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Theatre of Old Maps

The author grew up near the birthplace of the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator. Inspired by this great scientist and artist he also went to study Physical Geography (BSc) and Cartography (Masters). This website and its products are the result of more than 30 years of experience in Cartography, GIS and IT, both as a teacher and developer. For more information visit my official website: t-o-maps.com.

The author grew up near the birthplace of the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator. Inspired by this great scientist and artist he also went to study Physical Geography (BSc) and Cartography (Masters). This website and its products are the result of more than 30 years of experience in Cartography, GIS and IT, both as a teacher and developer. For more information visit my official website: t-o-maps.com.
Historical e-Atlas Scandinavia
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Historical e-Atlas Scandinavia

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Norway, Sweden & Finland in 39 historical maps: 1321-2010 (122 pages) In the 17th century the Latin name Scandinavia appeared on maps identifying the most northern part of western Europe (Norway, Sweden and Finland). It is derived from the Proto-Germanic word skadinaujo. The second part of the word refers to the waters surrounding the region. Parts of Scandinavia were already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. The first separately printed maps appeared in the early 16th century. The name Norway, or its native name Norge, means the “Northern Way”. It refers to the long coastal passages from the western tip of Norway to its northernmost lands in the Arctic. The name Sweden (or Svitjod in Old Norse) means “One’s own people”. The name Finland means “Land of the Finns”. The origin of the word Finn is uncertain: it may be derived from the Proto-Germanic finne (meaning “wanderers” or “hunting-folk”).
Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made
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Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made

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Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made (1972-date) This concise presentation (16 pages) shows how satellite images are generated. It focuses on Landsat, the longest running project for earth observation. The entire process is explained: from the reflected sunbeams on the earth surface to the colours on the screen.
Historical e-Atlas England
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Historical e-Atlas England

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England in 34 historical maps: 1480-2010 (112 pages). In medieval times the name England (or Latin Anglia) was often used to identify the entire island of Great Britain. It means “Land of the Angles” and refers to the Celtic people living on the island prior to the Anglo-Saxon conquest. On later maps Anglia was limited to the southern part of the Island, and Scotia (Scotland) identified the Northern part. England was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. The first (printed) separate maps appeared at the end of the 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas Argentina & Chile
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Historical e-Atlas Argentina & Chile

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Argentina and Chile in 39 historical maps: 1502-2010 (122 pages). The name Argentina refers to the Río de la Plata (Latin: Argenteus), meaning “Silver River”. It was given by the explorer Sebastian Cabot in the 1520s after acquiring some silver trinkets from a local tribe (the Guaraní). The origin of the name Chile is uncertain. It may be derived from the Mapuche word Chili , meaning “where the land ends”. (The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and south-western Argentina, including parts of the region Patagonia.) The name Patagonia (Patagão), covering large parts of present-day Argentina and Chile, was introduced by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1519-1522 voyage). It means “Land of big feet” referring to the huge people he reported to have seen. The southernmost part of South-America was first drawn on the famous Cantino map (1502), followed by a more accurate map of Ribero in 1527. The first maps of Argentina and Chile resembling the modern maps nowadays did not appear until the midst of the 19th century. This was after their independence from Spain in 1810 (Chile) and 1816 (Argentina).
Historical e-Atlas Brazil
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Historical e-Atlas Brazil

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Brazil in 42 historical maps: 1502-2010 (128 pages). The name Brazil or Terra do Brasil was introduced by Portuguese explorers. It is derived from pau-brasil, meaning “red-wood”. The word refers to a kind of timber which can be found scattered across the country. The similar Latin word brasa also refers to red-hot embers. The eastern coastline of Brazil - and (South) America in general - appeared for the first time on the world map of Alberto Cantino in 1502 and earlier on the manuscript map of Juan de la Cosa in 1500. The large world map of Martin Waldseemuller in 1507 was the first printed map that incorporated the new discovered land. The name America appeared on the map identifying the new discovered land. After realizing that Columbus - and not Amerigo Vespucci - had discovered the new continent, Waldseemuller changed the name in Terra Incognita; on his later maps (e.g. in his atlas published in 1513).
Historical e-Atlas France
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Historical e-Atlas France

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France in 43 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (130 pages). The name France refers to Land of the Franks. The name means “Land of the free People”. The name may also be derived from the word frankon (spear), one of the weapons used by its warriors. On earlier maps the Latin name Gallia (Land of the Celts) or Gaul (Land of Foreigners) was used; during the 17th century the name Francia came into use. In the oldest classical descriptions (e.g. Strabo, ca. 20BC) the name Celtica is used to identify the region covering present-day France. France was also described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. Its coastline is depicted more accurate on the Portolan charts of the late middle ages, when the Mediterranean region was a centre for navigation and trade. The first printed separate maps of France appeared in the early 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas Germany
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Historical e-Atlas Germany

