Maps show the oldest company in (nearly) every country – and a few interesting corporate trends.
- A Japanese company has been building Buddhist temples for almost a millennium and a half.
- It's the oldest continuously operating company in the world, but quite atypical.
- If you want to build a business that lasts, banks, breweries, and postal services are a good bet – but there are intriguing exceptions.
Longest surviving companies<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MTkzMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MzQzODI4MX0.-FimiGSWckNVM1aFmNqh953V-e0qCj50KmqMZX02t_A/img.jpg?width=980" id="f9344" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="84616d96de31d93792cb5f286d420ab1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bOsaka Castle, built by Kongo Gumi, the world's oldest company." />
Osaka Castle, built by Kongo Gumi, the world's oldest company.
Image: Suicasmo, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>'The oldest profession in the world': thanks to a popular short story by Kipling (1), that label is now firmly attached to the sex trade. Yet up until the First World War, by which time it was irreparably sullied by its association with prostitution, that mantle had been claimed by other, more reputable trades as well.</p><p><span></span>No one had a better argument than tailors; for did Adam and Eve, suddenly ashamed of their nakedness after tasting the forbidden fruit, not immediately set about making garments for themselves? Others claiming 'firstness' at one time or other include farmers, gardeners, barbers, doctors, teachers, priests, and… murderers. </p><p><span></span>However, none of these vocations is referenced on these maps, which show not the oldest <em>professions</em>, but the oldest companies for almost each country in the world. It must be that gardening and/or murdering are more of a freelance kind of gig. </p><p><span></span>If we go by longest surviving company, the oldest profession in the world is that of builder. No business is older than the Japanese construction company Kongō Gumi, founded in 578 AD and still in business today. If we look at each continent separately, the oldest companies per country reveal some interesting characteristics of corporate longevity. </p>
Europe: the oldest restaurant in the world<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA4Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjE1ODY3N30.s7mcdvnVHFFP525vbmbkbRJsDSxYt66W8v2iSlhbTuQ/img.png?width=980" id="a7e3b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f23c4b11150b21fbda6d38051e086da2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe oldest company in Europe: St Peter Stifts Kulinarium in Austria." />
The oldest company in Europe: St Peter Stifts Kulinarium in Austria.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Money and alcohol are the mainstays of the oldest companies in nearly half of Europe's countries. So if you want to found a long-lasting company, get into banking. Or brewing. Other professions with staying power: communications, hospitality, manufacturing. Oh, and salt mines. Europe's oldest business – and quite possibly the world's oldest restaurant – is tucked away in an abbey in Salzburg.<br></p><ul><li>Most popular category: wineries, breweries, and distilleries: 21 countries (listed youngest to oldest). </li></ul><strong>Romania: Ursus (1878)</strong><p><strong></strong>Ursus Breweries is a conglomerate of several Romanian breweries, the oldest of which (Cluj-Napoca Brewery) goes back to 1878. Ursus is also the name of the most popular beer in Romania. The company is owned by Asahi Breweries Europe. </p><strong>Armenia: Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory (1877)</strong><p>Started producing wine in 1877 and brandy in 1887. It is most famous for Noy, Armenia's leading brand of brandy, popular throughout the former Soviet Union.</p><strong>Belarus: Olivaria (1864)</strong><p><strong></strong>Current share of the country's beer market: about 29 percent. Since 2015, Carlsberg owns two thirds of the shares, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development a further 21 percent.</p><strong>Bosnia: Sarajevska Pivara (1864)</strong><p><strong></strong>One of the main beer producers and drinks distributors of the former Yugoslavia. </p><strong>Hungary: Zwack (1790)</strong><p><strong></strong>The Zwack distillery in Budapest makes liqueurs and spirits. Its signature beverage is Unicum, a drink with 40 percent alcohol, made with a secret recipe of more than 40 different herbs and spices. It is one of Hungary's national drinks.</p><strong>Serbia: Apatin (1756)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded as an Imperial brewery by the Austrian Imperial Chamber, Apatin Brewery was privatised at the end of the 19th century, collectivised by Yugoslavia's communists, and re-privatised in 1991. The leading brewery in Serbia, it is now owned by America's Molson Coors. </p><strong>Lithuania: Gubernija (1665)</strong><p><strong></strong>The pagan Lithuanians had a beer god called <em>Ragutis</em>, and modern Lithuania still has a distinct and thriving beer industry. Gubernija, founded in 1665 and privatised in 1999, produces beer and kvass, a fermented drink made from rye bread.</p><strong>Latvia: Cēsu Alus (1590)</strong><p><strong></strong>An audit from 1590 refers to a brewery in Cēsis Castle, the earliest mention of what was to become Cēsu Alus – considered to be the oldest brewery in the Baltics and the Nordics, as well as the largest brewery in Latvia, producing 64 percent of its beer.