This article is about the biological/sociological concept. For competitive races, see sports.
It's known that on many worlds, people (whether humanoid or otherwise) possess different physical features, most notably skin color, based on numerous factors, including level of exposure to sunlight. Collectively, these physical features are sometimes referred to as "race" (or, that is one term that was historically used for it on Earth). It is believed that different races within a single species developed on such worlds over periods of thousands of years. It should be noted that the concept of race eventually fell into disuse on Earth and most worlds like it, beginning sometime prior to the creation of The Land (which happened in Terran year CE 1997), but the concept was not wholly abandoned on Earth as a biological concept for more than a century after the Land's creation. And it still remains there a sociological concept, which is used for cultural and historical purposes.
However, on the Land, race has never existed in the sense of skin color, as there was initially only one "race." The first humans on the Land had skins of a dark purple or indigo hue. The reason God chose this color when creating Landian humans was that it would provide a degree of protection from the high levels of potentially damaging sunlight to which people would be exposed, living in the area that would later be known as First Village, which is very near the Equator. (It is the same reason Terran humans who are native to regions near Earth's Equator have dark brown skin.) Though several other villages were subsequently founded, starting with Tonad in LY 225, it wasn't until the settling of the Land's eighth village, Olek, in 367, that people began noticing a lightening of their skin color (to a moderate violet) when moving farther away from the Equator, towards the edges of what is now known as the Tropic Zone. It was then that a spirit-talker named Gerome asked one of the spirits he knew what caused this. The spirit told him about the existence of different races on other worlds, and tried to explain the biological reasons for the variation. While Landian scientists don't currently possess the technology necessary to study either genetics or radiation to the degree necessary for complete understanding of the phenomenon, the spirit told Gerome that darker skin tones make it harder to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight. Thus, people who live farther from the Equator, being exposed to less direct sunlight, are better served by having lighter skin tones. (Though the same effect can be produced by adjusting diet to compensate, that's not as important on the Land as it is on Earth, as explained in the next paragraph.) The spirit also explained that race was more of a sociological construct than a biological classification, and that despite the fact that on other worlds, skin color was generally an inherited trait, skin color alone was an inaccurate basis for determining race, due to many genetic traits that couldn't be observed with the naked eye, traits that were shared between the various so-called races, rather than being unique to any one. (Secondary visible "racial" traits such as hair color and texture, bone structure, etc., which are commonly correlated on Earth with specific skin colors, bear no such correlation on the Land, though according to spirits, all of the known Terran cosmetic traits of the various races do also exist on the Land. These traits may be inherited genetically, but are otherwise essentially random.)
But the sociological concept of race had led to widespread unfair and tragic suffering, on a number of worlds (including Earth). Because of this, the spirit said, God had decided to give Landian humans a slightly different genetic makeup from that of people like Terrans. Rather than taking millennia for new races to adapt to their environments, every individual would have the capacity to display any shade of color within the possible range of Landian skin tones (the lightest yet discovered being mauve), depending on where they were on the planet at any given time. (Generally speaking, it takes about one and a half to two months of consistent exposure to a radically new environment for a person's skin color to change to a significant degree.) This would largely be determined by distance from the Equator, but various other factors, such as diet, might come into play. The spirit said this was similar to the Terran effect of a "suntan," a darkening of the skin most noticeable in lighter-skinned races, which happened in the summer months (in regions distant from the Equator). However, on the Land, the effect can work both ways; no one's "race" is truly permanent. Although, since most people never travel far from their home village, the potential "race-shift" never affects them.
The people of most villages currently extant on the Land have skin that is generally dark (indigo). Villages where people's skin is most noticeably moderate (violet) include Freeport, Olek, Shanty, South Port, and Triscot. Villages where people's skin is lightest (mauve) include Kimrin, Port, and Near Port. However, various environmental factors besides distance from the Equator, as well as dietary and other factors, may result in varying shades, from person to person and village to village.
The only truly distinct (permanent) races on the land are humans, elves, and merfolk. The first group was created by God in Landian Year 1, but the other two were created later, by Sorreters. They utilize human genetic stock, which was engineered to incorporate specific changes. Both groups may display any of the physical traits described above. (Though merfolk have a wider variety of coloration derived from the aquatic species, particularly koi, used to create their race. It should be noted that the majority of merfolk have lighter skin tones, due to their living underwater, and therefore having less direct exposure to sunlight.) Elves and merfolk were created based on Terran stories of mythical creatures, and in recent years there has been some debate about officially recognizing various other mythical creatures as fully sentient, particularly in the United Villages of the Chaos and Sorret. While in First Nation those species' official status remains in question, it is increasingly common to hear an even newer type of creature, Vampyres, described as the Land's fourth race. This, however, is inaccurate, as members of any sentient race can become vampyres, while still belonging to their original races (human or elf). In any case, some people have suggested that any fully intelligent species should be considered "races" in the sense that elves and merfolk are, rather than calling them entirely different species. This suggestion has received little support, however, even in the UVC- and perhaps least of all in Sorret- due to considerably greater physiological differences than there are between such species and the three main races on the Land.
The word "race" is also commonly used to refer to any sentient species from other worlds. In fact, the word has been used in that sense since the time of Connor and Brigid, long before it was used in any other sense on the Land. In this sense, all Landians (humans, elves, and merfolk, et al.) are sometimes collectively considered a single race, when comparing the people of the Land to the people of other worlds.