Odds and Ends: A Continent Full of Feathers; Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre

A couple of tidbits for the first weekend of November. 1909 National Geographic Map of Africa Click to expand (3347 x 4264). This National Geographic map of Africa dating from 1909 has been featured rather prominently in Wikipedia’s Africa article for quite some time now. Not only a political geography map, the map also intended…

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J.H. Colton’s 1855 Maps of Africa

Joseph Hutchins (J.H.) Colton was one of the major cartographic publishers of the 19th century. Based in New York from 1831 to 1893, Colton was instrumental in pushing high-quality, colourful, and detailed maps and atlases into the mass market as well as helping to raise US cartography to the standard being set in Europe at…

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Coronado and the Seven Cities of Cibola

‘Quivira regna’(‘Quivira Kingdom’) and ‘Ceuola’(Cibola), highlighted in green as displayed on a replica late 16th century globe.  Note the errant placement of Quivira well to the northwest of Cibola. Myths of lost cities of gold were a staple of early European exploration in the western hemisphere, particularly among Spanish explorers looking to stumble upon New…

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Milk River: Under Eight Flags

When one looks back to Spain’s colonial empire in the Americas, one usually thinks of its possessions that encompasses Mexico, Central America, and South America.  Maybe old California and Texas, or its Caribbean possessions such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico spring to mind.  Canada’s Prairie Provinces don’t exactly scream out ‘Spain’ to…

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Counting Down the Ten Largest Empires in History, Nos. 10-6

For number 5 through number 1, click here.  10. Portuguese Empire (1815) – 10.4 million km2 (4.0 million sq mi) Portugal proper is not the largest country on the planet by any means, but its hold on a massive overseas colonial empire existed for nearly six centuries thanks to the maritime kingdom’s place at the…

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Interrupted International Borders, Part II: Europe, Africa, and North America

Today, we finish off our look at countries that border other countries more than once thanks to the presence of an intervening country or water body (Part I can be found here).  Again, each of these examples could be their own article and then some; consider these more of a brief description of each border’s…

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Orphaned Islands, Part II: The Arctic, Europe, and Africa

Today, we continue our look at archipelagos where one or two islands have been politically isolated from the rest of the group, creating initially artificial divisions in otherwise homogenous places that can eventually become quite real and pronounced over time.  Click here for Part I. Diomede Islands Source: D. Cohoe, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diomede_Islands_Bering_Sea_Jul_2006.jpg. Licensed under the Creative…

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Orphaned Islands, Part I: The Pacific

National borders often pay little attention to physical geography.  Just look at all of the arbitrary straight lines we’ve drawn across the scope of the globe that cut right through deserts, mountain ranges, and rivers.  This happens offshore as well.  As countries throughout history have battled over territory, the mad rush to gain colonial territory…

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The Darien Scheme: The Last Stand of the Kingdom of Scotland

Think of colonial empires throughout history: the Greeks; the Phoenicians; the Romans; the Portuguese; the Spanish; the French; the British; the Dutch; the United States. All were hugely influential and left massive cultural legacies around the world, so they may be the first that comes to mind. There may be others that pop up in your head,…

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