Map of the Province of Antioquia


The Colombian political figure and historian José Manuel Restrepo (1781–1863) first became known as the geographer and cartographer of the province of Antioquia in New Granada (the Spanish viceroyalty that comprised all or parts of present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela). In 1807, Restrepo carried out geodesic and barometric measurements in 102 towns of the province. In 1809, he completed this map of Antioquia, the first attempt to depict with precision the province’s rugged terrain. In the same year, he wrote an essay on the physical, social, and economic geography of the province that was published in the weekly Semanario del Nuevo Reino de Granada. Restrepo was a law student who, shortly before the events of 1810 that initiated Colombia’s independence struggle, had become friendly with the scientist (and later revolutionary) Francisco José de Caldas. Caldas trained Restrepo in astronomy, geography and cartography and helped him correct his map of Antioquia. The map could not be published at the time because the printing presses in the colonial capital lacked the technology for printing maps or illustrations, but it circulated among well-informed citizens of New Granada. Restrepo’s work as a geographer and cartographer helped him to attain a position in the imperial bureaucracy. The establishment of the 1810 junta catapulted him to greater power in Antioquia, and later in life he held many ministerial and other institutional positions. Besides his early work as an advocate and geographer, Restrepo is best remembered as a historian of the first Colombian republic.

Last updated: March 19, 2013