Wakanda is an isolated nation in Africa near Kenya, southeast of Sudan. It is extremely technologically advanced and has a highly sophisticated industrial and technological backbone that supports their population, creating a unique dichotomy between tribal traditionalism and an advanced technological society.
Wakanda has a population of around 100,000 people and is approximately 100 square miles. It is located in a densely mountainous region with a heavy jungle growth, in the collapsed mouth of an ancient caldera that contains the major population base in the capital city of Birnin Zana. Eighteen tribal cities of around 1,000-5,000 each are scattered through the region, ruled by tribal chiefs.
The paths to Wakanda are extremely difficult to access and heavily guarded. Local superstition suggests that supernatural entities guard the region, discouraging adventurers from exploring it. Several border tribes historically guard the secret passes into Wakanda, which they call Mfawze Wamatye-- the land of the "stone warriors".
Wakanda's culture up until the 1950s was primarily hunter-gatherer family units supported by limited agricultural production. Most of the population is sorted into a caste system but Wakanda's egalitarian policies encourage social movement instead of stratification.
The autocratic rule of the king as a tribal chief has kept the aristocracy small. The Monarchy of Wakanda rules over the capital city and is considered the secular ruler of Wakanda. An annual tradition allows tribal chief leaders to challenge the current monarch for the throne. The economic relationship between the monarchy and tribal chiefs is largely feudal and the council of chiefs is called the "Taifa Ngao".
The presence of the Priesthood of Bast has established strong hierarchies among the religious leadership. Religious rituals centered on the Orisha dominate much of daily life, particularly for artisans and the laity who are employed by the Priesthood.
Wakanda has relatively sparse agricultural production space, due partially to complications for terrain and a cultural preference for hunting. Pasture space is reserved for some animals and game preserves have been established to allow for traditional hunting pursuits. Several unusually dangerous breeds of cat and other predators make the preserves dangerous for the unwary.
Wakanda conducts very limited trade with the outside world. Their primary export is vibranium, which sells for around $10,000 a gram and of which they have approximately 10 tons of total reserve, which requires mining and ore extraction to process.
Their primary import is science and technological knowledge, along with rare earth metals and industrial manufacturing components (helium, petrol, etc.)
Wakanda announced limited trade with the outside world in 1950 and in July of 1966, Wakanda formally declared itself a nation and was admitted to the United Nations. In 1983, Soviet armed forces attempted to invade Wakanda and consolidate the vibranium deposits therein. The Wakandan defensive arrays and vibranium-armed warriors devastated the Soviet invasion force. This brief invasion scuttled Soviet trade with Wakanda and announced to the world that the isolated nation was impregnable.
Wakanda has a very small industrial base and limited large-scale domestic manufacturing capability. Certain artisans produce extremely high quality goods in very limited supply, and automated machine equipment maintains their supplies of technological assets.
The machinery that powers the backbone of Wakandan culture is of staggeringly advanced quality. It is so woven into Wakandan life and infrastructure that many Wakandans are unaware it is active as they go about their lives, or they see the use of those items as commonplace. Wakanda has had mobile telecom, computer storage systems, advanced construction equipment, energy weapons, automated fabrication units, medical facilities, and hundreds of other luxuries for thousands of years. This has produced interesting gaps in knowledge, such as the priests who understand how to utilize the automated medical pods to heal the sick and injured without any advanced knowledge of medicine. Another example: Kimoyo Beads are given to every Wakandan at five years old, combining portable medical monitoring gear with telecom equipment. Every Wakandan can use their Kimoyo effortlessly but the priests who operate the fabricator unit don't understand their design or construction.
Because Wakanda engages in no trade, conducts no wars, and has no shortage of major resources, their culture has stagnated significantly. It has only been in the last few decades that Wakandans have begun expanding their general approach to education and science in earnest.
It is these gaps in knowledge that T'challa and his family have been seeking to address. New generations of students no longer pray to the machine spirits-- they are learning the underpinnings of science behind the machines, and are learning to critically examine the systems that allow the machines to function. Combined with access to vibranium and the steady flow of information from the outside world, Wakanda has begun attempting to repair and upgrade ailing Kheran equipment.
Wakanda was founded by devotees of the goddess Bast approximately 10,000 BCE, after the restoration of the Demiurge. A series of brutal tribal wars during the Hyborean Era had decimated their population. Bast brought them to a caldera that had erupted during the Cataclysm, promising a land that would be safe from invaders. In fact, she and the Orisha were anxious to install worshippers and a civilization over the smouldering wreckage of an ancient Atlantean gates adjacent to R'lyeh.
