1932 Comissão de Cartografia Map of Huila Province, southern Angola

Carta do sul de Angola, compreendendo a região situada ao sul do paralelo 14, Pereira de Eça / [Map of Southern Angola, comprising the region south of the 14th parallel, Pereira de Eça]. - Main View

1932 Comissão de Cartografia Map of Huila Province, southern Angola


Portugal attempts to assert control over the Angolan frontier.


Carta do sul de Angola, compreendendo a região situada ao sul do paralelo 14, Pereira de Eça / [Map of Southern Angola, comprising the region south of the 14th parallel, Pereira de Eça].
  1932 (dated)     38.5 x 25 in (97.79 x 63.5 cm)     1 : 500000


This is a very detailed 1932 map of the region around Pereira de Eça in Huila Province, southern Angola (África Ocidental Portuguesa), produced by the Comissão de Cartografia of the Ministério das Colónias. It depicts the southernmost portion of the Portuguese colony in the period after the World War I (1814 - 1818), when Germany was expelled from neighboring South West Africa (Namibia).
A Closer Look
This map, 'Pereira de Eça,' is Folha 2 of a five-map set covering southern Angola, the titles and order of which are displayed at bottom-left ('Junção das Folhas'). It is incredibly rich, illustrating geographical features, transportation routes, communications lines, administrative divisions, and missionary stations.

Coverage stretches from the 14th parallel south running through portions of Benguela and Bié Provinces, taking in Huíla Province to the border of what was then the Mandate of South West Africa, captured from the Germans by South African troops during the First World War and handed over to South African administration by the League of Nations after the war. It remained occupied by South Africa until 1990, when Namibia achieved full independence after more than twenty years of revolutionary conflict (the South African Border War). Before the First World War, German Protestant missions, especially of the Rhenish Missionary Society, had made inroads around Vila Pereira d'Eça, the town for which the map was titled, now known as Ondjiva (parenthetically as 'Ngiva' here). The German missionary presence was forcibly removed from Angola, and reestablished over the border in South West Africa.

Although this region is noted for its rugged mountains and arid terrain (the northern limit of the Kalahari Desert), it did hold potential economic value for the Portuguese due to mining possibilities, especially near Evale and Mupa at right-center. In the later stages of Portugal's presence in Angola, soon after this map's publication, two branches of the Moçâmedes Railway (Caminho de Ferro de Moçâmedes) were built, in large part to access mineral resources: a northern branch to Dongo (towards top-right) and a southern branch through Chibia to Gambos (Chibemba) at left. Due to the difficult terrain, the railroad used a narrow 600 millimeter-wide gauge (slightly less than two feet).
Subduing the Frontier
The Portuguese presence was almost non-existent in this region until the late 19th century, during the 'Scramble for Africa,' when colonists were brought in from Madeira to boost Portugal's control. These efforts provoked violent conflicts, which the Portuguese generally won with the assistance of modern weaponry, but not without losses. For example, in September 1904 a Portuguese column lost over 300 men in a battle on the Kunene River (Rio Cunene) at bottom-left.
Portugal's 'Third Empire'
In the early 19th century, Portugal was no longer a great world power, and its empire was significantly reduced, especially after the independence of Brazil in 1822. But the empire did still maintain a string of colonies, the largest of which were Angola and Mozambique. Some Portuguese had ventured into the African interior in the early days of their colonial presence and set up estates and trading post-garrisons. However, settlers were few and generally intermarried with the local population to the point that they lost Portuguese identity, while the estates were operated like independent fiefdoms rather than a shared colonial enterprise. In Mozambique, the Portuguese inclination to try to force Christianity on their trading partners and use the presence of Muslim traders as an excuse for military campaigns also provoked opposition. In Angola Portuguese rule was determined (and limited) by long and complicated relationships with several indigenous kingdoms, especially the Christian, Lusophone Kingdom of Kongo. For most of the colonial era, the Portuguese satisfied themselves with operating a handful of coastal outposts for exporting slaves to the New World. Therefore, Portugal's control was limited to ports and most of the people it claimed to rule were effectively independent.

In the early-mid 19th century, the government launched a renewed effort to move colonists further inland and strengthen direct control over the interior. The 'Scramble for Africa' at the end of the century presented Portugal with both risks and opportunities. But they were incapable of challenging the British in southern Africa and had to grudgingly accept a secondary role among European colonial powers. Nevertheless, the British and Portuguese were both wary of German expansion in Africa and collaborated against Germany during the First World War. Although Portugal was neutral at the start of the conflict, it supplied the British and French armies on the Western Front and was eventually drawn into the war on the Allied side in 1916, focusing mainly on protecting its African colonies.

In the interwar period, with the threat of anti-colonial movements looming, Portugal moved towards a notion of 'pluricontinental' nationhood, which did not entirely insulate Portuguese colonies from the wave of decolonization that followed World War II. But the country's Prime Minister and de facto dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, categorically refused decolonization and aimed to crush guerilla movements in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau). Counter-insurgency efforts were largely successful as a short-term solution, but failed to resolve underlying problems, and when Salazar's successor Marcelo Caetano was toppled in a coup in 1974, Portugal's empire quickly collapsed. Angola and Mozambique then descended into protracted civil wars that became Cold War proxy conflicts.
Publication History and Census
This map was produced by the Comissão de Cartografia of the Ministério das Colónias, and was compiled from a range of earlier maps listed at bottom-right. The compilation process was overseen by Infantry Captain Jorge Baptista and in part by the Governor of Huíla Province, Freire Quaresma. It was printed by the Litografia Nacional in Porto. The map is cataloged in the holdings of the University of Chicago, Yale University, the British Library, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and it has no known history on the market.


Comissão de Cartografia das Colónias (fl. c. 1883 - 1936), in its early years as 'Comissão de Cartographia das Colónias', was an office within the Ministério da Marinha e Ultramar tasked with surveying Portugal's colonies, primarily in Africa. It was dissolved in 1936 and replaced with Junta das Missões Geográficas e de Investigações Colonia. More by this mapmaker...


Good. Some wear along fold lines and intersections. One wormhole towards bottom-left.


OCLC 65471456, 431669618, 1158049792.