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Laputa map.gif
Balnibarbi (original map, Pt III Gulliver's Travels ) showing the location of Laputa the flying island, Lagado the capital, and Malonada, the main port.
Gulliver's Travels location
Created by Jonathan Swift
Genre Satire
Type City
Notable locations Academy of Lagado
Notable characters Lord Munodi (former governor)

Balnibarbi is a fictional land in Jonathan Swift's satirical novel Gulliver's Travels . it was visited by Lemuel Gulliver after he was rescued by the people of the flying island of Laputa.

Jonathan Swift 17th/18th-century Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, and poet

Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

<i>Gullivers Travels</i> novel by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, is a prose satire by Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, that is both a satire on human nature and the "travellers' tales" literary subgenre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature. He himself claimed that he wrote Gulliver's Travels "to vex the world rather than divert it".

Lemuel Gulliver fictional character

Lemuel Gulliver is the fictional protagonist and narrator of Gulliver's Travels, a novel written by Jonathan Swift, first published in 1726.



The location of Balnibarbi is illustrated in both the text and the map at the beginning of part III of Gulliver's Travels, though they are not consistent with each other. The map shows Balnibarbi to be an island to the east of Japan and to the northeast of Luggnagg. [1] The text states that the kingdom of Balnibarbi is part of a continent which extends itself "eastward to that unknown tract of America westward of California and northward of the Pacific Ocean", [2] and places it southeast of Luggnagg, which is "situated to the North-West" [3] Gulliver gives his last known position (taken the morning “an hour before” he was captured by the pirates who set him adrift) as 46°N 183°(E [4] ) [5] (i.e. east of Japan, south of the Aleutian Islands [6] ) and was picked up by the inhabitants of Laputa just 5 days later, having drifted south-south-east down a chain of small rocky islands [7] Gulliver also tells us that the island of Laputa flies by the “magnetick virtue” of certain minerals in the ground of Balnibarbi and does not extend more than four miles above, and six leagues beyond the limit of the kingdom. [8] He states the Pacific coast, where lies the port of Maldonada, is not above one hundred and fifty miles from the capital, Lagado. [9]

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.


Luggnagg is an island kingdom, one of the imaginary countries visited by Lemuel Gulliver in the satire Gulliver's Travels by Anglo-Irish author Jonathan Swift.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.


Gulliver describes the land of Balnibarbi as "a land unhappily cultivated, with houses ill-contrived and ruinous, and its people’s countenances expressing misery and want". He found its method of farming "unaccountable". [10]

The exception to this was the estate of his guide, the Lord Munodi, a person of the first rank who had been governor of Lagado, but had been dismissed for insufficiency by a cabal of ministers. He had been treated with tenderness by the king, but held in low understanding. [11] These estates were wholly different to the land as a whole, being "a most beautiful country, with houses neatly built, fields enclosed, containing vineyards, corn-grounds and meadows". [12] However Munodi reported that he was under pressure to tear down his house and tenant farms and rebuild them in the modern manner, or be censured for pride and incur the wrath of his majesty. [13]


Lagado is a fictional city from the satirical book of Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

A cabal is a small group of people united in some close design, usually to promote their private views of or interests in an ideology, state, or other community, often by intrigue and usually unbeknownst to those outside their group. The use of this term usually carries negative connotations of political purpose, conspiracy and secrecy.

Munodi explained that some forty years previously, some persons from the land had travelled to the flying island, and having come back with ”a very little smattering of mathematicks” but full of “volatile spirits” acquired in that region, had come to dislike the management of all things below, and fell to forming schemes to put “all arts, sciences, languages and mechanicks” on a new footing. To this end they had created an Academy of Projectors, from which a steady stream of projects, designed to let “one man do the works of ten” and “let the fruits of the earth come to maturity at whatever season” thought fit, and to increase production “an hundred-fold”, to “let a palace be built in a week”, and to create materials “so durable as to last forever”. Unfortunately, the only inconvenience being that none of these projects were yet brought to perfection, and in the mean time the whole country lay waste. [14]

Laputa fictional island

Laputa is a flying island described in the 1726 book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. It is about 4.5 miles in diameter, with an adamantine base, which its inhabitants can maneuver in any direction using magnetic levitation. It has a cave in the very centre which is precisely there to gather all the rainwater. It is also used by the king to enforce his supremacy.


The target of Swift's satire in Balnibarbi is its “Projectors” (who are described as "inventors or planners of political, social, financial or scientific schemes... which are wild or impractical" [15] ) rather than science per se, which is generally commended: [16] He also “aim(s) to discredit the Newtonian Whig intelligentsia...and to ridicule anything remotely connected to the Dutch”: [17] Higgins reports scholars have identified the Academy as referring to the Royal Society in London, the Dublin Philosophical Society, and the University of Leiden. [18] Higgins further states that Swift's satire “describes or is based on actual contemporary experiments reported (by) the Royal Society”. [19]

Royal Society English learned society for science

The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society is the United Kingdom's and Commonwealth of Nations' Academy of Sciences and fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.

Dublin Philosophical Society Irish learned society for science

The Dublin Philosophical Society was founded in 1683 by William Molyneux with the assistance of his brother Sir Thomas Molyneux and later Provost St George Ashe. It was intended to be the equivalent of the Royal Society in London as well as the Philosophical Society at the University of Oxford. Whilst it had a sometimes close connection with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, its closest institutional connection was with Trinity College, Dublin.


  1. Gulliver's Travels (GT), part III, ch I: Oxford World Classic (OWC) p140
  2. GT, part III, ch 7: OWC p180
  3. GT pt III, ch7: OWC p180
  4. That is, East of London; corresponds to 177°W
  5. GT, part III, ch 1: OWC p143
  6. OWC, note: p319
  7. GT, part III, ch 1: OWC p143
  8. GT, part III, ch 3: OWC p157
  9. GT, part III, ch 7: OWC p180
  10. GT pt III, ch 4: OWC p163
  11. GT pt III, ch 4: OWC p163
  12. GT pt III, ch 4: OWC p163
  13. GT pt III, ch4: OWC p164
  14. GT pt III, ch4: OWC p165
  15. GT, Notes p326
  16. cf GT ptIII, ch3, (OWC p157): GT pt III, ch4, (OWC p164) for example
  17. GT Notes p 128
  18. GT Notes, p327
  19. GT Notes p327

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