- This article is about the nation in the series. For the location in the film, see Fire Nation.
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The Fire Nation is the second-largest nation in terms of area, following the Earth Kingdom, while its economy is the most powerful in the world; its strong industrial sector and extensive technological developments not only enabled the Fire Nation to create an extremely powerful military, but also initiated the worldwide modernization and globalization. Before the foundation of the United Republic and the following global technological revolution, it was also the strongest and most advanced country in the world.
The military of the Fire Nation was engaged in an imperialistic century long war with the other three nations from 0 to 100 AG, during which the country committed genocide of the Air Nomads, conquered vast swathes of the Earth Kingdom, and instituted raids that annihilated the waterbending population of the Southern Water Tribe, save for one bender. The ruler directly after the conclusion of the Hundred Year War, Fire Lord Zuko, used Fire Nation resources to help rebuild the world, start the Harmony Restoration Movement, and eventually create the United Republic of Nations. The Fire Nation Capital is guarded by the Great Gates of Azulon, named after the grandfather of Zuko and Azula, Fire Lord Azulon.
Seventy years after the end of the Hundred Year War, the Fire Nation still played a role in world affairs. A representative from the Fire Nation held a position on the United Republic Council that helped govern Republic City and the United Republic in general until 171 AG. The country also plays a part in international military affairs, with General Iroh leading the First Division of the United Forces, the naval defense organization of Republic City.
In the era of Raava, predecessors of the Fire Nation received the element of fire from lion turtles that granted the bending art through energybending. They could request the ability whenever they ventured into the Spirit Wilds, to aid in the gathering of food and resources while defending themselves from hostile spirits. These people eventually congregated to form the Fire Nation after the lion turtles renounced their roles as protectors of mankind. At this point, the ancestors of the first Fire Nation citizens left the lion turtle cities in favor of establishing settlements in the western hemisphere along the equator.
Nevertheless, several aspects of life and observances practiced by the predecessors of the first citizens of the Fire Nation became part of the nation's culture, such as in the use of hybrid pigs as a primary means of sustenance. More importantly, the longstanding desire to conquer and expand into the unknown, such as a failed attempt by several villagers to set up a settlement in the Spirit Wilds, and the development of a warrior culture which depended on central leadership emerged among the predecessors of the Fire Nation. These characteristics continued to remain prevalent as seen during the Fire Nation's imperialistic endeavors in the antebellum period that directly preceded the outbreak of the Hundred Year War.
After Avatar Wan closed the spirit portals, the lion turtle cities' residents spread out across the Fire Nation archipelago. The first ones known to have ruled most of the later Fire Nation were the Sun Warriors, whose culture differed remarkably from those of the other Fire Nation predecessors. The Sun Warriors learned the firebending techniques from the dragons. Eventually, their civilization began to crumble and the remaining Sun Warriors went into hiding, leaving a great cultural and architectural influence on the later Fire Nation behind. Sometime after the Sun Warriors' demise, a group of sages united the archipelago, this time for good. They came to be known as Fire Sages and descended from the Bhanti Tribe, a tribe of particularly spiritual humans who had settled in the Spirit Wilds during the era of Raava. Eventually, the Fire Sages formed a ruling council and established the Fire Nation as a united, theocratic state. The sages' spiritual reign came to an end when their leader, the Fire Lord, took power for himself and reformed the country into an empire ruled by his family.
Members of the Fire Nation tend to have black or brown hair, amber, gold, brown, or gray eyes, and pale skin, though exceptions such as Ty Lee, Piandao, Shoji, On Ji, and Hide do exist. Additionally, in terms of facial features, their eyes are often smaller and longer in shape along with higher nose bridges than members of other nations. There is a prevalence of distinct cheekbones among the population as well. However there are also certain individuals with exceptions.
