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Topstad is the capital city of Georgeland, located near the centre of the island of Capitalia. It is the largest inland city in the country, and the sixth-largest overall Founded in 1904, Topstad formally became the capital of Georgeland in 1911. Topstad is located in the Federal District of Georgeland and is largely coterminous with it. As of 2020, Topstad's estimated population was 720,232.

Topstad was first explored by settlers in the early 19th century, and was home to a small number of agricultural holdings and small settlements along the Gordon River. The first permanent settlement was established in 1878, as Northam-Wolcott, which became known as Sheffield in 1900. The name 'Topstad' had been applied to the area as early as 1840, when German explorers planned a settlement around the bowl-shaped Lake Northam, to which they gave the name Topfstadt, or 'Bowl City'. The name became official in 1906, by an official act of the federal Parliament.

As the seat of the national government, Topstad is home to most federal institutions, national monuments, museums and galleries, and defence installations. The Houses of Parliament, Martin Hall (residence of the President of Georgeland), the Residence (office of the Prime Minister of Georgeland) and the Supreme Court of Georgeland are all located within the city. All foreign embassies to Georgeland are situated in Topstad and the city hosts the national offices of many federal or international institutions. Most national civil service agencies are headquartered in Topstad, and the city is home to the National Defence Complex, the headquarters of the United Islands Defence Force, and the Bank of Georgeland, the country's reserve bank.

Cultural institutions in Topstad include the Georgeland Museum, the Georgeland War and Veterans Museum, the National Georgeland Mint, the Georgeland National Library, the National Gallery of the United Islands, the National Archives of Georgeland, and the Georgeland National Portrait Gallery.

Topstad began its life as a planned city, but increasingly has become less so, and the city's sprawl has grown exponentially over a century. The former village of Sheffield, intended to be the core of the city, is actually located about 10km north of the city centre, and is one of the city's largest suburban areas. Influenced by the garden city movement, much of the city's core is surrounded by greenbelt space, although this becomes less pronounced in the suburbs. Much of the city's oldest buildings are designed in an Art Deco, Neoclassical or Edwardian style.

Topstad is a tourism hub, and the 4th-most-visited destination in Georgeland. Tourism contributes around 15% of the city's economy. The largest single employer in Topstad is the federal government, which employs around 35% of the city's workforce. The city has large defence, engineering, and software development employers.

History[]

Pre-settlement[]

The region now comprising Topstad and the Federal District were first charted by German explorers around 1797. The first recorded party to survey the area was led by Albrecht Grumm in 1799, but the Grumm party found some evidence there may have been a prior expedition that did not return. Around 1805, shortly after the earliest settlements on the island of Capitalia (then called New Ireland) were established, the area became well-trafficked and agriculturally prosperous. It was more than a century before a permanent population centre was established on the side. However, the Gordon River, named for the colonial Governor, Lord Gordon, provided an excellent source of irrigation for the surrounding farmland, and when the rural population began to soar in the 1870s and 1880s, several homesteads in the region became stopovers for travellers and carters on the journey northwards to New Kikipolis.

Settlement[]

The first permanent structure to be built in what is now the modern Topstad was Burnett Cottage in 1865, but it was not until 1878 that any kind of permanent population centre arose. The village and later town of Northam-Wolcott, as it then was, became a regional centre and a market for produce in the area. The town was renamed to Sheffield in 1900. The name 'Topstad' was not adopted until 1906 (see below).

Emergence of a capital[]