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Germany in 40 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (124 pages). The name Germany and other similar names are all derived from the Latin word Germania. Julius Caesar was the first to use the word Germanus in his writings when describing tribes in north-eastern Gaul (region stretching out from present-day France). However, its origin remains uncertain. A number of (German) historians suggest that the word has Celtic roots. E.g. it may be derived from: gair (neighbour), gar (“noisy”, referring to the tribesman) or hari (“man at arms”). In English-speaking regions, the word German first appeared in about1520, replacing earlier uses of Alman and Dutch. Germany was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. It is also depicted on the Mappa Mundi during the middle ages. The first printed separate maps of the country appeared in the early 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas Canada
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Historical e-Atlas Canada

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Canada in 41 historical maps: 1507-2010 (126 pages). The name Canada is derived from the Algonquin word Kanada, which means “village”. The name appeared for the first time on French world maps in about 1540. The name Quebec was used on early maps to identify newly discovered parts of Canada. The name was introduced by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1608. The name Quebec is derived from the Algonquin word kébec, meaning “where the river narrows”. (Referring to the St. Lawrence River near modern Quebec City.) The name Canada originally only referred to a small area being part of a larger Eastern region called Nova Francia (in Latin), after it had been colonized by the French. After their independence from the UK, in 1867, the name Canada was soon adopted for the whole country as we know it today. The first separately printed maps of Canada did appear not until the 19th century.
Historical e-Atlas China
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Historical e-Atlas China

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China in 41 historical maps: 1137-2010 (126 pages). The most commonly theory suggests that the name China refers to the Qin dynasty, which ruled China from 221 till 206 BC. The name China was adopted by Martin Martini and other 17th century (European) cartographers. On earlier maps the name Cathay, based on Marco Polo’s Italian name Catai, was used to identify the northern part of present-day China. The (eastern) coastline of China was not yet depicted on early European (world) maps based on Ptolemy’s descriptions. The large wall maps of Cresques (1375) and Fra Mauro (1450) were the first European world maps showing the extent of China to the east. On the other hand, a few centuries earlier, Chinese cartographers had already produced some remarkably accurate maps - at the time - of China and surroundings. The first separate maps of China, printed by Europeans, appeared in the 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas Cuba et al. Caribbean islands
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Historical e-Atlas Cuba et al. Caribbean islands

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Cuba et al. Caribbean islands in 40 historical maps: 1502-2010 (124 pages). The origin of the name Cuba is uncertain. Most likely it is means Taino cubao (“abundant fertile land” or Coabana (“great place”). On early maps of Cuba and other Caribbean islands they were called the West Indies by European cartographers. This in contrast to the East Indies of present-day SE Asia. The region appeared for the first time on the manuscript map of Juan de la Cosa (1500), who had sailed to the West together with Columbus, and the Cantino world map (1502). On the map of Ribero (1529) the coastlines are depicted remarkably accurate. The first separately printed maps were published at the end of the 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas Austria
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Historical e-Atlas Austria

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Austria in 32 historical maps: 1493-2010 (108 pages). Austria (German Österreich) means “Eastern March”. In Medieval times it was named in Latin: Marchia Orientalis. It is a former eastern prefecture of the Duchy of Bavaria, established in 976. The borders of Austria would change numerous times in the course of history, as shown on the maps in this atlas. In ca. 1560 the first separately printed map was published by the Hungarian cartographer Lazius. His map was used by famous cartographers, among them: Ortelius, Mercator and the Blaeu family.
Historical e-Atlas Australia
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Historical e-Atlas Australia

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Australia in 35 historical maps: 1547-2010 (114 pages). The name Australia is adapted from the Latin name Terra Australis Incognita, meaning the “Unknown Southern Land”. The name was used on 16th century world maps, e.g. the ones of Mercator and Ortelius, to identify a large imaginary landmass stretching around the south pole. The present day country and continent became officially known as Australia in 1824, after the British explorer Matthew Flinders had circumnavigated the island 20 years earlier and introduced the name in his charts and publications. Before this, the Latin name Hollandia Nova (New Holland) was mostly used to identify present day Australia. The name was introduced by Dutch explorers who had discovered the West coast in the early 17th century. It appeared - for the first time - on the large world map of the Blaeu firm in 1648, and later in their printed Atlas Maior from 1662 onwards.
Historical e-Atlas Denmark
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Historical e-Atlas Denmark

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Denmark in 34 historical maps: 1375-2010 (112 pages). The name Denmark probably means “Flat Borderlands”. Most likely it is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word dhen (meaning “low” or “flat”) and the Old Norse words merki (“boundary”) or mork (“borderland”). Although out of shape, the country is clearly visible on the first maps based on Ptolemy’s descriptions (c.1480). It looks like an appendix North of Germany. On the famous overview map of Scandinavia, made by Olaus Magnus (1539), the border of Denmark is depicted more accurately. One of the first separate maps was included in Sebastian Munster’s encyclopaedia (1544). The first separately printed (hand-coloured) map, based on the work of the Danish Cartographer Marcus Jordan (1552), was published by Ortelius in 1570.
Historical e-Atlas Iran
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Historical e-Atlas Iran

