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Real countries that inspired Game of Thrones

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, April 10, 2015, 2:23 PM -

Season 5 of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones premieres Sunday night, much to the delight of the internet.

As the story has developed audiences have fallen in love with the characters -- and the lands they inhabit.

That got us thinking about some of the more popular regions in the Game of Thrones known world, and the real-life countries (and climates) that inspired them.


NOTABLE CHARACTERS: Khaleesi, Khal Drogo

MOST COMPARABLE TO: Mongolia, North American Great Plains

The Dothraki Sea is a dry grassland on Essos inhabited by the Dothraki people who live in in hordes called khalasars, each of which is led by a chief called a khal.

According George R. R. Martin, the mastermind behind the Game of Thrones series, The Dothraki were fashioned after a number of cultures – one of them being Mongols.

From a climatological standpoint, one could argue that the Dothraki sea represents a drier version of Mongolia.

Both climates contain steppes – i.e., large areas of flat, unforested grasslands typically found in Siberia.

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Mongolia, for example, is home to the Manchurian steppe – which not unlike the plains where the Dothraki and their horses make war.

"I would say the Dorthraki region is also comparable to the Eurasian steppe, where temperate grasslands meets savannas meets shrubland," says Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese.

"Vast stretches of uninhabited grasslands are very similar to that of the Eurasian steppe." 

Meteorologist Gina Ressler agrees.

"The Dothraki Sea is inspired by places like the North American Great Plains or the Eurasian Steppes," she says.

"These types of climates are semi-arid (dry), and typically found in continental interiors some distance from large bodies of water. In Canada, the Dothraki Sea is comparable to the dry prairie regions in southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan, sometimes called Palliser's Triangle. Try to imagine the landscape before permanent settlements developed."

Photo courtesy of HBO/Game of Thrones/Facebook


NOTABLE CHARACTERS: John Snow, Mance Rayder


While this portion of the show was filmed in Iceland, the Land of Always Winter is probably more comparable to northern Canada, according to Martin. 

Although he has never visited Iceland, he once said that the fictional region is “considerably larger than Iceland — probably larger than Greenland,” adding that the “area closest to my Wall is densely forested, so in that sense it's more like Canada — Hudson Bay or the Canadian forests just north of Michigan.” 

RELATED: Snow headed for northern Canada

So there you have it. While Atlantic Canada may feel like the land of always winter it isn’t – at least not as far as Game of Thrones is concerned.

John Snow photo courtesy of HBO/Game of Thrones/Facebook

Northern Canada: The Land of Always Winter?

Northern Canada: The Land of Always Winter?

GAME OF THRONES REGION:  The Free City of Braavos


MOST COMPARABLE TO: Venice, Belgium, the Bahamas

The fictional City of Braavos is spread out over hundreds of tiny islands linked together by canals and bridges in northwestern Essos. 

It’s a seafaring region known for water dancing, a variation of sword fighting.

In terms of culture and appearance, Braavos bears resemblance to Venice, but according to the Game of Thrones Wiki, “in terms of climate and weather, it is more akin to northern European cities like Amsterdam. All-in-all Bruges [Belgium] (one of the places often referred to as "the Venice of the North") would be a good match.”

"You could argue that Braavos is also similar to the Bahamas, as it is a tropical Savannah," says Vettese. "Temperatures are always above the freezing mark."

Illustration of Venice, courtesy: Wikipedia

Illustration of Venice, courtesy: Wikipedia


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