In 1891, after Georgeland gained (limited) independence from Britain, the city of Weston (now Santa Christina) was chosen as a capital city, with the understanding that a new capital would be built within thirty years as a compromise arrangement between Weston, Doubledance and Emilypolis. Several dozen parliamentary committees and citizens' groups were formed to suggest locations and names for the new capital city. Options considered were Lylecity, Georgetown, Pamby, Dannyburg, Ipswich and Chipwich, which was the leading candidate for some time. However, as it was relatively close to Weston, the Chipwich idea was vetoed. Georgetown, which at the time had only 4,000 residents, was seen as too remote and inaccessible, and Lylecity and Pamby were vetoed when an agreement was reached to establish the new capital on an island other than Mainland. The compromise arrangement of Sheffield was agreed on by the House of Commons in August 1903, and ratified in the National Capital Act of 1904 by the Senate. Georgeland now had a site for a permanent capital city. The name 'Sheffield' was to remain the name of the new capital, but a bill spearheaded by Jonathan Walker successfully changed the name of Sheffield to Topstad, after the discoverer of the region. At around the same time, the state of New Ireland was formally renamed Capitalia, though technically the island itself did not change its name and remains New Ireland today.
The first construction of government buildings began in 1905, and continued at a rapid pace. By 1910, the town's population had doubled to almost 11,000, and many thousands more would arrive to take advantage of the sudden boom and the economic opportunities therein. In 1910 construction was completed on the first, preliminary, stage of the Houses of Parliament, and an official residence for the Governor-General of Georgeland, Runsdale Court, had also been completed, though it had been converted from an existing structure. Also around this time, businessman Victor Martin, later Georgeland's first President, began construction of a guest house for himself and his family in the area, which later became Martin Hall, the President's official residence. In December 1910, Prime Minister Nicholas Turner visited the town and proclaimed it "ready to be our home", and declared it to be a City, as it was felt that a capital must be "of sufficient grandeur".

Government moves in[]

On April 7, 1911, Parliament sat in Topstad for the first time and formally declared Topstad to be the "capital of Georgeland in perpetuity." The population continued to grow throughout Topstad's early development, reaching 20,000 by the outbreak of World War I. The first drama in the new capital occurred only four months into its life, as a general election voted out the Protectionist government led by Turner and voted the country's first Labour government in, led by Eric Donaldson.
Many found the new capital remote and inhospitable - there were few hotels and recreational areas until the Depression, and no rail access until 1920. In 1924 the first aerodrome on the island of Capitalia was built at Topstad. Among those who hated Topstad was Prime Minister David Turner, ironically the brother of the man who had declared the city ready to be home to the government. In a letter to his son in July 1920, Turner said: "This place is nothing but a barren plain, made barely liveable by the one hotel and barely tolerable by the many fools." The wartime governments of Donaldson, and later Gregory Green conducted much of their business from 'secret war rooms' underneath the Topstad Hotel, which were excavated in 1984.

Mid 20th Century[]

Topstad received its first significant public works funding in 1923 when the government funded a program to double the population of the city within ten years. The ambitious proposal saw the creation of new suburbs and a revitalised central business district, and the development of riverside areas. In 1940, the census recorded Topstad's population at 47,000. It would continue to grow exponentially over the next five decades.
By the end of World War II, Topstad had become the fastest-growing city in Georgeland. Fenton Thomas had conducted all wartime affairs from the city and had somewhat irked his Cabinet and public servants by insisting all Cabinet meetings and all discussions with military leaders take place in Topstad. In 1944, Defence Command Headquarters was relocated to Topstad from Santa Christina, which brought with it thousands of ancillary staff. The increase in government activity, spurred by the post-war growth of the public sector, brought in new residents and commercial development, including the expansion and updating of the city's rail network, which by 1968 was in use as a civic mass transit system, as opposed to a simple route in and out of the city. In 1970, Topstad's population was more than 150,000.

Late 20th century[]

21st century[]

Geography[]

Topstad sits on the Gordon River, which flows through the city's eastern side and through the vaguely-circular Lake Northam, from which the city was eventually named. The city's core is The Octagon, an octagonal road through which four main arterial avenues pass - Republic Way, Pearce Avenue, Constitution Drive, and Federal Boulevard. The Octagon, approximately a kilometre across, contains many of the city's most important buildings either along it or within it, with most major federal departments and agencies headquartered there. The Octagon's interior land also contains commercial and residential sites although the bulk of non-governmental buildings are outside the main city centre. In 2002, the Octagon's interior space was estimated to contain 100,000 parking spaces, which led the national finance minister at the time, Xavier McLaren, to refer to the district as the 'largest carpark in the world'.

Government and Politics[]

Local government[]

The city is largely the same geographical area as the Federal District of Georgeland, and since 2016 no distinction has been made between the governance of either. From 1910 until 2016, the city was governed by a Mayor and a City Council. As it is a federal entity, the Federal District is not a state, and the federal government has always had oversight over the city's local administration.

With increasing calls for self-government, Topstad held a referendum in 2010 which voted in favour of a state-like system to replace the city council, and which would have responsibility for health, education, employment, and a range of other powers delegated to it by the federal parliament. The position of Mayor no longer exists and the city council has been replaced by the Legislative Council. The Head of Government for the Federal District is the city's effective mayor; the position is currently held by Andrew Fisher.

