Laputa is a large floating island in the sky inhabited by narrow-minded scientists and philosophers.
After being rescued from his set-adrift-by-pirates state, Gulliver meets the people of the floating island of Laputa, immediately realizing the inhabitants are a very distracted people who have a limited attention span very narrow-minded interests. To a fault, their only concerns are science, and music, and philosophical ponderings. Gulliver proceeds to observe the Laputans: their clothes do not fit, and are decorated with various astrological symbols and musical notations. The vast majority of their time is spent listening to the "music of the spheres." They believe obsessively in astrology, and continually worry that the sun will burn out at any moment. Gulliver notes that for all their "knowledge," the Laputan houses are poorly constructed, and lack any accurate right angles. Laputan women seems to have very healthy sex drives, and become adulterous since the Laputan men are too distracted with the impending doom they percieve to be interested in lovemaking. Their women prefer men from the earth-bound island of Balnibarbi, who have no such preoccupation. Their Laputan husbands possess such tunnel-vision in their mathematical and musical calculations, that they have no idea their wives are adulterous.
Gulliver explains that the King uses the "flying island" itself as a weapon to tyrannize the people of Balnibarbi on the surface below. Threatening to cut off sunshine and rain from any region on the lower island, "bomb" them with boulders, or lower the island and crush the towns below. In this way he forces them to provide food, drink, and whatever else the Laputans want or need. After studying the situation, Gulliver relates the story of the successful rebellion of the city of Lindalino. In the most extreme of confrontations, the island has been lowered on the cities below to crush them into submission. Gulliver learns that this has not been successful every time, notably with the city of Lindalino. This rebellion of Lindalino against the tyrannical Laputans is author Jonathan Swift's allegory of Ireland's revolt against England, and England's Whig government's violent foreign and internal politics. The absurd inventions of the Laputans mock the unreasonable royal society of the time.
Gulliver is later lowered down to Balinbarbi after becoming discontent with the behavior of the Laputans.
- The Laputa portion of Gulliver's Travels became much more well known after the 1986 Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film Laputa: Castle in the Sky. When the film was dubbed and distributed in English by Disney, the name Laputa was dropped from the packaging for the home video. However, the name was retained throughout the film. References to Gulliver's Travels that were present in the original Japanese dialogue were omitted in the English dub.
- As "Laputa" sounds like a vulgar phrase in the Spanish language ("la puta" means "the prostitute"), some Spanish editions of Gulliver's Travels instead use "Lapuntu" (used by the film "Castle in the Sky"), "Laput", "Lapuda", or "Lupata".