Humanity refers to two distinct species that at one point occupied the planet now known as Remnant. They are two of three intelligent species that inhabited the world of Remnant. The third species, the Faunus, are very similar to Humans but possess animal traits.
The first was created by The Gods and were given the ability to use Magic. When Salem led a rebellion against the Gods, they were wiped out by the God of Darkness, leaving Salem the only one left. Later, the God of Light gave Ozma the ability to merge with people through a unique cycle of reincarnation, making him the second to survive.
The current Humanity is a "remnant" of the previous one, having evolved through unknown means. Unlike the previous, they do not possess magic, but some manage to unlock and control their Aura, which can also include their Semblance.
Humans are known for being intelligent, resourceful and strong, especially when united against a common threat. These traits have allowed them to survive in a hostile world. However, their tendency to fight among themselves when divided represents a serious weakness.
As living creatures with a soul, Humans possess Aura, the natural manifestation of their soul that protects them from harm and gives them certain abilities and powers. Unique expressions of these abilities are specific to individuals and are known as a person's Semblance.
In modern society, Humans have a higher social standing than the Faunus. Despite them being given equal rights at the end of the Great War, they continue to face discrimination from Humans. Some Human-controlled corporations, such as the Schnee Dust Company, used Faunus labor in conditions that were "controversial". These racial tensions are a common thread throughout Faunus and Human history.
Humanity was created by the Gods as a compromise to end their brotherly feud, after the God of Darkness created the Grimm to destroy the creations of the God of Light. The Gods created Humanity as a masterpiece that embodies the gifts of creation, destruction, knowledge, and choice. The most important of these gifts is choice - free will to choose whether to use their gifts for light or darkness.
Mankind lived alongside their creators for ages, until a young woman named Salem approached the Gods asking for them to return the life of her beloved Ozma to her. They refused, and when she attempted to force the issue, they cursed her with immortality. Frustrated and angry, Salem got Humanity to rebel against the Gods, to which the God of Darkness responded by effortlessly wiping out the entirety of Humanity, except for Salem herself before they both departed the world, stripping it of magic in the process.
Salem is the only member of the First Humanity to survive with her body intact, while Ozma's soul has lingered through reincarnation, making the two the only known survivors of this era to still roam Remnant.
The early history of mankind is told in myths and legends, though the reliability of these stories is questionable.
Legend tells that Humans were born from a primordial state known as dust. For as long as Humans have existed, they have been locked in a struggle against the Grimm, mysterious creatures who appear to be determined to destroy mankind and all of it's creations.
Eventually, Mankind somehow managed to harness Dust, a naturally-occurring energy source mined from the ground. Using Dust, Humans were able to create weapons and technology that could defeat the Grimm, using their Aura to control and manipulate it.
The use of Dust-powered weapons and tools drove back the Grimm. This gave Humans the breathing space they needed to develop their civilization further.
The Great War
As time passed, many Human civilizations would rise and fall before coalescing into the four Kingdoms of Vale, Vacuo, Mistral, and Atlas (formerly Mantle). These Kingdoms would endure where others fell thanks to the presence of natural barriers and Human tenacity.
80 years before the present day, the Great War, the largest-scale war in recorded history involving all four Kingdoms, tore Remnant asunder. The war was fought for "countless reasons", though chief among them was the concept of individualism. The outbreak of war is attributed to the suppression of self-expression and the destruction of art.
Ultimately, those in favor of the preservation of individualism prevailed, and the four warring Kingdoms met on the small island of Vytal to discuss an end to the war. Today, Remnant enjoys peace and "unity through diversity". This diversity is celebrated in cultural events such as the Vytal Festival, named after the place where the peace was brokered, as well as through a naming tradition.
The aftermath of the Great War led to the creation of the Huntsman Academies in each of the four Kingdoms; Beacon Academy in Vale, Shade Academy in Vacuo, Haven Academy in Mistral and Atlas Academy in Mantle. The intended purpose of the academies was to train Huntsmen and Huntresses, warriors whose sole purpose would be to fight the Grimm, and whose allegiance would not be tied to the Kingdoms.
However, sometime after the end of the Great War, Mantle fell and was succeeded by the Kingdom of Atlas, and the government, military and academy were combined while the Schnee Dust Company was founded by Nicholas Schnee and later taken over by Jacques Schnee. Atlas originally possessed a powerful, highly mechanized military that included air fleets, battle mechs, and robot soldiers before it's destruction.
