The Banat is an astrographical and historical region of space, an administrative sector of the Central Galactic Union, and a former military district of the Terran Empire. It is a densely-populated region of space dominated by heavily industrialised worlds and moons, with extensive interplanetary and interstellar industry infrastructure including stellar mining, asteroid mining, and systems-spanning trade networks. However, the region has long played host to piratical and insurrectionist groups, and been subject to endemic poverty and internecine violence. This social and economic situation has led many in the region to refer to it as Space Mexico, a reference to a region on Earth which, in the ancient past, was subject to similar perceptions.
The region's name refers to a general South Slavic term for an area under military rule, originally in reference to a historical region of southeastern Europe. The Banat region of space, since its initial colonisation, was customarily governed by a military official. Its proximity to several border areas of space lent to the continuation of this custom long into the Terran Dominion period and into the Terran Empire, where it became institutionalised. The region has retained this designation, and the statutory governance as a military district, under the Republic.
The region's other popular name, Space Mexico, refers to a region on Earth largely south of the Rio Grande and north of Central America. The country of Mexico, in Earth's Pre-Colonial Age, existed as an independent state from 1821 to 2084, and thereafter as a component of the United States until 2347. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Mexico had the perception by both outsiders and natives of being a place fraught with political corruption, organised violence, social stratification, wealth and income inequality, and poverty. Civil war gripped Mexico several times, the last major one at the close of the 20th century. The Banat's settlers and inhabitants, some of South and Central American origin who recalled old tales of their ancestral homeland, and some who simply knew the history of Earth's ancient nations, began referring derisively to their home region as being a "Mexico in space". The term caught on over the centuries, and became a common colloquialism for the Banat.
The far edge of the of the Orion Spur of the Perseus Arm, where it intersects with the trailing edge of the Sagittarius Arm, has been colonised by humans since the 2400s. The first human expedition was an accidental displacement of a Jump Lane Developer craft some 7400 light years away from Earth, in 2397; however, the probes discovered several Garden type worlds and set up jump gates to allow further exploration. Settlement groups began colonising in 2420 with encouragement and incentives by the Terran state to expand humanity's presence, in the wake of the First Contact War. The region formed along the border of what became the Cygnus Colonies, and was formally incorporated as the Military District of Nearer Perseus in 2451. By custom, the colonies were governed by military authorities as the initial expeditions were military in nature. The same trend continued with the Military District.
After the foundation of the Terran Empire in 2600, the region became a hotspot of violent activity in the "feudal" wars of the early Empire. The high population growth led to the accumulation of a heavy industrial base of economy in the region. This led to powerful industrialists and landowners holding much sway in politics and economy, including several self-declared aristocrats and warlords. These local lords fought constantly with Imperial forces and each other until the 2900s, when the feudal era gave way to the "Second Empire" period of reform and centralisation. While many settled areas became Imperial provinces, the Military District was reincorporated as an area directly ruled by the Imperial Army, and renamed the Banat of Nearer Perseus, which became simply "Banat" in 3105.
The Banat remained, however, a hotbed of violent activity. The centuries-long civil war had devastated much of the infrastructure on its most heavily-populated worlds. Reconstruction was slow, and hindered by local magnates who sought to capitalise on the chaos to increase their own power and wealth. Privatisation of many public institutions, utilities, and industries in the region was done to cut costs and lessen the administrative burden of the military commanders. The military authorities of the Banat often worked hand-in-hand with these local industrialists and magnates for personal and collective gain. Rampant corruption and crime led to the replacement of military governors several times during the Second Empire and Late Empire periods. In addition, gang activity and piracy were rife as the local authorities turned a blind eye to poverty and violence in poorer urban areas.
The Late Empire saw this activity develop into a coordinated resistance movement to the Imperial government. Despite attempts by the Crown to assert authority and effect reforms in the region, local authorities often stymied or delayed these, or in some cases simply refused to enforce or enact them, and so many colonists saw the Empire as the source of their woes. The Banat became the locus of the Colonial Liberation Organisation, an insurrectionist network that operated throughout the Terran colonies and conducted coordinated campaigns of rebellion and terrorism with the goal of effecting the independence or autonomy of all colonial regions of the Terran Empire.
The Banat as a province was effectively dismantled in March 3275 after the dissolution of the Terran Empire. However, the Administrative Act of 3 May 3275 reorganised its former territory as a Sector. The Banat continued to be a locus of great unrest, and was one of the primary conflict zones during the Pirate War. A special investigation into the causes of the conflict led to a broader examination of the issues of systemic poverty, violence, and devolved social services in the Banat and other regions. The Banat has seen significant improvement in the past decade, as the Central Galactic Government has committed more federal resources into education, healthcare, job creation, and basic services.