Primarily hunter-gatherers, Wakanda began developing the agricultural practices necessary to sustain civilization. An abundance of natural resources was offset by the remote location of the region, limiting trade and mercantile development.
In 1800 BCE, Kheran and Daemonite forces engaged in a battle near Earth, and a Kheran botany-colonist ship crashed into the Wakandan caldera. The Wakandans began dissecting the Kheran machinery and attempting to reverse-engineer it. They had some significant success, and over the millennia used the debris from the ship to integrate defensive weapons, medical restructuring pods, and manufactories systems. It would take generations to unravel the mystery of the Kheran machines, in fits and starts.
In 1500 BCE, such an ambitious tribal chief named C'muro staged a coup and forced King T'pwen into exile and set about a conquest of Africa. The Wakanda Civil War would result in thousands dead and Wakandan culture forever changed.
The daughter of T'pwen, Mululi, returned from exile and found Wakanda ruined. Internecine violence bordering on civil war erupted as various factions and tribal leaders attempted to claim leadership of Wakanda. Mululi subdued the tribal chiefs in single combat, forcing them to recognize her authority as she worked to rebuild. She helped put down the rebel priests and led the repair efforts to rebuild the ancient systems as best the Wakandans were able. But there was a long period of lawlessness and chaos as the priesthood, monarchy, and tribal leaders struggled to regain control of their war-torn lands.
In the end, several compromises were struck.
Priests of Bast took control of the Kheran machines that protected the nation and forebade the monarchy from accessing those weapons. They taught children to worship the Panther Goddess and the recently formed [[[Orisha]]] of Wakanda. The Priests of Bast added occultism and mystique to the maintenance of Wakanda's infrastructure. The priesthood now prayed to the 'machine spirits', creating rituals and rites required to operate and repair the machines, from the weapons on the border to the medical treatment machines to the Kheran fabricator devices. Failure to observe the proper rights was treated as blasphemy. Thus, the duty of defending Wakanda would reside with Bast and her priests.
The tribal chiefs insisted that never again would the monarchy maintain a standing army. Conscription would be voluntary and each tribe would have equal representation in the military. For anyone to leave Wakanda would require the collective blessing of all tribal leaders. Mululi argued for the concession that she be allowed a private guard, the [[[Dora Milaje]]]. She would control the capital city, administer the duties of the state, and guard the sacred mound of vibranium.
This formed an uneasy alliance, a tripod where no one faction could control the collective might of Wakanda alone.
Forbidden by ancient edicts to speak to the 'machine spirits', the monarchy alone handed down the knowledge of science and technology. Each new heir to the throne would be taken to the deepest chambers of the royal palace at a certain age. There, they would learn from ancient Kheran computers the true history of Wakanda and the nature of the 'machine spirits'.
The war had devastated the fields of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Only a single plant was preserved, and taken to the deepest parts of the Wakandan jungle to protect it. There, hermits worshipping the Orisha would guard and cultivate it, charged with keeping the holy plant safe and testing prospective candidates who wished to become the next ruler of Wakanda. This herb is exclusively provided to the rightful ruler of Wakanda and jealously protected by some of Wakanda's mightiest warriors.
This triumvirate of chiefs, monarchy, and priests would sustain Wakanda's peace for centuries and enable their isolationism-- wanting for nothing, with health and food and strong family connections, the Wakandans stayed in almost complete isolation for centuries.
In 1942, the ancient Kheran computers informed young Prince T'chaka that a spaceship was crashing to Earth far north of Wakanda's borders. His father agreed it was too important an event not to pursue. T'chaka was given the last of the Kheran flying machines and flew north to intercept the falling star. He arrived just in time to see Jor-El of Krypton fighting off a small army of German troops and rushed to Jor-El's side. The two men discovered a common language, rooted in ancient Krypton, and furthur realized they were in fact both looking for each other. Their adventures would lead them to join the Defenders.
After the war, T'chaka returned home and discussed the state of the world with his father. It was decided that the time had come for Wakanda to emerge from the shadows and join a world that they could not hide from. It would take time to undo ancient tribal law and superstitions alike. It became the duty of the royal family to send their sons and daughters into the world, and to bring knowledge back to their home.
By the time T'chaka's children were ready to inherit the mantle of Black Panther, Wakanda had gone from an isolated religious tribe to a sophisticated secular nation. Reluctantly, the priests of Bast surrendered their ancient duties to the well-educated youths as the next generation of Wakandans set about building their home into a leader of nations.