Sketch Map of British Guiana


Robert Hermann Schomburgk (1804–65) was a British naturalist and surveyor known for his pioneering surveys of British Guiana (present-day Guyana). Born and educated in Germany, he traveled to the West Indies in 1830 where he completed a survey of one of the Virgin Islands that was published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1835–39, under the direction of the Royal Geographical Society, he explored the Essequibo and Berbice Rivers in northern South America and completed a survey of British Guiana. Upon returning to Europe, he convinced the British government of the need to demarcate the boundaries of British Guiana. In April 1840, he was appointed commissioner for surveying and marking out the boundaries, which he completed in 1841–43. His proposals, known as the “Schomburgk line,” figured prominently in the disputes of the late-19th century between Great Britain and Brazil and Venezuela over the borders of British Guiana. This “sketch map” by Schomburgk, published in London in 1840, shows the competing claims of Britain, Brazil, and Venezuela. At the top of the map are sketches of the port and lighthouse of Georgetown, Guyana and of New Amsterdam, Guyana (capital of the former Dutch colony of Berbice, which passed to British control in 1815).

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John Arrowsmith, London


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Physical Description

1 map : color ; 28 x 50 centimeters


  1. G. C. Boase, “Schomburgk, Sir Robert Hermann (1804–1865),”Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: February 12, 2016