The North is part of the independent Kingdom of the North and was previously one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms.
Distant Winterfell Travelers in the North, with the castle of Winterfell in the distance. North Map of the continent of Westeros, marking the location of the North in red. The North is ruled from the castle of Winterfell by House Stark. It is the largest of the nine major regions of the continent, almost equal in size to the other eight combined.
According to legend, the Kingdom of the North was established eight thousand years ago by Bran the Builder, the founder of House Stark, who constructed the Wall as a shield against the possible return of the White Walkers. The North is the only region where the First Men were able to resist the Andal Invasion, six thousand years before the War of the Five Kings. As a result the North is the only region of Westeros in which the ethnic makeup is predominantly First Men, and the only region where the culture, customs, and traditions of the First Men still predominate. Among these is the belief that the man who passes the sentence of death must swing the sword himself. In particular, the religion of the First Men, the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest, is still the dominant faith in the North. The Faith of the Seven introduced into southern Westeros by the Andals has found little foothold in the North. As a result, warriors from the North are not "knights", because "knighthood" is a code of values associated with the Faith of the Seven. However, mounted warriors are still an honored and esteemed military asset in the North, so that while northmen like Ned Stark may not carry the title "Ser", Northern cavalry are functionally equivalent to mounted knights.
Bastards born in the North are given the surname Snow. People of the North are known as Northmen (or Northerners), and, derogatorily as wolves, in reference to the sigil of House Stark.