For hundreds of years, the Air Nomads were peaceful wanderers that traversed the world in search of enlightenment. Four permanent Air Temples, one at each corner of the globe, served as monastery homes for monks, nuns, and young airbenders. The Air Nomads were almost completely wiped out at the start of the Hundred Year War when Fire Lord Sozin ordered his armies to destroy the airbenders and their temples. Avatar Aang survived the genocide, and over the course of his lifetime he slowly rebuilt the Air Nation, inviting non-airbender acolytes to study the ways of his people. Following Harmonic Convergence, the airbending population grew significantly, and Master Tenzin and the Air Acolytes passed on the culture, teachings, and traditions of the original Air Nomads to the new generation of airbenders. The Air Nation quickly became a recognized force of good and peace in the world, and their people’s spirituality helps them mitigate human-spirit conflict. To this end, The leader of the United Republic, President Zhu Li, granted the Air Nation complete control over the sacred land surrounding the new Republic City Spirit Portal.
Economy & Education
Before the Hundred Year War, Air Nomads lived austerely and communally, never taking more from the land than they needed and rarely trading with other nations in any official capacity. The Air Temples were self-sustaining, and anything created in excess was shared with charities. The Air Nation strives to uphold this way of life, but leaders recognize the necessity of adapting to modern realities. Airbenders are completely self-sustaining with regard to food and electricity, but with no factories of their own, they purchase modern amenities (radios, refrigerators, certain textiles, telephones) from other nations.
Because most airbenders live communally and spend a significant amount of time traveling the world, schooling is largely unstructured. Even so, airbenders prioritize the attainment of knowledge and airbending skill in their everyday lives. The entire community participates in raising and educating children, and ultimately individuals have the freedom to determine their own educational goals. Now that the Air Nation is a society mixed with airbenders and non-bending acolyte children, the Masters encourage unity and tolerance by celebrating every child’s unique talents and perspective, bender or not. The only defined standards are the 36 Tiers of Airbending an airbender must master before earning their tattoos.
In Genji’s Time
Despite being extremely small, the Air Nation is influential in modern times. While the Northern Air Temple was destroyed by the Red Lotus, the other temples have prospered. Airbenders play a major role in international humanitarian efforts and are known to advocate strongly for global cooperation and peace.
Following Harmonic Convergence, the Air Nation welcomed new airbenders from around the world. The new airbenders brought their own customs and culture with them, diversifying the airbender way of life. Most new airbenders adopted Air Nomad traditions, choosing to refrain from eating meat, wear traditional attire, and shave their heads. However, these customs were not required or strictly enforced. While modern airbenders utilize new technologies like radio and television, the nation still strives to honor the non-materialistic ideals of their ancestors and balance their use of technology with periods of complete severance from the outside world.
The Air Nation still receives wartime reparations from the Fire Nation, it was granted control over traditional Air Nomad territory by Fire Lord Zuko and Fire Lord Izumi, and its people have a protected status under United Republic and Fire Nation laws. After the Spirit Portal and its surrounding land was given to the Air Nation, some resentment began to rise over the “special treatment” of airbenders. In particular, the new generation of Fire Nation politicians debate over the continuation of reparations.
With many potential threats to their lifestyle, the airbenders themselves argue over the best means of protecting themselves. Despite these looming obstacles, the Air Nation continues to thrive and do good around the world.