The Five Great Shinobi Countries (忍び五大国, Shinobi Godaikoku, English TV: 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 daimyō, 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 centre. 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 Iwagakure, the Land of Lightning has Kumogakure, the Land of Water has Kirigakure, the Land of Wind has Sunagakure, and the Land of Fire has Konohagakure. These five villages are the only ones to have a Kage as the village head.
Although the Five Great Shinobi Countries 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, Konohagakure, is considered the most powerful of all shinobi villages and Konoha's Hokage has been considered to be the pinnacle of the shinobi world. However, after the damage done to Konoha from both Orochimaru's Konoha Crush and Pain's Assault, Kumogakure has supplanted Konoha 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 Eye of the Moon Plan in the Fourth Shinobi World War. After the war, as shown with Naruto as the Seventh Hokage, it appears that the five countries continued to have maintained a strong form of prosperous peace and fellowship between one another with both the present and retired Kage exemplifying them during their meeting.
Following the aftermath of the Fourth Shinobi World War, the Five Great Shinobi Countries were able to finally put aside their differences and remain great allies, able to discuss anything without prejudice clouding their judgement, forming the Shinobi Union.