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"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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The Haven of Umbar was a great haven to the far south of Gondor in Middle-earth.

"Umbar" was a name of unknown meaning given to the area by its original inhabitants. The Númenóreans adopted the name, probably aware of the fact that umbar was the Quenya word for 'fate'.

The great cape and land-locked firth of Umbar south of the Bay of Belfalas formed a natural harbour of enclosing rock, but the "great fortress of Númenor" that was located within it was not built until Second Age 2280. It was only by this time that Sauron had dared to threaten Númenor;

"...the strength of his terror and mastery over men had grown exceedingly great, he began to assail the strong places of the Numenoreans upon the shores of the sea."
Akallabêth from The Silmarillion

Like the earlier New Haven in Enedwaith, and the later Pelargir on the Anduin, Umbar became a base from which Númenórean influence spread over Middle-earth. It was at Umbar that the last king of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, landed in 3261, to challenge Sauron:

"The fleet came at last to that place that was called Umbar, where was a mighty haven that no hand had wrought. Empty and silent under a sickle moon was the land when the King of the Sea set foot upon the shore. For seven days he journeyed with banner and trumpet. Then he sent forth heralds, and he commanded Sauron to come before him and swear to him fealty."
Akallabêth from The Silmarillion

After the Downfall of Númenor 58 years later, Umbar remained in the hands of the Númenóreans, in essence a realm-in-exile alongside Arnor and Gondor. But unlike these others, Umbar had been used by the King's Men, who had turned to the worship of Melkor in the last days of Númenor. These "King's Men" were not friendly to the Elves or to their fellow Númenórean survivors who were allied to the elves, and became known as Black Númenóreans.

Two Black Númenórean lords, Herumor and Fuinur, were probably from Umbar, as at the end of Second Age they became very powerful amongst the Haradrim, a neighbouring people. Their fate is unknown, but they likely shared Sauron's defeat at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

The rulers of Umbar retained much influence over the Haradwaith well into Third Age. When not part of Gondor, its system of government was no doubt tyrannical, but it may also have been a duumvirate: Black Númenórean and Corsair Lords are paired when mentioned; Herumor/Fuinur for example, and later Angamaite/Sangahyando.

Gondor's power, however, eclipsed that of Umbar as the Third Age progressed, and in 933 Gondor's King Eärnil I captured Umbar in a surprise attack, although this was "at great cost."

For the following 500 years, Umbar was an important Gondorian city: not only a major sea-port, but as the site of the submission of Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn, and so served as a proud reminder of the might of the Dúnedain of old:

"on the highest hill of the headland above the Haven they [...] set a great white pillar as a monument. It was crowned with a globe of crystal that took the rays of the Sun and of the Moon and shone like a bright star that could be seen in clear weather even on the coasts of Gondor or far out upon the western sea."
― "The Heirs of Elendil" from The Peoples of Middle-earth

Many Black Númenóreans had fled Umbar from the assault of Third Age 933, to their subjects in Near Harad, but 82 years later, in a vain attempt to recapture it,

"the Men of the Harad, led by the lords that had been driven from Umbar, came up with great power against that stronghold..."
― "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" from The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

This "great power" availed the Men Of Harad little, however, for despite investing and besieging the fortress of Umbar for 35 years, they failed to take it, as its supply was easily maintained, "because of the sea-power of Gondor." In 1050, the late King Earnil's son Ciryandil,

"came down from the north by sea and by land, and crossing the River Harnen his armies utterly defeated the Men of the Harad..."
― "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" from The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

Gondorian possession of Umbar came to an abrupt end. In 1448, but not at the hands of an external foe. Following the disastrous Kin-strife, the sons of Castamir the Usurper arrived there with many men and most of the fleet of Gondor.

"There they made a refuge for all the enemies of the king, and a lordship independent of his crown. Umbar remained at war with Gondor for many lives of men..."
― "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" from The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

These men became known as the 'Corsairs of Umbar', and within two centuries became a major threat to Gondor. In 1634 Castamir's great-grandsons Angamaitë and Sangahyando raided Pelargir, from Umbar, killing King Minardil, but Gondor could not retaliate as it was ravaged by the Great Plague. Vengeance, if not swift, was certainly devastating: 78 years after Minardils death, his great-grand nephew succeeded in briefly recapturing Umbar, and even renamed himself Umbardacil. However,

" the new evils that soon befell Gondor Umbar was again lost, and fell into the hands of the Men Of Harad."
― "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" from The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

Throughout the rest of The Third Age, Umbar was home a new generation of 'Corsairs of Umbar', who must have been closely related to the Haradrim, if not even merely Haradrim themselves. These new Corsairs were cruel slavers who often raided the coasts of Belfalas and Anfalas in Gondor: in 2746 for example, Amrothos, the 15th Prince of Dol Amroth fell defending Dol-en-Ernil against them.

In 2758 Umbar joined a massive co-ordinated attack with Men of the Harad and even of Dunland, against Gondor and the new realm of Rohan:

"Three great fleets, long prepared, came up from Umbar and the Harad, and assailed the coasts of Gondor in great force; and the enemy made many landings, even as far north as the mouth of the Isen."
― "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" from The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

In 2885, Umbar supported the Haradrim who claimed Harondor, although this had long "been a debatable land between the Corsairs and the Kings", and when Sauron declared himself openly in 2951, Umbar declared its alliegance to him, and the great monument commemorating Ar-Pharazôn's triumph at Umbar was thrown down.

Umbar's fleet was largely destroyed 29 years later, when Thorongil (Aragorn Elessar, as it later turned out) in the service of the Steward of Gondor Ecthelion II led a taskforce south and burned them, killing the Captain of the Haven in the process.

During the War of the Ring, Umbar had not fully recovered from this, but could still send 50 "great ships" and smaller vessels "beyond count", to raid the coastlands of Gondor and draw off major forces from the defence of Minas Tirith. They were once again defeated by Aragorn, and the Army of the Dead. With the Fall of Barad-dûr, Umbar, weakened and defeated, finally lost its sovereignty and submitted to the crown of King Elessar.

Umbar appeared on the bottom edge of the maps found in earlier editions of Lord of the Rings, but it is absent from modern editions, which regrettably map a slightly smaller area of Middle-earth.