Archive for April, 2010

Islands of San Seriffe

April 1, 2010

San Serriffe is an island nation in the southern oceans. Owing to a peculiarity of ocean currents and erosion, its exact position varies. A recent report locating it in the Bering Sea was presumably an error. On April 1, 2006 it was reported that San Serriffe was then just off New Zealand’s South Island, but if the rate of movement really is 1.4 km per year as published, San Serriffe should stay in the Indian Ocean for several millennia.

San Serriffe is an archipelago consisting of two main islands and a number of smaller ones. Of the larger islands, the more northerly (the Caissa Superiore or Upper Caisse) is roughly round and the more southerly (the Caissa Inferiore or Lower Caisse) round but with a promontory extending south-westwards from the south-east, at Thirty Point. The two major islands are separated by the Shoals of Adze, dominated by Cap Em. A major inland feature is a swamp, the Woj of Type.

The capital, Bodoni, is in the centre of the Caissa Superiore, and is served by an international airport. It is linked by fast highways to the major ports, including Port Clarendon and Port Elrod, which both provide ample commercial shipping facilities.

Upper Caisse in particular is well served by a network of railway lines serving Bodoni, the airport and the major coastal towns, including the phosphate mining and processing region in the north east. The main line, built by the Great North Bodoni Railway Company, had its own golf club, at Port Baskerville.

A ferry connects Adze on the south coast of the northern island to Cap Em on the north coast of the southern island and there were plans to build a west coastal line as far as Gill Cameo, but it is not known if this line was completed.

Possibly because of its reportedly remote and shifting location, the full history of San Serriffe has never been adequately told, but these basic details are known:

  • 1421. Discovered by adventurers recruited by John Street, an English admirer of Henry the Navigator. The crew made their historic landfall in the Shoals of Adze.
  • 1432–1439. Colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese.
  • 1659. Annexed by Great Britain.
  • 1815. Ceded to Portugal.
  • 1824–1836. The condominium (a term of uncertain meaning).
  • April 1, 1967. Independence; a social democratic government takes control.
  • June 1967. Colonel Hispalis seizes control.
  • August 1969. General Minion seizes control.
  • May 11, 1971. General M.-J. Pica assumes responsibility for the government, and institutes martial law and assumes full dictatorial powers in response to “foreign terrorist infiltration.” This leads to nationwide protests, escalating into civil war and 23 years of chaos and anarchy.
  • May 12 1997. First general election. Antonio Bourgeois swept to power.

The native people of San Serriffe are known as the Flong. However, the dominant group are of European stock, the descendants of colonists, known as colons. There is also a large mixed-race group, known as semi-colons. In the last available census (1973), as reported on April 1, 1977, the population was 1,782,724, with approximately 640,000 colons and semi-colons; 574,000 Flongs; 271,000 Creoles; 117,000 Malaysians; 92,000 Arabs; and 88,000 persons of other ethnic groups.

For many years following independence in 1967, San Serriffe had an autocratic form of government under military strongman General Pica. Democratic elections were held in 1997, and the winner was the charismatic Antonio Bourgeois.

Among the cultural highlights are:

  • The Cult of the Sonorous Enigma
  • The Festival of the Well-Made Play
  • The Ampersand String Quartet

The relaxation of the islands’ strict anti-pornography laws under the Bourgeois government has led to the publication of a series of risqué novels by Serriffean journalists, collectively referred to as the “Times Nude Romances”.

The bitter-sweet swarfega is prepared in various ways to create unique Serriffean dishes. Because of this, the local cuisine lacks the oily character of some related styles.

The national bird of San Serriffe is the kwote, a member of the guillemot (guillemets) family.

In October 2008 Donald Knuth established the Bank of San Serriffe (in Thirty Point, Lower Caisse, San Serriffe), which is an offshore institution that has branches in Blefuscu and Elbonia on the planet Pincus.

San Serriffe is a fictional island nation created for April Fools’ Day, 1977, by Britain’s Guardian newspaper. An elaborate description of the nation, using puns and plays on words relating to typography (such as “sans serif”), was reported as legitimate news, apparently fooling many readers. In more recent years knowledge of typography has spread through widespread use of computers, and so the jokes are much more likely to be spotted.