Older men tend to sport large beards, mustaches, and sideburns, while younger men are usually clean-shaven, or wear small mustaches and goatees. Women usually wear their hair back, though for special occasions it may be piled on top of the head, or wrapped around a support. Female members of the aristocracy also tend to have long, pointed, well-manicured finger nails, which resemble the long gold "nails" ancient Chinese empresses wore. Almost all citizens wear top-knots, often held by a decorative top-knot piece indicating their socioeconomic rank. High-class citizens and politicians tend to ornament their hair with a two pronged, flame-styled piece; Zuko and Azula wear three pronged flames, and the Fire Lord wears a gold, five-pronged piece. A normal citizen might wear a one pronged piece, as shown by Sokka when he wore his disguise.
Members of the military wear red and black uniforms and different types of armor. Traditional colors worn throughout the nation range from deep reds to darker browns, grays, and blacks, with occasional white, or pink. Many citizens wear shoulder spikes, the amount designating social standing, ordinary civilians wear one, high-class citizens wear two, and the Fire Lord wears three, though there are exceptions to these rules.
The national emblem of the Fire Nation is a stylized, teardrop-shaped flame forked into a trident of three tongues that taper upward to a point. The insignia is primarily displayed on its flag, uniforms, on the pennants of Fire Navy warships, the sides of their various vehicles of war, and as marking of Fire Nation territory. It seems that the Fire Nation Royal Family or certain higher members wear the emblem in their top-knots. Princess Azula, Fire Lord Sozin, Fire Lord Azulon, Avatar Roku, Fire Lord Ozai, Fire Lord Zuko, Lu Ten and Ursa have been seen wearing them.
The Fire Nation flag is a triangle-shaped banner with the stylized flame insignia at its center. Six thin stripes extend from the slanted edge.
Fire Nation currency consists of gold, silver, and bronze pieces of varying shapes and sizes used by Fire Nation citizens to purchase goods and services and are fashioned with the national emblem situated in the center.
Based on the red Fire Lord's seal on all the wanted posters, Fire Nation is written in Chinese as, literally "Raging fire country". Coincidentally, the term "烈火" is the Chinese way of writing "Agni", the Hindu god of fire.
The Fire Nation is located on an archipelago of tropical volcanic islands, many still active, that give the nation an unlimited source of power. Because of a warm and humid climate, the Fire Nation is home to a variety of native flora and fauna, though the main islands largely consist of rough, grassy plains bearing little wildlife. Few travel to the Fire Nation, and no invasion had ever been mounted against it until Team Avatar and some of their allies from the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe attacked the mainland during the Day of Black Sun in 100 AG.
The population of the Fire Nation is mostly concentrated in urban centers, though smaller settlements, villages, and towns dot the landscape as well. The capital city is on the largest island, situated inside the crater of a large volcano. There are also many industrial establishments where weapons, tanks and warships are built to support the war effort.
The Fire Nation employs highly skilled metalworkers and blacksmiths who make use of iron and other metals to engender their fortresses and warships. Utilizing coal dug out by prisoners slaving in mines, they are able to power massive industrial furnaces and war machinery. The initial drive for the nation's attempts for expansion was industrialization and having a greater need for resources, in itself a staple of imperialism.
Government system: Benevolent autocracy
Head of state: Fire Lord
The Fire Nation was ruled with a stern and almost terrifying manner by the latest in a long line of firebenders until Fire Lord Zuko took the throne. The Fire Nation's political system during the Hundred Year War was a despotist autocracy that waged said conflict against the other three nations of the world, the stated goal of which was to create a planet-wide empire. They were not above employing genocide to accomplish this goal, as they eliminated the entire nation of Air Nomads and drove the Southern Water Tribe to the brink of extinction. The idea of an absolute monarchy was reinforced by Azula's statement that "true power, the divine right to rule, [was] something you [were] born with". In line with the Fire Nation's militaristic culture, it was customary for royalty and politicians to demonstrate their strength and capability to the nation by engaging in duels. These fights were often held for military or political purposes, such as determining who was most suited to be a government official, and would garner fame for the victor.
