Venus, within the Sol System, is a planet under the control of the Sol Central Government. With a relatively inhospitable surface atmosphere the vast majority of habitats exist within the sky on huge platforms that spring up from the planets surface. An economically important world, Venus both serves as a source of large quantities of food and as a major tourist destination within Sol.
Venus was one of the first worlds colonised by humanity, being colonised shortly after Mars. The first habitat was a simple research platform that was more a sub-orbital platform than a true colony. The habitat was built kilometres above the Venusian surface, buoyed by its own oxygen supply and anchored to the surface by a long tether. The thick and hostile atmosphere of Venus proved hard to tame, and limited funds only complicated matters further. Eventually, a layer of breathable air was established in the upper atmosphere. It was in this Habitable Zone (Or "The Zone" colloquially) that all future major settlements would be constructed. At an altitude of fifty one kilometres, pressure and temperature were already within human tolerable range and the establishment of a breathable layer was seen as an acceptable compromise.
The cities that sprang up were dramatic. The common design featured one or more (depending on the size of the city) massive anchoring towers surrounded by swarms of platforms. The first of these towers was constructed at Ishtar Terra, near the existing research station. These cities, miles above the surface, quickly prospered. The breathtaking sights of the Venusian atmosphere, as well as the warm weather and long periods of sunlight quickly turned Venus into the vacation capital of the Sol System. Massive hydroponic farms sprang up, taking advantage of the exceedingly long periods of sunlight to grow a bumper crop every season. Venus quickly earned the moniker "Sol's Breadbasket" as the massive quantities of crops were exported to alleviate food shortages in other colonies.
This wealth only served to further fuel the remarkable expansion and affluence of the Venusian colony. Mining operations, refineries, and factories sprang up on the surface, separated by the thick, unbreathable atmosphere from the gleaming cities above in the Habitable Zone. Clubs, hotels, resorts, malls, various tourist attractions, and even artificial beaches were built in the beautiful cities above the swirling yellow clouds.
To this day, Venus remains a popular tourist destination, a desirable place to live, a centre of agriculture in the Sol System, and, on the desolate and uninhabitable surface, a place of mining and industry.
The Venusian government has a parliament made up of ministers, the legislative agenda is set and led by the prime minister. There is almost no bureaucracy, and most services are privatised. Each minister can appoint or replace judges and bureaucrats in the geographic region they represent, with the prime minister in control of planet wide appointments. Positions in the parliament are not elected, but selected on a partially Plutocratic and partially meritocratic basis. Every three years, the three longest held positions in parliament are selected by contacting the board of directors of the three most successful Venusian companies, and requesting a representative from them to serve in parliament for the next nine years. The prime minister is selected from the currently longest serving ministers every three years by a vote in parliament.
The populace, in general, has faith in their government. The government that governs best governs least, as they say, and the Venusian government abides by that principle. Tradition and the status quo are the main focus of the Venusian parliament, and in practice, there is very little noticeable change. There are, however, factions that are dissatisfied with the government and desire direct democracy.
Most infrastructure and building takes place in the Habitable Zone among the clouds, so the geography of the surface remains largely desolate and undeveloped. The surface is dotted with mines, factories, and refineries. The massive towers that anchor and support the cities in the Zone dot the landscape, and clustered around their bases, support facilities for trash disposal and waste reclamation. The atmosphere at surface level remains dense, hot, and unbreathable, just as it was prior to colonisation.
The culture of Venus is rather decadent and rich, with a focus on tourism and entertainment. Those who actually live there have developed a culture of contrasting elitism; the wealthy live in the Zone, while the "Surfacers" operate the mines and factories below, often in sweatshop like working conditions. Due to the emphasis on tourism, many parts of Venus have an attitude of hospitality towards off-worlders, particularly the wealthy. Non humans are welcome on Venus, but due to the limited space for permanent residence, the high cost of living, and the high number of entrenched old-money families, permanent settlement of aliens on Venus is exceedingly rare.
Surfacers are made up primarily of independent labourers coming in from other systems, and are highly resentful of the main Venusian populace, particularly the government. The life of a surfacer is hard. They live in windowless, industrial habitats, connected by transit trains to the mines and factories. Surfacers rarely see the outside, and if they do, it's through the visor of a special, reinforced EVA suit. Their only connection to those dwelling in the Zone is through news programs and the trash that is sent to their level for processing. Most of the democratic movement on Venus is made up of Surfacers, but the fact that they lack citizenship under Venusian law has impeded their drive for democracy.
The Venusian economy is strong, and driven by a healthy combination of tourism, mining, manufacturing, and mass hydroponic agriculture. The Venusian GDP per capita is higher than that of any other human world. Most of the employees for the resorts, hotels, tourist trap museums, and useless trinket stands are off-worlders, hoping for a slice of the pie that is the Venusian economy. By contrast, most permanent residents are business executives, wealthy retirees, or owners of one of the many businesses operating in the skies of Venus.