</p><strong>Luxembourg: Mousel (1511)</strong><p><strong></strong>The Mousel company has been brewing beer continuously since 1511, originally in Luxembourg city, now in Diekirch. It is now owned by AB InBev, the world's largest brewer. </p><strong>Czech Republic: Pivovar Broumov (1348)</strong><p><strong></strong>Originally attached to the Benedictine monastery in the eastern Bohemian town of Broumov. Produces light, semi-dark and dark beers, as well as flavored ones.</p><strong>Netherlands: Brand (1340)</strong><p><strong></strong>Heineken-owned Brand's claim to be the oldest brewery in the Netherlands is contested. Historical documents confirm that beer was brewed in its home village since at least 1340, but not whether this has continued uninterruptedly in the centuries since.</p><strong>Belgium: Affligem (1074)</strong><p><strong></strong>Although Heineken now owns the brand and the beer is no longer brewed on its premises, Affligem abbey retains final control over the recipes.</p><strong>Germany: Staffelter Hof (862)</strong><p><strong></strong>Winery in the Moselle region, established by a grant from Lothair II, the king of Lotharingia. Its name derives from the abbey of Stavelot, from which it depended. In the 18th century, Staffelter Hof played a crucial part in the spread of Riesling grapes throughout the area.</p><ul><li>Banks or mints are the oldest institutions in eight European countries.</li></ul><strong>Andorra: Andbank (1930)</strong><p><strong></strong>Despite the country's own venerable age – dating back to Charlemagne – Andorra's oldest company is less than a century old.</p><strong>Cyprus: Bank of Cyprus (1899)</strong><p><strong></strong>The largest bank in Cyprus by market penetration: 83 percent of Cypriots have an account.</p><strong>Malta: HSBC Bank Malta (1882)</strong><p><strong></strong>Now a subsidiary of HSBC, the UK-based multinational bank, it traces back its origins to the late 19th century, when the Anglo-Egyptian Bank started trading on the island.</p><strong>Liechtenstein: National Bank of Liechtenstein (1861)</strong><p><strong></strong>Since Liechtenstein is in a customs and monetary union with Switzerland, the job of its National Bank is mainly one of oversight and administration.</p><strong>Scotland: Bank of Scotland (1695)</strong><p><strong></strong>Created by the Parliament of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland retains the authority to print sterling notes – legal tender, but difficult to pay with in England. In 1999, the bank's attempt to enter the retail banking market in the US in a joint venture with evangelist Pat Robertson was cancelled when the latter called Scotland "a dark land overrun by homosexuals."</p><strong>Kremnica Mint (1328)</strong><p><strong></strong>A state-owned mint that has been in continuous production since its establishment by the kingdom of Hungary. In the Middle Ages, its ducats were considered the hardest currency in Central Europe. Today, the Mint produces euro coins for Slovakia and money for a range of other countries (including recently a large order of Sri Lankan rupees). </p><strong>England: Royal Mint (886)</strong><p><strong></strong>Wholly owned by Her Majesty's Treasury, the Royal Mint produces all coinage for the United Kingdom. The company has its origins in Alfred the Great's issuing of silver pennies after his recapture of London from the Danes in 886. For the first 800 years of its existence, the Royal Mint operated out of the Tower of London. It is now based in Wales.</p><strong>France: Monnaie de Paris (864)</strong><p><strong></strong>The Paris Mint is the world's oldest continuously-running minting institution. It was established by Charles II, a.k.a. 'the Bald', king of West Francia and grandson of Charlemagne. Owned by the French government, it is currently tasked with producing the country's share of euro coins.</p><ul><li>In six European countries, the oldest company is involved in hospitality of some sort or other.</li></ul><strong>Greece: Kafeneio of Emmanouil Forlidas (1785)</strong><p><strong></strong>This traditional <em>kafenio</em> has been in the Forlidas family for seven generations, although it has served other functions than that of coffee shop. There are still hooks in the ceiling from its time as a butcher's, and it's also served as a time as a barber's.</p><strong>Turkey: Çemberlitas Hamami (1584)</strong><p><strong></strong>A Turkish bath constructed by Mimar Sinan, the chief architect of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It is located on Divan Yolu, an old Byzantine processional road that once led to Rome. In 1730, an Albanian attendant at the hammam led a rebellion that managed to replace sultan Ahmed III with Mahmud I, who reigned until 1754. The rebellion itself was short-lived, and Patrona Halil was executed later that same year. The bath house has survived fires, earthquakes, and partial demolition. Tourists now make up most of its clientele.</p><p><span></span><strong>Slovenia: Gostilna Gastuz (1467)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Formerly associated with the Zice Charterhouse, this inn survived the monastery's dissolution and is still serving guests today.</p><strong>Switzerland: Gasthof Sternen (1230)</strong><p><strong></strong>Located in Wettingen Abbey, this inn started as a 'Weiberhaus', a guest house for the visiting mothers and sisters of the monks, located outside the walls of the monastery, which was founded in 1227. The name ('Star') refers to an epithet of the Virgin Mary, 'Stella Maris' ('Star of the Sea'). It was also the name of the monastery, which was dissolved in 1841.