The Three Great Continents
There exist three main landmasses in Hydaelyn, the largest being that which contains the three great continents—Aldenard, Ilsabard, and Othard. The following section touches upon the locations, geography, and climate of those areas.
— Encyclopædia Eorzea vol 1, page 12
Situated in the northern hemisphere of Hydaelyn, the Three Great Continents stretch from the polar region almost all the way to the equator. The Three Great Continents consist of Aldenard in the west, Ilsabard in the north, and Othard in the east. The distance between these three continents is so vast that trader ships would take several months to complete a round trip.
Situated in Hydaelyn's northern hemisphere and stretching from the polar region, almost to the equator, the Three Great Continents consist of Aldenard in the west, Ilsabard in the north and center, and Othard in the east. So great is the distance that even the fastest of trader vessels carried by favorable winds require at least a fortnight to make the journey from Old Sharlayan to Vylbrand, and another two moons to travel from there to Doma.
Regional folklore has it that Aldenard, Othard, and Ilsabard were once brothers whose hearts were so filled with love for one another that they remained inseparable for countless aeons. One day, however, did the brothers Othard and Ilsabard grow jealous of Aldenard for, despite being the youngest, he was blessed with the richest of lands. In a violent fit of anger, the brothers pulled themselves away from their younger sibling to where they stand today, Aldenard's outstretched hand clinging to Ilsabard's coattail in one last final effort to bring him back.
Regional folklore maintains that the continents were all brothers whose hearts were so filled with love for one another that they remained inseparable for eons. However, the brothers Othard and Ilsabard grew jealous of Aldenard, who was blessed with incredibly rich and fertile lands despite being the youngest. In a violent fit of anger, the brothers ripped themselves away from their younger sibling to where they stand today.
The most western continent of the three, Aldenard is grouped together with several of the small surrounding islands, such as Vylbrand and the Cieldalaes. This amalgamation of lands forms what is known today as Eorzea. This land is known to have a far greater presence of ambient aether, which enriches the lands and balances the ecosystem of life there. Drawn to the fertile lands there, many groups of people have migrated to Aldenard to start farms and civilizations. While this has seen some of the greatest civilizations rise, this thirst for land and conquest has also seen them fall.
Aldenard is currently governed by four City-States: Gridania in the Black Shroud, Ul'dah, ruling from the deserts of Thanalan, Ishgard in the northern lands of Coerthas, and Limsa Lominsa, ruling La Noscea from out on the isle of Vylbrand. There were two other city-states that shared the continent: Sharlayan and Ala Mhigo. However, the inhabitants of Sharlayan fled due to the incoming threat of the Garlean Empire, and Ala Mhigo was invaded and conquered by the same empire for over twenty years. Now however, Ala Mhigo has finally claimed independence from the Garlean Empire and rejoined with the Eorzean Alliance.
Positioned between the two continents, Ilsabard is the northernmost continent. Due to this, it is characterized by extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather. Beyond the mountains in the center of the continent lie some of the most treacherous and inhospitable areas on Hydaelyn. The continent is often besieged by unrelenting storms in the summer and harsh climates and frozen seas in the winter. Until the Garlean Empire made massive leaps in technological advancements, the inhabitants of Ilsabard struggled simply to survive.
Once the Garlean Empire began the Magitek revolution and conquered several surrounding nations, they began expanding outwards claiming the lands of the other continents with the final goal of taking Eorzea and bringing all under their control.
Othard is the easternmost continent, which has garnered it the name the Far East. It is the smallest of the continents, and like Aldenard is made up of several smaller islands surrounding the main land mass. The northern spires of this land are constantly covered in snow all year round. From these frozen peaks comes rivers of fresh water. These rivers come together to form the One River, a massive river flowing through the continent and the largest watercourse in all the Three Great Continents. The river passes through the Azim Steppe, the homeland of the Xaela Au Ra and winds through to Yanxia, a land controlled by Doma before the invasion of the Garlean Empire.
There exists a natural land bridge between Othard and Ilsabard, between it being covered in a mountain range and a deadly wasteland, Othard has remained fairly isolated, allowing for the cultures there to evolve with little to no input from other regions. Slowly they are catching up to other nations in terms of technological advancements, like Airships. However, this also invited the attention of the Garlean Empire, who viewed the nation of Othard as a group of underdeveloped, weak civilizations. For over two decades, Dalmasca and Doma were under Garlean rule.
Surrounding Land Masses
Though there are other smaller nations, they are on separate land masses surrounding the Three Great Continents. These smaller lands house their own peoples, cultures and societies. However, for one reason or another, they remain mostly isolated from the other continents.
This island lies to the south of Ilsabard in a sea called The Bounty. Being so far removed from the Three Great Continents, Thavnair has thrived even during the Umbral Eras. Radz-at-Han, the largest city-state of Thavnair is an ancient nation that has existed for thousands of years, and is best known for being the birthplace of modern day Alchemy. The nation, despite minimal military, managed to sign a non-interference treaty with the Garlean Empire, ensuring their independence. They remain a trade hub for Eorzea.
Several millennia ago, Meracydia was once the home to several races and groups of people, such as the Hyur, Miqo'te, and most notably, the Dragons. All upon that land lived in peace. Several worshiped different gods, namely the three who would make up what would later be known as the Warring Triad. However, in the twilight of the Third Astral Era, the Allagan Empire invaded, seeking to expand their control to one of the few places their empire did not yet reach. The war that raged would decimate not only the populace that remained there for the love of their homeland, but also the land itself. The entire landmass would become a desert wasteland that still remains mostly uninhabitable to this day. The few parts that have been reinhabited rarely welcome contact from outside lands, and attack any who approach. Owing to this, even the most basic information about this land is unknown, including geographical information.
Though they once made their home in Dravania, following the threat of invasion by the Garlean Empire, the nation of Sharlayan returned to their home island in The Northern Empty. Surrounded by several smaller islands that are mostly deserted, including the isle of Val, the home of the Roegadyn, Sharlayan is still counted as one of the six city-states that make up Eorzea. They took a neutral stance to the war with the Garlean Empire, viewing it as an unnecessary show of force that they would rather not get involved in, choosing to take a "higher road" and continue to pursue knowledge.
The New World
Though quite far removed from the other landmasses, The New World lies far to the west of Eorzea across the Boundless Sea. Due to the destruction of almost any documentation to prove the landmass actually existed, many believed it to simply be a myth. However, a Sea Wolf named Ketenramm the Blue sailed for nearly two months to find the land. Upon this land did the crew of Ketenramm the Blue discover the inhabitants of the nation of Mamook. Presenting their Supreme Leader with gifts from Eorzea, he and his crew were gifted a statue of pure silver and granted the privilege of roaming the land freely. The crew were able to map the entire land, as well as gather several roots, vegetables and fruits that are now considered staples of Eorzean cuisine, such as pumpkins, ruby tomatoes and popotoes. Distance is the main factor in the lack of interaction between Eorzea and The New World, however Eorzea has seen an increase in Mamool Ja mercenaries coming to their land to make profit from the unrest in the east.
- Encylopædia Eorzea, p.12