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Maps and Atlases

Congo Free State, attributed to but almost certainly not drawn by Henry Morton Stanley. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1885.

This early and large map, most likely cut out of Stanley's 1885 publication The Congo and the founding of its Free State; a story of work and exploration, is extremely detailed along the Atlantic Coast and along the Congo River, east of Lake Tanganyika and around Lake Victoria, but completely empty for hundreds of miles north and south of the River in the center of the country, where the rain forest is dense. The map is a good visual representation of the scope of exploration in the Congo as of about 1880.

Carte de l'Etat indépendant du Congo par J. duFief, Secrétaire-général de la Société royale belge géographiqe. Bruxelles, 1895.

This enormous map (more than four feet square) is drawn at an incredible scale: 31 miles to one inch. In 1895, only limited areas of the Congo had been explored, hence, there's a lot of empty space in this beautiful map. One can imagine how exciting such a map must have been in 1908 to a young man about to set sail.

Carte de l'Etat indépendant du Congo. Bruxelles. 1898.

Carte de l'Etat indépendant du Congo. Bruxelles. 1907. The 1898 and 1907 versions of the same map are smaller in scale, and begin to show administrative divisions and topographic detail. The 1898 version has routes of exploration (such as "Livingstone 1870") and major battles indicated, and the 1907 version shows missions, administrative posts, and the few railroads that had been constructed around the Congo River rapids. The 1907 version also shows that the bordering territories have been partitioned by the European powers. Such areas as French Congo and German East Africa are noted on the map.

Petit atlas du Congo belge. Bruxelles: A. de Boeck, [1912?]. 32 [i.e. 64] p.: ill., maps (16 col.); 21 cm. Consists of 32 p. of text and 16 folded maps printed on verso of unnumbered pages and on recto of numbered pages. A very comprehensive little atlas, it includes ethnographic, economic, and political color maps of the country, as well as a color map of each province and a detail map of the area around the mouth of the river. Also included are charts and graphs measuring the Congo's climate, language, watershed, river output, geology, population, land disposition, etc.