One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was pretending to be Indiana Jones traveling the world and discovering all of the amazing cultures in it. I would plan it out by using National Geographic maps. The rustic aesthetics of the maps made for a perfect adventure map. National Geographic maps contained both physical features and political boundaries. My two favorite maps were the National Geographic map of Africa from 1922 and the National Geographic map of South America from 1921.
National Geographic Map of Africa
The Africa Map from 1922 came from a National Geographic magazine devoted entirely to the continent of Africa. The National Geographic map depicting Africa in the early 20th century displays the colonial administration of the various regions by colors. At the time the countries of Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy controlled much of the African continent. The National Geographic map contains an English transliteration key to help native English speakers properly pronounce the French, Italian and Portuguese names. The map also includes a translation key for the native words.
The National Geographic map of Africa also included all of the capital cities, towns, caravan routes, railroads, rivers, swamps and desert areas. As a child this allowed me to create my own imaginary explorations. Just like Indian Jones I was able to fly into specific cities, ride exotic animals on caravan routes, hop railroads and interact with indigenous people.
National Geographic Map of South America
The South America Map from 1921 was my personal favorite. The beautifully crafted map contained physical, economic and climate information on the amazing continent of South America. The National Geographic map was released in the October 1921 issue which was dedicated entirely to South America. I could explore the mountains, rivers, lakes, marshes, glaciers, and capital cities – anything I could possibly imagine.
The National Geographic map of South America also included official languages as well as translations. The translations on the map may not have given me any real linguistic skills but they nonetheless inspired me to learn more about the different cultures and their native languages. South America is a predominantly Spanish-speaking country with exceptions such as Portuguese in Brazil and indigenous languages such as Quechua, Aymara, and Tupi Guarani. While they are not predominant throughout South America, there are many indigenous languages. In Brazil alone there are around 180 different indigenous languages.
National Geographic Maps for Kids
Growing up with access to National Geographic maps has helped foster a lifelong love for travel and experiencing different cultures. I believe learning about the world and all of its wonders is important for children. It builds their knowledge base, expands their horizons and creates an open mind. Humans worldwide may be very similar but culturally there is a great deal of variability. Languages, customs, environment and much more play a dynamic role in shaping different cultures. Learning about other cultures gives humans a more holistic view of the world. For this holiday season get your child a National Geographic map and help them learn more about our amazing world!