Bangalla, also known in some sources as Bengali, is a fictional African country, which features in the world famous comic series The Phantom created by Lee Falk. Bangalla is the home of the Phantom, who resides in the Deep Woods of the jungle in the fabled Skull Cave. This is the place where the first Phantom took The Oath of the Skull upon the skull of his father to fight against crime and injustice.
Even though Bangalla is located somewhere in Africa, it could best be described as a combination of an African and Indian country.
Bangalla is a former British colony and is located on the east coast of Africa. It is bordered by Ivory-Lana (also called Farilana) and Rodia ( also written Rhodia). At least parts of current Bangalla was part of the Swahili culture during the time of the first Phantom, with Moribar being a Swahili city.
During the 17th Century, most of current Bangalla was part of Emperor Joonkar's empire of Nyahpura, and some cities like Spyglass were ruled by a sultan, while others were independent or belonged to European nations. At the beginning of the 18th Century, even Spyglass belonged to Nyahpura. After the assassination of Emperor Joonkar and the defeat of the Singh pirate Abba Singh, Nyahpura had a few years of democracy before a famine ruined the country. In 1717, Sanloi was an independent city.
In 1735, the rich Bengalitown was sacked by pirates and never recovered. The treasure reemerged first in modern times, giving back some of the former glory to the town.
Around the 1780s, there was a British governor in Bangalla by the name of Percy. The 12th Phantom payed him a visit and dealt with the rogue appropriately.
After the turn of the 19th Century, Moribar was a fast growing city within the British Empire.
During the era of the 14th Phantom (1811-1831), the British governor Sir William G. Loder traded work with pirates, using the alias, "the Scarecrow".
By 1826, the British governor Sir Cedris had made all of Bangalla a British colony, but he was involved in the opium trade and was arrested and sent back to England for trial.
In 1827, the British governor, Lord Flimsey, cooperated with a slave catcher, realizing too late that slave trade was illegal and punishable by death. The 14th Phantom informed him about this and he repented, and also grew a beard to cover the skull mark made by one of the Phantom's signet rings. This possibly took place fore the time of William G. Loder.
In 1831, The Jungle Patrol was reformed with an unknown commander after some tragic events that resulted in the betrayal and capture of the 13th Phantom. After these tragic events, he ensured that the identity of the unknown commander would forever after remain a secret.
Sometime after 1826, Moribar was renamed Morristown.
In 1886, the British governor sir Stamford Bridges had a railroad built with slave labor. When this was revealed, he accidentally killed his own son, Lieutenant Nicholas Bridges.
Towards the end of the 1880s, the British governor, Lord Hawkwood, cooperated with pirates for a couple of years until he was finally exposed by the 17th Phantom and Richard Fernwhistle, the son of former governor sir Lionel Fernwhistle who had been murdered by Hawkwood's associates.
By the end of the 1920s the British governor repeatedly tried to merge the Jungle Patrol with the regular British forces, without success.
The struggle for independence from the British was very violent and the colonial forces used excess violence against civilians, including executions, burning down villages and stealing cattle. The rebels used bombs to blow up public buildings, bridges and railroad track. But finally, Bangalla gained its independence in the 1960s. After gaining their independence, general elections were held and Dr. Lamanda Luaga was elected the first president of Bangalla, after having fought an epidemic in the jungle. However his opponent, General Bababu, opposed the election results and a civil war broke out. Seizing control of the country and, after announcing that Luaga was dead, he searched for the doctor to kill him and exhibit his head as proof. The Phantom, however, abducted Bababu and brought him to the Deep Woods where Luaga defeated him in fair one-on-one fight. The Council of Chiefs sentenced Bababu to two years' hard labor at each tribal nation. There were 12 chiefs present at that time, and hard labor meant exactly that. General Bababu has, however, never given up the hopes of becoming dictator of Bangalla and has been a recurring villain in Phantom lore, usually in cooperation with other dictators who seek a puppet-president.
Government and Politics
In the 21st Century, the political structure of Bangalla is similar to that of the United States, being likewise based on a combination of French and English Colonial models.
