Johnston’s Special Map of South Africa, 1902


Map of South Africa showing Britain’s new colonies as a result of the Treaty of Vereeniging, ending the Second Boer War.

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The Cape Peninsula was the historic, economic and industrial center of South Africa beginning with European colonization until the end of the 19th century. It was then that large gold fields were found in the interior of the country, prompting British officials to exert political pressure on the regional inhabitants – the Boers. These settlers of Dutch ancestry had already made “The Great Trek” into the interior of South Africa when pushed away from the Cape by the British around 1830, and they would strongly resist any further encroachments on their two quasi-independent territories, the Transvaal and Orange Free State, earned by blood in the victory of the First Boer War (1880-1881).

Because the Boers were landlocked, the British were able to easily impose economic sanctions while sending in uitlanders (foreigners) to change the political landscape in favor of a federation with the British. Tensions escalated, and the Boers struck first, winning a number of battles in the first year of the conflict. But the British military machine began to slowly churn, and ultimately sent nearly 500,000 troops to exterminate the <90,000 Boers. Britain officially annexed the two colonies in 1900, but guerrilla war waged for another 2 years as the Boers refused to surrender outright. In response, the British set up a series of blockhouses, made extensive use of barbed wire, and forced local residents into concentration camps, killing thousands from disease and starvation.

The shameful episode in imperialist history is revisited in full display on this map, which was published the same year a treaty was signed, officially accepting British sovereignty. Insets of the Cape and Port Natal reflect the importance of these ports to British resupply, while the string of blockhouses used to corral the Boer populace can be seen in blue. An additional inset map of the entire continent shows the various colonial holdings of all European powers, especially the distinctive red of the British Empire.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1902

Author: W. & A.K. Johnston

Sheet Width (in): 34.00

Sheet Height (in): 27.50

Condition: A-

Condition Description: The map is in very good condition, lithographed on linen with original hardback covers. A few holes at the fold intersections and very minor wear along the outer edges.