However, the Fire Nation was not always the tyrannical, militaristic embodiment it was during the Hundred Year War. A millennium prior, a council of sages led the Fire Nation who, among several other national interests, was heavily invested in philosophy and spirituality, much like that of the monastic Air Nomad race. The lead sage was known as the "Fire Lord" due to his high level firebending powers as well as his deep spiritual affinity with the element. Over the years, one lead sage chose to sever ties with the remaining sages and sought to be the sole ruler of the Fire Nation. Now led by the Great Sage, the sages were regulated primarily to spiritual matters but nonetheless still retained some political power over the Nation, with tensions between the two sects increasing with every generation.
The dispute finally reached a state of equilibrium during the course of Sozin's rise to the throne and reign. When still alive during Sozin's rule, the sages remained loyal to Avatar Roku and kept watch over his sanctuary. But following the death of the Avatar, the sages, after three generations, finally submitted under the Fire Lord's rule and were forced to serve only him, counseling him on spiritual affairs. After the war ended, they switched their loyalty back to the Avatar.
Following the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai at the hands of Avatar Aang, Fire Lord Zuko rose to power and ended the century-long war. He has dedicated his rule toward rebuilding the four nations in a new era of peace, and was subsequently considered as a benevolent ruler. Zuko dismissed the members of Ozai's cabinet who were still loyal to the former Fire Lord and his policies.
In compliance with its war effort, the Fire Nation was heavily engaged in industry during the Hundred Year War. The country's economy was dominated by shipbuilding, metalworking, and manufacturing weapons such as arrows, spears, shields, swords, and knives. Despite a crude range of weaponry, the Fire Nation stood as the most technologically advanced belligerent in the War. Its comprehensive knowledge of combustion allowed them to develop several Industrial-Age technologies including advanced metallurgy, tanks, rudimentary explosives like blasting jelly, sophisticated catapults, siege drills, and coal-powered ironclad warships. Some of these innovations were commissioned by extorting an expatriate Earth Kingdom inventor, the mechanist.
The Fire Nation has a formal education system that aims to instill loyalty in its students through political indoctrination, strict discipline, and nationalist teachings. Students in certain schools begin the educational process as soon as they begin firebending, or for nonbenders, as soon as they begin walking. Subjects including history, music, etiquette, warfare, and firebending are taught to the students by various teachers. However, the educational system primarily works as a "mind-molding" process, influencing students to develop a strong sense of nationality and loyalty to the Fire Lord. Teachers maintain rigid order and withhold teaching students the art of dance or any other form of self-expression. In addition, censorship and propaganda is used in history books e.g. falsely claiming the Air Nomads used military force to fight the Fire Nation.
The dress code and symbols of the Fire Nation are modeled after fire, naturally. Like the other nations, it is based on its elemental color, in this case, red. The majority of the structures are made of stone. They also have red pagoda-style roofs favored by the country. Fire Nation symbols are often put on important or nice buildings for decoration and inside it was common for a picture of the Fire Lord to be kept in a prominent, visible place.
The Fire Nation oath is a characteristic and important cultural element, demonstrated by its teaching to children in schools with demureness and recited thoughtfully. The oath was written at the beginning of the War and commissioned by Fire Lord Sozin. It is titled "The March to Civilization".
Many names of Fire Nation citizens utilize harsh consonants like the letter "Z", including Zuko, Ozai, Azula, Sozin, Zhao, Azulon, Kuzon, etc. Though interestingly enough, Piandao did mention to Sokka that there are "a million Lees" when aiding him in choosing an alias.
Women in the Fire Nation are given more freedom than in the other Nations and are even able, and sometimes encouraged, to join the police and the Domestic Forces.
General opinion of the world
The Fire Nation's worldview upholds that only unity, centralism and strict order can ensure stability and prosperity. This does not include restricting freedom and creativity, as these aspects of personal expression are critical to societal development and harmony; however, children do not gain this freedom until they have been taught how to improve the Fire Nation with their actions, and the honor it brings them.
Nevertheless, this original view was corrupted during the Hundred Year War in order to fit the Fire Lords' ambitions. The idea of a peaceful, harmonious and cooperative world order was changed into an imperialist ideology that propagated global domination and striving to achieve it. Children were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization that had ever existed, that the war was its way of sharing its greatness, along with the ideology that the Fire Lord and his family were great people who were helping the world.