</p><strong>Ireland: Sean's Bar (900)</strong><p><strong></strong>Lore has it that this bar was established as a trading post by an innkeeper named Luain, who gave his name to the town that sprang up around it: Athlone in Irish is <em>Baile atha Luain</em>. He built the floor at a slight angle, so the rainwater running in from the street drains into the River Shannon. The angled floor is still there, another reason for drinkers to mind their step on the way out. Sean's Bar not only claims to be the oldest drinking establishment in Ireland, but also in Europe.</p><strong>Austria: St Peter's Stiftskulinarium (803)</strong><p><strong></strong>Supposedly mentioned in Alcuin of York's <em>Carmina</em>, this restaurant within the walls of St Peter's Abbey in Salzburg has a good claim to being the oldest company in Austria, as well as the oldest restaurant in the world. Among its clientele were Christopher Columbus, Johann Faust and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.</p><ul><li>Five countries can boast longevity in manufacturing.</li></ul><strong>Bulgaria: Arsenal AD (1878)</strong><p><strong></strong>Arsenal AD started in 1878 as independent Bulgaria's first armory, then known as the Ruse Artillery Arsenal. From ammunition and artillery gun components, the company diversified into gas masks, nitroglycerin, optic sights and assault rifles. Until the Fall of Communism, the company was called 'Friedrich Engels Machinery Works', to conceal its military activities. </p><strong>Croatia: Kraljevica Shipyard (1729)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded on the orders of Austrian emperor Charles VI, it was the first shipyard on the eastern shore of the Adriatic and an engine for the industrialisation of Croatia. </p><strong>Finland: Fiskars (1649)</strong><p><strong></strong>Metalworking company named after the town west of Helsinki in which it was founded. Its original charter, granted by queen Christina of Sweden, forbade it to produce cannons. In the early 20th century, Fiskars produced over a million plows. In recent decades, it has become famous for its iconic, orange-handled scissors, of which it has sold more than one billion units. </p><strong>Sweden: Skyllbergs Bruk (1346)</strong><p><strong></strong>Established when King Magnus IV of Sweden donated some iron manufacturing workshops in Skyllberg and elsewhere to Riseberga Abbey. Expropriated during the Reformation, the works have subsequently been owned by the Fineman, De Geer, Burenstam and Svensson families. </p><strong>Marinelli Bell Foundry (1080)</strong><p><strong></strong>Taken over by the Marinelli family in the 14th century, the <em>Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli</em> is one of the world's oldest family-run businesses. It produces about 50 bells a year. Unsurprisingly, 90 percent of its orders are for the Catholic church. Bells produced by the company hang in the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the UN building in New York.</p><ul><li>Five more have a history with postal services and other telecommunications.</li></ul><p><strong>Albania: ALBtelecom (1912)</strong></p><p>Founded at Albania's independence, ALBtelecom is the country's largest fixed-line telephone operator. It is also licensed to provide mobile telephony and internet. It is majority-owned by CETEL of Turkey. The Albanian state retains a minority stake.</p><p><strong>Montenegro: Posta Crne Gore (1841)</strong></p><p>Montenegro has been independent since 2006, but its national postal service is much older. </p><p><strong>Iceland: Íslandspóstur (1776)</strong></p><p>Established by Christian VII of Denmark, which then also ruled over Iceland. Today, <em>Íslandspóstur</em> is one of the country's largest companies, with 1,200 employees. </p><p><strong>Norway: Posten Norge (1647)</strong></p><p>Founded as a private company called <em>Postvesenet</em>, it later received the blessing of Christian IV, king of Denmark (and also Norway at that time). The state took over in 1719. In 1996, it was renamed Posten Norge.</p><p><strong>Portugal: CTT-Correios de Portugal (1511)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Portugal's king Manuel I created the <em>Correio Público</em>, which in 1911 became Correios, Telégraphos e Telefones (CTT), making the current name – CTT-Correios de Portugal – somewhat redundant.</p><ul><li>Three oldest companies come from the food industry.</li></ul><strong>Kosovo: Meridian Corporation (1999)</strong><p><strong></strong>Kosovo's Meridian Corporation is one of the young country's main food and beverage distributors – address: Bill Clinton Boulevard, Pristina. </p><strong>Spain: Casa de Ganaderos (1218)</strong><p><strong></strong>Based on a privilege granted by James I of Aragon, nicknamed 'the Conqueror', the Casa de Ganaderos de Zaragoza ('House of the Cattlemen of Zaragoza') defends the rights of Aragonese livestock owners. </p><strong>Denmark: Munke Mølle (1135)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded as a water mill on the Odense River, 'Monk's Mill' is still thriving today as a producer of bread and cake mixes. In its long history, it has been the purveyor to the court of no less than 38 kings and two queens of Denmark. These days, the company is owned by Lantmännen, a Swedish agricultural cooperative.</p> <ul><li>And finally… two salt mines and a pharmacy.