This large, intriguing, information-packed map of Peru was made as a propagandist piece, devised by Eduardo Higginson, Peru’s Consul General in Southampton, England, as part of an overarching promotional campaign for the country’s interests led by the Peruvian Foreign Minister, Eugenio Larrabure y Unánue. The map, compiled from the best sources by the leading Peruvian cartographer Rafael E. Baluarte, features a lengthy textual description of the country on the verso, thought to have been penned by Higginson, with the work published in Southampton by the firm of George Philip & Son. The map, printed in the German language, was intended for audiences in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Switzerland, to serve two main PR purposes; first, to promote Peru as an ideal destination for foreign investment and trade; and second, to justify Peru’s maximalist territorial claims against its neighbours, for the map showcases a ‘Gran Peru’ that takes in large parts of today’s Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia.
The map, altered from a Spanish language template, features a German title and bilingual (Spanish-German) legend, while its toponomy is entirely in Spanish and the verso text is entirely in German. The highly accurate geographic rendering of the complex topography (ex. the high ranges of the Andes and the massive Amazonian tributary rivers) is based upon scientific surveys conducted over the previous few decades and shows Peru with expansive boundaries taking in a huge expanse of the sparsely populated Amazon Basin. As explained in the legend in the upper right corner, the core parts of Peru, along the Pacific littoral and upon the Andean Plateau are shown to be well populated, with many cities and towns connected by roads across the difficult terrain, while railways (thick red lines) connect key places (with projected routes also noted); while named telegraph lines connect various regional centres, with submarine cables connecting Lima to the worldwide network. Also marked, are the locations of ports, forested areas and petroleum deposits. The names of the territories of Peru’s various native nations are noted, important details, as the majority of the country’s population were either fully or partly of indigenous stock.
Upon observing the map, one gains the impression of a vibrant, diverse land of bounty with many avenues for future development. This impression is supported by a lengthy description of the country with statistical information, believed to have written by Higginson, that occupies the verso, printed on the fold sections, forming the equivalent of a 37-page octavo pamphlet. Its stated purpose is to “To make known, in a succinct manner, the inducements which Peru offers for capital, immigration and colonization, is the task which is undertaken in this slight work”. Here Peru’s natural and human virtues are extolled in a passionate, yet well-reasoned terms. Sections include the country’s geography; climate; politics; law; local government; the rubber industry; hunting and fishing; highways; mineral wealth; manufacturing; Lima and the port of Callao; transportation and communications networks; economic statistics; education, scientific facilities and libraries; commodity prices and customs revenues.
Eduardo Higginson,a veteran Peruvian diplomat, commissioned the map while he was serving as his country’s Consul General in the bustling English port of Southampton. Higginson was a hard-charging figure, who was later promoted to become the Peruvian Consul in New York, whereupon he was described as “an “advance agent for the Peruvian businessman” and hailed for his “success in attracting capital to Peru and in opening markets to his country’s products”.
His plan for a propagandist map accorded nicely with the overarching global PR strategy that his boss, Foreign Minister Manuel Eugenio Larrabure y Unanue (1844 – 1916), had for Peru. Larrabure y Unanue, who served three terms as foreign minister (1883 – 1884, 1892 – 1893 and 1902 – 1903), was Peru’s foremost diplomat of the era, and as a former journalist he understood the power of information. Over many years he devised a business-savvy, science and data driven campaign to promote Peru in the United States and Europe, raising the equivalent of billions in today’s dollars in foreign investment for his country. The present map was issued in editions in four different languages (English, German, Dutch and Swedish), tapping countries that were seen as especially promising markets for trade or diplomatic influence.
The map was drafted by Rafael E. Baluarte, then Peru’s most respected cartographer. Baluarte had notably been the chief assistant to Professor Antonio Raimondi (1830-90) when he made Peru’s “official national map”, the Map del Perú (Paris: Erhard Frères, sheets issued serially, 1880-1900), a colossal 32-sheet work which showcased the country in unprecedented detail and accuracy. Baluarte had essentially been the co-producer of the map, importantly seeing the project to its completion in the wake of Raimondi’s untimely death. This experience made him the ideal person to create the present work, which is critically informed by the Raimondi project. Baluarte became the official cartographer to the Sociedad Geografica de Lima, while running his own ‘boutiquey’ commercial map house. He made many important regional maps of Peru, of which his Lago Titicaca: plano formado sobre los trabajos de Pentland, Raimondi, Agassiz, etc. (Paris: Erhard Frères, 1891), won international praise.
