Five Surprising Statistical Facts About Middle-earth

By Hannah Soo Park

Go deeper and deeper into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and you’ll realize that it’s pretty tough to reach a dead end—the mystical world is complete with its own races, languages (spoken and written), geography and vast history. So when you’re dealing with a series that involves such finely imagined details, it’s almost inevitable that someone, somewhere, would feel compelled to make an actual database out of it all.

And that’s exactly what Swedish chemical engineering student Emil Johannson did. Thanks to his painstakingly detailed pet project, the LotrProject, we can have a better grasp at the many moving parts of Middle-earth in the form of interactive pie charts, graphs, family trees, timelines and more.

So before you head into theaters to catch “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” do your homework and get familiar with the most surprising Middle-earth findings we pulled from the site’s stats.

1. The (named) population exceeds 900.
And hits 923—at least when it comes to the ones that have been mentioned in the series and documented in Johannson’s database. For all we know, this is only a tiny projection of the actual undocumented millions inhabiting the mystical land in Tolkien’s imagination.

2. Middle-earth is a gentlemen’s club.
Translating the intricately thought-up world of Middle-earth into visual data clearly shows us exactly what its missing—and in this case, it’s the ladies. According to this chart, only 19 percent of Tolkien’s characters are female, with an alarming 50-1 gender imbalance among dwarves (yikes!). Unfortunately, we’re going to pin this blame on Tolkien, who, in the heat of penning epic battle scenes, probably left women on the backburner (or forgot about them completely). On the bright side, Jackson and crew got the memo and added a few female made-up characters, including Evangeline Lilly’s character Tauriel, to “The Hobbit” script.

3. Frodo and Sam outpaced Thorin and Company.
Okay, we know, it’s not completely relevant. But how can we not mention that “Lord of Rings” duo Frodo and Sam beat out “The Hobbit”’s Thorin and Co.? Johannson pulled data found in Karen Wynn Fonstad’s “Atlas of Middle-Earth” to map out the total distance traveled per day, along with the overall distance traveled. (We told you the site was detailed!)

4. The longevity of men is on the decline…
One of Johannson’s graphs depicts what Tolkien had once confirmed: Men are experiencing a decreasing life span in Middle-earth, beginning with a high of 410 years-old (among the Kings and Queens of Numenor) and falling to an all-time low of 60 years-old (among the Chieftains of the Dunedain).

5. But hey, everyone still lives longer!
While we don’t exactly have records of medicine making a breakthrough in Middle-earth, its inhabitants certainly aren’t in need of any modern vaccines and medication. Most of the population, in fact, manage to live longer than 100, with little to no records of child mortality across hobbits, dwarves and men. Sméagol the Hobbit takes the longevity cake at 589 years-old, while poor human Lalaith died of the plague at just three years-old.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” hits theaters on December 14.