The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in the large region of Eriador and the
. Its name
in Westron was Sûza "Shire" or Sûzat "The Shire". Its name
in Sindarin was i Drann. Kingdom of Arnor
According to Tolkien, the Shire measured 40 leagues (193 km, 120 miles from the Far Downs in the west to the Brandywine Bridge in the east, and 50 leagues (241 km, 150 miles) from the northern moors to the marshes in the south. This is confirmed in an essay by Tolkien on translating The Lord of the Rings, where he describes the Shire as having an area of 18,000 square miles (47,000 km2).
The original territory of the Shire was bounded on the east by the Baranduin River, on the north by uplands rising to the old centre of Arnor, on the west by the White Downs, and on the south by marshland south of the River Shirebourn. After the original settlement, hobbits also expanded to the east into Buckland between the Baranduin and the Old Forest, and (much later) to the west into the Westmarch between the White Downs and the Tower Hills.
The Shire was originally divided into four Farthings. The outlying lands of Buckland and the Westmarch were formally added after the War of the Ring. Within the Farthings there are some smaller unofficial clan homelands: the Tooks nearly all live in or near Tuckborough in Tookland, for instance. A Hobbit surname often indicates where the family came from: Samwise Gamgee's last name derives from Gamwich, where the family originated. Buckland was named for the Oldbucks (later called the Brandybucks).
The Shire is described as a small but beautiful, idyllic and fruitful land, beloved by its inhabitants. The Hobbits had an extensive agricultural system in the Shire but were not industrialised. The landscape included small pockets of forest (again similar to the English countryside). Various supplies were produced in the Shire, including cereals, fruit, wood and pipe-weed.