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There are 4 nations established in the world of Ryzom; one corresponding to each of the 4 homin races. Thus the names of the 4 homin races, Fyros, Matis, Tryker and Zoraï are often used interchangeable to refer to both the race and the nation, which can sometimes lead to confusion. When people speak of "Fyros culture" or "Matis history", they more often than not mean the culture and history of the nation. Just go look at the pages of the homin races and you'll see plenty of this.
This is partly justified because the nations historically make up the bulk of the homins. But it should be remembered that none of the nations represents all homins of it's race. Not all Fyros are part of the Fyros nation, and so on. Many homins of all races do not belong to any of the nations, including those homins in tribes, as well as bandits and Marauders. As well, some homins chose to become citizens of a different nation than their race dictates. A Tryker could very well decide to become a citizen of the Zoraï nation, for example.
Players can gain fame with all of the 4 nations, and can become a citizen of one of the 4 nations (see alignment). A player can also become a member of the government of the nation they're a citizen of (see governments).
The Fyros Empire
The Matis Kingdom
The Tryker Federation
The Zoraï Dynasty
Countries, territories, ecosystems, continents...
Each nation controls a large amount of territory on paper. In practice however, they only have limited control outside their cities. The nations have control over their territories insofar that there is nothing within their borders that can challenge their armies, but their armies cannot always be everywhere. Thus much of what is nominally part of the nations' territories is still dangerous wilderness full of bandits and wild animals, or is held by tribes, primitives or kitin.
The territories controlled by the 4 nations, together with various Prime Roots regions and Nexus, make up the New Lands. To separate the 4 nation-controlled territories from the other regions, they are sometimes referred to as the 4 continents, though this is technically incorrect as they're all on the same continent. They may also be referred to as the 4 countries.
The term ecosystem refers to a type of natural environment, currently the 5 ecosystems known on Atys are desert, forest, jungle, subtropic (lakelands) and prime roots. Because all of the desert in the New Lands falls within the territory of the Fyros Empire, the term 'desert' itself is often used to refer to the Fyros Empire. Similarly the Zoraï nation includes all the jungle, and the Tryker nation includes all the lakelands. However, not all of the forest belongs to the Matis Kingdom, as Nexus is a forest region not belonging to any country. But 'forest' is still often used to refer to the Matis territory.
The Marauders could be seen as a nation. Though they are a lose coalition of clans rather than a single state, all the clans are ruled by a single Warlord, so they have something of a unified government. It's unknown if they have any cities or if they live as nomads, but either way a case could be made that they have their own territories in the Old Lands.
Tribes can sometimes be seen as mini-nations. Though much smaller than the nations, tribes have their own leadership and some make claims to territories. A few examples:
- The Dune Riders are Fyros who reject the way of life in the Fyros Empire and are said to have developed their own alternative society. They also claim much of the Savage Dunes as their territory.
- The Arid Matis are Matis who chose to live in the desert instead of the forest. They effectively claim Hidden Source as a sort of vassal-state of the larger Matis Kingdom, whose grip on the semi-desert region would otherwise be questionable.
- The Cockroaches are Tryker who have turned their back on surface-life and on all nations, and now form their own society down in the Prime Roots.
- The Cuzans, Gibads and Fraiders tribes are the closest thing primitives have to nations. Each has their own leaders and claims a plot of land.
Not all tribes resemble small nations though, some like the Corsairs are specifically part of one of the larger nations, while others like the Green Seed are more like merchant companies and make no claims to territories.