The vegetation here's different - the guide also finds it important to mention which trees are resistant to different ranks of fire techniques - but not bizarrely so. The trees in Fire seem to get larger, and it's noted there's a few forests grown or regrown by the First Hokage.
The people who founded the village were heroes. Especially the Senju; the village was the First's idea. The Uchiha's leader was a proud an unreliable man who only consented to found the village after half his people defected to the Senju. The village provided the shinobi with unprecedented strength on the international stage, instead of having no significant voice in politics, and gave shinobi the ability to better negotiate contracts. A lot of clans quickly realized the wisdom of joining the village, and Konoha grew rapidly, inspiring the other nations to found their own villages.