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Tolkien's original map of the Dark Land in relation to the rest of Arda during the First Age

See also Mordor, the dwelling place of Sauron which bears a name that means "Dark Land"

The Dark Land, also referred to as the South Land, was a continent that lay southeast of where the events of the The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings occurred.


The Dark Land was created as a byproduct of the War for Sake of the Elves, in which the Valar overthrew Melkor in his original fortress of Utumno.[1] Originally, Middle-earth was one landmass, set between the western sea of Belegaer and the East Sea.[2] This changed during the War, when the inland Sea of Ringol, originally landlocked and set in the mid-south of Middle-earth, grew in size and "became a great sea flowing north-eastward and joining by straits both the Western and Eastern Seas."[3] This event split Middle-earth into two landmasses; the landmass to the south and east of the former Sea of Ringil (which was also called the "East Sea" by Tolkien) was known as the Dark Land.[4]

No habitations in the Dark Land were ever recorded. The Númenóreans might have visited it on their long eastward journeys. If so, it is not known whether they established dwellings there.

Portrayal in adaptations

In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad interprets the continent as being covered by vast dense forests bordering much of its shorelines.[5][6]

In the game Middle Earth Role Play by Iron Crown Enterprises, a Quenya name for the Dark Land, Mórenorë ("Dark Land"), was given, although it does not appear in any of Tolkien's writings; the name Hyarmenor, "south-land" is given instead in Tolkien's works (as seen in The History of Middle-earth).

Behind the scenes

Before Africa was visited by people from Europe, it was known as the "Dark Land". It is possible that Tolkien was inspired by this; also, he was born in South Africa. However, the continent directly south of Gondor where Harad was located (possibly corresponding with the Sahara Desert, as they are similar in position) is closer in shape to Africa, as well as being the proper distance away from northwest Middle-earth (if northwest Middle-earth is taken to be Europe and Rhûn is taken to be Asia).

As seen in the Ambarkanta, Dark Land occupies a position in Arda much like Antarctica and Australia do compared to Eurasia, if Antarctica and Australia were one landmass.

Some fans have speculated that this land may have become the southern portion of the New Lands at the end of the Second Age (the Land of the Sun being the northern portion).


Foreign Language Translated name
Afrikaans Donker land
Albanian Vendi i errët
Amharic ጥቁር አገር
Arabic بلد مظلم
Azerbaijani Qaranlıq diyar
Basque Herrialde iluna
Belarusian Cyrillic Цёмная краіна
Bengali অন্ধকার দেশ
Bosnian Mračna zemlja
Bulgarian Cyrillic Тъмна страна
Cambodian ប្រទេសងងឹត
Catalan País fosc
Cebuano Ngitngit nga nasud
Chinese 黑暗大陸
Croatian Tamna zemlja
Czech Tmavá země
Danish Det Mørke Sydkontinent
Dutch Donker land
Estonian Tume riik
Faroese Myrkt land
Filipino Madilim na bansa
Finnish Musta maa
French Terres sombre
Galician País escuro
Georgian ბნელი ქვეყანა
German Dunkelland
Greek Σκοτεινή χώρα
Gujarati ઘેરો દેશ
Hebrew ארץ כהה
Hindi अंधेरा देश
Hungarian Sötét ország
Icelandic Myrkur land
Indonesian Negara gelap
Italian Terra Oscura
Japanese 暗い国
Kannada ಡಾರ್ಕ್ ಕಂಟ್ರಿ
Kazakh Қараңғы ел (Cyrillic) Qarañğı el (Latin)
Korean 어두운 나라
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Караңгы өлкө
Laotian ປະເທດຊ້ໍາ
Latvian Tumša valsts
Lithuanian Tamsiai šalis
Macedonian Cyrillic Темна земја
Malagasy Firenena maizina
Malayalam ഇരുണ്ട രാജ്യം
Maltese Pajjiż skur
Marathi गडद देश
Mongolian Cyrillic Харанхуй улс
Nepalese गाढा देश
Norwegian Mørkt land
Pashto تور هیواد
Persian کشور تاریک
Polish Ciemny Ląd
Portuguese País escuro
Punjabi ਹਨ੍ਹੇਰਾ ਦੇਸ਼
Romanian Țara întunericului
Russian Тёмные Земли
Scottish Gaelic Dùthaich dhorcha
Sindhi ڪارو ملڪ
Sinhalese අඳුරු රට
Slovak Temná krajina
Slovenian Temna dežela
Spanish País oscuro
Swahili Nchi ya giza
Swedish Mörkt land
Tajik Cyrillic кишвари торик
Tamil இருண்ட நாடு
Telugu చీకటి దేశం
Thai ประเทศที่มืด
Turkish Karanlık Diyar
Turkmen Garanky ülke
Ukrainian Cyrillic Темна країна
Urdu سیاہ ملک
Uzbek Қоронғу мамлакат (Cyrillic) Qorong'u mamlakat (Latin)
Vietnamese Đất nước đen tối
Welsh Gwlad Dywyll
Yiddish טונקל לאַנד
Yoruba Orilẹ-ede dudu
Places of Middle-earth and Arda

Middle-earth Locations:


Dunland | Ithilien | Rohan | Arnor | Ettenmoors | Gondor | Lindon | Minhiriath | Rhûn | The Shire | Mordor | Harad | Forochel

Forests & Mountains:

Amon Dîn | Amon Hen | Amon Lhaw | Caradhras | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Old Forest | Tower Hills | Weather Hills


Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost | Hornburg | Isengard | Minas Morgul | Minas Tirith | Orthanc | Osgiliath | Rivendell | Umbar | Utumno


Cair Andros | Gap of Rohan | Grey Havens | Buckland | Enedwaith | Dagorlad | Dead Marshes | Fords of Isen | Weathertop | Argonath

The rest of Arda:

Númenor | Dark Land | Aman | Valinor | Tol Eressëa


  1. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, V: "The Ambarkanta", First Ballantine Books Edition
  2. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, chapter V: "The Ambarkanta", Map IV
  3. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, chapter V: "The Ambarkanta", First Ballantine Books Edition
  4. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, chapter V: "The Ambarkanta", First Ballantine Books Edition, Map V
  5. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Introduction"
  6. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Second Age, "Introduction"