This caused a cult of personality to build up around the Fire Lord, military, and aristocracy, who were seen as messengers that could bring the beauty and glory of Fire Nation culture to other lands. According to this belief, the Fire Nation Royal Palace was the center of the world, and the further away a place was from the palace, the lower were its inhabitants in regard of social status and capabilities. This led to racism; consequently, Fire Nation citizens of the mainland were regarded superior to those of the colonies, while the people of other nations as well as their bending were deemed barbaric and inferior.
However, under Fire Lord Zuko's rule, the original impression of the world was restored and the Fire Nation began once again to cooperate with the other nations to ensure world peace and prosperity. Most significant result of this cooperation is the creation of the United Republic and its capital, Republic City.
Fire Nation society places a great emphasis on respect and honor, especially toward the nobility and elders; the concept of the famed Agni Kai stems from these beliefs. Should one be honored enough to be in the presence of a member of the Royal Family, that person needs to prostrate themselves in respect or risk being challenged to an Agni Kai to avenge the disrespected Royal's honor. Upon coming into contact with an elder or superior, it is polite to bow down. Unlike in other parts of the world, this bow consists in placing a hand in a straight fashion with the other being fisted placed underneath it vertically. This represents the superior standing with one below him, bowing. Also when receiving an order in the Fire Nation by a superior it is common to not bow, but make the hand symbol. Bowing is required upon greeting to one, when something nice has happened, after business, and leaving.
The Fire Nation is well known for its long tradition of gender equality. There are hardly any occupational boundaries for women. They have full access to higher education and are equal before the law, thus, women can also become mayors and magistrates, thereby occupying the highest ranking civilian positions in most of the nation. Likewise, a Crown Princess or female Fire Lord is not uncommon, and historical sagas about just as powerful and feared Fire Princesses are well known. Only in the military was this equality limited; as of 100 AG, a common woman, firebender or not, was only allowed to serve in the Domestic Forces. Nevertheless, exceptions to this rule are known, as women can serve in special front units such as the Yuyan Archers, and it is normal and even expected from a Fire Princess to take an active part as military commander in times of war. Overall, the Fire Nation judges its people based on their talents and achievements.
Another important aspect of Fire Nation culture is marriage. Thus, among both the nobility and the common people a wedding is traditionally an extensive celebrated event; this includes formal garments. Women favor wearing red-white gowns, though those worn by nobles are far more elaborated and expansive than those of commoners. There is an even greater difference between noble and common grooms, as the former favor expansive red-black clothing, while the latter wear red-white attire similar to their brides. Large-scale decoration, including lanterns of flowers, and a banquet are typical for weddings. The wedding itself is presided over by either a Fire Sage or a village elder. At the same time, marriage out of love seems to be more common than arranged marriages, as even among the nobility, only the royal family is known to conduct political marriage of convenience.
Cult of personality
The Fire Nation is known for its intensive and excessive cult of personality, especially in regard to the Fire Lord. It is common to keep pictures of the Fire Lord clearly visible in schools and public buildings, while massive statues are often erected in honor of the ruler. This is accompanied by strong glorification, although the monarchs are still regarded as humans – unlike the Earth King, who is said to be "an icon, a god to his people".
The diet of its citizens consists of noodles, meat, fish, rice, cabbage, tea and lychee nuts. The people are also known for having a taste for foods of a spicier fare, as they enjoy flaming fire flakes, fire gummies, sizzle-crisps, and fire cakes. As the Fire Nation is a hilly island country, pasture is more common than farmland, thus most Fire Nation dishes are rich in meat, while there are very little vegetarian meals. Tea is generally popular, as there is even a National Tea Appreciation Day. The tea most commonly drunk in the Fire Nation is spiced tea.
