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close this bookSevere Tropical Storms Preparation and Response - Case Study Text (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1991, 58 p.)
close this folderPart One: Background Information
View the documentA. Introduction
View the documentB. Background Details - The Salaccan Republic
View the documentC. Emergency Preparedness History
View the documentD. Cyclone Preparedness: Proposed Actions in Response to Warning

B. Background Details - The Salaccan Republic

Topography

The Salaccan Republic has a total area of 340,000 sq km and is bounded by the neighbouring countries of Suremia to the North, and Sedalia to the West. The crest of the Albastra mountain range spans much of the border with both countries. Twelve peaks rise to about 3000 metres, the highest being Mount Nevana (3643 metres).

Rivers are short and subject to extreme variations in flow. Most rivers are not navigable, and are liable to flood, especially in the plains. Extensive drainage systems have been constructed. The principle rivers are the Mesosa, which flows eastward, and the Grasa, which flows north east. Soils of alluvial origin cover about one third of the country. Upland soils are acid and unfertile.

The coastline to east is simple and straight, bordered., with low sand dunes and lagoons. Deep water ports are situated at Sotorino, including a new Freeport 30 km from the city, and at Varina.

Salacca has hot summers and mild winters. The highest mean monthly temperature reaches 33 degrees Centigrade. In cold months, the mean monthly temperature is around 19 degrees Centigrade. Mean annual precipitation is 2,980 mm. The precipitation in summer is about 78 percent of the annual total.

Population

The population of Salacca is currently estimated to be approximately 24,400,000. The population more than doubled between 1950 and the late 1980’s. The rate of growth declined steadily, however, from the 1960’s, and is now about 1.8 percent. The death rate decreased by about one half from 1950 to 1970 and then became stable. About 35 percent of the population is younger than 15 years old.

Two thirds of the population live in the coastal plains and basins in the East. There has been a significant population movement from rural areas to towns, and the urban population is now nearly one half of the total.

The Capital city, Benedicta, has a population of about 4.8 million people. Sotorino has 2.2 million, and Varina 1.8 million.

Transport

The road network is well-developed in the Northwest and North, but less so in the East and Southeast. There are about 33,000 km of tarmac or gravel road. There is an extensive private passenger-bus network. Ninety percent of road-freight is transported by private companies; the government-run National Transport Company carries the remainder. The nationalised railway network covers about 3500 km. There are international airports at Benedicta and Sotorino. The National Airline also runs a limited internal service connecting the main towns

Economy

National economic planning was introduced into Salacca in 1958. Removal of regional economic disparities, diversification of the economy, industrialization, and general economic development were conceived as the goals of this programme.

Agriculture is developed mainly on the Eastern plains, while industry is concentrated largely in the Capital city and in the areas surrounding the ports of Sotorino and Varina. About forty percent of the total area is arable and cultivated. Smallholders predominate. Apart from staple crops, sugarcane, tea, hemp, pineapple, and a range of other fruits and vegetables are cultivated. The country exports a range of agricultural products, especially fruit.

Fishery production has steadily increased. The shallow waters of the western coastline provide important fishing grounds. Further out, warm currents provide good deep-sea fishing. The government’s Fisheries Ministry is attempting to develop the industry.

Natural gas and petroleum have replaced coal and wood as the main energy source. The Government licences the prospecting and production of natural gas and petroleum products. Natural gas and oil pipelines come ashore 25 km from Sotorino. An increasing proportion of electricity is generated using natural gas and hydroelectric facilities.

Marked industrial development has occurred in the last ten years. Production includes metals, chemicals and chemical products, leather and rubber goods, textiles, paper, and machinery. There is a growing sector providing assembly for foreign micro-electronics companies. Manufactured goods account for more than thirty percent of foreign trade. Trade patterns are diverse.

The major imports are electronic components, foodstuffs, machinery, and iron and steel.

The balance of trade is not unfavourable, and additional revenues are derived from remittances from overseas Salaccans, and the tourist industry.

The Gross National Product is currently estimated to be around 43 billion US dollars.

Social Welfare

Education has been compulsory for many years, and all children between the ages of 6 and 14 are now required to attend school. An estimated 87% of the adult population are considered literate.

Social welfare programmes are meagre. Public health conditions are far from adequate, although they compare well with neighbouring countries. Health facilities and services are concentrated in the more urbanized regions. The majority of rural dwellers lack a potable water supply. Malaria and gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases are important health problems. The average life expectancy is about 63 years. The infant mortality rate is still quite high at 55 per 1000 live births.

Government structure

The central government combines the cabinet and presidential systems. Legislative power rests with a National Assembly, made up of a Senate and House of Elected Representatives. The President’s role is mainly ceremonial. The head of government is the Prime Minister, appointed by the President on the advice of the National Assembly. There is a multi-party system. However, one party, the current Prime Minister’s Progress Party, has ruled for the past twenty two years.

The provincial governors and the mayor of Benedicta are appointed by the central government; the provincial assembly is elected.

Radio and Television

Salacca has one government-run and three private TV channels. A limited cable service in Benedicta carries international CNN and BBC World Television services. The main political party and several senior members of the armed services have substantial commercial interests in two of the private channels. There are two government-run national radio channels, and a network of private FM stations in the main cities.

Culture

The capital, Benedicta is the main centre of cultural activities in the country. It was established in 1632. It has an attractive blend of Western and Salaccan architecture.

Salacca’s written literature dates from the 14th century. The golden age in Salaccan arts occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries and is reflected at its best in the many friezes and wall paintings surviving from that period.

Newspapers and radio and television are widely used to promote an appreciation of the Salaccan classics, and painting and calligraphy are encouraged. The recently renovated National Museum in Benedicta displays bronzes, paintings, and other treasures of Salacca’s artistic heritage. The traditional arts of Salaccan opera and drama are performed in the National Theatre and Concert Hall in Benedicta, opened in 1982. There is a National College of Arts and and a specialist restoration centre near Sotorino, beside the ruins of the first centre of Salaccan culture at Ulota.

Disaster Risks

The main disaster risk to the country is severe tropical storms. These have been rare over the past fifteen years. The last major tropical cyclone to strike the country was in 1976, when approximately 8000 people were killed in a storm-surge and severe flooding in the far South of the country.

In urban areas, rapid uncontrolled growth has increased the risk of industrial accidents and emergencies. The growing number of plants producing textile yam, and the widespread reliance on liquified natural gas as an energy source, constitute serious hazards for the dense populations settled in and near industrial areas.

The area is not at high risk from earthquakes. A small fault line below the Albastra range generates periodic shocks of low intensity which can be felt in the capital.

During the period of the case study there was a serious refugee emergency in the Suremian Democratic Republic, which appears to be growing steadily worse. There was a substantial risk that this would spill-over into Salacca in the next few months.