</li></ul><strong>Estonia: Raeapteek (1422)</strong><p><strong></strong>In previous centuries, the pharmacy's range of healing products included mummy juice, bat power, and swallow's nests. It also sold cognac and gunpowder and was the first in Estonia to sell tobacco. The business was run by the Burchard family for most of its history. From 1582, each generation's first-born son was called Johann and was expected to continue the business. The last of the line, Johann the Tenth, died in 1890. </p><strong>Ukraine: Drohobych Salt Plant (1250)</strong><p><strong></strong>Drohobych, near Lviv, once was one of the richest and most important cities of the Carpathian region, thanks to the local factories manufacturing salt, supplying customers as far away as Italy.</p><strong>Poland: Bochnia Salt Mine (1248)</strong><p><strong></strong>Although it ceased mining salt in 1990, the company continues as a tourist attraction. Its various chambers form an underground town, with a functioning chapel and sanatorium. The Wazyn Chamber is large enough to accommodate sports fields, a restaurant, a dormitory and conference facilities. </p>
Africa: a young continent<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTA0Mzg4OH0.9GonQDVy5gzHbXKVQCmA1pz5EIvOnS16VW5tG-J-3rw/img.png?width=980" id="3c087" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fb2e9011719cf8857021722d6dc41c22" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMauritius Post is the oldest company in Africa." />
Mauritius Post is the oldest company in Africa.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Africa's oldest companies are all relatively young. Many were established by former colonisers, and the preponderance of postal services, railways and banks reflect their attempts to replicate the infrastructure of modern European statehood in Africa. </p><p>Banks are, in fact, the continent's most widespread 'oldest' institutions: in 17 countries across Africa. The oldest one is Standard Chartered Zimbabwe, with roots going back to 1892. The most recent one is Ivory Bank in South Sudan, Africa's youngest nation. </p><p>In nine countries across Africa, the postal service is the country's oldest institution. Mauritius Post (1772) is in fact the oldest company in all of Africa. The youngest postal service that is its country's oldest institution is <em>Correios da Guiné-Bissau </em>(1973).</p><p>Railways are the oldest companies in six African countries. The oldest company is the <em>Société nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo</em> (1889) in the DR Congo, the youngest Swazi Rail (1963) in eSwatini. </p><p>Unlike Europe, there are only a handful of breweries as their country's oldest company. Three, in fact: in Tanzania (1933), Eritrea (1939), and Burundi (1955). </p><p>Fairly recent 'oldest' companies are airlines and broadcasters (four each): from Air Madagascar (1962), to Guinea Equatorial Airlines (1996), and Radio Mogadishu (1943) to the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (1964). </p><p><span></span>Relatively few 'oldest' companies are involved in agriculture or mining, two mainstays of Africa's economy:</p><ul><li>The Cameroon Development Corporation (1947) grows, processes and markets tropical export crops (including rubber and palm oil).</li><li>Established in 1962 by Harvey Aluminium Company, Halco Mining has a 70-year lease on bauxite mining in a 10,000 km2 area of northwestern Guinea that runs out in 2038.</li><li>The Botswana Meat Commission (1965) was set up by newly-independent Botswana to oversee beef production and export.</li><li>Cotontchad (1971) has the state monopoly on the purchasing and export of cotton, which represents 40 percent of the country's exports. </li></ul><p>Three atypical companies complete the African picture:</p><ul><li>Premier FCMG is a South African food manufacturer whose history goes back to 1820, and which produces well-known brands such as Blue Ribbon and Snowflake.</li><li>Hamoud Boualem (1878) is a manufacturer of soft drinks popular in Algeria and with the Algerian diaspora.</li><li>The <em>Communauté Électrique du Bénin</em> (1968) is actually co-owned by the governments of Benin and Togo. It manages the Nangbeto dam in Togo and the import of electricity from Ghana into both countries. <span></span></li></ul>
North America: rum, currency, and the lash<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjE5ODcyMH0.rZvkQ3DmZoD-iHZRwCFATtiOmKmXeAifmTYDHEghfWQ/img.png?width=980" id="033e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98cb742396725fa29275b1263d398355" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bLa Casa de Moneda de Mexico is the oldest company in North America." />
La Casa de Moneda de Mexico is the oldest company in North America.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Alcohol and money are pretty popular in North America, too. Plantations pop up as a particularly American institution. And Mexico's mint fathered a few surprising currencies. </p><ul><li>Breweries and distilleries are the oldest companies in five countries across Central America and the Caribbean.