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Iran in 39 historical maps: 1154-2010 (122 pages) Iran refers to “Land of the Aryans”. The term Arya is from a Proto Indo-European root, generally meaning “noble” or “free”. Iran was formerly known as Persia in the west, until Shah Reza Pahlavi officially asked the international community in 1935 to name the country by the name Iran. The name Persia comes from the ancient Greek word Persis , which is a translation for what the Persians around the world called Pars, a region in the south of Iran. Urban civilization in Persia dates back at least 9000 years.
Historical e-Atlas Ireland
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Historical e-Atlas Ireland

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Ireland in 43 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (130 pages). The name Ireland is derived from the Celtic word Eire, meaning “the fertile place”. On ancient (world) maps the Latin name Hibernia or Ibernia (later Irlandia) was used, which refers to the wintry or cold climate of this remote place. Ireland was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. Being part of the British Isles, Ireland is also depicted on the Mappa Mundi in medieval times. The coastline was drawn in more detail on 15th century Portolan charts (nautical maps). The first (printed) separate maps of Ireland appeared in the 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas India
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Historical e-Atlas India

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India in 40 historical maps: 1467-2010 (124 pages). The name India is referring to the Indus river (or Sindhu) and has been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BC). An alternative name is Hindustan. In the 19th century, the term as was only used to identify the northern part of present-day India. India was already described by Ptolemy in about 150AD. The accompanying maps were worked out at the end of the 15th century by European cartographers. The size and shape are not very accurate on these maps. The island of present-day Sri Lanka is relatively large and positioned at the south-west side. From 1502 onwards (Cantino map and later) India is finally depicted by its characteristic V-shape, due to new chartings by Portuguese explorers.
Historical e-Atlas Hungary
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Historical e-Atlas Hungary

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Hungary in 33 historical maps: 1528-2010 (110 pages) The name Hungary means “Alliance of the ten tribes”. Byzantine chronicles gave this name to the Hungarians; the chroniclers mistakenly assumed that the Hungarians had Turkish origins, based on their Turkish-nomadic customs and appearance, despite the Uralic language of the people. The Hungarian tribes later actually formed an alliance of the 7 Hungarian and 3 Khazarian tribes, but the name is from before then, and first applied to the original seven Hungarian tribes. The ethnonym Hunni, referring to the Huns, has influenced the Latin (and English) spelling. The first separately printed map of Hungary (and surroundings) appeared in 1528. More detailed maps were included in the atlases of Ortelius and Mercator at the end of the 16th century.
Historical e-Atlas Iceland
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Historical e-Atlas Iceland

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Iceland in 34 historical maps: 1528-2010 (112 pages). Iceland means “Land of Ice”. The Old Norse name is Ísland. On early maps the Latin name Islandia is mostly used. Iceland is clearly depicted on the famous map of Scandinavia (1539) made by Olaus Magnus. The first separately printed map of the country appeared a few years later. The first full colour map was published by Ortelius in 1590. In the course of history numerous native cartographers turned up and produced a string of great maps of the country. E.g. Gudbrandur Thorlaksson (c.1590), Thordur Thorlaksson (1668), Eiriksson (1780), Gunnlaugsson (1849) and Thoroddsen (1900).
Historical e-Atlas Indonesia & Philippines
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Historical e-Atlas Indonesia & Philippines

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Indonesia and the Philippines in 37 historical maps: 1522-2010 (118 pages). Indonesia is a former Dutch colony. Its name came into use after their independence in 1945. The name means Indian Islands. Before that the name Nederlands Oost-Indië (Dutch East Indies or short East Indies) was used on maps.* The Philippines are a former Spanish colony. The name refers to King Philip II of Spain. The name appeared for the first time on maps at the end of the 16th century. The first separately printed maps of both groups of islands were published in the early 16th century by Italian cartographers. More detailed maps were made in the midst of the 17th century by Dutch explorers and mapmakers (VOC). *The name India is referring to the Indus River (or Sindhu)
Historical e-Atlas Egypt
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Historical e-Atlas Egypt

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Egypt in 36 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (116 pages). According to the classical scholar Strabo (20BC) the name Egypt is derived from the Greek Aigaíou Hyptíos, which means the “(Land) below the Aegean (sea)". The first separate map of the region was designed by Ptolemy (150AD). The map was worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. The first separately printed maps of Egypt appeared in the (early) 16th century. Mostly, only the northern part (the Nile delta) of present-day Egypt was depicted. In the 17th century the coverage was extended to the south.