The federal government retains oversight of the District and of Topstad through the Prime Minister's Department, which is responsible for federal territories. The Minister for Territories, currently Yasmin Foley, retains certain veto rights over the District, mostly in areas where local policy conflicts with that of the federal government. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government passed the Internal Borders (Federal District) Act, which gave the right to determine the city's border controls during emergencies to the Legislative Council, rather than the Cabinet as had been the case previously.

Federal representation[]

Topstad and the Federal District are represented in the House of Commons by three Members of Parliament. Unlike other national territories such as Washington DC and Canberra, Topstad has always had representation in the legislature. At the 2019 election, all three seats were won by Reform. Historically, the city has favoured centre-left parties, although the Conservative Party of Georgeland had a strong presence in the city for some time, and one of its longest-serving members and a former leader, Mary Byrne, represented the city for many years.

Under the Representation of the Federal District Act of 1968, the District elects two Senators. As with state senators, District senators serve a six-year term, with one of them up for election every three. This has meant that in practice, senators from the Federal District are elected by an instant-runoff ballot, the only members of the senate for whom this is true (all others are elected by Single Transferable Vote). As of 2020, the two senators were Mohammed Katar from the Liberal Democrats, and Petunia Kennedy from the Georgeland Alliance.

Judiciary and police[]

Prior to 2016, the Federal District did not have its own court system. Topstad had several local magistrates and inferior courts, but as there was no supreme court, appeals from local courts went directly to federal courts. Between 1940 and 2016, three judges of the Supreme Court would periodically sit as the Federal District Superior Court, providing some of the functions of a supreme court. The Self-Government Act provided for a Federal District Supreme Court of five judges, headed by a Chief Justice (currently Linda Laming). Unlike state supreme courts, which are appointed by state governors on the advice of state cabinets, Federal District Supreme Court judges are appointed by, and subject to confirmation by, the Legislative Council. They are the only judges in the country to go through a confirmation process in a legislature.

Police services are under the control of the District's government, with the former city council having some police jurisdiction before 2016. The Federal District Police Force (FDPF) was founded in 1978, after a merger between the Capital Police Force and the Topstad Police Department. The FDPF reports to the district's government and is headed by a Commissioner, currently Roger Fulton.

Transportation[]

Topstad is serviced by Highway 5, which runs across Capitalia north-to-south, and Highway 6 which runs east-to-west. The city has a high ratio of cars to residents, and recent attempts to encourage public transportation use have met with mixed success. The city's primary public transport system is its railway, which connects with Capitalia's state rail system, and runs between the major urban and suburban hubs. Recently, construction of a light rail system has begun in the city centre.

The city also runs a municipal bus service, which covers a larger volume of the city than the railway. The district government, in 2020, announced a plan to upgrade all the city's buses to a green biofuel variety by 2027.

Topstad is serviced by three cab companies; Capital Cabs, Dulux Taxies, and Yellow Cabs. Ride-sharing services, including Uber, Lyft and MyDriver, began operating in the city unregulated around 2010; the city legalised ridesharing in 2015.

Sport and leisure[]

Topstad is home to the National Stadium, otherwise known as the T-Mobile National Stadium, which despite the name is not a national institution but does serve as the main sporting hub for the city, and home to three of its prominent sporting teams. The Topstad Tigers are the city's premier association football team and have a large following; the club's women's team, the Tigresses, have gained popularity in recent years and have a stronger overall record than the men's team; in 2020 the men's team was relegated to the Second Division while the women's team won the championship trophy. The National Stadium also serves as the home ground for the city's rugby team, the Topstad Titans, though multiple games are also played at the Sheffield Cricket Ground.

The city is also represented in state and national cricket competitions. The city is considered part of Capitalia for domestic cricket, and participates in Capitalia's local league. The aforementioned Sheffield Cricket Ground is the city's largest sporting venue in terms of seating, and is used for various state and international matches, as well as Prime Minister's XI matches.

Topstad is represented in the National Basketball Competition by the Topstad Thunder (men's) and Topstad Rexes (women's, aka the 'T-Rexes'), in netball by the Topstad Talons, and in rugby league by the Capital Comets. Recently an amateur Australian Rules football league has emerged.

Landmarks[]

Demographics[]

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