Westeros is one of the four known continents in the known world, the others being Essos, Sothoryos, and Ulthos. Most of the area of Westeros is covered by a political entity known as the Seven Kingdoms, while the far north beyond the Wall includes the free folk. The closest foreign nations to Westeros are the Free Cities, a collection of independent city-states across the narrow sea in western Essos. To the south of Westeros lie the Summer Isles.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Climate
- 3 Biology and Anthropology
- 4 History
- 5 References and Notes
- See also: Seven Kingdoms
The continent of Westeros is long and relatively narrow, extending from Dorne in the south to the lands beyond the Wall. In the far north are the frozen Lands of Always Winter, where a large amount of land remains uncharted due to the extremely cold temperatures.
According to semi-canon sources, Westeros is similar in size to South America. Although no scale appears on the maps in the books themselves, George R. R. Martin has stated that the Wall is a hundred leagues long, or three hundred miles. Thus the continent stretches for about 3,000 miles from north to south and for some 900 miles at its widest point east to west.
Westeros's eastern coast borders on the narrow sea; across those waters lies the eastern continent of Essos and the island chain known as the Stepstones. To the south is located the Summer Sea, and within it the Summer Isles.
The northern lands of Westeros are less densely populated than the south despite their roughly equivalent size. The five major cities of Westeros are, in order of size: King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown, and White Harbor.
Westeros was divided into several independent kingdoms before the start of Aegon's Conquest. After this war and the eventual incorporation of Dorne, all the regions south of the Wall were united under the rule of House Targaryen into a nation known as the Seven Kingdoms, which consists of nine provinces.
Beyond the Wall
The northernmost region of Westeros, the lands beyond the Wall stretch north to the lands past the edge of the known map, known as the Land of Always Winter. For the most part it is covered by the haunted forest and comprised of many lakes and rivers, and it shelters strange beasts among the mountains of the Frostfangs. The far north presents an extremely harsh climate, allowing only small numbers of free folk in small villages, in those primarily wild and uncharted lands.
The north is the largest region, nearly as large as the rest of the regions combined. It is sparsely populated, with vast wilderness, forests, pine-covered hills and snowcapped mountains, although it also is home to one of the five Westerosi cities, White Harbor. The northern climate is cold and harsh in the winter, and occasionally it snows even in the summer. Its northern border is the Gift, the lands of the Night's Watch. Its southern frontier lies along the Neck, a marshy isthmus separating it from the southron kingdoms. The narrowness of the region and the difficulty of the terrain make it a natural border for the north, protecting it from invasion.
It has been ruled by House Stark from Winterfell, first as Kings in the North and later as Wardens of the North, for thousands of years. It is colder and much less populated than the south part of Westeros. Most of its residents still follow the old gods, but some, mainly around the area of White Harbor, have taken the Faith of the Seven. Bastards in the north are given the surname Snow.
The Iron Islands
The Iron Islands are a group of islands lying off the western coast of Westeros in Ironman's Bay, the largest being Blacktyde, Great Wyk, Harlaw, the Lonely Light, Old Wyk, Orkmont Pyke, and Saltcliffe. The soil is infertile, but there are mines of several types, including iron and lead. The inhabitants of the harsh archipelago are known as ironmen in the rest of Westeros, and the ironborn among themselves.
The Iron Islands are ruled by House Greyjoy of Pyke, chosen to rule the ironmen after House Hoare of Harrenhal was extinguished during the Conquest. Prior to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror, the ironmen ruled over the riverlands and, thousands of years ago, over much of the western coast of Westeros. The ironmen are men of the sea, and their naval supremacy was once unmatched. The Faith of the Seven of the Andals find small favor with the ironborn, as their allegiance is given to their native Drowned God. Bastards in the Iron Islands are given the surname Pyke.
