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|"Yu Dao ... the first of the Fire Nation colonies."|
|— Fire Lord Zuko to Kori Morishita.|
Yu Dao was a former Fire Nation colony located in the western Earth Kingdom. It was the scene of great tension during the decolonization efforts that followed the Hundred Year War due to the difficulty involved in handling the removal of Fire Nation colonials, many of whom had lived in the town for generations. The mayor of the town at the end of the war was Morishita. Along with all the other Fire Nation colonies throughout the Earth Kingdom, Yu Dao became part of the United Republic of Nations after the end of the war.
Yu Dao was the oldest of the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom; the city was settled before the beginning Hundred Year War by ordinary families as part of the Fire Nation's initial campaign of expansion.
Prior to Fire Nation colonization, Yu Dao was a poor backwater village. When the Fire Nation settlers came to the area, however, that all changed. Together with the Earth Kingdom civilians already living in the area, the Fire Nation created a thriving metalworking industry which evolved into one of the best in the world. The tiny village grew into a thriving, cosmopolitan city. Through the unique blending of Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation culture, Yu Dao became one of the wealthiest cities in the world. According to Fire Lord Zuko, the colony of Yu Dao made the finest metal of any nation.
In 100 AG, at the end of the Hundred Year War, Earth King Kuei and Fire Lord Zuko agreed to start the Harmony Restoration Movement, aimed at the removal of all Fire Nation colonies from Earth Kingdom territory. However, Yu Dao posed a particular problem due to its age, as many families had lived in the city for over one hundred years and had put down deep roots in the area. Marriage between Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens was common, causing Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens to feel a kinship toward one another beyond their nationality. This led to conflict among Avatar Aang, Fire Lord Zuko, and Earth King Kuei.
This conflict escalated in 101 AG. The Earth Kingdom Army and the Freedom Fighters attempted to forcefully remove the Fire Nation colonists from Yu Dao. A group of Yu Dao residents had formed the Yu Dao Resistance, however, and resisted this plan. Their situation was hopeless at first, but soon after Fire Lord Zuko arrived with his troops in order to protect the city. Mediating talks quickly broke down, whereupon the opposing forces began the battle for Yu Dao. Eventually, Avatar Aang entered the Avatar State to separate the colony from the surrounding lands and ended the battle. Afterward, the involved parties agreed to resume negotiations. After intensive talks, it was decided to let the people of Yu Dao elect a new coalition government in 102 AG, representing both Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens. Eventually, the United Republic of Nations was created, which Yu Dao became a part of.
Layout and description
Yu Dao is located in a wide, flat valley which is bounded by rocky terrain on all sides. The city is enclosed by a sandstone wall with one opening which serves as the gateway to the city. Yu Dao's streets are lined by predominantly low rise buildings which are built in a unique style that combines Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation architecture. The city is very compacted as the surrounding terrain limits Yu Dao's building space.
A wide, central pathway runs from Yu Dao's gate to the back of the city. The avenue serves as the main thoroughfare of the metropolis, and many smaller streets branch off of it. There is also a canal that runs through the city.
Businesses include: the Green Flame Inn, the Green Blaze Inn, Old Chen's Blacksmith Shop, Yu Dao Grocery store, Tasty Hotpot Restaurant, and the Sweet Aroma Teahouse. Other buildings include the Morishita home.
Unlike most Fire Nation colonies, Yu Dao advocated a form of public equality, allowing Earth Kingdom citizens to live among Fire Nation citizens freely without any form of oppression; this appeared to be effective at a very high level, as earthbenders were able to freely practice their bending alongside firebenders without any fear of persecution. This extended to family life as well, as marriage between Fire Nation immigrants and Earth Kingdom natives was not uncommon.
Yu Dao's unique blend of Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom architecture gave it a distinct feel, as the architecture of the city represented a merging of both nations' styles of building. The Earth Kingdom citizens generally occupied a second-class position in the city's society; however, this was not universally the case, as the Fire Nation mayor's wife, Mrs. Morishita, was an earthbender, as was her daughter. Fire Lord Zuko observed that even so, the people were better off than they had been before the colony's foundation.
- Yu Dao was heavily based on Qingdao, a city in China that was a German colony from 1898 to 1918.
- Gurihiru also took references from urban China and Japan for the design of Yu Dao's architecture.
- The town's name was first conceived in Chinese and later translated into English. Yang chose the two characters that compose the name, 玉島, for two reasons: 玉, meaning "jade", calls to mind the color green, which "explicitly [ties] the city to its Earth Kingdom roots", while 島, meaning "island", comes from the second character of Qingdao, which, as mentioned above, was a large influence on the creation of Yu Dao.