In a traditional oriental world of great nations and elemental magic, there exist four main nations, each taking their culture from the four dominant elements of the land: air, earth, water, and fire. Each nation draws much of their background and culture from their respective element. The groups are the Air Nomads, the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, and the Fire Nation.
In addition, some members of the elemental nations have the gift of "bending" their tribe's element, or manipulating it to assist the bender. There are four types of benders- Airbenders, Earthbenders, Waterbenders, and Firebenders.
The four cultures were able to live in peace and harmony for many years. This peace was shattered when the Fire Nation declared war on all the other nations, and embarked on a rampage, conquering the other nations. The other nations fought back, but the Fire Nation had become by far the most powerful of the four, and one by one cities began to fall. As the nations were pushed back, they began to call for their last hope- the Avatar.
The Avatar is the one human with the ability to master not one, but all four of the elements. Only one Avatar lives at a time, and this bender is charged with helping to maintain world peace. When one Avatar dies, he or she is reincarnated into the next cycle. The three collapsing nations were expecting the Avatar to step in and save them. However, the Avatar vanished, and never reappeared in a new body.
100 years later the long war is coming to an end, with the Fire Nation closing in on the last of the nations. The Air Nomads have been completely wiped out, their temples unvisited for a century. The Water Tribe, already split into northern and southern, has retreated to the furthest edges of the globes, the North and South Poles. Only the staunch Earth Kingdom remains, although they are fighting a losing battle, with most of their cities captured. The Avatar has not been sighted in over 100 years, and many people believe that the cycle was broken somehow. The future looks bleak for everyone except the conquering Fire Nation.
Then one day, two young members of the Southern Water Tribe named Katara and Sokka discover a young 12-year old Airbender named Aang, along with his giant flying bison, Appa, who have been frozen in stasis within an iceberg for 100 years. It's surprising enough that Aang is a member of the Air Nomads, a supposedly extinct people, but after some poking they discover he is also the missing Avatar!
Now that he has returned, Aang must evade capture and master all four elements. Then, it will be possible for the Avatar to confront Fire Lord Ozai, defeat the Fire Nation, bring peace, and finally end the long 100-year war.
The Four Nations in Avatar: The Last Airbender:
The known Air Nomads are peaceful, spiritual, reclusive monks who choose to live high up in the sky in places called "Air Temples". The Air Nomads seem to have been weak in numbers and do not appear to have had many relations with the other three tribes, but each monk had considerable wisdom and power. It's possible that there were Air Nomads and Airbenders outside the temples. They are supposedly extinct except for Aang.
The Airbenders use the martial arts style Bagua
The Water Tribes are a group with control over the water. Members of the Water Tribe generally gravitate toward colder places, seemingly, or areas near bodies of water, where their bending skills are of greater use. The two main Water Tribe groups are located at the North and South Poles, with the Northern more intact. They are great healers. The Water Tribe benders become very potent at night, due to their connection with the moon.
The waterbenders use the Martial art style Tai-Chi
The Earth Kingdom is a strong, advanced group with powers over earth and rock. The Earth Kingdom appears to have the greatest population of the four tribes, though this is not confirmed. they also had the largest territory. Many Earth Kingdom cities dot the world, as they are capable of settling down almost anywhere, because, of course, earth exists almost everywhere. The Earth Kingdom is a powerful nation, not to be underestimated.
The earthbenders use the martial arts style Hung Gar
The Fire Nation is an extremely powerful and aggressive culture with control over fire. With their numbers, skill, rough attitude, and awe-inspiring element, the Fire Nation is probably the most fearsome nation of the four. Like the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation covers the world and also appears to have a heavy population. Their power comes from their violent natures and legions of benders. The Fire Nation puts an emphasis on honor.