Dialing down on the PR objectives of the work, the first purpose of the map is to showcase Peru as a vast and magnificent land full of natural resources and seemingly endless opportunities for expansion. Germans and other investors could ‘get in on the ground floor’ in a variety of industries, all with the support of the welcoming and well-organized Peruvian state!
The second purpose of the map was to justify Peru’s maximalist boundary claims against its neighbours as being a ‘fait accompli’, or an established fact. In this instance, the German language map was meant gain support for Peru’s territorial claims in Germany, which prior to World War I was one of the most diplomatically influential nations in the world, often involved in arbitrating intentional boundary disputes.
On the map, Peru is shown to have incredibly expansive boundaries in the upper Amazon Basin. Peru’s northern frontier is shown to take in all of what is today eastern Ecuador, with the frontier coming amazingly close to Quito, while the country is also shown to possess large parts of what are today Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas.
Indeed, since colonial times all the boundaries between the various countries (former colonies) bordering the Amazon Basin had undefined boundaries in the region. The vast 7,500,000 km² tract was until the mid-19th century largely uninhabited by people of European decent, it still being in the possession of its indigenous peoples and, as such, gaining sovereign title to the territory was a low priority. However, with the discovery of vast natural resources, such as rubber and gold, the possession and formal ownership to the Amazon suddenly became a top national priority to the various stakeholders concerned.
Peru, as the successor state to the dominant Spanish colony in South America, felt entitled to the lion’s share of the Amazon adjacent to its coastal and Andean heartlands. Through the 19th century, it maintained an active and, at times, acrimonious boundary dispute with Ecuador, while also contesting territory with Bolivia and Brazil, albeit in a less heated fashion.
As the present map went to press, Brazil and its local proxies were taking the initiative in the Acre-Amazonas area. During what was known as the Acre War (1899-1903), they seized the region from de facto Bolivian control. At a treaty signed in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis, (November 17, 1903), Bolivia ceded Acre to Brazil, and this de facto ensured that any Peruvian claims upon the territory were invalid.
As for the Peru-Ecuador boundary dispute, for decades the countries had contested a 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi) roughly triangular tract that ran for the eastern slopes of the Andes down into the Amazon Basin between the Río Napo and Río Marañón.
Peru and Ecuador both claimed the disputed region since colonial times, and ever since gold and rubber was discovered there in the latter 19th century, the contest became more intense and acrimonious. Numerous high-level diplomatic attempts had been made to resolve the matter through compromise, but to no avail. The Herrera-García Treaty (1890), arbitrated by the King of Spain, seemed promising, but was eventually rejected by both parties. In 1903, the dispute was a red-hot issue, as much was at stake.
The Peru-Ecuador boundary dispute was not resolved until the Ecuadorian–Peruvian War (July 23-31, 1904), known locally as the Guerra del 41, when, during World War II, Peru mounted a lightening invasion of Ecuador, taking much territory and threatening to seize Guayaquil. Under the spectre of total defeat and U.S. pressure to end the conflict (the Americans wanted a ‘united front of the Americas’ during World War II), Quito relented, and Peru stopped its advances. At the Rio de Janeiro Protocol (January 29, 1942), Ecuador was forced to cede pretty much all the disputed territory, creating today’s Peru-Ecuador frontier. While Ecuador subsequently tried to ‘wriggle out’ of the protocol, these efforts proved fruitless, and both sides agreed to respect the boundaries in perpetuity at the Itamaraty Peace Declaration (1995).
Another major territorial-boundary issue noted on the map is the fact that Peru’s former southernmost department, Tarapacá, was ceded to Chile following the Pacific War (1879-1883).
The map, in its various polyglot editions, is not uncommon institutionally, as it seems that Higginson did a stellar job making sure that copies were distributed to as many governments and libraries as possible. However, the map is rare commercially, as examples only seldom appear on the market.
References: OCLC: 315873797, 1245131806.