The government itself is lead by a Sultan, and this title is passed on via heredity. There is also a council of viziers from among the most wealthy merchant houses. The city-state is ruled with a heavy hand, and every grain and coin is counted by a merciless bureaucracy. Violation of the law, especially theft from the state, can be met with harsh punishments. It is not uncommon to see the corpses of criminals crucified along the roads leading into and out of the city itself.
Because of the desirability of the land that it controls, the city-state of Shem must constantly be on alert against potential rivals. The military power of Shem is unrivaled on the continent, mostly thanks to an extensive reliance on slave soldiers to bolster their ranks. Slave labor, also, is the backbone of their economy. Slaves work the marshland farms around the mouth of the river and provide a food surplus that allows the city-state to trade these essential resources for boundless wealth.
All of the other city-states on the peninsula trade with Shem, but invariably there are conflicts related to the valuation of the Shemmite commodities. These conflicts often lead to war, but the military power of Shem has never before been defeated.