The current population of Shalampax is 4,242. For the last 25 years or
so it has never risen above 4,242 and has rarely remained more than half
a dozen people below 4,242 for any longer than nine months. The reason
for this is simple. We all live in a single large building with no room
to build it out. We don't want to build it any higher because the electrical
supply is occasionally strained and we don't want to either overtax our
elevators or walk up any more flights of stairs than necessary.
To limit the population to 4,242 we require that all heterosexual copulating couples use effective contraceptives. Whenever a contraceptive fails, the pregnant woman is expected to have an abortion for the good of society.
When a Shalampaxian dies or, despite the international warrants issued against all Shalampaxians because of our views on copyright (see the arts
), someone emigrates, a woman of childbearing age is chosen to bear a replacement. The prospective mother is chosen in the same way as we choose our prime minister (see government
), but the pool of candidates is limited to fertile women rather than all adults as is the case with the prime minister selection process. The chosen woman is expected to put all of her efforts into conceiving a child. If, within the span of three menstrual cycles, she fails, another fertile woman is chosen by the same process.
Why did we choose a population of 4,242 rather than say, 4,237 or 4,268? Our building is big enough to house between 4,200 and 4,300 people comfortably — maybe 4,350 if we all inhale, but that would be asking too much of us. We settled on the number 4,242 in 1980 after reading The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the late Douglas Adams. In it, we learned that the answer to the Ultimate Question is 42, so how could we choose any number but 4,242? Someone later pointed out that Douglas Adams was joking, but we had already passed all of the necessary population laws and we were too lazy to revise them.
There has been no immigration into Shalampax since Paahlm (see religion
) created the first humans. (Or however else we came to be. Unlike other religions, we're willing to accept other hypotheses about the origin of the species, as long you provide adequate scientific evidence to back up your theory and you promise to buy the next round of drinks.) The reason for the lack of immigration is that we don't like outsiders and, while the world has a more than adequate supply of fools, none are sufficiently foolish to want to live here.
Because no one has moved to Shalampax from other countries, we have an exceptionally homogeneous population. We also have a corner on the market for village idiots due to our high degree of inbreeding.
The average age in Shalampax is reported to be 21, but that's probably wrong. Despite our strict law prohibiting dishonesty, everyone lies about their age in the belief that it will help them to get dates.
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