Firebenders use the martial arts style Northern Shaolin
Recaps2x15: The Tales of Ba Sing Se recap
: Tale of Katara & Toph:
Katara decides to take Toph to a day spa. Toph did not like the foot scrub, being that she sees with them. During their mud bath, Toph bends the mud mask to a scary face to scare the attendant. Then they get beautied up. On their way back to their house, some snobby girls tease Toph for the way her make up looks, and both girls get even with their respective bending. Toph explains that since she's blind, she doesn't really have to care about her looks, and Katara comments that she looks beautiful. Toph says that she'd return the comment, but she doesn't know what Katara looks like... read more.2x8: The Chase recap
: The kids are setting up camp for the night, and Toph is sitting around doing nothing. Katara tries to get her to help, but Toph misunderstands her and the two start fighting. After the fight, they finish setting up camp and Katara tries to apoligize to Toph, but once again Toph misunderstands, and leaves Katara feeling annoyed and upset. A little while after they fall asleep, Toph joltst awake, feeling something moving on the ground. The kids pack up camp and take off, landing a little while later. Sokka says they aren't going to set up camp, and Katara says loudly, "Well that's good because Toph wasn't going to help anyway" Toph gets mad and slams the door to her "tent (to rocks in a triangle form) in Katara's face. Katara gets mad, and when Aang tries to calm her down, she yells at him. After maybe an hour of sleep, Toph wakes up again and says the tank that is chasing them is back. They once again take off, wondering how it's following them. Aang flies them to a mountain where they attempt to sleep, but Momo starts jumping around screeching, and they discover that once again the tank has found them. They also discover who is inside: Azula and her two friends the "crazy ladies from Omashu" as Sokka puts it. The kids try to hold off the three girls, but finally end up just taking off on Appa. They fly through the night, and just as the sun rises, Appa falls asleep while they are flying. Aang wakes him up just in time and they land. Sokka says they had put enough distance between themselves and the three girls, and proposes that they all get some sleep. Katara says it is Toph's fault they hadn't gotten any sleep because of her "issues" and when Toph questions her about it, Katara says if Toph had helped set up camp, they could have gotten some sleep. Aang tries to calm the girls down, only to hear Toph say it was Appa's fault that Azula and her friensd at found them. She said because Appa was shedding, the girls were able to follow his trail. Aang gets mad and says that before Toph had come along, Appa had never had problems flying. Toph gets upset and leaves, literally pushing Sokka aside when he tries to stop him. While walking, Toph hears a noise behind a rock, and Earthbends some ground to jut up and hit the spot where she heard the noise. She hears someone go "ow!" and looks around the rock. She sees (though she doesn't know it) Iroh. Back with Aang, Katara, and Sokka, Aang is practically in tears because he had yelled at Toph, and Katara is feeling guilty. Sokka (the only one who didn't really give Toph grief) says that they had both been pretty mean. Katara says they have to find Toph, and Sokka asks how they are supposed to find Toph when they've still got the "tank full of crazy ladies" after them. Aang comes up with a plan to get them off the kids trail, and give them time to find Toph. They give Appa a bath to rinse away all the hair he is shedding, and then Aang fills a bag with Appa's hair and takes off, dumping the hair along the ground to make a fake path. Sokka and Katara, meanwhile, take off on Appa to make a fake trail. Azula and her friends come to the spot where the kids had been resting, and discover that Aang is trying to trick them. Azula goes in one direction (the path Aang took) and her friends go in the other (the path Sokka and Katara took). Toph, meanwhile, is enjoying a cup of tea with Iroh, who is telling her about his nephew, and how she is just like him (strong, independent, etc). What he says helps Toph realize that she should have stayed with Aang and the others, and goes off to find them, telling Iroh before she leaves, "Oh, about your nephew. Maybe you should tell him you need him to". Azula's two friends catch up Sokka and Katara, and fight, and right as it looks like Sokka and Katara will lose, Appa flies in and hits the girls with a gust of air he flipped at them with his tail. Tai-Lee asks, after they get out of the river, "Is it just me, or was that guy kind of cute?" about Sokka. Aang, meanwhile, has finished setting the trail of hair, and is waiting for Azula to find him. She does, and when Aang asks her who she is, she does an impression of Zuko that's supposed to be funny. Right as they are about to fight, Zuko comes in and Azula ends up fighting both of them, and winning. Katara and Sokka come after, Zuko is hurt, and Iroh comes to his rescue. Toph comes in and saves Katara, Sokka, and Aang, and the four of them, with Iroh and Zuko right along, corner Azula. She pretends to surrender, then uses her lightning bending and attacks Iroh, hitting him right in the chest with a bolt of lightning. Zuko, Katara, Aang, and Toph all attack her at once, but she runs away. Zuko, overcome with grief, collapses next to his uncle's still breathing form, almost in tears. Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph come up behind him, all terrified, and Zuko tells them to get away from them. Katara says she can help Iroh, but Zuko attacks them, yelling, "Leave!" The episode ends with Appa flying off into the night, Aang, Toph, Katara, and Sokka all sleeping in his saddle.. read more.