't the defeating power of the day come in and take the land itself? Current era is industrial revolution. I want the conditions to be the case so that the land is self-sufficient enough to ape Prussian militarism at the end of the 19th century. I'm not committed to any other resource/geographical features.
     
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  2. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    What you're describing could be California, had it been a unified country with a strong warrior culture when the Spanish arrived, instead of multiple small, culturally and linguistically diverse tribes that, with few exceptions, did not have a warrior culture at all. If they were more unified and accustomed to fighting off invaders (California, being protected by ocean on one side and mountains on the other, really wasn't seeing them), they could have held their own. And they had the natural resources to be self sufficient without any large scale trade (there was significant trade between different parts of California, different tribes, but not really outside of it).

    Japan in that era was in a similar position. Their isolationist policies and their warrior culture kept them mostly unmolested. And by the end of the 19th century, guess what: they were literally aping Prussian militarism.
     
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  3. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Well....if the land behind had no resources worth taking, but proved to be a good launching point for pirates along a trade route, I could see powers coming in to clean it out, find nothing of value and move on till it became a problem again.
     
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  4. Hunter

    Hunter Dreamer

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    Hm, give them a united society and a hard honourable culture, that is a good option, idk of economics but hey, there is an idea
     
  5. A Pineapple

    A Pineapple Scribe

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    There are two big reasons that I can think of to occupy a non adjacent land.
    1. the land has strategic importance. Think all of the pacific island battles of WWII. Ports in particular are great because they let you mount attacks once you have captured them.
    2. The land has some inherent benefit as a colony. There are rich/exotic resources that you can siphon relatively easily.

    There are also some reasons that I can think of that would make control of a captures land difficult
    1. It is remote. Its easy to control adjacent territory, but if it is a months journey, you will have to run it as a colony, and that opens the door to complicating factors.
    2. The land is too foreign. If you wholly do not get the local customs or topography, it is difficult to govern. It is also much more costly to have to learn how to govern such a land.
    3. There is gurilla resistance. This can be especially amplified by the above 2 reasons. If there is a strong national pride, it may be far better to loot than to try to sit atop a hornets nest waiting for honey.

    So putting these together, if said coastal land is out of the major trade routes, and it doesnt have substantial intrinsic value, it would be better to move on. Adding a line of mountains behind the coast ( like chile) would doubly make it hard to really control, but easy enough to loot the harbors.
     
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  6. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    Again, California is a good example, if it had that kind of united society. There was plenty of trade from the mountains to the coast and places in between. Certainly a sustainable, self contained economy. Colonialism disrupted that, but if they had been better equipped to fight off colonialism (more warrior power and strong enough immunity to the diseases the foreigners brought), it could have ended up looking a lot more like Japan.
     
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  7. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

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    This is a question about strategy. The attacking power needs a reason to try to occupy the whole country in question. If their strategic aims can be met by defeating the country militarily and then extracting concessions then there is no need to occupy the country. In some cases, other countries may get together for strategic reasons of their own and persuade the attacking power to accept concessions instead of occupying the country. Both outcomes would give the defeated country time to rebuild.

    At a slightly lower level, occupying another country is a major drain on military and later civilian resources. An empire is only sustainable for as long as the country building the empire can afford it. The British Empire came about mostly because the British needed to protect their trade routes and their trading interests; the political and ideological justification for having an empire came much later. Once the empire started to cost money (basically after India became independent) the British got rid of it as fast as they could.

    You need to think through the world you've created, its geography, its various countries and their politics and economies. This would give you some idea of their various strategies, and hence when and why they'd choose to attack and maybe occupy other countries.
     
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  8. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

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    Maybe the land is resource poor, but there is fishing. They try to take the land, but have no practical way to deal with ships. As long as their navy can protect the fishing boats, there is no economic reason to hold the land.
     
