If you want to make a fortune, live life in the fast lane, or stay up to date on the social, political, and economic happenings of Erna, Ecaz is your best bet. Ecaz has risen from relatively unremarkable farmlands to a thriving, economic powerhouse is a very short span of time, and it has fought for its independence and its right to do so time and again.
The lands that make up Ecaz today were once a collection of scattered hamlets and bustling towns until the Carthic Empire rolled through and conquered Erna 1000+ years ago. The Empire organized the local populace into four districts for ease of taxation, and under the guiding hand of several generations of shrewd governors, the area grew prosperous. The Ecaz districts originally stretched from the southern coast of Erna all the way north to the Tarmane Sea, butting up to the Grand Line in the East and the Midland Forests in the West. As the influence of the Empire began to wane approximately 400 years ago (100CA), the local leaders of the Ecazi districts were able to gain more and more of a foothold in the Governors' organization, eventually establishing themselves as defacto rulers under a Carthic figurehead. This allowed the Ecazi to govern themselves while continuing to blame any misfortune or unfair policies on their Carthic overlords.
When northeastern Erna rebelled from the Empire under the banner of Hale Harkonnen in 0AE, the lands of Ecaz initially supported their masters. However, the Harkonnen war machine proved to be fiercer than the local militias, and the forces of the northern two districts were thoroughly routed as Hale's armies marched west to meet the Carthic reinforcements. The Empire's counterattack was powerful, despite the poor state of its forces, and the area was devastated by constant fighting. Eventually, Harkath withdrew into the northernmost district and solidified their position, but before Ecaz could move back in, the Dwarven armies of the nation of Jetstone moved west and permanently claimed the southern district, joining the fight on the Carthic front.
When the Fallen Kingdoms reasserted their sovereignty, the Empire's forces withdrew completely from Erna, and Ecaz was left largely defenseless from the retribution of its neighbors. The remaining two districts split into five, and the people of each area fortified their walls, reasoning that the district most able to defend itself would prove itself able to lead. After decades of skirmishes along all borders, including concerted campaigns by Harkath and the newly formed Gastonian Republic, Ecaz retained its place in the political landscape of Erna. While the leaders of the five districts were willing to cooperate occasionally, they couldn't muster the military might to rival Gastonia in the west or Harkath and Jetstone in the north, and so they resolved to make their place as traders. Through a combination of shrewd business practices and subtle deception, Ecaz grew into the economic superpower it is today.
The Ecaz Conglomerate is an oligarchy, with five districts controlled by Trade Princes who maintain separate bureaucracies, military forces, systems of taxation, and even currencies. Economic and political competition between the Princes is fierce, and every five years the most powerful among them is crowned the "Majority Holder." The Majority Holder's capital is designated the nation's capital, the Holder breaks ties between the other Princes, and he or she also makes unilateral decisions in times of war. The current Holder is Trade Prince Deretti Calcutto, a crafty and bloodthirsty goblin who has maintained his supremacy by the narrowest margin for ten years.
Despite Ecaz's rocky relationship with Harkath, Jetstone, and Gastonia in the past, modern day Ecaz is close friends with these nations. Complex webs of trade link almost all the continent, though Ecaz has had difficulty dealing with the scattered peoples of Ruud and Sesset deals almost exclusively with Gastonia because of its treaties. The City States of Willesa maintain a cold relationship with the materialistic districts of Ecaz, frowning on their focus on wealth over enlightenment.
Demographics and Culture
The population of Ecaz totals six million. A whopping 12% of the population lives in urban areas, and each district has several larger cities where most permanent residents live. A minor agricultural base provides support to some of the populace, but Ecaz relies heavily on trade to feed and clothe its citizens.
In most of the cities and major towns of Ecaz, wealth equals influence, and influence equals power. The region boasts some of the most advanced and complex systems of currency and finance in all of Erna, and nearly every citizen has a bank account with a fortune that determines their importance or their insignificance. While this reoccupation with riches is offputting to many, the people of Ecaz are friendly and accommodating (provided you can pay). Some of the more rural areas maintain the simple customs and culture of the distant past. The touch of Carthic culture is also very strong in many places, due to Ecaz's embracing of their occupiers for many generations of prosperous coexistence.
Ecaz is very racially diverse, welcoming any who have the avarice to participate in the trade which powers the country. One interesting note is that Ecazi cities contain the largest populations of goblins on Erna, as well as the largest settlements of goblins that have peaceful relations with humans, elves, and dwarves.