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- Unlike Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark, Belgium never had colonial possessions in the Americas. It entertained, nonetheless, certain colonial ambitions, as reflected in this map. Following the breakup of the United Provinces of Central America in the civil war of 1838-40, the caudíllo Rafael Carrera rose to power in Guatemala. Belgium became an important source of external support to the new regime as it struggled to consolidate itself as an independent state. The Compagnie belge de colonisation (Belgian Colonization Company), commissioned by Belgian King Leopold I, became the administrator of Santo-Thomas, replacing the failed British Eastern Coast of Central America Commercial and Agricultural Company. The Belgian company published this undated map, most likely in the mid-1840s. Drawn by cartographer Nicolas Dally, it provides detailed insets of Santo-Thomas and the city of Guatemala. The map proudly trumpets Belgium’s place among the community of nations staking claims to influence in Central America and the Caribbean in the mid-19th century.
Compagnie belge de colonisation
Title in Original Language
Nouvelle Carte Physique, Politique, Industrielle & Commerciale de l'Amérique Centrale et des Antilles, avec un plan spécial des possessions de la Compagnie belge de colonisation dans l'Amérique Centrale, État de Guatemala
Type of Item
- 1 hand colored map ; 102 x 146 centimeters