The Second Order was officially established on 8 Win'yet, LY 904 (thereafter called "New Order Day," see Holidays of the Land). However, it wasn't until six months later, on 8 Su'yet 904 that the first world and local elections were held, and another six months later, on 8 Win'yet, 905, that the government was officially inaugurated. For the first year of the Second Order's existence, there was no government in place, but rather, things essentially continued as they always had on The Land, or at least as they had since early in the Coming of the Order. There are therefore those who see it as inaccurate to say that the Second Order technically existed prior to 905; however, that goes to the question of what exactly is meant by the term "Second Order" (see third paragraph). In the simplest terms, it refers to the fact that as of 904, all the villages of the Land, for the first time in the history of the world, were considered to be united as parts of a whole, in an official way, rather than each tending to its own affairs and leaving the others to theirs. As much as anything else, the Second Order, at least for its first year, referred to a new mindset, an idea (albeit an idea that included the knowledge that very soon there would be an actual government in place, both federally and locally). Many people chose to enjoy that year as a time of personal freedom, to celebrate both the old way and imminent new way of life. (There was more travel that year than ever before, and a great deal of revelry.)
The Second Order was conceived primarily as a means of uniting all the villages of the Land under a single government, but also includes the newly established councils of each individual village. The federal government consists of three branches: The Executive (Monarch), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (High Court). Collectively, these three branches are known as the World Council, though many people incorrectly tend to think of that term as referring just to the Congress (which is itself a word rarely used in conversation by the general public). The reason for this is that it is the Congress which most closely resembles the local village councils in form, and it is assumed that the word "council" must refer to the same type of body in both local and federal government.
Between 904 and 913, the term "Second Order" was considered virtually synonymous with "the world," since it simply referred to all the villages (and the two populated bodies of water) on the Land. At the time of its founding, the Second Order consisted of 20 villages; its capital is First Village. However, in 913 the Secession Referendum led to the establishment of the United Villages of the Chaos, which became the Land's second country, as well as one village and one body of water becoming sovereign. (At this time, the first country's villages were reduced to 15, though a new village, Barbequeue, was founded around that time, bringing the tally to 16.) The term "Second Order" had also been used interchangeably with "World Council," referring to the country's government as well as to the country itself. But upon the establishment of the UVC, it began occurring to people that it might be a good idea to come up with a separate name for the actual country, so in the 914 election there was a proposition to officially name the country First Nation. In spite of the proposition having passed by a wide margin, it's still common to hear people use the name Second Order, even though technically the term no longer applies to anything. In fact, many would say it never officially referred to anything.
As a side note, since the Second Order was established, it was common for people to refer to it simply as "the Order" in casual conversation, while referring to The Order itself as the "First Order" (which is technically incorrect). But, these turns of phrase can go either way, so it can sometimes be confusing when one speaks simply of "the Order." This is one of the reasons many people voted to change, or rather to officially establish the country's new name in 914.