Amestris (アメストリス, Amesutorisu) is the country that serves as the principal setting of the Fullmetal Alchemist series.
It is a unitary state under the rule of a parliamentary republic, with a population of about 50 million. The Head of State is the "Führer" (大総統, Daisōtō in Japanese, a form of "Generalissimo") who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Military, who also consecrates the role of Head of Government.
It seems the country was composed of several former nations, quite diverse in culture and religion, but incorporated by the expanding state of Amestris. The administrative regions of the country seem to reflect those differences. The country has five administrative divisions: South Area, West Area, North Area, East Area and Central Area.
The East Area is the most diverse, sheltering a nation of a different ethnicity called Ishval. The province of Ishval is ethnically and culturally different of the rest of the country: the people there being religious; most of them renounce alchemy, which brought many conflicts with the Central Government in the past and has culminated in the Ishvalan Civil War.
Amestris is a unitary state under the rule of a parliamentary republic, though it is unknown whether it's bi-cameral or unicameral. What is known is that, since the formation of Amestris, the parliament has been used as a mere facade to distract from a more authoritarian regime, as the government appears to be almost completely centralized by the military. The Central Command, located at Central City, allocates the regional governments at its own accord, with no known elections to speak of. It appears that the only elections held in Amestris are for legislative positions within the parliament, but its power is irrelevant to the decision making process. In practice, the government is composed of nominated positions.
Its authoritarian regime makes it hard to distinguish between regular government institutions and the military, but that domain is constantly questioned and confronted by the general population, which is rarely friendly and even belligerent towards the military regime.
The regional offices of the government are directly subordinated to the Central Command and have little freedom of action. However, politics are very common among the leaders of each region within their own level of hierarchy, bringing a lot of competition between regions.
Amestris was officially founded around 1550, though the country existed prior to that date, without much organization or government to speak of. The coming of the “Philosopher of the East” changed that nation's history by providing them knowledge in the practice of Alchemy, which led to an uprising of Amestris' influence and power in the region. After the foundation of the country, Amestris began expanding its territory by invading neighboring countries and subduing them.
Since its inception, Amestris has been a powerful country, promoting conflicts with its neighbor states and maintaining an extremely authoritarian, centralized government. The basis of the country's political and economic stability has become strongly connected to war, boosting the military to the highest ranks and prestige positions within the government.
In July 1558, Amestris first declared war with the nation west of the country by invading the city of Riviere, resulting in the first bloody battle of Amestris′ known history. Amestris later invaded other neighboring cities such as Cameron in 1661 and Wellesley in 1811.
By October 1835, Amestris invaded the neighboring country of Aerugo, starting the war that has endured until the time of the series.
As each war was fought and the neighboring countries conquered, Amestris took their enemies' land and integrated it and their peoples into its own. The country eventually grew into a large circle, save for one piece at the northern border, with the capital in the center.
By around the year 1894, the prominent general King Bradley (considered a war hero) was appointed as Commander-in-Chief, or Führer, of the country. Since Führer Bradley's appointment, there have been conflicts in most borders of the country, resulting in many massacres and heavy civil wars, always under the command of Central's Army.
In the year 1901, in the province of Ishval - known to be a rogue and unstable area and, at the time, occupied by the military - an Ishvalan girl was shot by an Amestrian soldier, instigating revolt from the locals and thus beginning the Ishval Civil War. The war lasted until 1908, when Führer Bradley issued Executive Order No. 3066, sending the military's most feared special division, the State Alchemists, to Ishval's front, enacting the extermination of the Ishvalan people. The area was devastated and its population massacred by 1909.
The conflicts escalated thereon, with bloody struggles in the East, South, West and North Areas in the following years. The main battles were at Liore against the followers of Letoism (1914) and at Briggs against Drachman forces (1914-18).
By late winter 1915, Amestris faced its greatest crisis since its founding, with a civil war in the heart of the country, resulting in Führer Bradley's death and the rise to power of Führer Grumman, formerly the Commanding Officer of the Eastern Headquarters.
