Each hexagon on the world map is either a province to be scouted, or another player in the game.
Each province offers relics of a specific type of good. The province types and player hexes repeat in a pattern.
Discovered neighbors can be visited, and you can give them neighborly help and receive extra coins every 23 hours.
A coin on a banner is a Gold Mine. A Gold Mine will appear in unoccupied player cities.
Click it to collect coins! You can collect from each Gold Mine once every 23 hours.
The further away a province is from your city, the more expensive it will be, and the longer it will take to scout.
The cost of the scout also determines the price of negotiations, and the difficulty of the battles if you choose to fight.
Scout provinces in as even a circle around your city as you can.
Balancing province difficulty with your city's abilities will become an important strategy as you progress through the game.
For now however, just keep on scouting and opening provinces.
Complete encounters as you can to gain more Knowledge Points (KPs), and to discover new neighbors to visit and trade with.
KEEP YOUR SCOUT BUSY!
For the first 2 rings or so out from your city, you want to keep your scout busy as often as possible so that you always have provinces to work on for KP and relics.
As you start unlocking those in the 3rd ring, that's when you'll want to slow down just a bit, at least until you are closer to finishing the first chapter in the research tree.
If you have at least 5-6 provinces already scouted and ready to plunder, you should be in good shape. If you have fewer than this, send a scout for the cheapest province around your explored border that you can find.