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The wizarding world, also referred to as the magical community, is the society in which wizards and witches live and interact separate from Muggle (non-wizarding) society. The two communities are kept separate through the use of charms, spells, and secrecy. Wizards are forbidden to reveal anything about magic to Muggle society due to the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. It is governed by the Ministry of Magic.

Magic is honed through study, training and formal schooling, but cannot be simply learnt by Muggles. Non-magic skills, such as picking a lock with a hairpin rather than an Unlocking Charm, are uncommon to the point of novel rarity. Magic is used for mostly everything, including cooking, cleaning, travelling, communicating, child rearing and medical treatment. Although on the surface, magic appears morally neutral, the benevolence or malevolence of a spell's nature is tied to the intention behind it. For instance, the Cruciatus Curse cannot effectively torture a victim with pain unless the caster desires to do true harm to the victim. The technology of the wizarding world appears Medieval in character (such as Hogwarts not having any lifts, but instead having only stairs), as the use of magic precludes the need for advanced technology (as well as that magic interferes with electrical equipment).

Government

Ministry of magic logo

Symbol of the Ministry of Magic.

The Ministry of Magic is the British wizarding world's central authority, bureaucracy and law enforcement. The Ministry maintains numerous departments and offices and is highly organised and efficient. The Ministry is led by the Minister for Magic. Politically, there is no separation between executive, legislative and judicial branches of power. The Minister is elected, but it is unknown who has the power to elect him, although there does seem to be some degree of input from the general wizarding population. The duration of term seems not to be fixed; the longest known term is that of Minister Faris Spavin who was in office from 1865 to 1903, a total of thirty-eight years.

The Wizengamot and the Council of Magical Law judge those guilty of breaking wizarding law and determines the fate of criminals. Trials consist of a short hearing with no lawyer or arbitrator and without any possibility to appeal. Criminals may be sent to horrible places such as Azkaban for punishment. In cases where individuals have been wrongfully imprisoned (case in point: Sirius Black), the Wizengamot barely issues an apology but merely continues with its work.

The Ministry of Magic controls a great deal of wizarding life, including methods of communication, transportation, internal affairs between wizards and other magical beings, internal security of the wizarding world, Non-Tradeable Material and even sports.

International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy

Enormous effort is expended to keep wizarding society from Muggle knowledge. Enchantment of Muggle property is forbidden, underage wizards are restricted from using magic without a licence, and any deliberate revelation of magic is punishable. These laws were created by the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy and are enforced by the International Confederation of Wizards and the Ministry of Magic.

The Ministry does not answer to any part of the Muggle government, but its head is obliged to inform the Prime Minister of events that could cause Muggle notice, such as escaped criminals or the importation of highly dangerous magical creatures. Other exceptions to this secrecy include the Muggle relatives of wizards.

Geography

Great Britain

In terms of the wizarding world, Great Britain appears to include all of the British Isles, including England, Wales, Scotland, and all of Ireland. The authority of the British Ministry of Magic (and its educational system, Hogwarts) extend to all of those territories; however, they each appear to have separate Quidditch associations, much like the separate athletic associations within the United Kingdom in the Muggle world. Though wizards live all over the world in various places, there are some wizard villages where there are many wizards in one location, or where no Muggles live at all. The only all-wizard village in Great Britain is Hogsmeade. There are also some villages, such as Godric's Hollow, Ottery St. Catchpole, and others, that are inhabited by Muggles as well as a concealed community of witches and wizards.

In Britain, central wizarding institutions like the Ministry of Magic, St. Mungo's Hospital, and the commercial district surrounding Diagon Alley are in London. However, most magical folk appear to use magical means to travel there for work, treatment, or shopping, while actually residing in other parts of Britain. Particularly high concentrations of wizards and witches seem to live in the West Country and the Highlands of Scotland. This may be so because both areas are considered remote and relatively sparsely populated by Muggle standards, allowing for easier adherence to the Statute of Secrecy.

Other Countries

A number of other countries are mentioned as wizarding nations in the Harry Potter canon.

The world map of the wizarding world differs from that of the Muggle world. Like wizarding Great Britain, whose borders include all of the British Isles including Ireland, not all wizarding countries correspond directly to the borders of contemporary Muggle nations. Assyria, Flanders, Scandinavia, and Transylvania, for example, exist as independent countries in the wizarding world, but not in the Muggle world. Additionally, some wizardings countries with Muggle equivalents, like Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, have outsized influence in wizarding sports and politics, suggesting their physical size in the wizarding world may be larger than their Muggle equivalent, or else that they have a disproportionately high number of wizards and witches per capita.