The riverlands, located south of the Neck, are the fertile areas between the Red, Green, and Blue Forks of the Trident, as well as the Gods Eye and much of the Blackwater Rush. They are the domain of the Tullys of Riverrun. At the time of the Conquest, the riverlands were ruled by House Hoare, the Kings of the Isles and the Rivers. The Tullys were never river kings, but were rebel river lords who left Harren the Black in favor of Aegon the Conqueror. Although the riverlands lack a city, they have many large towns, such as Maidenpool and Fairmarket. People of this region are often called "rivermen". Bastards in the riverlands are given the surname Rivers.
The Vale of Arryn
The Vale lies to the east of the riverlands, surrounded almost completely by the Mountains of the Moon. It consists of vast mountain ranges with the people living in valleys between them, such as the Vale proper, and along the coast. The Vale's territory also includes the city of Gulltown, the Fingers, and numerous islands in the Bite and along the narrow sea.
The Vale is under the rule of House Arryn, one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility who once were Kings of Mountain and Vale. Their seat, the Eyrie, is a castle high in the mountains, small but unassailable. Due to the Vale's harsh winters, travel is only possible through the mountains during certain seasons. Rebellious mountain clans make travel even more dangerous. The people of the Vale are known as Valemen and those of the Three Sisters as Sistermen. Bastards born in the Vale are given the surname Stone.
The westerlands are the lands to the west of the riverlands and north of the Reach. It is a smaller region, but is home to some of the richest gold and silver mines on the continent.
The westerlands are ruled by House Lannister of Casterly Rock, formerly the Kings of the Rock. People of this region are often called "westermen". Lannisport, lying near Casterly Rock, is the chief settlement of the region and one of the great ports and cities of Westeros. Bastards in the westerlands are given the surname Hill.
The crownlands are lands ruled directly by the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. These lands include King's Landing and the surrounding areas, including Duskendale and Rosby. Going north, one finds Crackclaw Point and several islands in the narrow sea and Blackwater Bay, including Dragonstone, Driftmark, and Claw Isle. The crownlands are south of the Vale, southeast of the riverlands, and northeast of the Reach, and north of the stormlands. Bastards in the crownlands are given the surname Waters.
The Reach is the largest region except for the north; it encompasses a region of the most fertile part of Westeros and numerous well-populated villages and towns.
The Reach is ruled by House Tyrell from Highgarden. The Tyrells were stewards to House Gardener, the Kings of the Reach before Aegon's Conquest. After Mern IX Gardener was killed on the Field of Fire, the Tyrells surrendered Highgarden to Aegon and were rewarded with both the castle and the position of Lord Paramount of the Mander. Bannermen of the Tyrells frequently fight with the Dornishmen of the south. The most prominent city in the Reach is Oldtown. It is the oldest city in Westeros, home to the maesters' Citadel, and the Starry Sept, the previous seat of the Faith. Bastards in the Reach are given the surname Flowers.
The stormlands, located south of King's Landing, stretch down to the Sea of Dorne and are bordered by Shipbreaker Bay in the east and the Reach in the west. It is one of the smaller regions of Westeros, a land of harsh mountains, stony shores, and verdant forests.
Before Aegon's Conquest they were ruled by the Storm Kings, and afterwards by the Baratheons; their founder, Orys Baratheon, was rumored to be a bastard relative of the Targaryens. The Dornish Marches are mostly located within the stormlands, having been ruled by the Storm Kings since time immemorial, and are ruled by marcher lords. The marches were common battlegrounds between the stormlands, the Reach, and Dorne until the last century, when Dorne joined the Seven Kingdoms. Bastards in the stormlands are given the surname Storm.
Dorne is the southernmost region of Westeros. It stretches from the southern Red Mountains near the Dornish Marches to the southern coast of the continent. It is the hottest kingdom in Westeros and features the only desert on the continent. Dornishmen have a reputation for hot-bloodedness as well. They differ both culturally and ethnically from other Westerosi due to the historical migration of the Rhoynar on ten thousand ships. Their food, appearance, and architecture resemble those of Mediterranean cultures such as Greece and Turkey more than the Western European feel of the other kingdoms. They have adopted many Rhoynish customs as well, including equal primogeniture.
