The family run Shinra Electric Power Company or otherwise known as "Shin-Ra" is a global mega-corporation that started off as a small company dabbling in weapons developement before expanding into the massive corporation that converted the Gaia life force into Mako using the aptly named Mako Reactors. They then converted the Mako into electricity and became a large power company with strong ties and links to the government of Midgar. Many consider them to be a ruthless organisation focused only on making profit and caring little for the damage they do to the planet in their quest to harvest the worlds resources. This is mainly due to their continued harvesting of Mako, orlife energy, from the planet itself and its conversion into electricity which they then control supply of to the city of Midgar.
This has provided Shinra with a high level of political power and leverage over the city of Midgar's government and inhabitants. Using their Mako Reactors Shinra supplies the entire city and surrounding areas with electricity and power and their public relations department try to hide the fact that due to the companies actions they are damaging the planet by draining its life and forcing many people living under the city to suffer horrid standards of living.
Originally the company was founded and run by "President Shinra" who used his wealth to maintain control of the company and transform it from small time weapons developement into a much larger and grander enterprise by realising the potential profit and gain to be made from harvesting the Mako life force found just under the crust of the planet Gaia. However he was killed by Sephiroth and the President's son and Vice President at the time Rufus took control of the company. But unlike his father, Rufus preferred to use fear to maintain control of the company rather than his immense wealth like his father had and he is considered to have been a more ruthless leader because of it. But even young Rufus's time as President was short lived as he was engulfed in an explosion within the main building of the Shinra corporation and everyone presumed he was dead. However it was later learnedby AVALANCHE that Rufus did survive the explosion and it caused him to have a different outlook on life and how the Shinra company should help the people of Midgar.
There are three major departments within Shinra. The first being the "Department of Public Safety Maintenance" which is run by Heidegger and is essentially Shinra's own private army containing many highly trainer and elite special forces troops who are split up in three groups Third, Second and First class SOLDIER. Notable members of First Class are Sephiroth and Zack Fair. The departments main duty was to maintain order and police the city of Midgar and its surrounding areas aswell as acting as a public relations department aswell. Aswell as SOLDIER the department also included the Turks who were under the control of Tseng and were tasked with being the special security force within Shinra. Some of the tasks they had to undertake on Shinra's behalf would be recruiting special operatives to the SOLDIER department, protecting executives and officials within the Shinra company and carrying out covert operations and espionage.
The "Department of Weapons Developement" was tasked with advancing the technologies used by Shinra's elite SOLDIER forces and was headed by Scarlet. This department within Shinra was responsible for the creation of the Junon Cannon to be used to destroy the meteor headed for Gaia.
And finally the "Department of Science and Research" headed by Professor Hojo is dedicated to the subjects of Mako energy, genetics and bio-chemistry aswell as a few others. It was responsible for the Jenova Project and the creation of Sephiroth in Shinra's quest to create the perfect troops to be drafted into their elite SOLDIER division. They infused regular members of the SOLDIER division with Mako energy aswell as cells from Jenova to provide the subject with enhanced physical and cognitive abilities beyond those of a normal person.
Origins of the company name
Shinra is named after the family that runs the company. Originally it was called "Shin-Ra" and the meaning of this family name does shed some light on why it was chosen for the name of the corporation. In Japanese the word "Shin-Ra" roughly translates to "Deity or Divine" aswell as "Net or Snare" which could imply loosely to capturing or trapping a god. Much like how the company itself harvests and drains the life force of Gaia, Mako, in its production of electricity. Although it should be noted this is a rough translation and the word Shinra is in itself not a real name used in Japan.