Wizarding nations do all appear to have their own Ministries of Magic, and there is an international governing body that coordinates between them all, the International Confederation of Wizards, with such governing bodies as the International Magical Office of Law, which oversees international wizarding law, and the International Confederation of Wizards' Quidditch Committee, which governs Quidditch.

Economy

Money

Wizarding money.

The main economic entity in Britain is Gringotts Wizarding Bank, which is run by goblins and features an intense magical security system which includes a subterranean maze, magical barriers and protective spells, and dragons. There are hundreds of thousands of vaults, each with a unique key.

Wizarding currency has three types of coins and no decimal system. The coins are Galleons, Sickles and Knuts.

Conversion rates:

  • 17 Sickles to a Galleon
  • 29 Knuts to a Sickle
  • 493 Knuts to a Galleon

We also know from the rear cover of Quidditch Through the Ages that around 164 knuts was equivalent to one Muggle £GBP in 2001. It is unknown if separate wizarding countries and their respective Ministries use alternative monetary systems.

The goblins of Gringotts Wizarding Bank have devised a way to exchange wizarding currency for Muggle currency and vice versa, to allow wizards to use either, as needed. It is unclear how, exactly, this process works, but it is likely to be a common one because Muggle-borns pay for Hogwarts school supplies in wizarding currency every year.

The biggest employer in the Wizarding World appears to be the Ministry of Magic. It is not clear how this works from an economics standpoint, since there does not appear to be a system of taxation -- and even if there was, there does not appear to be sufficient economic activity in the Wizarding World to pay for the thousands of ministry employees through taxes.

Just like in the Muggle world, wizards and witches can be rich or poor, employed or unemployed. Wealth appears to usually be the result of inheritance rather than business acumen or magical ability, suggesting a strong class system.

Medicine

While Muggle medicine first attempts to stimulate the body's own healing and defence systems, magic can simply impose well-being or create healing from a source other than the body's own system. Potions, spells and magical bandages are administered by trained Healers. Pepperup Potion relieves the symptoms of colds and flu and Cheering Charms provide a rudimentary mood stimulation. Where home remedies and ordinary wizard skills fail, St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries employs Healers who attend to everything from fixing conventional ailments to long-term care for victims of severe neurological damage.

Society

The society of the wizarding world is centred around two facts: that the members can use magic due to inborn capabilities to do otherwise impossible things, and that it is not possible for Muggle society to coexist peaceably alongside wizarding society and therefore it is kept secret.

Internal relations

"You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort."
Draco Malfoy to Harry Potter in their first year at Hogwarts[src]

The most obvious example of wizard prejudice is what ranges from a longstanding disdain to genocidal hatred for Muggles, Muggle-borns, Squibs, and half-blood wizards. Older wizarding families and wizarding society elite lord blood purity over others. The practise of pure-blood intermarriage left many with mental illness caused by incest.

Wizards appear magically capable until advanced old age, there seems less prejudice toward the old. Young wizards and witches, on the other hand, are often not respected till of legal age.

Malfoys

The Malfoy family were an example of pure-blood elitism.

Werewolves, perfectly normal human beings the majority of their lives and terrifying monsters for a small fraction of it, are so hated and despised that to reveal their affliction is to end all possibility of future employment. Some werewolves, such as Fenrir Greyback, infamously used their lycanthropy to take revenge on society, however most suffer in secrecy due to fear of becoming cast out from society.

Giants, normally solitary creatures given to territorial aggression, were rendered nearly extinct by the refusal of wizards to allow them near habitable land. This forced their kind to cluster together in desolate rocky lands, leading to in-fighting and further deaths. Giants are so feared by wizards that gentle and intelligent half-giants such as Rubeus Hagrid are made to feel ashamed of their heritage and suffer the same prejudice that Muggle-borns and half-bloods do.

House-elves willingly and joyfully do whatever tasks their wizard masters ask of them, have thus been ruthlessly exploited for centuries as a slave-class. The fact that they seem to like being enslaved has made wizards send their house-elves on life-threatening errands at all corners of the globe. The casting-out of a house-elf from a family is the deepest and most traumatic punishment imaginable for them. This most often leads the house-elf to harm itself in grief to the point of death.