Dorne was the only kingdom in Westeros to successfully resist Aegon's Conquest. It joined the Seven Kingdoms through marriage over a century after the First Dornish War. This accomplishment has allowed Dorne to retain a small measure of independence. The ruling Martells still style themselves "prince" and "princess" in the Rhoynish fashion rather than "lord". Bastards in Dorne are given the surname Sand.
Westeros and Essos both experience extremely long seasons of varying length, usually lasting at least a couple of years each. The maesters try to predict the length of the seasons, monitoring the temperature and days length, to advise on when to plant and when to harvest and how much food to store. However, given the random nature of the seasons, this is not something that can be relied on.
At the beginning of A Game of Thrones Westeros has enjoyed an unusually long decade-long summer of peace and plenty and many fear that an equally long and harsh winter will follow. The end of the long summer comes at the outset of A Feast for Crows, with the arrival of the white ravens from the Citadel. The official announcement of winter comes at the end of A Dance with Dragons.
Days are longest in summer, shorter in other seasons, and shorter in the far north. Food can be grown in a glass garden in winter. George R. R. Martin has stated that the explanation for the world's unusual climate is magical in nature and will be revealed at the end of the series.
|Spring||Unknown||Prince Baelon Targaryen is born during spring, and named the Spring Prince.|
|Winter||Unknown||Princess Gael Targaryen is born during winter, and named the Winter Child.|
|Summer||Unknown > 99 AC > Unknown||Princess Gael Targaryen dies, supposedly of summer fever.|
|Spring||Unknown > 120 AC > Unknown||120 AC is known as the Year of the Red Spring. Laena and Laenor Velaryon died during this year.|
|Autumn||Unknown - 130 AC||.|
|Winter||130 AC - 135 AC||Winter began during the middle of the Dance of the Dragons, creating brutal conditions in the realm, which was already ravaged by the civil war. The winter was cruel and long, lasting six years.|
|Spring||209 AC - 210 AC||During this season, the Great Spring Sickness spread across the realm.|
|Summer||210 AC > 211 AC > Unknown||Summer followed the Great Spring Sickness, and contained a two year drought.|
|Summer||224 AC/225 AC - 230 AC/231 AC||During the reign of King Maekar I Targaryen (221 AC - 233 AC), a seven-year summer takes place. It is followed by a short autumn and a terrible long winter. The winter started in 231 AC. The exact start of the summer is unknown.|
|Autumn||230 AC/231 AC||The exact date of the start of this autumn is unknown. Winter began in 231 AC.|
|Winter||231 AC - 236 AC||A terribly cruel winter, much like the winter during 130 AC - 135 AC.|
|Spring||236 AC - Unknown||236 AC is known as the Red Spring.|
|Winter||Unknown > 253 AC > Unknown||The winter tourney at King's Landing takes place.|
|Winter||272 AC - 274 AC||Tyrion Lannister is born in the middle of a three year winter. By 298 AC, Tyrion had lived through eight or nine winters, including this one, though the exact time and duration of the following seven or eight is unknown.|
|Winter||280 AC - 282 AC > Unknown||The Year of the False Spring, 281 AC, in which the people in Westeros believed that spring had come, despite the fact that the Citadel hadn't send out the white ravens yet. The False Spring lasted for less than two months, and towards the end of 281 AC, winter returned in full. On the last day of 281 AC, it began to snow in King's Landing, continuing for the best part of a fortnight, causing the Blackwater to freeze.|
|Summer||Unknown > 284 AC > Unknown||By the time of Princess Daenerys Targaryen's birth in 284 AC, summer had begun.|
|Summer||288 AC - 299 AC||The longest summer in living history, which lasted 10 years, 2 months and 16 days.|
|Autumn||299 AC - 300 AC||.|
|Winter||300 AC - Present||By the time the white raven from the Citadel arrives, it is snowing in King's Landing.|
Biology and Anthropology
- Humans - appear to be mostly equivalent to humans on Earth, although some noticeable differences exist. There is a propensity for families in noble houses to share a common trait; for example, the Lannisters appear to have all been blondes for hundreds of years. Some physical features are unusual in our world: Targaryens often have platinum hair and violet eyes, while descendants of the Ghiscari often have both red and black hair. Also, humans in Westeros are often larger than would be expected in a medieval civilization: many men are over six feet tall, with abnormally large men standing seven feet or taller. The three major ethnic groups from which modern Westerosi descend are Andals, First Men, and Rhoynar.
