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For those living in the Westlands, the East refers to Rhûn (which name indeed means "east" in Sindarin) and all unknown lands beyond.

Not much is known about the lands or peoples outside the Westlands. Cuiviénen, the lake where the Elves awoke, was somewhere in the East of Middle-earth. The eastern parts of the continent also featured two great mountain ranges, the Red and Yellow Mountains where some of the Fathers of the Dwarves awoke, and would found the Dwarven clans of Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks and Stonefoots. And Hildórien, the origin of Men, was also somewhere in the east. Beyond these, the continent ended on the shores of the East Sea.

But the stories follow only the Eldar and the Edain who migrated West.

The Men living in the East were known as Easterlings, being various tribes of Men of Darkness, such as the Wainriders, the Balchoth and the Variags.

In the Second or Third Ages the Blue Wizards went into the East, never to return. Saruman also visited the East before returning and occupying Isengard. During the Watchful Peace, Sauron went to hiding in the East for 400 years and gathered the Easterlings to his service.

See also