</li></ul><strong>Costa Rica: Florida Ice and Farm Company (1908)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by two Jamaican brothers, the company has a catalogue of over 2000 mainly food products, but is best known for its beers, with well-known brands such as Imperial and Bavaria. </p><strong>Nicaragua: Flor de Caña (1890)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by an Italian immigrant who moved to Nicaragua in 1875, the company is still led by one of his descendants. Due to the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1980s, large quantities of the rum were stored – as a result, in the 1990s Flor de Caña had the largest reserve of aged rum in the world. </p><strong>Haiti : Rhum Barbancourt (1862)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by Dupré Barbancourt, a French immigrant from the Cognac region, the company is still family-run and its rum is one of Haiti's most famous exports. </p><strong>Trinidad & Tobago: House of Angostura (1830)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded in Venezuela by the German surgeon-general of Simon Bolivar's army, the company now produces rums and bitters that are some of T&T's most famous exports. </p><strong>Barbados: Mount Gay Rum (1703)</strong><p><strong></strong>The oldest commercial rum distillery in the world, now owned by Cointreau. Named after the manager of the company owned by John Sober (!)</p><ul><li>Five countries across North America have financial as their oldest companies.</li></ul><strong>1st National Bank of St Lucia (1938)</strong><p><strong></strong>Originally established as the St Lucia Cooperative Bank.</p><strong>Panama: National Bank of Panama (1904)<br></strong>Panama uses the U.S. dollar, so it doesn't have a central bank in the traditional sense. The National Bank of Panama is charged with non-monetary aspects of central banking.<br><br><p><strong>Belize: Belize Bank (1902)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Founded in 1902 by investors from Mobile, Alabama as the Bank of British Honduras, Belize Bank is one of the largest banks in the country today. </p><strong>El Salvador: HSBC El Salvador (1891)</strong><p>Established in 1891 as <em>Banco Salvadoreño</em>, it was nationalised in 1980, privatised in 1993 and acquired by HSBC in 2006. After HSBC sold its Salvadoran operations to Colombian bank Davivienda, the bank is now called Banco Davivienda El Salvador. </p><strong>Mexico: La Casa de Moneda (1534)</strong><p><strong></strong>Mexico's mint was established by a decree from the Spanish Crown and is the oldest in the Americas. Its silver peso became the basis for several modern currencies, including the US dollar, the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.</p><ul><li>In four countries, the oldest company has to do with living off the land – at least originally. </li></ul><strong>Guatemala: Corporacion Multi Inversiones (1920)</strong><p><strong></strong>A family farming business that grew into a multinational agro-industrial corporation.</p><strong>Jamaica: Rose Hall (1770)</strong><p><strong></strong>A former plantation, now a museum highlighting the estate's slave history, as well as the legend of the White Witch. In 1977, it was acquired by Michele Rollins, Miss District of Columbia 1963 and first runner-up for Miss USA 1963.</p><p><strong>Canada: Hudson's Bay Company (1670</strong><span style="background-color: initial;"><strong>)</strong></span></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;"></span>Starting out as a fur trading business (and for about two centuries the de facto government of large parts of British North America), Hudson's Bay Company now runs retail stores in Canada and the US, including Saks Fifth Avenue.</p><strong>United States: Shirley Plantation (1638)</strong><p><strong></strong>The oldest surviving company in the United States started out as a slave-holding tobacco plantation. The family that ran the Shirley Plantation produced Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, and still owns and lives on the premises. </p><p>The island nation of Dominica's national newspaper, The Chronicle (est. 1909) is also its oldest company. And finally for North America, two countries have transport companies as their oldest firms: Honduras (National Railroad of Honduras, 1870) and Cuba (<em>Cubana de Aviacion</em>, 1929). <span></span><br></p>
South America: weapons factory to coffee shop<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzUwODkxMX0.s9JfjKAsUKqi3PIcFIiclCMI8hM0GO-QTpL7vwwfcbA/img.png?width=980" id="3a0c6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a193a167a048a7abb85e76b8339f55ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bPeru's Casa Nacional de Moneda is the oldest company in South America." />
Peru's Casa Nacional de Moneda is the oldest company in South America.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Five South American countries have banks and mints as oldest companies. The oldest, the <em>Casa Nacional de Moneda </em>of Peru, was founded in Lima just 30 years after the city's own founding by the conquistador Pizarro. </p><p><span></span>Guyana's oldest company started as rum business, which expanded into a chain of liquor stores and then added a cocoa and chocolate factory and shipping agency. It got its name from the Demerara Ice House it acquired in 1896, which contained bars, a hotel and a soft drink plant. </p><p>Venezuela's oldest company is a cocoa plantation, Chile's an arms manufacturer (FAMAE stands for <em>Fabricas y Maestranzas del Ejercito,</em> or Factories and Workshops of the Army). </p><p>You can go get a coffee at Uruguay's oldest company: the Café Brasilero, frequented by writers and intellectuals. It even has a coffee named after Eduardo Galeano, best remembered for <em><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/187149.Open_Veins_of_Latin_America" target="_blank">Open Veins of Latin America</a></em> (1971). <br></p>
Oceania: ex-con becomes postmaster<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzI2MzEzNn0.iDvDfKF5PIOuVU8WZNfP08fXAfW4dzK_eTc4nSgEEug/img.png?width=980" id="f9c91" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b6bb6899dc506500849705174607a7b7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bAustralia Post is the oldest company in Oceania." />
