General Map of the Republic of Nicaragua, 1858


Maximilian von Sonnenstern was a German civil engineer who was employed for many years by the government of Nicaragua and carried out detailed surveys of the country. Sonnenstern’s Mapa general de la republica Nicaragua (General map of the Republic of Nicaragua) is the first official map of Nicaragua, created by order of the Nicaraguan government. The map contains four cross sections, showing the heights of mountains and volcanoes. Three inset maps depict the towns of León, Granada, and Viejo León (the old city of León that was abandoned by its inhabitants following the earthquake of 1610 and relocated to the site of present-day León). The map shows the international borders with Honduras and Costa Rica, department borders, roads, planned railroad lines, rivers, mines, ruins, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Relief is shown by hachures. Two distance scales are given: Castilian leagues and English miles (one Castilian league = 4.18 kilometers; one mile = 1.61 kilometers). Nicaragua was long considered a possible location for an isthmian canal. In 1874 Sonnenstern published Report of the Nicaragua Route for an Interoceanic Ship Canal, which was commissioned by the Nicaraguan minister of public works and published in the United States by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Last updated: April 13, 2016