- Giants - huge, shaggy humanoids of slightly below human intelligence, vaguely resembling bipedal apes. Giants are a dwindling species found only in the lands to the extreme north, beyond the Wall. They ride mammoths into battle, wielding crude clubs that are little more than logs. They speak the Old Tongue of the First Men.
- Children of the forest - the original inhabitants of Westeros are frequently mentioned, but have not been seen in thousands of years. They are thought to be diminutive humanoid creatures; dark and beautiful, with mysterious powers over dreams and nature. They are said to have used obsidian weapons and weirwood bows in battle. Little of their legacy exists at present beyond their worship of nameless nature gods still practiced by some in the north, and the remaining weirwoods.
- Others - a mysterious and apparently malevolent race of creatures found beyond the Wall. They have only been seen at night, and seem to bring unnatural cold with them. They appear as tall, gaunt humanoids with eyes of blue so deep it burns like fire. They wear armor that shifts in color with every step, and wield thin crystal swords that are so cold they can shatter iron. Others move silently, but their voices sound like cracking ice. Creatures they kill reanimate as wights, undead with glowing blue eyes. The Others exhibit a weakness to weapons made of dragonglass, which pierce their armor easily. In death, they seem to melt into a pool of extremely cold liquid.
Some species of animals inhabiting the planet are very similar to Pleistocene megafauna of Earth or even historical animals.
- Aurochs - large relatives of the bull. They are frequently used as a symbol of size, strength, and stupidity. An aurochs was used as a mount by the mythical Clarence Crabb as a display of his prowess.
- Direwolves - relatives of the wolf, but more like their extinct real-world equivalent they are much larger and stronger than regular wolves, reaching the size of a pony when fully grown. They are almost never seen south of the Wall.
- Lizard-lions - massive, swamp-dwelling reptiles found in the Neck, these creatures are most likely large crocodilians.
- Mammoths - inhabitants of the far north and apparently the only pachyderm in Westeros. They are used as mounts by Giants.
Other animals appear to be altered versions of contemporary animals or have no real-world equivalent.
- Krakens - huge squids said to be able to pull down whaling ships. They are largely considered a myth.
- Manticores - small creatures that look like scarabs when folded up. Their faces are malign and vaguely human. They have a poisonous sting that is fatal to humans. Manticores are probably from across the narrow sea.
- Ravens - physically similar to common ravens of Earth, ravens in Westeros are used to carry messages between castles. The maester of each castle usually tends to its stock of ravens. Maesters raise a breed of large, white ravens at the Citadel that are said to be more intelligent. Ravens sometimes imitate human speech like parrots.
- Shadowcats - large predatory cats with black fur and white stripes who seem to be native to mountainous regions. Their pelts are prized.
- Zorses - black and white-striped horses, most likely similar to zebras, brought over and used as mounts by some foreigners in Westeros.
- Dragons - ferocious, magical creatures, dragons are not native to Westeros, but were brought to the continent by the Targaryens. They died out over one hundred years ago, and are thought to be extinct by the people of Westeros.
- Unicorns - large goatlike animals, with a long single horn on its head.
References and Notes
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Westeros. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Westeros. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Long Night.
- So Spake Martin: Geography, February 07, 1999
- So Spake Martin: To Be Continued (Chicago, IL; May 6-8), May 06, 2005
- So Spake Martin: Size of Westeros, April 17, 2008
- Game of Thrones: Season 3 - Inside The Wildlings (HBO)
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Arrival of the Andals.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Stormlands.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, Tyrion III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73, Jon X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 4, Bran I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- In 281 AC, the winter had lasted close to 2 years. It would continue into 282 AC
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 18, Samwell I.