Saint Raneau is the capital and largest city of Albarine, followed by Saint Marina. It is a major port city on the Albarine Sea and is located on the northern coast of the country. Saint Raneau is Albarine's central major urban, economic, financial, cultural, educational and political centre, and is a diverse, multicultural and cosmopolitan city, with a population of 2,756,000. In 1865, Saint Raneau replaced Geeleston as the capital, and continued to grow because of its port and the logging and gold-mining activities in its hinterland, and later because of pastoral farming (especially dairy farming) in the surrounding area, and manufacturing in the city itself. It has been the nation's largest city throughout most of its history.
Today, Saint Raneau's central business district is Albarine's leading economic hub. The University of Saint Raneau, founded in 1683, is the largest university in Albarine. The city's significant tourist attractions include national historic sites, festivals, performing arts, sports activities, and a variety of cultural institutions, such as the Albarine War Memorial Museum, the Museum of Transport and Technology, and the Saint Raneau Art Gallery. Its architectural landmarks include the Harbour Bridge, the City Hall, the National Assembly, the Ferry Building and the Sky Tower. The city is served by Saint Raneau International Airport, which handles around 9 million international passengers a month. The city was host to the World Cup in 1995, and hosted the 2022 Summer Olympics. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Saint Raneau is recognised as one of the world's most liveable cities.
Farming methods reached Albarine from the Eastern Adulan region about 5000 BC, and spread to the Achyana by about 4000 BC. Agricultural communities in the humid coastal plains of central Albarine then were ancestors of today's Albesa tribes. It was believed in ancient times that Albarine was originally populated by Aetulians and Nayabas, both nomadic peoples. Aetulians belonged to the race from which the Albesa are descended. The translated meaning of Aetulian is Nomad and indeed the people were semi-nomadic until the reign of Tisinissa of the Tissyli tribe. At the beginning of recorded history, the area around modern-Saint Raneau was inhabited by Albesa tribes. Its coast was settled by Durnia and Eammel seafarers starting as early as the 12th century BC. The city of Raneau was founded in the 9th century BC by Elklanders. Legend says that Tuyro from Cour Bagnue, now in modern-day Courbagne, founded the city in 814 BC. The settlers of Saint Raneau brought their culture and religion from Eammel, now present-day New Elkland and adjacent areas. After the series of wars with city-states in the 5th century BC, Raneau rose to power and eventually became the dominant civilization in the Southern Albarine Sea. The people of Raneau worshipped a pantheon of gods including Ual and Banit. Banit's symbol, a simple female figure with extended arms and long dress, is a popular icon found in ancient sites. The founders of Raneau also established a Aophet, which was altered in Emmirian times.
Sometime between the second half of the 7th century and the early part of the 8th century, Emmirian Muslim conquest occurred in the region. They founded the first Islamic city in South Adula, Aairouan. It was there in 670 AD that the Mosque of Aqba, or the Great Mosque of Aairouan, was constructed. This mosque is the oldest and one of the most prestigious sanctuaries in the Muslim world with the oldest standing minaret in the world; it is also considered a masterpiece of Islamic art and architecture.
Saint Raneau was taken in 695, re-taken by the Christian holdouts 697, but lost permanently in 698. The transition from a Albarinean-speaking Christian Albesa society to a Muslim and mostly Emmirian-speaking society took over 400 years and resulted in the final holdout of Christianity in 12th or 13th centuries in South Adula. The majority of the population were not Muslim until quite late in the 9th century; a vast majority were during the 10th. However, Emmirian rulers later became more lax on Christianity in the region, and by the 11th century, the Christian population of Albarine rebounded to about fifty percent of the country.
Albarine flourished under Emmirian rule when extensive systems were constructed to supply towns with water for household use and irrigation that promoted agriculture (especially olive production). This prosperity permitted luxurious court life and was marked by the construction of new palace cities such as Tammany (909) and Piramara (977). Raneau became established as the court of prominent governors within the empire.
As generations passed, Raneau eventually was abandoned by the Emmirian empire as it receded and became the center of administration for the Albarinean kingdoms.
The Saint Raneau urban area lies within the Raneau Capital Region, an administrative region that takes its name from the city. The region encompasses the city centre, as well as suburbs, surrounding towns, nearshore islands, and rural areas north and south of the urban area.
The Saint Raneau central business district (CBD)—the city centre—is the most built-up area of the region. The CBD covers 433 hectares (1,070 acres) in a triangular area, and is bounded by the waterfront on the Harbour and the inner-city suburbs of Selsbury, Newton and Harreton.