Grumman's ascendance to power changed the country's policy drastically, promoting peace treaties with neighboring countries and removing military forces from the borders, concentrating efforts on building cooperation with other nations, especially Xing, a country formerly isolated and distant from Amestris, that has improved its relations thanks to the efforts of General Roy Mustang and the new Emperor of Xing, Ling Yao.
The geography of Amestris is quite diverse, varying from desert areas in the East to an icy mountain range in the North and plains to the West and South. Amestris is a land-locked nation, with no access to any known sea, and is bordered completely by the countries of Creta, Aerugo, and Drachma, as well as the East Desert, with the country of Xing on the other side. There are many unknown countries East of Xing. It is told that there is a water route from Amestris to Xing (considered to be "the long way around") and it seems to be accessed by traveling South from Amestris through Aerugo.
Amestris is a relatively extensive country with a large countryside population and low, but growing, urban concentration.
The biggest city is the capital, Central City, that also has the largest buildings and busiest urban life. Each province has its own capital as their main city - East City in East Area, South City in the South Area and so forth. The population seems to concentrate in the east, south and central areas, being the north quite isolated and the west with very sparse cities.
The highly diverse climate can vary from a typical Mediterranean climate near the southern border to near-glacial in the region of Briggs. However, most of the country varies between a temperate and a subtropical climate.
Amestris' population has been noted at roughly fifty million by the year 1915, but population density varies around the nation between urban areas, rural areas, and frontier areas. As an expansionist country, Amestris comprises many different nations and many different ethnic groups. The most prominent ones are "Caucasian" (dark hair and eyes and light skin tone), "Middle Easterns" (brown eyes and hair, red eyes in the case of Ishvalan, and tanned skin), especially in the East Area, including the region of Ishval (and, in 2003 anime, Reole), and "Nordic" (blond hair and blue/green eyes). The dominant ethnic group in Amestris are Caucasian although they too vary a lot. The "Nordic" group seems to be exclusive of Amestris, not appearing in any surrounding country other than the ancient Xerxes in the east.
Although these ethnic groups are similar and even inspired by the ones in our world, it should be noted that they have no mention to these specific ethnic groups in the story and it's even unknown how the Fullmetal Alchemist world understands the concept of ethnicity and their groups and names.
Amestris' technological level has been described as the highest in the region, suggesting that it can reasonably be taken as the level of the world's technology as a whole. Just out of the twentieth century's first decade, Amestris appears to have recently undergone an industrial revolution of sorts, with steam engines and automobiles beginning to overtake horse-drawn carriages as the most prominent mode of transportation (though the horse-and-buggy is by no means uncommon). Incidentally, most cars are of a style reminiscent of the Ford Model A. Both left hand drive and right hand drive vehicles are used in Amestris. Also many of the steam locomotives have a British, German, or Japanese look to them, often looking like designs of the 1910-1950s. Electric power, while abundant, has not completely replaced gas-lights in some of the more rural areas and coal remains a major fuel source. However, automail exists as a clear outlier from the standard technological fare of the age, existing as sophisticated robotic prostheses that not only function with the precision of machinery roughly a century ahead of its time, but is compatible with biological forms in a manner that transcends our own understanding of bio-robotics. Due perhaps to the nation's high level of Alchemical prominence, great strides have been made in the fields of chemistry and metallurgy, allowing for a rapidly evolving technological identity.
In terms of weaponry, firearms range from simple pistols to Woodstock rifles and machine guns but the Amestrian State Military has developed a new type of weapon called a "tank" at the Research and Development department of their Briggs Fort.
As an expansionist country, Amestris has absorbed many smaller nations over its history and has therefore amassed a rather diverse populace made up of many different ethnic, religious and cultural groups, becoming a "melting pot" society of sorts.
- Drachma: Amestris' neighbor to the north, recently signed a non-aggression pact with the nation, though relations are strained at best. However, the two countries are separated by the Briggs Mountain Range, which helps the two countries in hindering another full-scale engagement, due to the fact travel across the mountains is dangerous, which makes it hard and risky to wage a war over them.
