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Every country is named or associated with a certain type of element. Fighters who come from one of those countries usually have special techniques that have to do with their respected element. In the series of Naruto, only 4 main countries are really recognized. These countries are Fire, Water, Sound, and Earth.
The world as we know it is divided into five major countries or powers and several small ones. In each of these counties, there is a hidden village that churns out powerful ninjas. The most powerful nin in a village is know as a Kage. Konoha is such a village and she is also known as the hidden village of the leaf. (The Kage in Konoha is known as the Hokage and currently the person holding the position is none other than Tsunade.)
|The Five Great Countries|
Of the countries scattered about the Naruto world, five are considered to be the most powerful and influential of them all. These are the Land of Earth, the Land of Fire, Land of Lightning, the Land of Water, and the Land of Wind. Each represents one of the five elements (earth, fire, lightning, water, and wind, respectively) and each is ruled by a Kage.
|Land of Earth|
The Land of Earth has seen little attention in the series thus far. What little is known is that it is covered in rocks and caves, with mountains acting as a natural border for the country that make communication with other countries difficult. The winds of the country are also particularly strong, picking up rocks as they go and dropping them upon cities. They are not allies with the Land of Fire, as noted in the Kakashi Gaiden arc. Their hidden village is Iwagakure, the Village Hidden in the Rocks.
|Land of Fire|
The Land of Fire is home to Konohagakure, the Village Hidden in the Leaves, and is the home of the majority of the main characters in Naruto. It enjoys a relatively temperate climate with generally sunny conditions, allowing for bountiful harvests all year-round. Because of its location, the Land of Fire trades heavily with the other surrounding countries, giving it one of the largest populations and strongest economies in the Naruto world. It was at first widely regarded as one of the strongest countries, but became significantly weaker after Orochimaru's invasion of Konoha.
|Land of Lightning|
The Land of Lightning has also seen little attention in the series. The first data book describes it as a peninsula divided by a vast mountain range, with numerous rivers running from it out to sea. Hot springs are also prevalent within the country. Its hidden village is Kumogakure, the Village Hidden in the Clouds.
|Land of Water|
The Land of Wind is a large, dry, and desolate country whose cities are typically found near water sources. While much of the country is inhospitable, the population is large and prosperous due to its frequent trading with the Land of Fire. While not seen as often as the Land of Fire, the Land of Wind receives a great deal of attention in the series, and has a great many powerful ninja to call its own. Its hidden village is Sunagakure, Village Hidden in the Sand. The Land of Wind has been relatively uninvolved with politics until recent times, and even had a peace treaty signed with the Land of Fire. The lord ruling it, however, had been systematically cutting down his military force and transferring missions he would normally address to his own country's hidden village to Konohagakure, prompting desperate measures on the part of the Kazekage at the time.