205 – North America, the Balkans Version
North America must have the lowest nation/surface ratio in the world. The huge subcontinent is made up of only two sovereign states: Canada and the US (*). This is not to say that this was a ‘Manifest Destiny’: many regionalist revolts were crushed to form these two monoliths.
Which raises the question, at least in Matthew White’s mind: “What is the most fragmented that North America could have been?” White’s website (from the mid-nineties, but still online) serves up several ‘alternate history’ maps, that use a POD (point of divergence) somewhere in the past to construct a present slightly (or wildly) different from ours. White’s Balkanised North America, with 1787 as the POD, is by far the most interesting exercise.
“In this alternate reality, the westward expansion of the Anglo-American people proceeded pretty much as it did in our reality,” White writes, “but the United States government just couldn’t keep up. Every national identity crisis resolved itself in favor of the separatists instead.”
On the map, White details as sovereign, areas that: “1. administered themselves as autonomous nations at some point in American history, or 2. shed blood to achieve or maintain their independence, or at least 3. threatened to.”
One important caveat: “The Native American tribes throughout the continent fit all these criteria, but I limited myself to only three native enclaves.”
Not mentioned in this timeline, but present on the map: the Maritime Dominion, a British toehold on the North American subcontinent (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia); and Newfoundland, either a separate British dominion or an independent state. Depending on the latter, this ‘balkanised’ North America is composed of no less than 17, and possibly 18 territories with different sovereignties. Compared with the real-time country that stretches ‘from sea to shining sea’, this USA has been reduced to a rump state – somewhat reminiscent of present-day Serbia relative to former Yugoslavia.
(*): Please note that the definition of ‘North America’ varies: in Anglo-America (i.e. English-speaking Canada and the US) it is often held to be synonymous with the US and Canada. Sometimes, Mexico is included. And/or St Pierre and Miquelon (a French-administered collectivité territoriale off Canada’s Atlantic coast). And/or Bermuda. All of which would take the number of sovereign states covering North America up to five – still a very small number.
This map was sent in by Kári Tulinius, Matthew White’s website can be found here.