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The continent included terrain that was as varied as any other. Besides the exterior coastline to the west and south, the most dominant feature on the continent was the Sea of Fallen Stars. This was an irregular inland sea that kept the interior lands fertile and served as a major trade route for many of the bordering nations.
Next in significance was the Shaar, a broad region of grasslands in the south that, together with the Lake of Steam, separated the area around the inland sea from the coastal nations at the southern edge of the continent. To the east, Faerûn was bordered by a vast region of steppes from Kara-Tur, and in the north were massive glaciers (Pelvuria and Reghed) and tundra. South of the continent, separated by the Great Sea, was the sub-tropical land of Zakhara. The continent included the following geographic and political regions.
A region of wilderness, difficult winter weather, orc hordes, and barbarian tribes, this region was generally referred to as "The North". It was a mostly untamed region that lay between the large Anauroch desert in the east and the expansive Sea of Swords in the west. [note 2]
This area contained:
- The High Forest: A traditional home of the elves.
- Icewind Dale: The site of the Ten Towns, and once the home of the Companions of the Hall.
- Mithral Hall: The ancient dwarven stronghold rediscovered and reclaimed by Bruenor Battlehammer.
- Neverwinter: A northern city, known as the Jewel of the North.
- The Silver Marches: A confederation of humans, dwarves, and elves, with the city of Silverymoon at its heart.
- The Sword Coast: A rich coastline of trade, piracy, and adventure.
- Waterdeep: The City of Splendors, a huge and richly cosmopolitan city on the Sword Coast.
- Anauroch: A huge desert, once the fertile land of the empire of Netheril.
- The Dalelands: An area of rich farmland and human civilization, and home to the famous wizard Elminster.
- The Moonsea: A large northern body of water with shores in many politically unstable areas.
- The Ride: A northern steppe, home to mounted barbarians.
- The Vast: A pioneering land of wide open spaces.
This remote area began in the cold, forbidding lands along the great ice sheets and continued south toward the northeastern shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars. It was bordered on the west by the mountain-hemmed land of Vaasa and stretched east to the vast steppes of the Hordelands. This region also contained:
- Amn: A huge, relatively new human nation of great wealth and prosperity.
- Baldur's Gate
- Evereska: The crumbling final stronghold of the elves on Faerûn.
- The Moonshae Isles
- The Nelanther Isles
- Nimbral: The mysterious island nation.
- The Western Heartlands
It also included the multitude of islands that lay to the west in the vast ocean called the Trackless Sea.
With the exception of the Shining Plains, these lands lay along the irregular coastline of the western Sea of Fallen Stars. In the north, the Dragonmere arm of the sea extended far to the west, ending close to the Western Heartlands. To the south, the Vilhon Reach formed a second arm leading to the southwest. The notable areas within this region included:
- Cormyr: A feudal nation of humans living on former elven and dragon territory.
- The Dragon Coast
- The Pirate Isles
- The Shining Plains
Most of the nations in this region bordered the eastern expanses of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Here the sea formed a long arm that travels to the east before turning south to become the Alamber Sea. The northern nations of this mysterious area were termed the Unapproachable East and the southern nations the Old Empires, and, for a time, the Empires of the Alamber Sea. This region included:
- High Imaskar
- Thay: Home of the notorious Red Wizards.
Many of these nations allowed slavery, and depended on slaves for much of their economy.
This region lay along the great Chultan peninsula that jutted out toward the west. The waters to the north were named the Shining Sea, a body bounded by Calimshan to the north and joined to the Lake of Steam through the Straits of Storm. To the south of the land was the Great Sea. Located in this area were:
This land lay to the south of the regions around the Sea of Fallen Stars, being somewhat isolated by the Lake of Steam in the west, and the vast length of the Shaar. It was bordered along the south by the Great Sea, to the west by the Chultan peninsula region, and in the east by Luiren. The south included:
- The Border Kingdoms: An area of ever-changing mini-nations and fluctuating borders.
- The Great Rift
- The Lake of Steam
- The Shaar
The immense complex of caverns and passages that lay beneath many parts of the continent of Faerûn. It contained:
- Ched Nasad
- Llurth Dreir
- Menzoberranzan: The famous drow city and original home of Drizzt Do'Urden.
- Blingdenstone: Chief city of the svirfneblin.
- ↑ As the key setting of the Forgotten Realms, the majority of official Forgotten Realms material covers this continent, and it has had more attention than any other area of the planet.
- ↑ This area is one of the most popular regions for role-playing campaigns set in Faerûn, and has been the setting for a number of popular computer role-playing games.