1858 - Map of the World on Mercators ProjectionMap Description The World on Mercators Projection 1858 Drawn and Engraved by J. Bartholomew Jr F.R.G.S
1858 - Map of the World on Mercators Projection
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From the Family Atlas of Physical, General and Classical Geography.
Drawn and engraved by J. Bartholomew Jr F.R.G.S.
The nineteenth century was the Age of Empire, when all the major European powers harboured imperial ambitions and used their commercial and military might to extend their influence in known parts of the world and open up new regions.
In the first half of the century, the process had been gradual. Britain had emerged as the pre-eminent overseas power, extending the boundaries of her established colonial possessions in North America, India and Australia and acquiring new footholds in Singapore (1819), Hong Kong (1842), and Natal (1843). Meanwhile, imperial rivals were weakened in the post-Napoleonic period. France, Spain and the Netherlands had all ceded colonial territory to Britain while Spain and Portugal were weakened by the loss of their Latin American colonies: Brazil seceded peacefully from Portugal in 1822, while the former Spanish colonies of Paraguay, Argentina (La Plata as recorded on the map), Chile, Colombia (New Granada), Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia had fought their way to independence between 1811 and 1825. Mexico had secured its freedom from Spain in 1821 and two years later, Central America had seceded from it to create a federal republic which then further divided in 1839 into the independent states of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (although interestingly, the cartographers have not recorded this).
In the second half of the century, the pace of imperial expansion increased markedly. By 1858, it is clear that Europeans had made few inroads into Africa; fifty years later, however, the map would show a multicoloured mosaic of colonial territories belonging to Britain, France, Portugal, and the newly unified nations of Germany and Italy. Asia was also a focus for European expansion, chiefly by the French, who secured control of Indo-China (1884–93) and by the British, who gained significant portions of the East Indies (1875–95). India also remained a focus of British interest. However, imperialism was not a solely European trait: Japan would acquire Formosa from China in 1895 and forcibly annex Korea in 1910, while the USA would secure the Philippines from Spain in 1898.
Other changes to this map during the second half of the century include the borders of the once-mighty Turkish or Ottoman Empire receding from the Balkans, north Africa and parts of the Persian Gulf. In North America, Russia abandoned its sole American colony, Alaska, which it would sell to the US Government in 1867 for $7.2 million. Elsewhere on the continent, the British colonies of North America were granted legislative autonomy under the Crown as part of a process begun by the establishment of the federal Dominion of Canada in 1867, while Britain’s Australian possessions were already largely self-governing.