The Five Great Shinobi Nations are the five largest countries and the main focus of the Naruto series. These countries are led by governmental leaders, known as the Feudal Lord, who are in charge of ruling their individual nations solely through a monarch-like government. These countries are divided equally on an unknown continent to create balance in the shinobi world. They are the Land of Earth in the Northwest, the Land of Lightning in the Northeast, the Land of Water in the East, the Land of Wind in the Southwest, and the Land of Fire in the center. The countries are named after the dominant chakra nature of each of the areas.
These superpowers are the major players in the politics and trade between the shinobi nations. They are the most powerful of all nations and each has an extremely powerful shinobi village. The Land of Earth has the Hidden Stone Village, the Land of Lightning has the Hidden Cloud Village, the Land of Water has the Hidden Mist Village, the Land of Wind has the Hidden Sand Village, and the Land of Fire has the Hidden Leaf Village. These five villages are the only ones to have a Kage as the village head.
Although the Five Great Shinobi Nations are equal enough in power and military strength to create a fairly stable balance of power, the Land of Fire is considered the most powerful and influential. Similarly, the Land of Fire's shinobi village, the Hidden Leaf Village, is considered the most powerful of all shinobi villages and the Hidden Leaf's Hokage has been considered to be the pinnacle of the shinobi world. However, after the damage done to the Hidden Leaf from both Orochimaru's Hidden Leaf Crush and Pain's Assault, the Hidden Cloud Village has supplanted the Hidden Leaf as the most powerful of the five villages.
The five countries are currently allied together, along with the samurai of the Land of Iron, in preparation to stop Tobi's Project Tsuki no Mei in the Fourth Shinobi World War. Following the aftermath of the Fourth Shinobi World War fifteen months later, the Five Great Shinobi Nations were able to finally put their differences and remain great allies, able to discuss anything without prejudice clouding their judgement, forming the Shinobi Union.