|Galactic Atlas • Campaign Regions • Spatial Regions • Star Systems • Nebulae • Star Charts|
Vulcan has three continents. Two of these, Na'nam and Han-shir, are enormous land masses each divided into a number of provinces with boundaries dating back to the Age of Antiquity. The third continent, Xir'tan, is an island somewhat larger than the Earth continent of Australia. Xir'tan is the most tectonically unstable land mass on the planet, with frequent earthquake activity and over forty active volcanoes among its jagged hills. The island is in fact too unstable to serve as a permanent home for more than a handful of Vulcans. However, the constant seismic activity makes Xir'tan an important source of metals and minerals. Vulcan legend once said that a wanderer could simply pluck kevas stones the size of fists off the ground in Xir'tan. Now both the Vulcan Mining Institute and private companies constantly assemble X-teams (exploration and excavation) to locate and work these veins as they appear.
One small settlement on the northeast coast of the continent, K'lan-ne ("New K'lan"), serves as an embarkation/drop-off point and resupply center for expeditions. All the structures in K'lan-ne are less than a century old, as the former settlement site of K'lan sank beneath the sea in an enormous earthquake in 2265. K'lan-ne tends to attract the "misfits" of Vulcan society for whom the way of Surak is not completely satisfying, including many adherents of Tu-Jarok.
Of the remaining continents, the larger land mass of Na'nam contains Vulcan's capital city of ShirKahr, the spaceport city of Vulcana Regar, and important religious landmarks like Mount Seleya and the Plateau of Tai-la. The major provinces of this continent are described in greater detail here.
The lands of Han-shir are similar to the provinces of Na'nam in most respects. This continent contains three major population centers of its own (Da-leb, Kwil'inor, and Vulcinis) and the T'ralor Preserve on the west coast of the Voroth Sea, the largest wilderness area on the planet. The Preserve contains the last living examples of over 100 otherwise extinct species of Vulcan plants, trees, and animals. Vulcinis also has a busy spaceport, and houses Vulcan's starship production facilities, which employ advanced construction alloys synthesized in the orbital space stations that ring the planet. Finally, vast arrays of solar collectors located in Han-shir's central desert, the Go'an, run enormous generators which supply power to most of the continent.
Flora and fauna
While traveling or living on Vulcan, visitors may encounter any of three distinct climate zones - desert, volcanic plains, and temperate coastlands. Each zone supports many ecosystems, with a biodiversity surprising in such an inhospitable planet.
From the equatorial dunes and ergs of Xial and Go'an to the gravel flats north of Nal'shin, desert is the most plentiful terrain on the planet's face. The shifting sands of Vulcan hold many secrets to those skilled in their lore. The greatest of these of course is the art of finding sources of drinkable water in these arid wastes. In ancient days, warlords fought to control important oases and underground springs; today, the permanent settlements, small and large, which dot the ruddy sands have grown around these watercourses. Through the application of advanced technologies like hydroponics, Vulcan towns extend these limited resources to supply other basic needs. Indeed, the Vulcan capital city of ShirKahr sprang up around just such an oasis and today supports an infrastructure the equal of any in the Federation.
There are two vastly different types of volcanic plains which visitors may encounter on Vulcan - the blasted wastes formed by centuries of past volcanic activity in areas presently considered dormant, like Cheleb-khor desert and the Womb of Fire; and the shifting plateaus that surround still-active volcanoes like Mt. Tarhana or the triple peaks of T'raan, T'riall and T'regar in Raal, and teem with the strange forms of life that somehow bloom in the midst of searing heat and intense pressure. The terrain of the former is harsh and foreboding, twisted ridges of gray flint, red rock, and black lava flows interspersed with yellow sulfurous deposits and patches of brilliant green lichen. Few possesses of their sanity inhabit such realms, and even short-term visitors should come equipped with appropriate survival gear, and would be well advised to stay clear of most of the indigenous plants and animals which have evolved the means to survive there.
The living and constantly changing plains surrounding major active volcanoes, on the other hand, attract many visitors, ranging from scientists and tourists seeking to observe the marvelous multicolored crystalline formations that grow from the rocks on the Fire Plains of Raal, to expedition and excavation teams seeking to harvest the rich mineral deposits contained within the laa flows between eruptions. Some of the major temples of Vulcan are also located along the more stable outskirts of these plains, as a constant reminder of the powerful primal energies that sects like the followers of Kolinahr seek to master.
Volcanic Plains Flora
Volcanic Plains Fauna
The temperate zones of Vulcan tend to be concentrated along the coastlines of Vulcan's two great seas, the Voroth and the Thanor, but can also be found in the northern latitudes of Tat'sahr province, the Na'ree River region, and isolated mountain valleys on both major continents. In all, these zones comprise less than ten percent of Vulcan's land mass, but house almost forty percent of its population. Much of the economic life of Vulcan centers here - the trade ports which once housed great sailing vessels and now conduct the operations of Vulcan's mercantile starship fleet, the virtually fully automated microchip and pharmaceutical manufacturing complexes, and the sparse but immaculately tended farmlands where tropical food crops can still be organically grown.
Yet it must be remembered that the very term "temperate" is defined within the Vulcan context. Water is more plentiful in these areas - typically systems of underground streams, but occasionally rivers or shallow lakebeds that fill during the brief rainy season, and dry out over the course of the following year. The water supplies support more varied vegetation, including palm and nut trees, slender grasses, and even colorful flowers like the y'ranth and the favinit plant. But the temperatures here still routinely top 38ºC (100ºF), and the fragile balance of the ecosystem is now maintained only through the most strictly managed system of irrigation, crop rotation, and recycling.
The majority of this information has been taken from The Way of Kolinahr, with modifications from other sources.