Australia Post is the oldest company in Oceania.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Scant information about companies in Oceania – so until further notice, Australia Post may claim the continental title of oldest company. <br></p><p><strong>Vanuatu: European Trust Company (1991)</strong></p><p>The island nation's oldest and highest capitalised trust company, providing incorporation and management services, as well as post-incorporation financial services.</p><p><strong>New Zealand: Bank of New Zealand (1861)</strong></p><p>Its first office opened in Auckland in October 1861, its second the following December in Dunedin. A bit more than a century and a half later, it is one of the four major banks of New Zealand (although in 1992 it was purchased by the National Bank of Australia).</p><p><strong>Australia: Australia Post (1809)</strong></p><p>Regular postal services in Australia started with the appointment in 1809 of Isaac Nichols, an ex-convict, as Postmaster of New South Wales. His main job was to take charge incoming mail. To avoid chaos on board ships arriving at Sydney, he took letters and parcels to his home in George Street and produce a list of recipients which he would post outside his house and advertise in the Sydney Gazette. <br></p>
Asia: home of the conglomerate<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzkyNDQzMX0.WP_ouPKkrWoP9BlvQ6LzLTgHhdzfTejdjgekeSKJVto/img.png?width=980" id="9e2c2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b0c4924f6c3d4db9564ef34e043ef330" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The oldest company in Asia is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction firm. It is also the oldest company in the word." />
The oldest company in Asia is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction firm. It is also the oldest company in the word.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p><br></p><p>A scattered field across Asia – no wonder, it is the world's largest, most populous and (arguably) most varied continent. There does seem to be a typically Asian speciality, when it comes to corporate longevity: the conglomerate – especially popular in Arabia and the Indian subcontinent.<br></p><ul><li>In nine Asian countries, the oldest company is a conglomerate, active across various economic sectors. </li></ul><p><strong>Bhutan: Tashi Group (1959)</strong></p><p>Tashi is actually a conglomerate whose subsidiaries include Tashi Air, T-Bank, Druk School, a chemical plant and a softdrinks bottling plant. </p><p><strong>Qatar: Salam International Investment Limited (1952)</strong></p><p>Headquartered in Doha, this publicly listed company is involved in construction and development, technology and communications, luxury and consumer products, investment and real estate, and energy production. </p><p><strong>Kuwait: M.H. Alshaya (1890)</strong></p><p>Founded as a shipping company between Kuwait and British India, the group today is a multinational franchise operator of around 90 brands (e.g. Topshop in Turkey, H&M in the Middle East, the Cheesecake Factory in the UAE), with additional interests in real estate, construction, hotels, automotive and trading. </p><p><strong>Thailand: B. Grimm (1878)</strong></p><p>Founded as a chemist by a German-Austrian duo, B. Grimm now is a conglomerate with interests in healthcare, construction, real estate, e-commerce and transport, among other sectors. Power generation currently accounts for 80 percent of the revenue of the group, which operates more than 20 power plants in Thailand, four in Laos and one in Vietnam. </p><p><strong>Saudi Arabia: House of Alireza (1845)</strong></p><p>Founded in 1845 as a food importer from India, the House of Alireza specialised as shipping agents and diversified to include real estate, jewelery, construction, travel agency, fuel manufacture, and engineering.</p><p><strong>Pakistan: House of Habib (1841)</strong></p><p>A conglomerate that is involved in banking, schools, the automotive and building industries, and more. </p><p><strong>Sri Lanka: George Steuart Group (1835)</strong></p><p>Originally involved in coffee and tea brokerage, the Group has now diversified into travel, leisure, health, telecoms, shipping, insurance, education, and recruitment.</p><p><strong>Bangladesh: M.M. Ispahani (1820)</strong></p><p>Owners of Bangladesh's largest tea company, the group also owns other major food brands, and has interests in shipping, real estate, textiles, and hotels. </p><p><strong>India: Wadia Group (1736)</strong></p><p>Starting as shipbuilders for the British East India Company, the business has diversified into a conglomerate now including fashion magazines, airlines, engineering, and even a cricket team.</p><p>Banks are the oldest companies in Cambodia (1954), Nepal (1937), Jordan (1930), Georgia (1903), Taiwan (1897) and Lebanon (1830).</p><ul><li>Four oldest companies are involved with communication, three with transportation:</li></ul><p><strong>Yemenia Airways (1962)</strong></p><p><strong>Myanmar National Airlines (1948)</strong></p><p><strong>Mongolian National Broadcaster (1931)</strong></p><p><strong>KT Corporation, formerly Korea Telecom (1885)</strong></p><p><strong>Vietnam Railways (1881)</strong></p><p><strong>Singapore Post (1819)</strong></p><p><strong>Pos Malaysia (1800)</strong></p><ul><li>Two eateries are the oldest company in their countries, on either side of the continent (plus one coffee shop to stay with the f&b theme): </li></ul><p><strong>Israel: Café Abu Salem (1914)</strong></p><p>Located in a 250-year-old building in the old market of Nazareth, Café Abu Salem has been continuously operating since 1914. It is currently run by the third generation of the Abu Salem family.