Gazeteer of the Known World
Westeros is the name of the major continent where Winter Chills takes place. Though much of the continent is inhabited and mapped, there is a large portion of land that remains uncivilized beyond The Wall to the North, so the true size of the continent is still unknown. The north of Westeros is less densely populated than the south. The official name of the country that inhabits the continent is The Seven Kingdoms, bound by the Wall on the north, the Sunset Sea on the west, the Shivering Sea and Narrow Sea on the east, and the Summer Sea on the south. There are five cities on the continent; in order of size, they are Oldtown, King's Landing, Lannisport, Gulltown, and White Harbor.
Geographical Parts of Westeros
Westeros is divided into areas, each ruled by a different house, and has different geographical attributes. Each part was one of the Seven Kingdoms, ruled by its own king (except for the Riverlands, which were under the control of the Ironmen at the time of Aegon's conquest).
The crownlands consist of those lands that were directly ruled by the Targaryens, and thus are not considered to be one of the archetypical Seven Kingdoms. The Crownlands include the city of King's Landing and its surroundings, the Kingswood, all land east of the Kingsroad bordering Blackwater Bay, Crackclaw Point, and Dragonstone and its surrounding islands.
The North is the area north of The Neck, and has been ruled by House Stark from Winterfell, first as Kings of the North and later under Aegon, for thousands of years. 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. Its northern border is The Wall, guarded by the Night's Watch. The North is larger than the rest of the Seven Kingdoms combined, but less of it is settled than the other areas. More>>
The Neck is small triangle of swampland immediately south of the North, and sworn to it. It separates the North from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, and as such is quite important militarily.
The Iron Islands
The Iron Islands are a group of seven islands in Ironman's Bay, including Pyke, Great Wyk, Old Wyk, and Harlaw, lying off the northwestern coast of the continent. The inhabitants of these harsh isles are known as Ironmen in the rest of Westeros, 'The Ironborn' amongst themselves. They are governed by House Greyjoy from Pyke, chosen to rule the Ironmen after Black Harren's line was extinguished during the Conquest. Prior to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror, the Ironmen ruled over the riverlands and much of the coast of Westeros. The Ironmen are men of the sea, and their naval supremacy was once unmatched. The Seven of the Andals find small favor with the Ironborn, as their allegiance is given to their ancestral Drowned God.
The Riverlands are the fertile areas between the forks of the Trident that extend from the Neck in the North down to the Blackwater in the south and extends roughly to the mountains of the Westerlands in the west and the Kingsroad in the east. They are the domain of House Tully of Riverrun. The Tullys were never kings of the Riverlands, but were heads of the rebel riverlords who left Harren the Black in favour of Aegon the Conqueror.
The Vale of Arryn
The Vale occupies the northwestern portion of southern Westeros. Its borders are delineated by the Mountains of the Moon, which isolates the Vale from the rest of the continent. The Vale is under the rulership of House Arryn, one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility and, before Aegon's conquest Kings of Mountain and Vale. Their seat, the Eyrie, is a castle high in the mountains, small but unassailable. Notable Houses of this region include Hunter, Corbray, Redfort, and Royce.
The Westerlands are located in west-central Westeros. They are entirely surrounded by hills and mountains which delineate their borders. They are ruled by House Lannister from Casterly Rock, formerly Kings of the Rock. People of this region are often called 'Westermen'. Lannisport, lying hard by Casterly Rock, is the chief town of the region and one of the great ports and cities of Westeros.
The Reach extends from the western mountains and the Blackwater in the North to the Red Mountains that separate it from Dorne to the south and the Stormlands to the southeast. The Kingswood marks the eastern border, and it is bounded by the sea to the west and southwest. The Reach is ruled by House Tyrell from Highgarden, who were stewards to House Gardener, the Kings of the Reach before Aegon's conquest. After the last Gardener King was killed on the Field of Fire, the Tyrells surrendered Highgarden to Aegon and were rewarded with both the castle and the position of overlords of the Reach. One of the largest cities in Westeros, Oldtown, and home of the Maester's Citadel, is in the Reach.
The Stormlands occupy a penninsula isolated from the rest of Westeros by the Red Mountains and the Kingswood. In the east they are bordered by Shipbreaker's Bay. Before Aegon's conquest they were ruled by the Storm Kings, and afterwards by House Baratheon, bastard relatives to the Targaryens.
Dorne is the southernmost of the Seven Kingdoms. It is separated from the rest of the kingdom by the Red Mountains and the Dornish Marches are notorious for the intercine warfare between Dornishmen and the Marcher Lords of the Reach. It is ruled by the Dornish Princes of House Martell from Sunspear. Dorne differs from the other kingdoms in that its population has much Rhoynish blood, resulting from the historical migration led by the warrior-queen Nymeria. Also, Dorne is the only one of the seven kingdoms to contain significant areas of desert terrain. Dorne was the last land to be added to Aegon's kingdom - it was brought into the realm via marriage and not conquest, and the members of the ruling House Martell still style themselves "Prince" and "Princess", a result of the strong Rhoynish influence. The current Prince of Dorne is Doran Martell.