Being one of the oldest of the Free Cities, Vanai has endured centuries of conflict. Originally, the city had been the center of a republic, but over the years it had been annexed by many of the other great nations, such as Antea and Birancour. It had been a possession of Antea seven times alone.
Vanai was first constructed as a seaport on the Inner Sea, protecting the mouth of the river Taneish. Over time, centuries of silt had pushed away the river mouth to a full morning's ride south. The city is built with a series of canals, upon which narrow boats and pole barges navigate. These canals are Vanai's main form of trade. Many flatboats and barges stop in the city on their way to the younger city of Newport, bringing silver, grain, wool, and timber from the north.
The buildings of Vanai are primarily constructed from white wood, lined up on narrow streets.