Ninfa is the largest island of the Trident Isles, but it is also the name of the city that is located upon that island. The mercantile compact which rules the Tridents (comprised of the Afasen College, the Ivory Coin Traders, and the Guild of the Open Palm) has its headquarters here at Ninfa. The Fleet of the Trident also resides at anchor here, and the Whitestaff Citadel is located on the harbor.
Ninfite and Tridentine history doesn't go back a very long way compared to the ancient settlements of men throughout the north. The islands were colonized in the early Eighth Age, before that having been primarily the dwelling-places of lizardfolk in the low-lying swamps and sahaguin off the coasts. This was during the heyday of Ishtria, long before it was broken into the many semi-independent Dominions that comprise it in the modern age. The Ishtrians had subjugated the Hadashen tribes (which would eventually lead, in the end of the Ninth Age, to the creation of an independent kingdom of Hadash) and had won many wars with their ancient foes, the Khewedi.
Seeking expansion and a foothold into the north, the Ishtrians followed the ancient example of the Khewed kingdoms. Where the Khewedi had sailed to Highstone and Colona to begin their conquest, the Ishtrians required a nearer base of operations and they chose the Trident Isles. For nearly two hundred years the wild islands were tamed. Bounties and mercenary parties did most of the work for Ishtria, drawing many soldiers from across the North to fight and kill and die in the swamps and the coastal tidepools where inhuman creatures still dwelt.
Rumor persisted that the islands had been a place of human habitation in the early ages of the world and that a secret port had been constructed to bring travelers to and from the mythical island-kingdom of Sintarra, but this port was never found. The Ishtrians built a fortress amongst the rocky mountains of the isle of Ninfa and presided over the Trident Isles until the Ninth Age when the Hadashen Tribal Rebellion spilled over into the Tridents and the Tridentine people declared themselves free.
Ninfa proper had been growing ever since the colonization, serving as the chief port for reinforcing the Ishtrian garrisons and moving men and material across the Trade Sea. In the wake of throwing off the Ishtrian shackles, the seat of government in the Isles devolved to Ninfa. A large segment of the Ninfite population was Aellonian, and so Ninfa adopted an Aellonian style of governance for its first centuries. To whit, all men and women who lived on the Islands were declared citizens of the Trident and all future outsiders who wished to acquire citizenship would have to serve the Tridentine government. A single Tyrant was elected to rule Ninfa and thus the procession of the Nine Lawgivers began.
These Lawgivers structured life on the Isles. They fostered the growth of mercantile companies and the inclusion of merchants, helped to quash the rampant piracy and lawlessness of the outlying isles, and constructed the infamous prison-mine, the Creak and Clink. The Lawgivers have lent their portraits (and their title) to the Ninfite platinum coin: the Nines of Ninfa.
After the death of Lawgiver Ahaj in the latter years the Assembly could not choose another to replace him. The Afasen College, which had been founded in Ninfa under the Lawkeepers, forwarded their own candidate but this prompted immediate response from the Ivory Coin Traders (whose ships ferried goods to and from the Onyx Cities on the Zeshimite coast) and the Guild of the Open Hand (which was a known thieves organization). As a compromise, the early 10th Age saw the establishment of a triumvirate of uneasy peace between the three great trade guilds.
However, as the Age wore on, they grew more comfortable with one another. Informal agreements became formalized into governmental structure. The once-dangerous council meetings became routine and the compact settled into the task of governing the Isles. They too repressed piracy, reinvigorated the old Lawgiver's Guard of the Whitestaves, encouraged trade, and paid for the foundation of numerous temples in the city and the outlying Isles. They greatly expanded the Creak and Clink and from it began to extract small fortunes in copper and iron.
These are the Trident Isles of today: fiercely multi-ethnic, fiercely free, and fiercely mercantile. Ninfa stands as the crossroads of the world.