Goblins, while they appear to have at least a grudging co-existence with the wizard world, have nonetheless experienced much discrimination from wizards, and many have led significant uprisings against them in the past.

Muggle relations

Most things of magical nature are hidden from Muggles. However to wizards, the Muggle world is also very mysterious. Wizards tend to blunder attempts to disguise themselves as Muggles when they venture into Muggle society (for example, wearing clothing meant for the opposite sex). Muggle technology, such as the telephone or revolver, are foreign and obscure to wizards. Muggle Studies is offered at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but the subject is considered a waste of time to some. The only known muggle without wizards in his/her family that knows of the wizarding world is the Prime Minister.

Christmas 1992

Christmas at Hogwarts.

Religion

Wizards practice all manner of faiths and religions. Christmas and Easter are celebrated communally, though the celebrations mainly cover the non-religious portions of the holidays. Witches and wizards can be members of any faith, and there is no mention of specifically wizarding religions.

Education

An untrained wizard child may perform random bursts of magic intuitively when distressed or excited. Honing and controlling this into a usable skill takes years of education. In Britain, there is no official primary school, however parents may home-school their children or send them to Muggle schools until they are of age to move on to formal wizarding education, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, for example, the age of entry is eleven years on or before 1 September.

Lockhartclassroom

The Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom during Professor Lockhart's stay.

In Britain, the ability to use magic is automatic grounds for admittance to wizarding school. There is a magical quill that writes down the name of those that are born with magical capabilities. Eleven years after a child's name is entered into the book, a letter is sent to the child's home to explain that they have been accepted into Hogwarts. The homes of Muggle-born wizards receive an envoy to explain the situation.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located in Scotland, provides education to students in Britain. Students may enroll at age eleven and undertake seven years of training in a wide variety of subjects. When education is complete, graduates are considered mature and capable members of the wizarding society. Some subsequent professions, such as Auror, require additional education and training.

Wizarding Examinations Authority

The Wizarding Examinations Authority examines students in their fifth and seventh years at Hogwarts who sit O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams. The head, Griselda Marchbanks, is a very elderly witch who examined a school-aged Albus Dumbledore in his seventh year. Since Dumbledore was 115 in 1997 and Griselda must have been educated fully, she is likely at least a full year older than Dumbledore (although this is an estimated minimum, it's likely she is even older).

Foreign schools

Beauxbatons Crest

Beauxbatons school emblem.

Crest

Durmstrang Institute emblem.

Hogwarts is one of the three largest wizarding schools in Europe, along with Durmstrang Institute and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. Of these, only Durmstrang seems to take on students from countries other than the one where it is located; Hogwarts only serves British students, and Beauxbatons appears to only take on students from France. As other, larger European countries -- like Germany, Italy, and Spain -- do not have wizarding schools that appear on the list of largest schools, some countries may have smaller, regional wizarding schools, rather than national ones, like Britain and France.

Transport and communication

As witches and wizards live in any and all areas of the known world, wizard modes of transport and communication must cover distances in a variety of ways.

Apparition

Apparition allows an individual to vanish and appear at another place almost instantly. The act of Apparating creates a noise ranging from a small pop to a loud crack. It is difficult technique to master and becomes increasingly unreliable over long distances. It requires complete concentration on the destination, determination and focus upon the desired location, and deliberation and certainty of reaching the goal. Only of-age wizards who qualify for licences may legally Apparate. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry offers Apparition classes to students ages seventeen and older. Side-Along Apparition allows those with licences to bring minors along with them. Poor focus may result in Splinching, which causes body parts to be separated and left behind. The process of Apparation is said to feel like being "forced through a very tight rubber tube".

Floo Network

Floo powder is a green powder that is thrown into a lit fireplace and allows for a portal to connect to another fireplace at a desired location. The system is operated and overseen by the Floo Network, which is based at the Ministry of Magic. A fireplace must be connected to the Floo Network for one to travel to it, and fireplaces can be connected temporarily, in the case of travelling to Muggle homes.

Flying (class)

Arguably the most popular transport object, brooms

Flying

Wizards use broomsticks to travel long distances, or for sport, particularly in the game Quidditch. The Cushioning Charm invented by Elliot Smethwyck provides comfort. Some modern broomsticks include the Comet, Cleansweep, Nimbus, and Firebolt. A range of flying creatures are also available for transport, such as Thestrals and Hippogriffs.