The Executive Branch
Executive administrative powers is controlled by the President, currently Dr. Luaga, who is also the Head of State. Unlike the American model, however, the Bangallan President must choose his cabinet from among the members of the Congress. In addition to that brought forth by the Administration, policy and legislation can be initiated by both houses of the Congress via committee. Such legislation, however, must ultimately be passed by the President. The President maintains a right of veto which is absolute. This differs substantially from that of the American President whose vote can be subsequently overturned by two-thirds Congressional majority.
The Legislative Branch
The legislative branch is made up of a senate and a house of representatives. The members of the senate are elected for six-year terms and are chosen from each of Bangalla's 33 provinces, three from each province.
The members of the house of representatives (Congress) are elected for two-year terms. The Congress is made up of two Houses; the Lower House, also known as the House of Commons, and the Upper House of the House of Chiefs.
The Commons is elected by the population in a similar manner to the lower Houses of most democratic systems, by electing representatives of regional electoral districts. The boundaries are drawn based on popular density so that each member by and large represents a similar number of constituents. The House of Commons currently numbers 143 members.
Politically the Commons is split into two major parties, the Social Democrats, of whom the incumbent Dr. Luaga is a member, and the Rationalists, the right-wing free trade party which currently holds the balance of power in the House.
The Chiefs is something of a cross between the American Senate and the English House of Lords. It comprises 40 delegates known as "Patrons" who are not elected by popular mandate but appointed as the Congressional representatives of the provincial chiefs. Each of the five Provincial districts - Kikongo in the west, Lingola to the north, Ituri to the northeast, Tahiliubu in the south central and Kataba to the south - has an allocation of eight Patrons, half of which are appointed every three years at the time of each general election. A Patron may be himself a chief, as in the case of Chief Tahanga, but that is currently more the exception than the rule.
The primary role of the Chiefs is to preserve the integrity of tribal influence over the nation from the potential threat of western-style urbanization. Within the Upper House the influence over the two major political parties has been limited, with each Patron voting in accordance with the wishes of the chiefs of his provincial district. Traditionally the Chiefs has tended to ratify the policies of the administration.
With the Commons being divided, the Democrats controlling the administration, but the Rationalists holding the majority, ratification of government economic policy has in recent times been dependent on the cooperation of the Chiefs. For this reason the 40 Patrons have become of late the principal target of the political lobbyist.
The Judiciary Branch
The judiciary branch is made up of a supreme court and lesser courts. The supreme court consists of nine justices. Recent events have established that the president, should he or she deem it necessary, has the power to suspend the laws. President Luaga, for instance, suspended the rules against striking or assaulting the president, in an effort to have a fair fistfight with a citizen. Such an exhibition of power suggests that the legislature of Bangalla is weaker than those in many commonwealth countries.
Bangalla is located in East Africa], around the approximate region of [Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia. The capital of Bangalla is Mawitaan (formerly Morristown); other cities include Bengalitown, Sanloi Spyglass and Mucar. Until the 1960s, the country was portrayed as being in Asia, near India.
The Phantom Country
In it's original iteration, the so-called "Phantom Country" is the name given to the fictional country of Bengali, as referred to in the early editions of the Phantom comics. This consists of various significant locations surrounding the "Deep Woods". Most of the Phantom's adventures are in these locations. However there are times when the Phantom travels out of the jungle just like an ordinary man and walk the streets of cities around the world or even over the sea.
- Isle of Eden - This is an island where the Phantom keeps carnivorous and herbivorous animals together. The carnivores have been trained to feed on fish, whereas the herbivores feed on the flora. Rare individual animals like Hzz, Stegy, Fuzzy, Strips and Baldy also inhabit this place. The isle is surrounded by a water-body infested with piranha fish. So a few tribesmen are given the responsibility to feed the carnivores everyday. There are rare and exotic plants on this island. The phantom has brought Diana here many times. There is a network of cables which helps the phantom in aerial transport from tree to tree.
