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Cartographica Helvetica


Jana Moser:

The earliest maps of Southwest Africa between 1761 and 1879

Cartographica Helvetica 30 (2004) 35–41


The up to then unknown southwestern Africa, today a part of Namibia, had been intensively visited and explored by Europeans since the middle of the 18th century. The first maps of this area were made during the course of these explorations. Beginning with the first known cartographic representations of southern Namibia from 1761 by the surveyor Brink and including the last map by Theophilus Hahn in 1879 before the German occupation, this article follows the development of these explorations and the resulting maps.

After at first only small-scale route descriptions were produced, later explorers such as missionaries were able to draw more accurate topographic maps during the middle of the 19th century thanks to improved surveying methods. It turned out that the character of the landscape significantly influenced the kind of topographic surveys that were produced. Due to the lack of water and the sparse population, it was much more important for the traveler to get a general impression of the landscape and the location of water than to have a detailed topographic map.

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