In the real world, "Old World" is a fancy way to refer to the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, as opposed to the "New World" (the Americas and Oceania). That definition was coined by people who lived on those continents; to them, their landmass was "old", and the continents on the opposite side of the world from them were "new". They also placed themselves at the middle of their world-maps, which, it should be noted, did not lead to the naming of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth; Middle-Earth is analogous to Midgard in Norse mythology, and refers to the entire human-inhabited world or known world, regardless of its orientation on a map.
The nations of Warhammer Fantasy Battle use the term almost identically — the Warhammer world's equivalent of Eurasia and Africa (home to the Empire, Cathay, Kislev, and others) is the Old World, compared to the New World of Lustria.
In a list-like order, here is the Warhammer old world nations at their real world equivalents:
- The Empire: Germany and plus the Czech lands, so pretty much the Holy Roman Empire. Similar modes of dress, German and Germanish West Slavic names and the like can be found here.
- Bretonnia: An unholy fusion of England and France, taking the worst of both - the English posh toff indifference to the poor and air of superiority and the French love of mauling peasants and the like in a variety of unpleasant ways. Plus a heaping helping of Arthurian legend.
- Karaz Ankor: Broken ancient empire similar to the Byzantines getting overrun by barbaric hordes.
- Kislev: Russo-Poles. Russian in the cold, the ruler being called a tsar and an unhealthy love for big bears (love the fur!). Militarily Polish, with Winged Hussars and a Westernized (Empireized) upper class (Gospodar/Szlachta) ruling over a diverse populace, including Poles, Russians, and Mongols.
- Albion: Britain and Ireland, it is a gloomy rainy country covered constantly in a dense fog with a rural population suspiciously similar to the Celts....GW's fluff making department were in overdrive making up this island, it took all of five whole minutes to work out all the details.
- Estalia: Spain through and through.
- Tilea: Renaissance Italy with Roman era undertones, basically a bunch of warring city states constantly scheming against each other.
- Border Princes: Basically the Balkans. A, uh... balkanized mesh up of various princes originating from all other human nations.
- Athel Loren: Alsace-Lorraine in name, Switzerland in actions. Turned on its head in that its inhabitants use Bretonnia as a buffer against the Old World's nasties and the forest itself is utterly hostile to everything that comes near it.
- Sartosa: Sicily/Corsica/Sardinia turned into a pirate haven, which makes it the best place to be in the Old World due to all that swashbuckling.
- Sylvania: Hungary/Romania. A destitute rural backwater which was once part of the Empire but now you could say is under new management. Watch out for things that go bump in the night.
- The Wasteland: Netherlands/Low Countries analogue. The marshy hinterland of Marienburg, a massive commercial port in the delta of the River Reik. Heavily based on 16th Century Amsterdam, it was once part of the Empire, but has bribed its way to independence.
|Regions and Areas of the Warhammer World|
|Areas of The Old World:||The Empire of Man - Bretonnia - Albion - Estalia - Tilea - Kislev - Norsca - Border Princes - Worlds Edge Mountains|
|Areas of The New World:||Naggaroth - Lustria|
|Areas of The Eastern Lands:||Cathay - Nippon - Ogre Kingdoms - Dark Lands - Kingdoms of Ind - Khuresh - Eastern Steppes|
|Areas of The Southlands:||Nehekhara - Araby - Badlands - Mashes of Madness|
|Other Areas of the world:||Ulthuan - Chaos Wastes - Skavenblight - Lost Isles of Elithis|
|Main bodies of Water:||The Great Ocean - The Far Sea - The Sea of Dread - Inner Sea of Ulthuan|