</p><p><strong>Syria: Bakdash (1885)</strong></p><p>A landmark ice cream parlour in the souq of Damascus, famous for a frozen dairy dessert called booza. </p><p><strong>China: Ma Yu Ching's Bucket Chicken House (1153)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>A historic restaurant in Kaifeng, said to be established during the Jin dynasty. <br></p><p>Just one alcohol-producing company: <em>Destileria Limtuaco</em> (1853) in the Philippines, established by Lim Tua Co, a Chinese immigrant, who started distilling Vino de Chino, a bittersweet medicinal wine according to an old family recipe. </p><ul><li>Unsurprisingly, oil and coal extraction are a major sector across the world's largest continent. Some of the oldest companies are significantly older than the countries they operate in. </li></ul><strong>UAE: Liwa Chemicals (1939)</strong><p><strong></strong>Specialised in equipment and services to do with oil, gas and petrochemical sectors. </p><strong>Oman: Petroleum Development Oman (1937)</strong><p><strong></strong>The leading exploration and production company in the Sultanate of Oman, it delivers the majority of the country's crude oil production and natural gas supply.</p><strong>Iraq: North Oil Company (1928)</strong><p>Headquartered in Kirkuk (northern Iraq), its boundaries extend from the country's northern borders to 32.5 °N, just south of Baghdad. It is one of the 16 companies that comprise the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. </p><strong>Kazakhstan: Bogatyr Coal (1913)</strong><p><strong></strong>The largest coal mining company in Kazakhstan, producing 42 million tonnes of coal in 2018, about 40 percent of the country's total for that year. Originally founded with capital from British and American investors (including Herbert Hoover), the mine was nationalised by the Soviets in 1918 and re-privatised by the Kazakhs in the 1990s. It operates the Bogatyr Mine, whose output of 56.8 million tonnes of coal in 1985 got it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest coal mine. The company's reserves could keep it in business for another 100 years. </p><ul><li>Manufacturing is key to the oldest companies of three countries:</li></ul><strong>Uzbekistan: Tashkent Aviation Production Association (1932)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by the Soviets and moved from Russia to Uzbekistan in 1941 to stay clear of the invading Nazis, the aircraft manufacturer is currently known as the Tashkent Mechanical Plant. </p><strong>Indonesia: Pindad (1808)</strong><p><strong></strong>Manufacturer of guns, rifles and armored vehicles. Founded by the governor-general of the then Dutch East Indies.</p><strong>Russia: Petrodvorets Watch Factory (1721)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by Peter the Great as a workshop for luxury objects in carved stone, in Soviet times it produced the Lenin Mausoleum and the Kremlin stars. The factory has been producing watches since 1945 – including the first watch to have been in space. </p>The rest? A mixed bag. The oldest company of Laos produces electricity, in Brunei it's a department store, in Afghanistan a cotton company and in Bahrain a specialist in food logistics and retail. The oldest company of Azerbaijan, though landlocked, is the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company (a.k.a. Caspar), which sails the world's largest inland lake.<br><br> <p>Last, and oldest: Japan's Kongo Gumi. The Japanese construction firm traces its origins to 578 AD, when one of the skilled workers Prince Shōtoku invited from Korea to build a Buddhist temple decided to start his own business. Kongo Gumi helped build Osaka Castle and many other famous buildings. A 17th-century scroll tracing the company's origins reaches back 40 generations, and is three metres long. The company went into liquidation in 2006, but was purchased by Takamatsu Construction – so it continues, still specialised in building Buddhist temples.</p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em>Maps found <a href="https://businessfinancing.co.uk/the-oldest-company-in-almost-every-country/" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">here</a> </em><em>at </em><a href="https://businessfinancing.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Business Financing</a><em>. Many thanks to Stefan Jacobs and all others who suggested this map.</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1042</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" rel="dofollow">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p><p>(1) "Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world. Lilith was her very-great-grandmamma, and that was before the days of Eve as everyone knows. In the West, people say rude things about Lalun's profession, and write lectures about it, and distribute the lectures to young persons in order that Morality may be preserved. In the East where the profession is hereditary, descending from mother to daughter, nobody writes lectures or takes any notice; and that is a distinct proof of the inability of the East to manage its own affairs." (Rudyard Kipling: <em><a href="https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_City_Wall" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">On the City Wall</a></em>, 1889)<br><br></p>
Why do so many people encounter beings after smoking large doses of DMT?