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  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    You are describing a situation similar to ancient Palestine/Israel. Way, way back, before the Romans showed up, that area was a sort of 'buffer zone' between Egypt and Mesopotamia (using that term to describe a series of nations in the same area). Sometimes Egypt or Mesopotamia sent colonists to the Palestine. Both often sent putative military expeditions. Much of the time, though Palestine was a collection of states that...got along with each other some of the time (Phoenicia, Israel, Judea, Canaan, a couple others). The various rulers of these fiefs tended to ally with each other, or accept Egyptian or Mesopotamian strongmen as nominal overlords (switching sides whenever convenient). This situation persisted for...well over 1000 years, maybe double or triple that.

    What happened with Israel was they eventually rejected both local alliances and nominal fealty to a distant overlord, and without allies were overwhelmed.
     
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  10. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    The area has steep forested hills along its coastline and only small areas of flat arable land. Most of that land is near harbours. Because of the limited amount of land the number of people who can be supported is limited. The locals who live here are people who survive on the local crops, meat and milk from local livestock, and by fishing. To make matters worse the climate is inhospitable for much of the year with lots of fog, biting cold winds and frequent storms, including the occasional blizzard.

    Potential colonisers do send the occasional scouting party but they conclude the resources available would be too hard to extract with the technology available and the cost of extracting those resources in both money and manpower wouldn't be worth it. The coastal land is of little strategic or political value. Thus, the reason why they haven't been colonised.

    Perhaps the locals have built mines to extract certain metals but the amount mined and the quality of the metal means it's only suitable for pots, plough blades, nails, fittings, hinges and horse shoes rather than industrial uses.
     
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  11. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    Perhaps the region has something toxic or infection to all the invaders, something the natives are immune to. Over time the invaders die from the toxin/infection. The climate could have very harsh cycles that return every 10, 50 or 100 years. This causes devastation which the natives prepare for without ever telling the invaders.
     
  12. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    Like malaria?

    That was the case, more or less, in Africa when Europeans aimed to colonize it. African gene pools include some immunity to malaria (but imperfectly: one copy of the gene gives you malaria immunity, two copies give you sickle cell disease). In Europe, that trait wasn't in the pool.

    That didn't stop colonization completely, but it did put some brakes on it. When someone figured out that the bark of the cinchona tree, found in South America, could cure malaria (hello, quinine!) there was less stopping the Europeans. But still, the diseases endemic to Africa were more likely to knock down the invaders and spare the natives than the other way around, and Africans were not felled by European diseases in any significant numbers. So, Africa did not end up looking like the Americas. It very well might have if the disease patterns had gone the other way.
     
  13. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    In Asia, Europe and much of Africa people had lived in close proximity to domesticated animals for centuries, if not millennia. As a result, they developed an immunity to most of the diseases these animals had. In contrast, parts of Africa, most of the Americas, Australia and the Pacific Islands had few, if any, domesticated animals so when the colonising powers arrived in these places the inhabitants had no defence against the diseases which the Europeans brought with them.

    You could create some domesticated animals that have highly contagious diseases which the local people have immunity from because they've been living in close proximity with these animals for centuries. In contrast, colonisers have no immunity to such diseases so when they attempt to establish a foothold they die within a few years.
     
  14. Maxine Carr

    Maxine Carr Dreamer

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    An original tsunami followed by frequent minor tsunamis that have destroyed all the arable land. The inland area is a permanent boggy morass that no one is interested in farming.
     
  15. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    If all the arable land has been destroyed, how are people living there?
     
  16. Maxine Carr

    Maxine Carr Dreamer

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    Boggy fen lands cannot be farmed but they can be fished and there are plenty of other things useable for trade.
     
  17. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Scribe

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    You can answer your question largely with logistics. The island is at the long end of a supply line that's easily disrupted and expensive to maintain. The powers that invade have other concerns and can't afford to bring their full might against the island nation. The society is a polyglot because they simply absorb the invaders and go back to doing what they were before the invaders arrived. The constant influx of new DNA and culture keeps them resilient and adaptable.

    Why the island keeps getting invaded, I don't know.
     
  18. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Pretty much the situation in ancient Judea/Palestine.

    That region kept getting invaded because it had strategic value for the neighboring 'superpowers' of the time. But they only did so when strong enough.
     
  19. Maunus

    Maunus Dreamer

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    How about destruction by recurring tsunamis?
     
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