My Experience with this World:
My first acquaintance with Narnia came when my mom picked up a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at our library's big annual book sale and told me that it was a good book and that I would like it. I gave the cover a skeptical look and shook my head, refusing to read it. Eh, Mr. Tunmus is evidently not very good at first impressions, since that's what that copy had. A few weeks later, I was doing chores and listening to the radio and LWW was the topic of the hour ... specifically Aslan's sacrifice in place of Edmund. This sounded so horrid and barbaric ... well, it only further solidified my refusal to read the book.
And then my mom checked out the BBC version of LWW and forced my sister and I to watch it. (This was before the new movies were made.) I discovered that not only was the death scene not as barbaric as I had envisioned ... but the movie had everything I loved. A magical world, talking animals ... and it was threaded with Christian themes and values. I immediately joined the ranks of children who were looking for Narnia in their closets. I didn't read any of the books until I had watched all three BBC movies (though I sorely wish that I had read PC before watching. It's much better that way), but we will not talk about my preconceived notions about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Those ... were weird. (What can I say, I have a weird brain.)
I was able to see the new movie of LWW on the big screen, but soon after that, my dad lost his job, and I had to wait until PC was released on DVD to see it and be sorely disappointed. I had heard an interview with Ben and Anna that there was a kiss scene involving Susan, but that did not prevent me from being all sorts of aghast and horrified when I saw it. There was NOOOOOOO romance between the Caspian and Susan that I know and love. NONE!! He belongs to Ramadu's daughter. (Though, I do admit, I have some theories about RD that connects her to Susan. But I can't state them here. Sorry!) But other than movie three and the cartoon version of LWW, I have read and watched (And for the most part, own) every bit of Narnia out there. I've even read a four-pack of books which is basically the movie each from the POV of the four kids.
Anyone who has read The Magician's Nephew knows that Aslan sang the world into existence and the animals grew up out of the soil (as did the lamp post). The Talking Animals gained speech when Aslan touched their noses. Humanity entered when Digory and Polly brought the Cabbyman and Aslan brought his wife, who were later renamed King Frank and Queen Helen. (Not to be confused with the Helen that Movie Lucy claims is her mother's name. Frankly, I don't accept that as canon, but anyways.) Evil was brought at the same time in the form of Jadis, who became the White Witch.
This picture came from my sister's copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I shall aspire to use the maps out of my own copies of the books whenever possible. (or my sister's ... when she has the better maps)
Lewis was far more ambiguous with his world than his fellow Inkling, and while Tolkien drew all of his own maps with meticulous detail, Lewis let his illustrator do it. Indeed, he told his readers that if they didn't like that one, then by all means draw their own. (The only reason I haven't done so is that my map-drawing skills are almost nonexistent).
Truth be known, Narnia was not the name of the world as a whole, but merely the country favored the most by otherworldly visitors. But since we don't know the name of the world as a whole, we make due with Narnia. It is a flat world, and while we don't know what happens when you travel west (though I suspect from this map that such a venture is blocked by mountains) when you travel east by sea, you encounter all sorts of delightful (and not so delightful) islands. If you sail far enough, you'll encounter sweet water, filled with flowers and at last Aslan's Country.
The land itself is made of several countries, Narnia pretty much in the middle, with Ettinsmoor and the Northern Waste to the north, both very cold, and sunny Archenland to the south and desert Calormen to the south of that.
Peoples and Culture:
With the exception of elves and fairies, Lewis managed to cram every sort of mythological creature into Narnia, and those he didn't, the movies have added. (I don't remember the phoenix in the books, but its there in the movie). While Archenland and Calormen are inhabited by mostly humans, Narnia itself is home to most of the strange creatures. Talking animals are the most common, but there are also black and (if I remember right) red dwarves, fauns, dryads, naiads, and a few roman gods (namely Bacchus). While there are a few humans in Narnia, more so after the Telmorene evasion, they are generally not a majority. The Northern Wastes are inhabited by not-so-friendly giants.
Narnia is a very carefree country. People love to dance and sing, but if provoked, they will rise and go to war.
Archenland is Narnia's buddy. They both love Aslan, but it is a more serious country, having fewer magical creatures and being closer to Calormen.
Calormen represents the world. It is misery to live there (all that heat) and the people are pagans.
What I like about this world:
Pretty much everything. But I think my favorite part is how much Lewis left to the reader's imagination. After seven books, he sat back and said, "Okay, I'm done with Narnia, though I'm sure there's more story." He actually encouraged his readers to fill in the gaps themselves. (And I, a loyal Narniac, have done so. Not my Rizkaland Legends, mom. I'm talking about real stories set in the land of Narnia with Narnian characters ... mostly.)
What I don't like:
The only real criticism I have for my beloved Lewis is that sometimes he contradicted himself. I consider every word he wrote (including the timeline) one hundred percent accurate to Narnian history ... but for instance, Queen Swanwhite is said to live either before the Four or during the Telmarine dynasty, depending on whether you talk to Jewel the Unicorn or the timeline. I have a theory about this though ... but I can't say it here.
What I learned from this world:
If there is one world that has influenced my writing more than any other, it is Narnia. Indeed, with the exception of the first three Barbie movies, it and Middle Earth are the only worlds where I have written fanfiction.
From Narnia I learned that a world doesn't have to make 100% sense, and that you can leave loopholes for others to fill in. I learned how to make a Christ-figure, and how to do random world traveling.