The political entity that rules over the entire Counterweight Continent, and also once used to have heavy influence on foreign countries as powerful as Ankh-Morpork, until the Agatean government lost interest in all places foreign and, in order to keep citizens happily toiling away within the walls of the Empire, told the citizens that all foreign lands were barren wastelands with howling ghosts.
Gold is common on the Counterweight Continent, and deemed less valuable by Agateans than as regarded by foreigners. Once upon the time, the Agateans were more technologically advanced: iconographs, spectacles, dentures, and so on. These devices were soon copied by foreigners when Twoflower the tourist went out into the world, and speedily evolved in the hands of the wizards, artificers, alchemists etc. in Ankh-Morpork. Some Agateans think that foreigners are flesh-and-blood humans who might have some money to buy some Agatean products, but tend to think that foreigners have nothing and therefore everything is worth selling: silk (which Ankh-Morpork in fact buys from Klatch) or tea which is bought from Howondaland etc.
The Agateans do not understand how much power can be derived from their gold. The Agatean government had once wielded huge naval fleets, but had ceased contact with the other countries and therefore its influence was diminished. The Agatean Empire, then, is an agricultural country with no exports and no influences on world politics except when a foreign ruler remembers the fear that they once regarded the Empire with. The Empire has turned its forces inward, having a formal and showy civil war between feudal lords every time that an Emperor needs to be selected, and oppressing revolutionaries who talk about the sort of freedom found in the outside world. The Agatean Empire has become one of the sources of the refugee sort of immigrants who arrive in Ankh-Morpork.
When the Discworld chronicles began, the Agatean Empire was ruled by an idealistic and possibly more open-minded boy Emperor (see The Colour of Magic), who was clever enough to turn a Grand Vizier's murder scheme against himself (see Mort). The boy Emperor was likely subsequently, successfully murdered, as the Empire was ruled by a whimsical old man and again oppressive when a certain group of barbarian heroes invaded (see Interesting Times). After the barbarian heroes successfully seized the throne, diplomatic relations were re-established, and embassies of, for example, Ankh-Morpork, were settled in the capital city Hunghung. The barbarian-minded new Emperor subsequently deserted the throne and went on yet another quest (see The Last Hero), and the subsequent political arrangements within the Empire are clarified in The Compleat Discworld Atlas. Apparently the Revolution succeeded and there is no longer an Emperor. The country is now The People's Beneficent Republic of Agatea, headed by the Chairman of the People's Committee.
Bes Pelargic is a seaport in a remote corner of the Agatean Empire. Being from Bes Pelargic is a good excuse for eccentricities.
Noble Families of the Agatean Empire
Its huge size, the horseman-baiting wall around it, its former political and scientific prominence followed by centuries of introverted stagnation and feuding warlords, followed in turn by the formation of a people's republic - not to mention its flowerpot soldiers - make it obvious which Roundworld country the Agatean Empire is a parody of. Other small references to East Asian culture make it a vague portmanteau of the region in general, although cameo references to places such as Grimchi and Bhangbhangduc have helped to separate it out some.