The Leaf village is the most powerful and prosperous of the five great ninja villages and has had a long history of great leaders that they honor with a Mt. Rushmore-like cliff-side, with a carving of each of the Hokage's faces on it.
It was here that Naruto Uzumaki was born, also known as the Nine Tailed Fox's recipient, a "host" if you will. It is also the birthplace of many of the Naruto series' main characters, such as Sasuke Uchiha, Itachi Uchiha, Kakashi Hatake, and Sakura Haruno.
The following article may or may not contain spoilers, depending on whether or not you have read the Japanese Naruto, which, like most manga, is far ahead of where we are in America. This article is based off of strictly what is happening in the manga at this time and what has already happened, not the english anime, and therefore may contain spoilers for readers who have not kept up with the Japanese manga.
Konohagakure, also known as Konoha, The Village Hidden in the Leaves, and the Leaf Village, was formed by its First Leader, aka its Hokage , by himself. The First Hokage was renowned for his extreme ability to manipulate wood and other jutsu, was of course dubbed as the greatest ninja of Konoha.
The First and Second Hokage
He was singlehandedly able to form the Leaf village, and, it was no less amazing that this formation took place with a single jutsu done in nearly minutes. The first Hokage's name was Shodai, and that is all that is known of him, or all that has thus been revealed in the Naruto universe. However, he is obviously not the one who formed it's Mount Rushmore like stone carvings, as they include multiple other Hokage in it, some far after his time. It is a fairly large city to be called a village, and has a number of places in which people go to just to have fun, like Ramen shops and parks. For a series with characters so dark and mysterious, you'd think that the city would be a bit more protected and less bright and happy, with children running around and having fun all of the time, like the Third Hokage's grandson. The village contains many shops and stores, as well as places just to sight see. Konoha is, has been, and more than likely will continue to be the most friendly of the ninja villages in the Narutoverse.
So far, Konoha has had five leaders, also known as its Hokage. The word Hokage means "Fire Shadow", and is given to them as they are the biggest village in the fire nation, with the most power and influence. It should also be noted that the leaders of other villages are not called Hokage, but something else, like the Sand Villages Kazekage, given to it as it the largest village in the Land of Wind, of course meaning "Wind Shadow", the pattern is quite noticeable. The Five Hokage leaders have done as much as they could to help their village in times of need, and so far, their attempts have obviously worked. For more information on them, please visit the Hokage page. Here will simply give you a brief explanation of what they've done and the slightly complex history of the third and fourth.
The First Hokage
was from the Senju Clan of the forest, and was apparently able to use his wood based jutsu very skillfully. He, as mentioned before, singlehandedly made the Konoha that we know today.
The Second Hokage
was an intense water based jutsu user, and not much is known about him, other than that he was able to create and manipulate water by pulling it from the atmosphere.
The Third Hokage
was dubbed "The Professor" by his fellow shinobi due to his massive knowledge of techniques and how to use them. He was the oldest living of the Hokage, and was killed by Orochimaru. In the beginning of Naruto, he was the Hokage, though they consistently talked about what great things the Fourth Hokage had done. The reason that there was no fifth was because they had no good candidates, and the Third Hokage was willing to come out of his retirement to help the people of Leaf.
The Fourth Hokage is possibly the most well recognized by the media for being Hokage. He is a Naruto icon that entails one of the series' favorite themes, Sacrafice. The Fourht Hokage, as explained early in the series, was the one that went toe to toe with The Nine Tailed Fox, defeating it by using the jutsu that the Third Hokage used later in the series on Orochimaru, but, was only able to seal it into his son, Naruto Uzumaki.
The Fifth Hokage, Tsunade, is also a Naruto icon, mainly based on her developed physical stature and for her position as the toughest of the Naruto female cast. She is hemophobic (afraid of blood) due to her boyfriend's bloody death that she was unable to prevent. Tsunade is a practitioner of the healing arts and an extremely able fighter. She was also one of the three Sannin.
These are not all of the major events in chronological order, they will be explained as they were in the manga. Meaning, though the Uchiha Massacre occurred before the Chuunin Exams, it will be explained afterwards as it was explained afterwards in the manga. This is, in some extent, chronological, but only to the manga timeline, not the story within itself.
Konoha is famous for having the strongest Shinobi Village military, and for being a major trade center in the land of fire. The main characters in Naruto are almost all denizens of Konoha, and many of the major events in the Narutoverse happen within the Leaf Village. Of the main story, the most important regarding Naruto would be the incident of the Nine Tailed Fox, in which Madara Uchiha, aka Tobi
Tobi, aka Madara Uchiha
of the Akatsuki, lead an attack against the village. As mentioned in the leaders section, the beats was run down and defeated by the Yondaime (aka The Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze) and sealed into Naruto, for reasons still unknown. This of course killed The Fourth, and caused the Third to come out of retirement. This is why he was still the man in control of the legendary village at the start and they still spoke of the Fourth, as if it were not for this then the chronological order would be out of whack.
The first major even to happen within Konoha itself for the entire series was the Chuunin Exams, an event that had multiple villages send in their Genin for a test to see which were worthy of attaining the next rank in ninja hood. This arc introduced most of the main cast, actually, for all of Part I in the manga. It introduced characters like Gaara, Hinata, Shino, Kiba, Orochimaru, Kabuto, Kurenai, Jiraiya, Ino, Shikamaru, Lee, Guy, and of course a majority of the characters affiliated with those said. In the Chuunin Exams every major and basically secondary character showed up for part I, and basically they did what a majority of manga characters do, fight and look cool while doing it. At first, Naruto and his team might not have been able to even participate in the exams, as Sakura didn't think she could do it. Well, in the end, though she did decide to go for it anyways, it didn't quite matter as the team would only be trying to help each other out for one of the three tests, the rest of them they were on their own for the most part.