Earliest Map of Africa Dates Back to 1554

A one-eyed giant seated over Nigeria and Cameroon, representing the mythical tribe of the “Monoculi”; a dense forest located in today’s Sahara Desert; and an elephant filling southern Africa. These are just some of the interesting features on the first obtainable map of Africa (click to enlarge).

Münster, Sebastian, 1489-1552. “Totius Africæ tabula, & descriptio uniuersalis, etiam ultra Ptolemæi limites extensa.” Woodcut map, with added color, 26 x 35 cm. From Münster’s Cosmographia uniuersalis (Basel, 1554)

via Princeton


  1. Beautifully designed the map represents a high mark of h-century mapmaking, it shows Africa in a recognizable shape, with a more pointed southern cape.

  2. Between the time of this and Cary s map, British explorers have crossed the Sahara, descended the Niger to its outlet in the Gulf of Guinea, and visited large areas of west and southern Africa.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here