- Castle in the Air - The Castle in the Air (or The Tree House) is the tree-house where the the Walker family resides. It is located at the jungle's edge near the outskirts of the Bangalla capital of Mawitaan, at 15 minutes driving distance. The tree-house does have the look of a castle, with pinnacles and all. But that is not the only reason why Castle in the Air is far from an ordinary tree-house. It has all the facilities and a few luxuries of an average modern house along with a constant supply of electricity. It is quite unique, and a fine example would be the way people move about in and out of the house. This is accomplished by a strange lift or elevator which is actually a basket hanging from a height by a thick strong rope. So, although the tree-house embodies the things that urban development brings with itself, it has not lost its touch with nature and simple living. What makes Castle in the Air an amazing place to live in is the peaceful communion one can have with virgin nature
- The Golden Sands of Keela Wee - The beach is made up of sand naturally mixed with gold particles upto 50% concentration. The golden sands of Keela Wee had belonged to Emperor Joonkar's house for centuries. Emperor Joonkar had built the House of Jade for his bride to be, Sheebah of Tigra. Later, Joonkar presented the beach to the 17th Century Phantom as a wedding present, as reward for his help. The golden sands of Keela Wee has since passed down the Phantom generations. From that time on, every Phantom brought his bride to Keela-Wee after the wedding ceremony and had his honeymoon there. Tradition follows that newly wed couples swim in the sea and then roll in the golden sand. Then, the gleaming golden couples enter into the ancient House of Jade. And then, the rites finish and they are wed.
- Skull Cave - Skull Cave is the Phantom's main residence. It is carves out of a rock looking like a skull. There are many chambers inside the cave. One holds the skull throne, upon which the Phantom sits. There is a library, where every phantom keeps his logs. There is a burial chamber consisting of the coffins of previous Phantoms and their wives. There are two treasure chambers, one heaped to overflowing with gold and other precious stones, the other consisting of rare and old items collected by previous Phantoms as gifts, ransoms etc.
- The Phantom Head - This is a famous peak that looks just like a Phantom's head. Hence the name. In the time of the 7th Phantom, Emperor Joonkar decided to gift the mysterious man who had fought crime and injustice in his country. He decided that nothing less than a mountain would be appropriate. So he commissioned an Italian sculptor of the school of Michelangelo to design the Phantom's head on a stone peak, and hired tribes of natives to do the carving. The result was the huge Phantom's Head that stands today as a tribute by the emperor to the man who never dies.
- Misty Mountains - The Misty Mountains, an almost isolated place beyond the jungle, is the domain of mainly the highland princes and kings (or Rajas as they are called) of the province. The place is as shrouded in mystery as the Deep Woods itself. The residents of the Misty Mountains hardly ever socialize with people living in other areas. The mountains are ruled by tyrants whose cruelty knows no bounds. Their infamy has many a time exceeded their limits and the Phantom has had to intervene. However, one does have to admit that the royalty lives in great style and grandeur. With numerous wives, servants, horses, castles, palaces and the kings live like kings.
- Whispering Grove - The Whispering Grove is a section of the forest which stands apart from the rest. It is said that the wind in the trees keep whispering the name of the 'Phantom'. Thus, the grove got its name as 'The Whispering Grove'. The place is a strange location and is most famous for the whispering of the Phantom's name, which gives the grove a dark haunting feeling. Yet, it is said one also finds peace and solace in the midst of the trees. It is truly one of the wonders of the jungles.
The daily strips beginning 14 Dec. 2018 (see also 11 Jan and 2 March 2019) depicted the Bangallan flag as a light blue field with a yellow crescent moon at the viewer's left (i.e. a crescent Or at the hoist, its horns facing sinister), occupying the whole vertical width of the flag; and at the viewer's right (heraldic sinister), a star of approximately 12 rays atop a besant (disk) of the same (i.e. also yellow). (The position of these last two charges is sometimes reversed--possibly due to error on the part of the artist, Mike Manley, or to the flag being shown from the reverse.) The flag thus bears some resemblance to the real-world flag of East Turkestan, while the smaller charges recall those on the flag of Nepal. Since the crescent generally symbolizes Islam, its appearance on the flag of Bangalla (which has never been depicted as a majority-Muslim nation) represents something of an oddity.
The Phantom's home country was originally the island of Luntok in Asia. Later on, Lee Falk introduced the name Bengali, and inserted more and more African influences. In the 1960s, the location of Bengali was established to be in Africa, but the exact location is uncertain. Even though several neighbor countries are known by name, it is not entirely clearly where they are located in relation to each other. Maps appearing in the strip has shown the country to be near Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cameroon. In the 1970s, Lee Falk changed the name of the country to Bangalla.