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|Location||Arda, east of Belegaer|
|Realms||Rohan, Gondor, Mordor, Arnor, Rivendell, Lothlórien, others|
|Inhabitants||Men, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, others|
|Other names||Ennorath, Endor|
|Etymology||Old English middanġeard|
Middle-earth (Q. Endor) was a large continent of Arda, situated east of Aman, across Belegaer. It is here that many of the epic tales of Arda were played out, for it was in the north of this realm that Morgoth dwelt, and here where he bitterly fought with Elves, Men, Maiar and Valar.
Middle-earth is a large continent, a mass of land that occupies the central regions of Arda. It lays between two continents; Aman, the uttermost West from which is separated by the ocean Belegaer, and the Land of the Sun, at the uttermost East which the East Sea separates.
The Westlands are the most well-known regions of the continent, and the only which have been mapped. Of the Westlands, the western portion called Beleriand was drowned at the end of the First Age and survivors relocated to Lindon and Eriador. Another region of the Westlands was Rhovanion. Arnor and Gondor before their decline, dominated the Westlands during the Third Age. Huge mountain ranges like the Blue Mountains, Grey Mountains and White Mountains separated these regions.
Of the East and South of Middle-earth not much is known, other that the two large inland seas of Helcar and Ringil created by the demise of the Two Lamps. The eastern land-mass was encircled by ranges of mountains, the Red and the Yellow Mountains which mirrored the Blue and the Grey of the West respectively. Other known lands of the East were Cuiviénen and Hildórien, the cradle of Elfinesse and Humanity, and also the mythical Last Desert.
- This is the geographical history. For events happening in Middle-earth, see Timeline.
During the First Age and the ages preceding, the western side of Middle-earth was called Beleriand, stretching from the Ered Luin to the great ocean of Belegaer. On the northern edge of Beleriand were the fierce Ered Engrin, the Iron Mountains. Even further north was the freezing Dor Daidelos. Just southwest of the Ered Engrin was Hithlum, which was separated from the coast of Lammoth and Belegaer by the Ered Lómin, and from the rest of Beleriand to the south by the Ered Wethrin. The woven wood of Doriath rested directly south of the Thangorodrim and Dorthonion, southeast of Hithlum. To the West of Doriath were Taur-en-Faroth and the Falas, while to the Easter were Nan Elmoth and Thargelion before reaching the Ered Luin. To the south of Doriath were first the Andram, then Arvernien and the Bay of Balar. East of the Bay of Balar and extending ever further south into the unknown lands were the Taur-im-Duinath and Ossiriand.
East of the Ered Luin was a land encircled by four mountain ranges: the Ered Luin to the West, the Ered Engrin to the North, the Hithaeglir (Misty Mountains) to the East, and some of the White Mountains to the South. Passing even further East, over the Hithaeglir, you would come to Anduin (the Great River) and eventually Palisor, the Inland Sea of Helcar, the Orocarni, and the East Sea.
After the end of the First Age and the drowning of Beleriand, the geography east of the Ered Luin shifted. The Ered Luin themselves, now broken up and disfigured, marked the western border of Eriador, and thence Lindon and Belegaer itself. Eriador, now the Westernmost part of Middle-earth, was bordered on the East by the Hithaeglir, the Misty Mountains, which stretched down south to the White Mountains and the Bay of Belfalas. Across the Misty Mountains from Eriador was Rhovanion, which extended east to the Sea of Rhûn and the vast lands beyond. Within Rhovanion were the great forest of Mirkwood, the forest of Fangorn, and the many-rivered area that would become known as Gondor. To the east was the region of Mordor, encircled on three sides by mountains. To the far north of Rhovanion was the icy Forodwaith.
Tolkien created Arda, including and especially Middle-earth, for his languages Quenya and Sindarin, especially the latter as it turned out. To Tolkien, a scholar of the Anglo-Saxon language, Middle-earth was the English translation of the Old English word middanġeard. This word was transformed in the Middle English midden-erd or middel-erd, and the Old Norse Midgard. This is English for what the Greeks called the οικουμένη (oikoumenē) or "the abiding place of men", the physical world as opposed to the unseen worlds (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 151).
The ancient peoples called the world "middle-earth" since it was imagined to be between the realm of the Giants below and the realm of the gods above. However in Tolkien's cosmology the name Middle-earth refers only to a continent, which (in the First and Second Ages) is set between two other continents in the West and the East: the Undying Lands and the Land of the Sun.