After the Great War, the Cross Continental Transmit System was developed by the kingdom of Atlas and gifted to the world to allow the kingdoms to remain in communication. This technology allowed instantaneous wireless multimedia communication over large distances and was regarded by some as the most influential technological innovation of all.
The Faunus Rights Revolution was a fairly large-scale conflict lasting at least three years that erupted from the history of tensions between Human and Faunus populations. The cause of the war is attributed to the Humans' attempts to confine Faunus to an area of Remnant known as Menagerie.
Facing permanent subjugation, the Faunus fought back, leading to a full-scale war. After a series of military victories considered by historians to be very much against reasonable expectations, the united Faunus race forced the Humans to the negotiating table. Although the settlement of this conflict theoretically led to equal standing between Faunus and Humans, the underlying hatreds remain. Many Humans see Faunus as 'animals' and treat them as such.
As a consequence of this ongoing discrimination and oppression, there was a strong and growing Faunus civil rights movement, protesting the exploitation of Faunus and discrimination against them.
Additionally, the White Fang, an organization set up in the aftermath of the war to promote unity, equality, and peace between Humans and Faunus, had become radicalized and had turned into a powerful terrorist movement after Sienna Khan became it's high leader. So powerful was this movement and so extensive were its activities, that it represented a major threat to continued overall peace between the races until it was stopped by the Faunus of Menagerie.
Today, Humans primarily live in the four Kingdoms, where agriculture, industry, and life may continue without continual threats from the Creatures of Grimm.
It is not unheard of, however, for people to venture outside of the Kingdoms. Roaming nomads and villages are not uncommon and located throughout the planet, though the threat of the Creatures of Grimm remains significant, and beyond the safe haven of the Kingdoms, such pocket settlements can disappear overnight due to invading Grimm or from bandits raiding them.
Although the world was originally said to be in an unprecedented state of peace, social issues seriously threatened the status quo - racial tensions between the Faunus and Humans caused by continuing prejudice in society, the plots of various criminal organizations such as the Wave and The Crown, the immoral practices of the Schnee Dust Company, as well as agitation from the White Fang terrorist group, continued to cause friction in society.
Following the events of the Fall of Beacon, humanity began to lose trust between itself due to the recent events and the last scenes shown to the world were Atlas' robotic soldiers firing on innocent civilians. Due to this, the General of the Atlas Military James Ironwood eventually decided to enforce a dust embargo on Remnant while also recalling all of his soldiers outside of Atlas with the exception of the ones stationed in Argus back to the Kingdom before closing it's borders.
When it was revealed that Jacques Schnee had become a member of Atlas' council by having Arthur Watts rig the election in his favor in exchange for his credentials after he gained the privileges of the council, Watts used them to shut off the heating grid in the city of Mantle. This caused a riot leading to an invasion of Grimm that led to the city to begin evacuations. After this, Jacques was also arrested for his crimes.
Eventually, General Ironwood learned that Salem was coming to Atlas herself and decided to raise Atlas out of her reach while leaving the people of Mantle to die in the process. He decided to declare Martial Law to overrule the authority of the council and even killed Sleet when he and Camilla confronted him over his actions. Thanks to Amity Communications Tower, Ruby Rose was able to publicly reveal the existence of Salem to all of Remnant and asked for help with the situation in Atlas.
Eventually, Salem managed to destroy the city's Hard-Light Dust Shields and began an invasion into Atlas with Ironwood sending his Military to try and protect the floating city. While many of his forces were decimated in the attack, he planned on using a bomb to destroy the Monstra that she was using as a base, but it was killed before he even had a chance to use it.
After learning that he still had the bomb, he decided to stop Ruby's Group from evacuating Mantle and sent them an Ultimatum to give him the current Winter Maiden Penny Polendina or else he would use the bomb to destroy Mantle himself. After the group managed to trick and defeated him, they locked him in a cell next to Jacques so he wouldn't get in the way of evacuations for both cities.
After they used the Relic of Creation and Atlas began falling, Cinder Fall, Neopolitan and Watts interfered with their plans and Watts freed Ironwood who killed Jacques after he escaped his cell. While most of the Kingdom of Atlas is evacuated to Vacuo using the Evacuation Central Location, Cinder obtained both the Relic of Knowledge and the Relic of Creation and have them to Salem while they both left Ironwood to die with the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Atlas was destroyed when the floating city of Atlas crashed into Mantle and both cities were flooded by the melting glaciers nearby. The population of the Kingdom was able to successfully evacuate to Vacuo however. Following this, only three Kingdoms remained in Remnant.