Fire Nation theater has a long history and is popular within the country, as both high-class citizens and peasants often attend plays in their free time. One of the most famous and popular theater plays is Love amongst the Dragons, which is performed annually at many places in the Fire Nation, ranging from high-society resort islands like Ember Island, to poor backwater villages like Hira'a. Becoming an actor or an actress is a respected profession, even though some acting troupes are not highly regarded due to their regularly poor performances. Despite great artistic freedom, the theater was also utilized to serve Fire Nation propaganda during the Hundred Year War; for example, the play The Boy in the Iceberg from an Earth Kingdom writer about Avatar Aang was allowed to be performed, but only when the ending would show the Fire Nation's total victory and Aang's death.
The traveling "Fire Days Festival", alternatively called simply the "fire festival", was a Fire Nation-sponsored event that brought Fire Nation culture to its citizens forced to live away from their homeland. This event traveled to Fire Nation occupied areas of the Earth Kingdom, staying for a few weeks at a time at each location. A variety of Fire Nation people attended the festival, from soldiers on leave, to civilians living in occupied territory. Its participants wore stylized hand-carved wooden masks similar to that of Kabuki theater masks, and merchants vended a wide variety of trinkets and local snacks. The festival's attractions included puppet shows, fireworks, firebending jugglers and magicians, and overall displays of individual or group bending prowess. As illustrated in its cultural festivals, the Fire Nation employed propaganda to indoctrinate a sense of nationalism and loyalty to the Fire Lord, cult of personality, in its citizens from the earliest age possible; a popular attraction cast Ozai as a hero in a children's puppet show.
During the summer months around August, numerous "Fire Lily Festivals" spring up around the Fire Nation to celebrate the flower's blooms, famed as a symbol of fiery passion, and persist throughout their short blooming season.
Each nation of the four nations is influenced by their own distinct, dominant season. The Fire Nation's season is summer. Firebenders' powers are slightly enhanced due to the increase in temperature. Most firebending children are born during the summer.
- Main article: Military of the Fire Nation
The Fire Nation military is the strongest of the four nations. Using a fiery comet that greatly enhanced their powers, they succeeded in wiping out the Air Nomads early in the War. Though the Fire Nation fought on two fronts against the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom, they still maintained the upper hand. As the War dragged on, it became clear that the Fire Nation would eventually win if the Avatar did not intervene. The Water Tribe did not have the military might to directly challenge the Fire Nation, and the vast Earth Kingdom had lost its last great military stronghold to the Fire Nation.
The Fire Nation Army is comprised of both firebenders and normal foot soldiers, who normally wield spears, swords, and shields. Their cavalry ride komodo rhinos. The Fire Nation also has units of metal tanks. These tanks are heavily armored and equipped with fire ports to allow the crew to fire projectiles, ranging from fireballs produced by firebending to giant grappling hooks.
The act of dressing up prisoners of war as soldiers to provide fodder was a tactic employed by the Fire Nation Army during the Hundred Year War. One of the generals suggested sacrificing a novice division of troops to provide a distraction.
- Main article: Yuyan Archers
The Yuyan Archers are Colonel Shinu's highly skilled unit of archers and are, according to Zhao, capable of "pinning a fly to a tree from one hundred yards away without killing it". They are so skilled that they succeeded in overwhelming and capturing Aang, the Avatar, though he subsequently escaped from custody.
The Fire Nation Navy, also simply referred to as the Fire Navy, consists of several fleets with coal-powered ironclad cruisers as basic units. Commanded by admirals, these fleets act rather autonomous, and even though the position of an overall commander does exist, he just controls the largest fleet and does not order other admirals. In addition to its sturdy properties, the Fire Nation's use of metallurgy to remove impurities from the metal ensures that enemy earthbenders cannot damage their ships with their powers. Besides the cruisers, the navy employs many classes with different purposes, from ferrying and disembarking troops to providing bombardment with their trebuchets to creating blockades. The navy is also highly organized and stratified, with a clear hierarchy and efficient bureaucracy. Despite the enormous troop strength of the navy that employs thousands of soldiers, sailors and engineers, it is also the only known part of the military which hires mercenaries, if a sudden demand for ships will leave vessels a little short-handed on experienced crew members.