Owls

The most common means of communication is owls, which cooperate with wizards to convey packages, messages and letters. In some circumstances, the owl will request payment or food in exchange for services. In circumstances that a wizard or witch owns a separate animal that can be used instead. Albus Dumbledore, for example, had a phoenix named Fawkes that acted as an owl, although much more loyal.

Portkeys

Portkeys are objects that allow for travel across extreme distances or to places that have been charmed against detection. Portkeys may send unsuspecting people anywhere, and so they require Ministry authorisation to use and operate. They are disguised as ordinary trash, such as a crushed aluminium can or a dirty, discarded sock, so Muggles will ignore them. Portkeys can be set to activate either at a prearranged time, or as soon as the person comes in contact with them.

Miscellaneous

  • All-wizarding radio stations exist, though it is not clear if the radios that receive the frequency are magical or Muggle in nature, it is unlikely electricity is used due to its known disruption due to magic.
  • The Knight Bus takes stranded wizards to anywhere in the United Kingdom.
  • Hogwarts students are transported to and from the school on the Hogwarts Express, a train that departs from a magically hidden rail platform in London.
  • The Durmstrang students travel on a ship. Even though it appears from a whirlpool in the Hogwarts lake, there is still rowing involved. The ship probably acts like a boat on water but with anti-water spells of some sort to prevent water entering the boat.
  • The Beauxbatons students travel in a carriage drawn by great horses with wings.
  • Flying carpets are a primary form of wizarding transport in Asia, and are designated as contraband in Britain.
  • Very rarely, a centaur will allow a human to ride on its back. This is the most solemn of events, offered only to highly honoured riders.
  • Photographs and portraits in the wizarding world are usually enchanted so that they move, with photographs acting as brief, looping recordings of an event or person, while portraits possess a form of enchanted intelligence that allows them to communicate with humans and each other, to move locations of their own accord under certain circumstances, and to pass along messages and advice reflecting the personality and knowledge of the original subject.

Behind the scenes

  • A Brazilian Wizarding School is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but the name is never given. Bill Weasley once had a pen-friend at this school, however it ended because Bill was unable to go on an exchange trip there, due to his family's financial problems. To add insult to injury, the pen-friend sent Bill a cursed hat, which made his ears shrivel up.
  • There is some confusion regarding the population of the wizarding world. The year Harry Potter entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there were forty students that started school. This seems to indicate a very low birth rate, or a very low number of witches and wizards in Great Britain and Ireland, or a combination of both. Also, J. K. Rowling has stated that she imagines the wizarding population of the U.K. to be around 3,000. This estimate, although seemingly small, is understandable; a larger population would be far harder to hide from Muggles. However, she also stated that the number of students attending Hogwarts was around 1,000, which seems inconsistent with the 3,000 population estimate. Harry once observed in one Quidditch match that three-quarters of the stadium was supporting Gryffindor, while the Slytherin supporters numbered around 200. There are a large number of government departments, and Harry Potter observes hundreds of witches and wizards in the Ministry of Magic's Atrium alone. This would appear to be too large for such a small population. The Quidditch World Cup stadium could hold 100,000 and was built by a Ministry task force of five hundred. It seems very unlikely that a sixth of the entire country worked for a full year on one single project, though it is possible that the Ministry could have hired out from other countries. If one were to extrapolate from Rowling's statement that 1,000 students were at Hogwarts at a given time, however, a more sensible number seems to suggest itself: Given that 1,000 students spread over 7 years would make a class size each year of about 143 students, that nearly every young wizard and witch in Britain appears to attend Hogwarts, and that wizards and witches seem to live around 100 years if they don't die by unnatural causes, 1,000 Hogwarts students would put the total wizarding population in Britain at 12,000 to 15,000 -- a number that would support almost all details known about the Wizarding World.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., the age at which magic may be performed legally may change from country to country.
  • According to Remus Lupin, there are no princes in the wizarding world or possibly any royalty for that matter.
  • According to J.K. Rowling, the wizarding and Muggle worlds will never rejoin. [1]
  • Even though it is shown that the wizarding world is far behind in technology and modern items, in the Goblet of Fire film, Rita Skeeter is seen using a Muggle pen and notepad.

Appearances

See Also

Notes and references

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