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by Pete Grey

Robalin is about ninety-three percent water by surface composition. Nearly all of its population lives on three small continents, and various scattered island chains, located within its broad tropical belts. Cool temperatures, and the lack of arable land makes dry land agriculture difficult and uneconomical. This has driven the creation and maintainment of an extensive aqualculture industry that is unrivalled in expanse among any other Consulate world. More than eighty percent of the world's primary, and about fifty percent of its secondary, industries depend upon or are based at sea.

The world's oceans are unusually deep, thanks to massive seafloor rifting and tectonic motion. High tectonic mobility has encouraged aquatic evolution, and the world's undersea biological diversity is rich and extensive. Most of the population's food either comes from sea harvesting, or is acquired from offworld sources with the income earned from exports of oceanic farming and mining. Most of its high value products are petrochemicals, metals, and biorganic compounds farmed from various underwater species. Agro is a distant second, and an up and coming underwater manufacturing industry is in a remote third place.

The complexity of the world's oceanic economy demands a highly skilled workforce, and the local educational system is renowned for producing engineers, technicians, undersea equipment operators and other high demand occupations, required to keep the economy afloat (ahem!). The reputation of local technical institutions attracts offworld students, creating an additional source of income. Because of the specialised nature and intensive training of these disciplines, a local education is expensive, but automatically bestows status upon successful graduates from other nearby minor systems.

The world was colonised at the same time as neighboring Ringun, and by the same group of colonists, and the two worlds have since merged their governments into a single unitary body, based upon their strong economic and cultural relations. The Combined Government is ostensibly chaired on both planets, with Ringun handling internal affairs, and Robalin dealing directly with the Consulate and other member worlds. In reality Ringun has been transformed into the subordinate partner of this arrangement, and all real power resides with the bureaucratic government on Robalin and its associated Venues. Given the reliance of Robalin upon Ringun for dry land agroproducts, accusations of colonisation are frequently fielded from outside critics.

Robalin's local security forces are rather strict on elements of the population they variously define as "nonconformist." Usually these are groups that are clients or workers of Venues that have fallen out of favor with the Combined Government, which is a funny way of saying that they're unemployed thanks to the usual hobnob and intrigue of upper-class politics. Harassment, arrest and eventual "resettlement" to Ringun permits the Comb Gov to not only reduce welfare payments on the main world, but to deter a recruitment pool for political opposition and anti-government violence.

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