The Borderlands are the Westland nations which lie furthest to the north and directly border the Great Blight. In modern times the term refers to the four countries of Shienar, Arafel, Kandor and Saldaea. Ten nations have been part of the Borderlands since the Breaking of the World, although the term did not come into use until at least the time of Artur Hawkwing, if not much later.
Jaramide and Aramaelle were the two original Borderland nations, until Aramaelle was destroyed in the Trolloc Wars and Jaramide collapsed shortly thereafter. Out of their ruins arose Basharande, Elsalam and Rhamdashar, which guarded the Blight during the Free Years. These kingdoms were conquered by Artur Hawkwing, who split them into five provinces of his Empire: Saldaea, Kandor, Arafel, Shienar and Malkier, though Shienar did not become a Borderland nation until the destruction of Malkier many years later.
During the War of the Hundred Years the five Borderland provinces broke away and declared both independence and also an alliance with one another, agreeing to aid one another against both the Shadow in the north and any attempts by the southern nations to attack them.
Malkier was destroyed by internal betrayal and external attack in 955 NE. Its territories were consumed by the Blight and Shienar took its place as the easternmost Borderland country. The four remaining nations share a military lifestyle of constant vigilance against the Blight to the north.
For 3,000 years the nations of the Borderlands have guarded the Westlands against Shadowspawn from the Blight. The culture of the Borderlands is the most martial of all Westlands and many of the best soldiers hail from the Borderlands. Due to the Borderlanders' view that all humankind must stand together if the shadow is to be held back, as well as their widespread respect for combat prowess, Aes Sedai will find more appreciation in these lands than elsewhere.
In the Borderlands, all men carry swords at all times in case of attack. Due to the constant threat, no country in the Borderlands has a distinct elite military formation.
Although their primary war is with the Blight, the Borderlanders also respect but have enmity with the Aiel, mainly due to the Aiel raids on Shienar through the Niamh Passes which distract Shienar from the threat of the Shadow. All four Borderlands sent substantial armies to the Grand Alliance against the Aiel during the Aiel War, but those from Saldaea and Kandor had to turn back due to increased Shadowspawn raids. 29,000 men from Shienar and 21,000 men from Arafel fought at the Battle of the Shining Walls, however, along with a small force of Malkieri veterans under al'Lan Mandragoran.
The Borderlands do not generally concern themselves with the affairs of southlanders. However, in 998 NE Moiraine Damodred and al'Lan Mandragoran, the heir to Malkier's throne, came to Fal Dara in Shienar with a party of Andorans and an Ogier. In a quest that rapidly became a legend in the Borderlands, they found the legendary Eye of the World and the Green Man, and are credited with somehow turning the tide of battle at Tarwin's Gap, where the army of Shienar was about to be overrun by a Trolloc horde ten times larger. After this, a party of Shienarans, including a sniffer named Hurin, accompanied these travelers on a series of adventures culminating in an epic battle at Falme where Rand al'Thor was proclaimed the Dragon Reborn. Hurin returned to Shienar and reported these events to Lord Agelmar Jagad, who in turn alerted the other Borderland rulers. As a result, an army of 200,000 men from the Borderlands marched south under the direct command of the four Borderland rulers with a mission to seek out al'Thor and see if he is the true Dragon Reborn. After leaving Andor the Armies of the Borderlands met Rand al'Thor at Far Madding, and after questioning him, they joined his forces and went with him to the Field of Merrilor.