While Lorta's environment is inhospitable to most humanoid life, its geology suggests that this was not always the case. A central volcanic region appears to be the site of some ancient massive impact which shattered the planet's crust to the mantle. The few cratered regions appear to be secondary impact sites where debris fell back to the surface. Other than this central rift, the rest of Lorta's tectonic plates are fused; the planet thus experiences very little seismic activity. The surrounding rocky and mountainous regions are mostly comprised of igneous minerals, although heat and pressure have formed some metamorphic deposits beneath the surface. Unlike proper mountains, Lorta's elevated ranges did not form in tectonic uplifts; instead, they are essentially cooled "magma waves."
Superheated toxic gases from the central rift shroud Lorta in a thick, heavy atmosphere, trapping heat near the surface and depositing a heavy pall of ash across the planet. Indeed, the desert regions beyond the mountains are comprised not of sand, but of millennia upon millennia of ash deposits. As a result, very little plant life is able to thrive on Lorta. There are, however, enough geophagic flora and fauna to support a limited food chain. Most larger species, including sand panthers, duracrete slugs, and Krayt dragons, are believed to be later imports. The planet's city-complexes, built low into the terrain, offer a reasonable degree of protection, but local authorities advise those venturing into the wild to use appropriate gear to protect against the harsh environment.
While information about Lorta's initial colonization has been lost to history, the fact that native Lortans are a human offshoot-species suggests that they arrived prior to the cataclysm. Scholars theorize that survivors were able to shelter in a limited cave system in the southern hemisphere, later emerging to be the modern Lortans. The Lortans themselves hold to a different theory. They believe a man-Hutt hybrid named Kopa Khan scourged the planet by lighting the sky on fire and placed their ancestors there so they would grow to become warriors strong enough to serve him. Lortan religious fanatics believe Kopa Khan will return one day to light the sky on fire again, taking them away to serve him as he destroys all evil throughout the galaxy. Not content to wait for their deity (or perhaps believing that sufficient bloodletting will summon him), these fanatics periodically attempt to stage uprisings to drive offworlders from the planet. Occasionally, they even manage to take their purge offworld with acts of terrorism on nearby inhabited worlds. Poorly equipped and organized, however, these efforts are typically thwarted by local interstellar governments.