The Syndicate, Boulderfist ogres and the beleaguered human defenders of Stromgarde battle for supremacy in this gray, dismal realm. Prince Galen Trollbane leads the human defenders, and his mighty city of Stromgarde is a ruined battleground where the three factions wage guerrilla war. The Trollbane family’s holdings include several ancient human artifacts, and a group called the Caretakers protects and preserves the most important pieces. To the south is the Thandol Span, a massive dwarven construction that bridges the canal between Lordaeron and Khaz Modan.
The Arathi Highlands were once the cradle of Human civilization, as it marks the place where the Empire of Arathor was founded and where the first real contact between elves and humans was made, during the Troll Wars. From the great city of Strom, the Human Empire controlled nearly all of the eastern lands. After the Empire's collapse, the city of Strom was largely abandoned save for a contingent of the Imperial Guard. These Guardsmen founded a new martial kingdom known as Stromgarde, establishing their capital in the old city of Strom. Over time, they also built a village (later known as Hammerfall) further to the east. During the Second War, the forces of Stromgarde, now ruled by Thoras Trollbane, were an instrumental part of the Alliance's ground forces. Despite this, the Arathi Highlands, and Stromgarde itself was overrun by the Horde.
After the Second War, Stromgarde was rebuilt, and the former village that was to become Hammerfall was converted into an internment camp to hold the hated Orcs. The nation managed to escape the Plague of Undeath but was soon afterward overrun by the Syndicate and Ogres. The remnant of the army was forced to flee the city and take refuge in a small canyon to the north, in what is now known as Refuge Pointe. Now, four years after the Third War, the area has become a battle zone between many different factions. The Alliance fights to aid the former nation of Stromgarde in recapturing its capital and reestablishing control over the region. The Horde, now in control of the internment camp that once held them prisoner (naming it Hammerfall in honor of the fallen warchief Orgrim Doomhammer), is attempting to establish a forward base to protect its new allies against Alliance attack. The Syndicate is also in the area, trying to claim yet another territory for its jealous nobles. Finally, the Ogres and Forest Trolls in the region are trying to drive out all others and establish a permanent settlement for themselves.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
The Arathi Highlands have a higher elevation than Khaz Modan's Wetlands, but otherwise the geography is similar. To the north is Thoradin's Wall, now collapsed and gaping wide. South is the Thandol Span, which bridges the gap between Lordaeron and Khaz Modan. Mountains to the east prevent easy access to the sea, and the Highlands' western coast is bleak, windswept and cold.
The Arathi Highlands are an area of grassy land in Southeastern Lordaeron. Notable features include the great circles of binding, which are protected by elementals and used to keep some unknown entity imprisoned. The region lies just north of the huge canyon running between the highlands and the Wetlands to the south, which can only be crossed by the Thandol Span. The area is home to the ruins of Stromgarde Keep, which has been overrun by ogres and the Syndicate. The wildlife of the highlands includes giant spiders, carrion birds, and raptors.
From Ironforge run east towards Loch Modan; take the road in the Loch north through Dun Algaz pass and into the Wetlands. Follow the road as it runs north, northeast, then west. When the road splits and heads north follow it north. You'll pass over the ruined Thandol Span and you'll be in the Highlands.
From Tarren Mill in Hillsbrad Foothills, run eastwards across the river and catch up with the main road. Follow the main road eastward until you go through Thoradin's Wall. Continue following the path for a considerable time, until you see a signed turnoff to the north to Hammerfall. Take that turn off and continue running until you get to Hammerfall.
The Arathi Highlands are home to several characters of note. At Refuge Pointe, Skuerto seeks aid in the battle against the Boulderfist ogres. In Hammerfall, Tor'gan attempts to raise the spirits of those who still reel from the loss of Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer. And in Faldir's Cove, Captain Steelgut and his trusted crew seek an end to their prime threat — naga.
April 2005 Patch: "Kinelory in Arathi Highlands is now PvP-enabling, so Horde players who attack here will be flagged for PvP."
It is possible to swim along the southeastern edge of the zone to get to the undefined brown area southeast on the zone map. This area is in fact an isolated plains containing a couple of crops, two male dwarven farmers, cats, rams, rats, and a wooden chair that you can sit in. The region has no name, and visiting it will not reveal it on the zone map.
The Arathi Highlands was one of the locations featured in South Park's "Make Love, Not Warcraft" episode.