During the Hundred Year War, captured earthbenders were forced into labor to work on a mid-ocean shipyard. Knowing that they could not bend the metal of the rig, many of the captured earthbenders lost their will to fight.
The Fire Nation's navy is the largest and most powerful in the world, capable of dispatching over a hundred warships in larger operations, exemplified by Admiral Zhao's siege on the Northern Water Tribe with hundreds of ships.
The Southern Raiders
- Main article: Southern Raiders
The Southern Raiders are comprised of an elite force of vessels and soldiers tasked with launching the numerous raids on the Southern Water Tribe and the Southern Earth Kingdom. Their insignia is a sea raven and their uniforms are slightly different from conventional Fire Nation armor, as they are mostly black and consist of a helmet with bird-like ornaments. Their flagship is fairly advanced, with an unusually large conning tower. The goal of the Southern Raiders was to eliminate all waterbenders from the Southern Water Tribe, as well as stealing supplies for the Fire Nation and devastating the coastlines of the South Sea.
The Fire Nation is the first country of the world that has established a military air force, before the Earth Kingdom and the United Republic. This air force consists of war balloons and airships. The war balloons are a type of hot air balloon designed by the mechanist, an Earth Kingdom inventor who the Fire Nation had pressed into service designing weapons and technology. They acquired it after losing the battle for the Northern Air Temple against the defected inventor. Under the direction of War Minister Qin, the Fire Nation later constructed many more war balloons which were fueled by firebenders. On the Day of Black Sun, it was revealed that the Fire Nation had also constructed several massive airships. These airships employ multiple propeller sets on the sides of their hulls for propulsion. Armed with bombs that they drop from the hatches on their underbellies, rudimentary cannons, and hundreds of firebending crew members who can fire at enemies from dozens of small platforms, these airships are massive aerial warships. Upon the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Phoenix King Ozai had planned to lead a massive fleet of these airships to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground, however, most of the airships were destroyed during a battle against Team Avatar.
- Main article: Fire Nation drill
This siege engine is a massive drill, designed to breach the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se. The drill was originally modeled by the mechanist and took over two years to construct. As large as a village, it houses an entire brigade of Fire Nation engineers, who are needed to make repairs and clean out pipelines. The drill is composed of two moving parts which are connected by a series of braces. It works by tearing chunks of stone from structures and grinding them down, dispensing them into water and channeling them out the rear. The drill was successful in breaching the wall, but was stopped when Aang and Katara teamed up to weaken outer layer of braces. Aang delivered a final blow to the drill from the exterior, causing the structure to fall apart from the inside out.
The drill was also accompanied by a fleet of tanks similar to the tundra tank, only equipped instead with caterpillar treads and catapults, but these were quickly destroyed by Ba Sing Se's Terra Team.
- The terrain of the Fire Nation was based on that of Iceland.
- The overall shape of the Fire Nation resembles a flame burning sideways.
- Additionally, the westernmost islands form a skull-like figure.
- According to Master Piandao and others, the name "Lee" is very popular in the Fire Nation. Indeed, several known characters from the Fire Nation were similarly named: Captain Li of the Fire Navy, Princess Azula's former adviser Li, the circus performer and later Kyoshi Warrior Ty Lee, and Qin Lee, a member of the Royal Procession.
- According to General Iroh, the Fire Nation has had good relations with the Southern Water Tribe since the end of the Hundred Year War.
- Varrick considers the Fire Nation the best place to purchase red-colored objects.
- The Fire Nation has a number of similarities to Japan. For one, both are an archipelago, and both the Japanese and Fire Nation people have a very high sense of honor. Like the Fire Nation, Japan became an extremely militaristic and industrialized country in only a few decades, and the Fire Nation launched a war against all the other nations, just as Japan launched a war against other Asian countries. The architecture of the Fire Nation is very much inspired by that of Japan, and its armor is similar to armor worn by samurai. Finally, the Fire Nation invasion of the Air Nomads is reminiscent of Japan's surprise invasions of Guam, Burma, Borneo, Malaya, and the Philippines, as well as its attack on Pearl Harbor.