Dictionary Project: Volume X: South America

The Dictionary Project is a post-a-day exploration of The Century Dictionary and Cylopedia, a twelve-volume set printed in New York in 1901. The Project runs from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, and matches volume numbers to calendar months. Volume X is The Atlas, and today is Day 9.

Here’s another continent I haven’t visited: South America. Lots of Europeans had, though, and their voyages are marked on this map. The seem to have been mostly Spanish and Portuguese, from the look of the key. Which makes sense, when you think about the languages the non-native populations speak nowadays.

Map of South America, 1897

Most of the borders look the same now as then to me, including the borders of tiny colonial neighbours British, Dutch and French Guiana (now called Guyana, Suriname, and…er, French Guiana, which presumably the French call “Guiane” or similar). They missed their chance in South America, those other colonizing empires. (Not to worry; they’ll make a meal of Africa.)

The other thing I see that’s different here is that the big island in Tierra del Fuego, called “King Charles South Land”, now goes by “Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego”. The border that splits it between Argentina and Chile was there in 1897, too. I don’t know why I thought it was a modern creation.

I’ve always wanted to go to South America, especially to Tierra del Fuego. Gotta get on that. Have you been? Where would you go if you were going next week?

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