Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Inspiration: San Serriffe

In 1977, The Guardian newspaper published a special supplement about the island nation of San Serriffe.  Your knowledge of geography isn't at fault if you haven't heard of that country.  San Serriffe is fictional; the supplement was included in the April 1 issue of the newspaper.  This journalistic prank rises to the level of inspiration due to the amount of detail infused into it at the time and later.

San Serriffe consists of two islands and – as the map shows – the resulting shape is suggestive of a semicolon. Many aspects of San Serriffe (including the name itself) are typography related puns.  For instance, the Flong are San Serriffe's indigenous population.  With or without the 'jokey' terminology, San Serriffe offers considerable potential as a setting.

Timeline of major events:
  • 10th Century: Islands claimed in the name of King Harsha Verdhana by Sant Sharrif of India.
  • 1432–1439: Colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese.
  • 1659: Annexed by Great Britain.
  • 1815: Ceded to Portugal.
  • 1824–1836: Era of the condominium between Portugal and Great Britain.
  • 1971: Gains independence from Portugal.
  • 1973: Oil discovered off Caissa Superiore, eventually leading to an influx of foreign investment.

These dates are accurate as far as 'official' history goes, but since the Fifteenth Century, “San Serriffe was colonized, conquered and retaken in rapid succession by the Spanish, the Portuguese, the British, the Italians and, on one memorable occasion, Luxembourg.”

I imagine San Serriffe currently to be a hotbed of international intrigue and espionage.  Yet there is also room for adventure in San Serriffe's colorful – if not confusing – past.  Surely, at some point, San Serriffe must have been a haven for pirates.  And just where did the Flong come from?  Lemuria?


  1. Hmm, a great alternate setting for Over the Edge, perhaps. Less euro-conspiracy, more multi-century factional strife.

  2. Before I clicked on it I thought you were going to rhapsodize about fonts. :)