The Top Ten: Fictional countries


John Rentoul
Sunday 01 March 2015 01:00
Narnia, Archenland and Calormen: The countries of CS Lewis's Narnia books
Narnia, Archenland and Calormen: The countries of CS Lewis's Narnia books

We did fictional buildings a while ago (Hogwarts, 221B Baker Street). Ben Ross asked about fictional lands such as Lilliput. I chipped in with Costaguana, the setting of Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. I ruled out facetious entries such as Wales, Africa and “the UK”.

1. Ruritania

Possibly most famous fictional but realistic nation, setting for Anthony Hope trilogy, starting with The Prisoner of Zenda (1894). From Sir Dick of Hearts, Martin McDonald, Willard Foxton.

2. El Dorado

From Candide by Voltaire (1759). Where the streets are paved with precious stones and all the king's jokes are funny. Selected by Rupert Myers.

3. Zembla

“If only to underline the brilliance of the novel it features in – Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov, 1962,” say Patrick Hennessy and John Meredith.

4. Narnia, Archenland and Calormen

The countries of CS Lewis’s Narnia books. From Xlibris1, Jonathan Ford and James Bennett.

5. Cloud Cuckoo Land

Possibly the earliest example: the city built by birds in Aristophanes’ play, The Birds. Suggested by Steve Van Riel.

6. Neverland

Originally “the Never Never Land” in the 1904 play Peter Pan, but shortened by JM Barrie in the 1911 novel. Nominated by Simon Wilder.

7. Laurania

In Winston Churchill’s novel Savrola. Suggested by Thatchersrise.

8. Laputa

Flying island in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, 1726, whose thoughtful inhabitants move only if struck by a bladder; also the 1986 film by Hayao Miyazaki. From Jonathan Ford.

9. Utopia

Thomas More (1516). Not so much fictional as theoretical, it is a Greek pun meaning both no place and good place. From Graham Kirby, Will Oulton, and Ms Person.

10. Qumar

(generic Arab petro-terror-state) and Equatorial Kundu (generic sub-Saharan hellhole) from The West Wing. Popular nominations: Tom Doran was first.

Next week: Books narrated by a killer

Coming soon: Albums by actors (starting with Cained by Michael Caine). Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to

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