National Geographic : 1954 Dec
772 New National Geographic Map Depicts Northern Africa and the Mediterranean So geographers, in Afric maps, With savage pictures fill their gaps, And o'er unhabitable downs Place elephants for want of towns. Since the English satirist Jonathan Swift penned those lines more than two centuries ago, explorers and map makers have covered the face of the once-dark continent with de tailed surveys by land and air. Swift would find no savage pictures or ele phants on the new 10-color map, Northern Africa, just completed by National Geographic Society cartographers and presented as a sup plement to this issue. Instead he would see the manifold works of man-his roads, rails, cities, canals, airports, oil fields, pipelines, and dams. There are still "unhabitable downs"-nota bly the vast Sahara-but hardly a "want of towns." The map has 9,019 place names, and the population of its area is 343,000,000, much more than twice that of the United States. Backdrop for Front-page News On a 41-by-29-inch sheet, the map covers about 11,000,000 square miles. Just the por tion of Africa shown is nearly as large as North America. Extending from below the Equator to the port city of Trieste, now part of Italy by peaceful agreement with Yugo slavia, the map embraces the entire Medi terranean and almost all of the Near East. It affords an up-to-date picture of this im portant area at a time when events in Tunisia and Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Israel, or their neighbors often make front-page news. To meet the needs of National Geographic Society members throughout the world, 2,161, 000 copies have been printed.* On this map members may follow the travels of Elsie May Bell Grosvenor and Gilbert Grosvenor, recounted in this month's Maga zine (page 721). Also on the main map, as well as on two large-scale insets of the East ern Mediterranean, readers may retrace with Harold Lamb the route of the Crusaders to Jerusalem (page 815). South of the narrow Mediterranean coastal strip a mighty band of deserts, nowhere less than 1,000 miles wide, marches across Africa into Saudi Arabia and Iran. This tremendous bar to communications kept much of Africa out of the main stream of history until the last century. Its spectacular waves of sand, so familiar to the movie goer, are actually rather limited in area; most of the Sahara's surface is loose gravel or wind-swept rock. At about the 15th parallel, desert changes into thorny scrub vegetation and grassy sa vanna, which in turn give way to equatorial rain forest along the map's southern margin. The Great Rift Valley, where Africa split asunder eons ago, stretches 4,000 miles from Mozambique to Syria. This remarkable geo logical phenomenon is outlined in a third inset. The map also reflects political changes. Libya became a fully independent nation on December 24, 1951, and the former Italian colony of Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia in 1952. In 1953 Egypt and Britain agreed to end their joint rule over the Sudan and let the Sudanese settle their own political destiny by plebiscite. Britain closed a chapter of history last July by agreeing to withdraw military forces from the Suez Canal, shown in a fourth inset. A century and a half ago, Barbary pirates made the Mediterranean and the north African coast a place of dread, preying on shipping and wresting tribute from many countries, including the young United States. Today, by contrast, this area plays an im portant role in American defense. U. S. Warships and Planes Here North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in the Mediterranean include the United States Navy's Sixth Fleet. Mediterranean members of NATO form the treaty organiza tion's strong right flank, with Turkey as its eastern bulwark. The United States Air Force has bases in French Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, and plans others in Spain. Sharp-eyed readers may note on the Gulf of Guinea a name infrequently seen on maps. It is the Forte de Sao Joao Baptista de Ajudi, a tiny Portuguese enclave within the city of Ouidah in the French colony of Dahomey. Portugal stoutly maintains sovereign rights over this 336-year-old fort. * Members may obtain additional copies of the map of Northern Africa (and of all standard maps pub lished by The Society) by writing to the National Geographic Society, Washington 6, D. C. Prices in the United States and elsewhere, 50¢ each on paper; $1 on fabric; Index, 25. All remittances payable in U. S. funds. Postpaid.