A land is reigned by a circle of powerful men who control every aspect of the citizen's life. This cabal changes members often. In reality, the spectres of a small necromantic covent possess and control the people in power. Since they simply possess the bodies, they can leave when old age overcomes their shells and possess a new up-and-coming noble.
The seafaring people of the Southern Islands value their ships greatly, as do other maritime nations. However, they take the beliefs about ships a bit further. A ship's name is very important, once it is named it shouldn't be renamed anymore, ever; most renamed ships seem to fail sooner or later. Ships do not tolerate parts from other ships, a single board from a wrong source can cost sailors their lives, so it is said.
Most ships are identified as female, very few as male, though there is no tale of how their personality is identified; it has nothing to do with the name, for example. The Clarissa (a well-known male ship) is said to like good wine. So whenever sailors or passangers drink, they have to spill a glass for the ship, too. But that is only the most known example.