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Ingrid Kretschmer:

Austrian cartographic expeditions in South America

Cartographica Helvetica 28 (2003) 13–23


Starting in the 18th century and up to the World War I, Austrian explorations enjoyed considerable success, thanks to official support by the Austrian Emperors. The research was extensive especially in Central and South America, where important contributions were made to botanical, zoological and geological research as well as in archaeological and ethnological explorations.

During the time between the two World Wars, Austrian overseas exploration was in a difficult position and could only be overcome by combining scientific research with alpinism. The Austrian Alpine Club, founded in 1862, expanded its task of exploring mountainous areas outside of Europe in 1927, and in 1928 the emphasis of Austrian research shifted to the Andes in Bolivia and Peru where there were no large-scale topographic maps available. With the application of terrestrial photogrammetric methods, the first high-quality large-scale topographical map sheets of the Cordillera Real (Bolivia) and later of the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayash (Peru) appeared in 1935.

Since 1939 these map sheets were produced in the style of the Austrian Alpine Club. In the 1950s these parts of the South American Andes belonged to some of the best known high mountains in the world. In the 1960s Austrian scientists undertook the task of surveying the areas hit by natural disasters (ice avalanche) on the flanks of the Huascarán, the highest mountain in Peru. The results were two large-scale maps (1:25,000 and 1:15,000) of this characteristically tropical glacial region.

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