The known world is comprised of a handful of civilizations and then uncharted wilderness. Aetherians and Phairans own the bulk of the wealth in the world and have become the two super powers. They have absorbed the various fallen kingdoms of Nazca, Wysteria and the Land of Dragons, though most are in Aether due to geographic reach.
The two do not share cultural or political view points and if it were not for the Aetherian Temple taking in their religion of the Heavenly Host it is quite likely they would be at war. The other standing civilization is the Vykrul, animal based people who live on the Vykrul continent. Their nations are separated by large distances and their enemies, the giants, make growing into a strong single nation nearly impossible. The Vykrul do not leave their homelands often enough to present a threat or benefit to either Phaira or Aether.
Several kingdoms have lost their lands due to either war or calamity. Nazca initially lost their homeland to giants from Vykrul that came in search of new feeding ground. The giants were later destroyed by a risen dragon. Wysteria fell to two risen dragons. The Land of Dragons, south of Aether, had been lost to the Ryuko from when the corrupted A'Dalis of the Darkworld invaded it. Their second home, the Isle of Dragons was destroyed by the Ocean Slada'Sha when it rose.
The icy continent of Aerith, at the southern end, has been charted as far as some coastline goes, but for the most part is it entirely unseen land. No one knows what could live in the frosted cold.
With Aether having taken in most of the refugees of the Land of Dragons and Nazcans they boast their population and military prowess is superior. However they never won a war against Phaira so some speculate that there is no definitive best between the two nations. It is pure Aetherian pride that has them bragging.
Aether and Phaira are the two rivals on the global scale. Aether is male dominated, war focused in many ways and religiously extremely open minded. Phaira is female dominated, religion and art focused and religiously very strict. Phaira has a habit of having a strong reaction in Aetherian woman who dream of more social power.
Where the two nations are not at war, it would not take much to tip those scales, even if the two presiding rulers seem to like each other (Chestin Promathea and Shekina Phaira). Culturally the two are at odds.