The rise of the national atlas

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Abstract

National atlases play multiple roles. In addition to providing a coherent summary of a country's physical and human geography, the national atlas has been a symbol of national unity, scientific achievement, and political independence. The first national atlas, Christopher Saxton's Atlas of England and Wales (1579), not only represented the unity of the English state but also celebrated Elizabeth I's patronage of astronomy and geography. Although governments have commissioned single-country atlases intermittently since Saxton's time, the national atlas did not emerge as a distinct cartographic genre until the late nineteenth century. Cartobibliographies and other enumerations of national atlases reveal noteworthy increases during the 1920s and 1930s and again in the 1950s and 1960s, when many former colonies gained independence. -Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalCartographica
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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