From 1850 to 1859, a small group of European and American-born men undertook a survey of newly independent Colombia's interior on behalf of a weak central state. They sought to add to centralized knowledge of and to map the country's territory and its human and physical resources. Led by Italian-born military geographer Agustín Codazzi, who had conducted a similar survey in Venezuela, the mission included illustrators, a botanist, a chronicler, staff hired in Bogotá, and a series of local guides and support staff. The team produced extensive notes, illustrations, and maps, sketched on the road and revised upon return. Cartographic and ethnographic results were consulted extensively by the government and published immediately, and the archive became a cornerstone for subsequent Colombian scholarship and cartography, influencing regional divides and ideas of race and nation to the present day. On the centenary of this...

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