Guiana and Caribana


This map of part of the northern coast of South America is a Dutch version of a map originally produced around 1650 by Nicolas Sanson (1600–1667), royal geographer to Kings Louis XIII and XIV, and commonly known as the father of French cartography. Numerous editions copied from Sanson were printed in the early 18th century. The map covers the region from the island of Trinidad and the mouth of the Orinoco River in the west to the mouth of the Amazon River in the southeast. Sanson divides this area into New Andalusia, Guiana, and Caribana and gives the names of the indigenous peoples inhabiting the region. European interest in this region was spurred by the publication, in 1596, of Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Discovery of the Large, Rich and Beautiful Empire of Guiana. Raleigh had made an expedition in 1595 up the Orinoco River in search of the legendary kingdom of El Dorado. The kingdom was believed to be located on the shores of a large body of water, known as Lake Parime. This map shows the lake, and attributes its name to the Carib people. The nonexistence of the mythical lake was not definitively proven until the 19th century.

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Title in Original Language

Guiana, verdeelt in Guiana en Caribana

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  1. Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams, “Ralegh, Sir Walter (1554–1618),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  2. John Silver, “The Myth of El Dorado,” History Workshop, number 34 (Autumn 1992).

Last updated: September 18, 2015