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Andrew Duminy Explores the History of Cartography in Mapping South Africa

Mapping South AfricaMapping South Africa will be welcomed as a landmark in providing the first survey of the fascinating story of maps and mapmaking in the subcontinent. Beginning with the Portuguese voyages of exploration in the late 15th century, the book explores the attempts of the Dutch and then of the British to chart and lay claim to the vast and expanding landscape of the Cape Colony.

A subsequent chapter deals in particular with maps of the Eastern Cape, where a series of frontier wars over almost a hundred years led to an outpouring of cartography. In colonial Natal and the Boer Republics of the Transvaal and Free State, cartography was driven, on the other hand, by the dictates of colonisation and land exploitation. New heights in the mapping of South Africa were reached as a result of the Anglo-Boer War and of laborious trigonometrical survey work that began at this time. It set new standards that would be extended and consolidated after Union in 1910.

Throughout the book the author reveals an appreciation of the close relation between science, exploration and cartography and gives due prominence to the role played by individuals as well as institutions in producing maps of increasing accuracy and detail.

Mapping South Africa will long remain a standard work of its kind, appreciated for its informative text and for the beautiful reproductions it contains of some 85 maps.


1. Latitude, longitude and the measurement of time and distance
2. Early explorers, maps and charts, 1652–1780
3. The last years of Dutch rule at the Cape, 1780–1795
4. The British take over the Cape
5. The Great African Survey
6. The Eastern Cape frontier
7. Exploring the interior of southern Africa
8. Colonial Natal
9. The Transvaal and Orange Free State
10. The Geodetic Surveys and the arc of the 30th meridian
11. The Anglo-Boer War and after
12. New ideas: Fourcade and Wadley

About the author

Andrew Duminy is a Professor Emeritus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His publications include a biography of Sir Percy FitzPatrick and several studies on the history of the Cape Frontier and of KwaZulu-Natal. His most recent work is a biography of his ancestor, the French mariner Francois Renier Duminy.

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