Airstrip One

In George Orwell’s 1984, Airstrip One is a province. It is part of the larger nation of Oceania. 

Airstrip One

The Definitive Glossary for 1984

Oceania, as defined by Orwell, is one of three superpowers that control most of the world. The others are Eastasia and Eurasia. Airstrip One is all of what used to be the UK. Airstrip one is governed by the Party and the tenants of INGSOC. Below, readers can explore the politics that control their citizens’ lives. 


Airstrip One Definition

Airstrip One is a province. It includes what used to be London, where Winston Smith lives. It is part of the larger superstate, Oceania. The latter is made up of North and South America, the Atlantic islands, Australasia, and southern Africa. It is, as defined in 1984: 

Airstrip One, for instance, had not been so called in those days: it had been called England or Britain, though London, he felt fairly certain, had always been called London.

Political Geographical Map of 1984
Political Geographical Map of 1984

Credit: Gernsback67


Examples of Airstrip One in 1984 

The People of Airstrip One

There are only a few times that the phrase “Airstrip One” is used in 1984. Below is an example from pages seventy-six and seventy-seven. When speaking about Airstrip One and the people who live there, Smith says that: 

Actually, so far as he could judge, the majority of people in Airstrip One were small, dark, and ill-favoured. It was curious how that beetle-like type proliferated in the Ministries: little dumpy men, growing stout very early in life, with short legs, swift scuttling movements, and fat inscrutable faces with very small eyes. It was the type that seemed to flourish best under the dominion of the Party.


The Battle of Airstrip One

Winston is in Victory Square the next time that Orwell mentions the phrase Airstrip One. Here, Winston is inspired to consider: 

the enormous fluted column, at the top of which Big Brother’s statue gazed southward towards the skies where he had vanquished the Eurasian aeroplanes

He notes that in the past the enemy was, of course, Eastasian airplanes, in the Battle of Airstrip One. This is a clear reference to the Lord Nelson Statue in Trafalgar Square in contemporary, real London and the Battle of Trafalgar. As with much of the world’s history, the Party has edited it in order to focus on what it wants to convey. 

Principles of INGSOC

INGSOC is the defining political belief system that runs Oceania. There are three “sacred principles” of INGSOC: Newspeak, doublethink, and the mutability (or changeability) of the past. The Party attempts to control what their citizens are thinking through all three of these means. 

With doublethink, Orwell stated that it is “to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies” and “to hold simultaneously two opinions which” one knows to be contradictory but believing them both. Winston cites this as an example: 

At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines.


Who is the Leader of Airstrip One? 

Big Brother is the much-revered leader of Airstrip One and Oceania whose face is plastered on building around the city. He is an integral part of the Party’s government in Airstrip One. It’s unclear in the novel whether or not Big Brother is a real person or just a fictional creation that the Party uses to inspire the masses. 

Big Brother is defined in Part I Chapter III as: 

the leader and guardian of the Revolution since its very earliest days. His exploits had been gradually pushed backwards in time until already they extended into the fabulous world of the forties and the thirties, when the capitalists in their strange cylindrical hats still rode through the streets of London in great gleaming motor-cars or horse carriages with glass sides


FAQs

What are the 3 principles of INGSOC?

The three principles of INGSOC are the mutability of the past, doublethink, and Newspeak. They all allow the government to exert control over what their citizens believe and even what they think.

Who is the leader of the Party?

Big Brother is the leader of the Party in the novel 1984. He is a dark-haired, mustachioed figure who features on posters and in videos around Winston Smith’s city. 

What is Airstrip One in 1984?

In 1984, Airstrip One is the name used to describe the UK. It is a province in the much larger superstate, Oceania. It is governed by the principles of INGSOC. 

Where does Winston Smith live in 1984?

Winston Smith lives in what used to be London, in Airstrip One, a province in Oceania, one of the world’s three big superstates. Much of the history of the UK has been lost and replaced with the Party’s propaganda. 


  • Ministry of Love: responsible for brainwashing the citizens of Oceania. 
  • Ministry of Truth: the ministry responsible for changing history to suit the Party. 
  • Thought Police: the group responsible for arresting those charged with thoughtcrime
  • Thoughtcrime: any thought that goes against what the Party believes or what one is supposed to be doing. 
  • Newspeak: the language used to diminish the range of thought in Oceania. 
  • Ministry of Plenty: responsible for providing citizens with supplies. In reality, it keeps supplies from those who need them. 
  • Big Brother: the leader of the Party whose image is plastered around the city. He may be an imagined figurehead. 


Other Resources 

Airstrip One
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