In one world that I am building, I have a country in one corner of a continent, which is located in a side of a mountain chain, and always in winter. 90% of the country is covered in snow. That country economy isn't what can be called prosperous. The country is pacific. And let's say it like this, it is just there. For the sake of clarity, let's just call this country A.
Meanwhile, their neighbour country, B, is both economically and military successful. Its economy is based on trade, as they are situated at a cross-road of important commercial flux: two main roads and a long river. From their money they have built a rather strong army (to make sure they do collect the taxes).
Now A is not allied with anyone. My problem is I have trouble to find out which economy could A base its resources on. If they have too little resources, I would imagine that people would, after a few centuries, just leave. And if they have too much, B would certainly have considered invading them.
The context is, say Western-Europe early 16th Century.
I thought of a few mines and maybe animal husbandry (just learned that expression as English isn't my native language), which allows to pay for the import of most of food and other goods required for their living.
Furthermore I was thinking that because of the landscape (essentially cold mountains), the trouble could be too much for B to actually start annexation. A la Switzerland (though they almost always had a sizeable army to defend themselves).
Do you think that could work? Does it require to be very small? Or on the contrary at least a certain size?
Has anyone already face some similar situation?