- Aerugo: Amestris' southern neighbor is at open war against Amestris roughly since 1835 (with periods of ceasefire). The borders near Fotset have been particularly disputed as of 1914. Some attempts at signing at peace treaty have been made.
- Creta: Amestris' neighbor to the west has strained relations with the nation. Due to Creta's internal problems and decentralization, Amestris has been able to acquire some regions and cities, though most of them do not accept Amestris domain willingly. Amestrian western borders have some particular "hot spots" under dispute, such as Pendleton and Table City, although Creta is not openly at war against Amestris.
Amestris has no direct border with any country to the East, the Great Desert being an uninhabitable area and serving as a shield between Amestris and the next country, named Xing. There weren't any mentions of conflict between these two countries, probably due to the distance of their territory and the infertility of the Eastern Desert, making it an unattractive land to either. As of 1915, Amestris begins an approximation with Xing, mainly through commerce.
- Main article: State Military
The only armed force of Amestris is the army since the nonexistence of aerial vehicles and the landlocked nature of the country preclude the need for marine or navy.
Ever since King Bradley was elected Führer, the military has been the country's primary focus, and has cemented its power over every aspect of Amestrian life. Its most well-known conflict is the Ishval Civil War which ultimately decimated the Ishval race. The military is also engaged in border skirmishes with its neighbors Creta and Aerugo.
The military administration has its General Headquarters based in Central City and four others which garrison the units across the country in the capital of their respective regions. The army from the Eastern Headquarters as well as the army from the fortress of Briggs is considered the best divisions of the army. Briggs specializes in defense, while the Eastern Army specializes in attacking.
It appears as if the infantry is the main branch of the army. They are supported by artillery, tanks, along with their most important and prominent weapon: the State Alchemists.
The division of State Alchemists is parallel to the normal ranks of the army. They are automatically assigned the rank of major upon recruitment. They have their own symbols, titles, and undergo different treatment and supervision from other military personnel.
The official flag of Amestris is a rectangle, with an argent dragon rampant in a field of vert.
The dragon is also present in the symbol of the State Alchemists, which bears it inside a hexagram (replaced with an Auseklis-like cross in both anime series) and a wreath of laurel leaves. A variation of the flag with a bordure is also used as a badge on military uniforms.
In the 2003 anime it is highlighted in two scenes in the series, once at Brigadier General Maes Hughes funeral and again being torn apart by an angry mob, but is pictured regularly in the manga and 2009 anime series.
The manga's later chapters reveal that Amestris had its growth and strengthening orchestrated for a precise purpose - the creation of a giant Nationwide Transmutation Circle, much like the one Father used in Xerxes. Over three hundred years before the events of the manga, a man known as the 'Eastern Philosopher' (actually Father) taught the basics of alchemy to the then-tiny country, which then began using the techniques to conquer its neighbors. In recent years, there have been numerous incidents of mass death incited by the Amestrian State Military, forming a pattern identical to a circle found under the Fifth Laboratory used to create Philosopher's Stones. The circle is nearing completion - the final remaining point of bloodshed is the fortress Briggs, which has been assaulted by a very much outmatched Drachman force. Meanwhile, the Homunculus Sloth has completed a giant tunnel he has been secretly digging around the entirety of Amestris, in the form of the transmutation circle used to create the stones.
Real World Parallels
The last episodes of the 2003 anime and the movie indicate the close parallels between Amestris and the Weimar Republic in Germany. Part of the movie is set in 1923's Munich, during the historic episode known as the Munich Putsch (where the new and understated Nazi Party attempted to stage a revolt and take power, resulting in the imprisonment of Hitler and many of his followers).
In the movie Conqueror of Shamballa, the Elric brothers have no difficulty communicating with Germans once they arrive in 'our world'. However, during the first time when Edward came across the gate, he landed in London (but it should be noted that he had at that time traveled into his alter world's body, which could account for his appearing in London).
In the manga, there are no direct real-world parallels to any particular time and space in History, nor had the author declared any intention of implying a specific situation of the real world, but a generic assembly of different periods and countries.
