In the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the population consists of four distinct cultures, collectively known as the “Four Nations”. Each nation is aligned with one of the four elements of Air, Water, Earth and Fire and each possesses its own unique characteristics.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (known outside the United States as ‘The Legend of Aang’) is an American animated television series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The series ran from 2005 until 2008 on the channel Nickelodeon and was later adapted into a feature film by director M. Night Shyamalan. The aesthetics of the program were heavily influenced by the style of Japanese animation (anime), but Avatar was equally notable for its well-developed plotlines and for drawing inspiration from a wide array of sources: These included artistic, cultural and historical influences from around the world, diverse species from the animal kingdom, and storytelling themes from popular movies and books.
The Fire Nation consists of an archipelago of volcanic islands that increase in size as one travels from east to west. The capital city is located on the eastern shoreline of the largest (furthest west) of these islands and sits inside the mouth of a gigantic, dormant volcano. This nation is the home of the people who practice the art of Firebending, one of four methods of elemental manipulation in the series (for full details, see the symbol for ‘Firebending’). Like the Earth Kingdom, the culture of the Fire Nation was stylistically inspired by China, Japan and other Asian countries. The symbol of the fire nation is a stylized three-pronged flame with a distinctive “bite” on the right-hand side of its central peak.
Although the Fire Nation itself is not featured as a major location until season three of the series, it is omnipresent due to the unique position it occupies in the series backstory. The primary role played by the Fire Nation is that of chief antagonist. 100 years prior to the series opening, the Fire Nation began an aggressive war against the other three nations that resulted in the genocide of the Air Nomads and significant devastation of the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom. It is the destined duty of Aang, the main character, to defeat the Fire Nation in this war and restore balance and order to the universe. The Fire Nation character that appears most frequently in the series is Zuko, an exiled prince and the primary enemy of the main characters.