- For the World of Remnant episode, see Vacuo (WoR episode).
Like the rest of the kingdoms, Vacuo is nominally governed by a council representing its people and their interests. However, the formal government's influence is marginal. The Huntsman Academy of Vacuo, Shade, is the only true source of law and order in the Kingdom.
Vacuo is first mentioned in "The Stray", when students from Vacuo are said to be visiting Vale for the Vytal Festival. Tukson planned to flee to Vacuo from the White Fang before he was murdered by Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai.
Vacuo is located in the center of the vast and harsh desert on the western end of the continent of Sanus. Although once at the site of a hospitable oasis, many years of unchecked human activity have changed its climate into a barren wasteland indistinguishable from the desert surrounding it.
In "New Challengers...", Nebula Violette states that the desert terrain gave them a "home field advantage". "Round One" shows an environment very similar to a savanna or scrub land where several Faunus watch TV from a camper's van in the desert, potentially depicting Vacuo (though this may also be a depiction of Menagerie).
Vacuo was founded in a large oasis with lush jungles, abundant resources, natural barriers and the largest Dust deposit ever recorded in Remnant's history. These favorable conditions allowed the people of Vacuo to flourish, and nomads would travel across the harsh desert surrounding Vacuo in the hopes of reaching the verdant paradise.
However, these comfortable conditions also bred complacency in Vacuo's people, who had no inclination to develop and adapt as others living in less ideal conditions were forced to. This unpreparedness made Vacuo an easy target for exploitation by other Kingdoms, who wished to claim their vast resources for themselves.
Years of warfare, mining and ecological disasters exhausted Vacuo's resources and transformed the once rich Kingdom into a wasteland of heavy industry and makeshift settlements. Its people frequently moved from place to place due to scarce resources and attacks from Grimm.
Around eighty years before the beginning of the series, a massive ten-year conflict known as the Great War came to an end. In this war, Vacuo and Vale fought Mistral and Mantle. In the years prior to the Great War, Mantle and Mistral established a presence in Vacuo, due to the plentiful Dust mines. Because of this, Vacuo stayed out of the war at first, leaving Vale to fend for itself. After a while, Mistral and Mantle attempted to pressure Vacuo into fighting alongside them, and the desert kingdom's citizens came to the realization that, if Vale fell, there would be no one left to stop the other two from conquering Vacuo. In response, Vacuo pushed the other two kingdoms' presence out of their territory and allied themselves with Vale.
During the war, Grimm attacks increased worldwide, and as a result, Vacuo lost many of its settlements to the creatures, some of which were never reclaimed.
The Great War finally came to an end with the deadliest battle in the war's history. Mistral and Mantle attempted to take Vacuo's Dust mines to cut off Vale and Vacuo's supply. Vacuo's army fought alongside Vale's, which was led personally by the king of Vale, who is said to have laid waste to countless men. Historians believe that this feat was aided by the unusually violent weather and Mantle's inexperience in desert combat.
With the war over, the leaders of the four kingdoms gathered on neutral ground on the island of Vytal to form a treaty and plan the future of Remnant. There, the four kingdoms' governments were restructured, territories were redistributed, the tradition of the Vytal Festival was begun and the king of Vale founded the Huntsman Academies. Vacuo's academy, Shade, was secretly given a Relic to safeguard, and the king of Vale placed one of his most trusted followers in command of the school. As a gift from Atlas, a Cross Continental Transmit tower was built on Shade's campus, enabling communication between Vacuo and the other three kingdoms.It was following the war that a formal government was finally established in Vacuo, but its actual ability to govern was limited due to the people's disregard for its laws. The only widely accepted source of order in the Kingdom was Shade Academy.
During the 40th Vytal Festival, the hosting kingdom, Vale, was attacked, and Beacon Academy and its Cross Continental Transmit tower were destroyed, cutting off Vacuo's communication with the other three kingdoms.
A lack of formal governance for most of their history has given the people of Vacuo a disregard for laws and order. However, they live by the philosophy that anyone who is able to survive the harsh conditions of Vacuo is welcome to live amongst them. This acceptance may also extend to Faunus, which could indicate that there is less racial discrimination in Vacuo compared to the other Kingdoms.
- Main article: Shade Academy
Vacuo's huntsman academy is named Shade. Due to the lack of recognition of the government's authority, Shade is said to be the only real source of law and order in the Kingdom.
Students from Shade Academy do not appear to have a standard uniform like the schools of the other three kingdoms. Before being dispatched to their missions from an assembly at Beacon, they appeared in different assortments of casual clothes.
- During the August 21st, 2014 RWBY livestream, Monty Oum forgot the name of Vacuo's Huntsman academy, due to being mentally exhausted from the RWBY crunch. To jog his memory, Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross began miming "shade".
- The phrase in vacuo is Latin for "in a vacuum" or "in isolation".
- As of Volume 3, the kingdom is represented by the color orange in the World of Remnant episodes. Vytal Festival tournament contestants from Vacuo also have Aura monitors with an orange background.