Arakawa has stated she didn't use any specific countries or cultures to create Amestris, but rather a combination of several European countries from several different periods between the 17th and 19th centuries and, more specifically, the changes that occurred in Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution (with a greater inspiration in England). According to her, however, there's no implied relation or comparison to any specific country, time, or government.
Some of these inspirations on real countries are noticeable, such as the architecture of major cities to the English Victorian style, as well as most of the clothes having resemblance to the fashion of early 20th century Western Europe, the Military attires having a close similarity to those used by the French Military Forces at WWI, among others.
- Central City: The bustling capital of the country and seat of power of King Bradley. From here, Central Command also runs the political affairs of the nation.
- Dublith: The town where Izumi and Sig Curtis live, and also Greed's original base of operations.
- Rush Valley: The automail hub of Amestris, home to several minor characters such as Paninya, Dominic, and Garfiel.
- East City: Located in a backwater region near the desert, East City was the home base of Colonel Roy Mustang and his entire outfit for most of the early portions of the anime and manga. It's reasonably close to Reole and Resembool, making it a sort of central hub for some of Ed and Al's early adventures.
- South City: Hub for all southern regions. Currently at war with the bordering nation of Aerugo.
- West City: Rocky, dry, territory at war with Creta.
- North City: The quiet, snowy locale at the foot of the Briggs Mountains. Medical and supply center for the Briggs Fortress.
- Briggs: Located in the northernmost corner of Amestris. This fortress guards the country's borders from Drachman invaders.
- Reole: A small town whose citizens has a strong religious sense. Moreover, it's the home of Leto's Church.
- Resembool: This far-flung town is the home of the Elrics, and many important events happened here. This is where Winry and Pinako live and the site of the Elrics burned down their house.
- Youswell: The "last town in the East" where Ed was sent to deal with a corrupt military official, Lt Yoki.
- Amestris was the name of the wife of Persian Emperor Xerxes. According to Herodotus, she was said to have sacrificed fourteen children to the god of the underworld in her old age. The country was named as one of the many FMA's easter eggs from Arakawa. She also named the other central country of the series Xerxes, after the Emperor himself.
- In alchemy, the silver lion represents base material to be altered, the component for perfection.
- Amestris has many similarities to Nazi Germany. They are both ruled by a dictator and have similar enemies: the Nazi nation had Russia while Amestris had Drachma. And they allied with Aerugo similar to how Nazi Germany allied themselves with Fascist Italy by the Berlin-Rome Pact.
- However, these similarities were not intended by the author in terms of making Amestris an "allegory" of Nazi Germany of any sorts. Any comments on direct "inspiration" or implied metaphor of such have always been discredited and dismissed by Arakawa, who always reinforced a wider and broader spectrum of symbolism (and inspiration) to Amestris in particular and FMA in general.
- Some of the equipment the Amestrians use are based on real-life German examples, such as the Amestris Tank being based on a mix of the Panzer III and Panzer IV respectively.
- In keeping with Amestris' similarities with Germany, the German Empire (1871-1918) had a population of 56 million in 1900, close to the time period of Fullmetal Alchemist itself. However, it isn't known if this was intentional or unintentional.
- Another point that can be made is that Amestris' history in some ways mirrors that of Brandenburg, the state from which the Kingdom of Prussia was founded, and later the German Empire. If one views alchemy as a 'religion' of sorts, the date at which Amestris begins using alchemy is highly similar to when Brandenburg converted to Protestantism.
- Amestris' official language is English, although not mentioned by any of the characters or any other forms of information. If you are able to zoom into the Map of Amestris image, you will find that in the bottom right information box that in fact English is the official language of the country.
- Amestris is approximately 723,456 square kilometers or about 279,327.9 square miles, which can also be found in the bottom right information box on the map. The population density is about 69 people per square kilometer.
- However, the scale given on the map indicates that Amestris is about 500km across at its widest. Given its roughly circular shape, Amestris would have an approximate maximum area of 200,000 square kilometers, and thus a minimum density of 250 people per square kilometer.