The Land of Visible Pain is a formerly prosperous and extremely technologically advanced nation ruined by a failed philosophic experiment.
The land of visible pain is extremely advanced technologically to the point where everything in the city is automated. Robots handle all basic needs of anyone passing through. The robots take care of the city, but it appears no one lives there. The city currently functions mainly as a rest stop for travelers.
According to a citizen Kino meets in the country named Kyoshi, The lack of visible people in the country was the result of a failed philosophic and behavioral experiment. The citizens believed the reason that people hurt each other was due to miscommunication or someone's inability to understand someone else's feelings, using both telepathy and empathy. They wondered if everyone could understand how others felt, they could easily comfort others, alleviating their emotional pain. Though it sounded good in theory, in reality knowing everyone else's thoughts -both positive, and especially negative- drove the citizens insane. Realizing that their telepathy was distance based, they all went into self-isolation, leaving only their machines to take care of the city and travelers.
There were not always like this, however. Kyoshi states that there was a time when they were an intellectual, philosophic society. This was because the machines did all the work, and food was plentiful, the citizens were free to research and practice the sciences, literature, art and music.