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Westerners are a generic ethnic group in Baltic Union census, encompassing all non-native descendants of Western European and American personnel stationed in the Baltic nations at the onset of the Great War.

Overview

Since the early days of the Union, Westerners have traditionally composed about 5% of the post-War population. While many have since been assimilated completely into the native culture, others retain a distinct cultural identity that is both tolerated and even encouraged by the Union government, which has historically been very tolerant towards people supportive to their cause.

"Westerner" is a blanket term, meant to designate anyone from the "tolerated" minorities of the allies of the Union's predecessor states. As of 2132, all but the very oldest of Westerners are natives in all but name, associating with it more because their society identifies them as such than their own choice. That said, being a Westerner is no grounds for discrimination, and if anything, a Westerner identity is more likely to elicit a positive curiosity from a native Balt.

More recent immigrants from Western nations are also typically assigned to the "Westerner" group upon naturalization, as opposed to the historically-closer ethnic groups commonly found in Eastern Europe. As long as they are willing to submit to the same requirements expected of every native-born citizen (i.e., universal military service from the age of 13), they are granted the same rights and privileges as all other citizens, and the Union authorities are very watchful for any signs of bigotry against these new citizens who have proven themselves worthy. That being said, recent immigrants still suffer from some degree of initial discrimination until eventually being accepted by the community, the procedure for recognition more often than not being simply buying a few rounds for everyone in the village pub, or proving one's worth in battle in the more difficult settlements.

Outsiders often perceive Balts as strongly-racist, though this perception is perhaps more because of political insensitivity than actual prejudice - a Balt will, for example, see nothing wrong with referring to "negro savages" while conversing with a Black person from the civilized West, with sincere friendly intent at that. Likewise, while a Black person might often earn the stares and unwelcome comments of native folks, it is most often because of their general unfamiliarity with Black people rather than genuine prejudice (a circumstance commonly encountered by Agent Rollins during his stay over the Third Baltic-Mecharussian War).

Community

Because they are seen as naturalized foreigners by the majority of native folk, Westerners have maintained a distinct identity for three generations, even if most of them are born natives in all but name, and have little in common originally.

The shared trait among many Westerners regardless of original ethnicity is English language. The Union government deliberately encourages and fosters it as a secondary identity, partly in order to encourage native citizens to learn English as extension of the formal three-language requirement. While all but the most recently-integrated Westerners speak at least one of the Union's official languages fluently, they retain a distinct linguistic and cultural aspect among themselves.

Active Westerner communities often attend common religious services in the English language, marry amongst themselves and use their old language in their families despite perfect command of the native tongues.  The Union government is very tolerant of these practices, as long as the participants learn at least one of the native languages and are willing to serve the Union under arms like everybody else.

Notable members

Colonel Andrew T. Walcroft, one of the founding fathers of the Union, was the only resident Western officer to survive and be recognized as one of the founders of the Baltic Union.

Gloria Vanags is a third-generation native Westerner, her ancestors coming from West Virginia, US.

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