- DMT is arguably the most powerful psychedelic drug on the planet, capable of producing intense hallucinations.
- Researchers recently surveyed more than 2,000 DMT users about their encounters with 'entities' while tripping, finding that respondents often considered these strange encounters to be positive and meaningful.
- The majority of respondents believed the beings they encountered were not hallucinations.
What are DMT beings?<p>Do DMT entities actually exist in some other dimension, or are they hallucinations that the brain generates when its visual processing system is overwhelmed by a powerful tryptamine?<br></p><p>The late American ethnobotanist Terence McKenna believed that DMT beings — which he called "machine elves" — were real. Here's how he once <a href="https://www.ranker.com/list/dmt-machine-elves-facts/inigo-gonzalez" target="_blank">described</a> one of his DMT experiences:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I sank to the floor. I [experienced] this hallucination of tumbling forward into these fractal geometric spaces made of light and then I found myself in the equivalent of the Pope's private chapel and there were insect elf machines proffering strange little tablets with strange writing on them, and I was aghast, completely appalled, because [in] a matter of seconds... my entire expectation of the nature of the world was just being shredded in front of me. I've never actually gotten over it.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">These self-transforming machine elf creatures were speaking in a colored language which condensed into rotating machines that were like Fabergé eggs but crafted out of luminescent superconducting ceramics and liquid crystal gels. All this stuff was just so weird and so alien and so un-English-able that it was a complete shock — I mean, the literal turning inside out of [my] intellectual universe!"</p><p>McKenna believed machine elves exist in alternate realities, which form a "<a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/old-favourites-the-archaic-revival-1991-by-terence-mckenna-1.3924887" target="_blank">raging universe of active intelligence that is transhuman, hyperdimensional, and extremely alien.</a>" But he was far from the first to believe that DMT is a doorway to other realms.</p><p>Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin have used ayahuasca in religious ceremonies for centuries, though no one is quite sure when they first started experimenting with the psychedelic brew. The Jibaro people of the Ecuadorian rainforest believed ayahuasca allowed regular people, not just shamans, to <a href="https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10214/17902/RichardsonG_202004_HonThesis.pdf?sequence=3" target="_blank">speak directly to the gods</a>. The 19th-century Ecuadorian geographer Villavicencio wrote of other Amazonian shamans who used ahaysuca (known as the "vine of the dead") to contact spirits and foresee enemy battle plans.</p><p>In the West, research on DMT experiences has been sparse yet interesting. The psychiatrist Rick Strassman conducted some of the first human DMT trials at the University of New Mexico in the early 1990s. He found that <a href="https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dmt/dmt_article3.shtml" target="_blank">"at least half"</a> of his research subjects had encountered some form of entity after taking DMT.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I was neither intellectually nor emotionally prepared for the frequency with which contact with beings occurred in our studies, nor the often utterly bizarre nature of these experiences," Strassman wrote in his book "DMT The Spirit Molecule".</p>
Manuel Medir / Getty<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Whenever I tried to pull any information out of the entities regarding themselves, the data that was given up was always relevant only to me. The elves could not give me any piece of data I did not already know, nor could their existence be sustained under any kind of prolonged scrutiny."</p><p>It's also worth noting that not all people who smoke DMT see beings, and that some see beings that look <a href="https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dmt/dmt_article3.shtml" target="_blank">nothing like elves or aliens</a>. The diversity of these reports seems to count against the argument that DMT beings exist in some objective alternate reality.</p><p>In other words, if DMT beings exist in some other dimension, shouldn't they appear the same to anyone who visits that dimension? Or do the beings assume a different appearance based on who's looking? Or are there many types of beings in the DMT universe, but most look like elves? </p><p>You might start seeing elves just trying to sort this stuff out.</p><p>Ultimately, nobody knows exactly why DMT beings take the forms they do, or whether they're just figments of overstimulated imaginations. And the answers might be beside the point. </p><p>In the recent survey, 60 percent of participants said their encounter with DMT beings "produced a desirable alteration in their conception of reality whereas only 1% indicated an undesirable alteration in their conception of reality."</p><p>DMT beings may be nothing more than projections of the subconscious mind. But these bizarre encounters do help some people find real meaning, whether it's through personal revelation or the raw power of ontological shock.</p>
A review of Latin America's growing crisis.
- Millions of Venezuelan refugees are taxing their destination countries' infrastructures.
- About 4 million Venezuelans have already fled from their home country.
- Countries such as Peru and Ecuador are trying to stem the flow, while Colombia welcomes more in.
Venezuela’s refugee crisis<p>No country has been left unaffected by the impact of Venezuela's downfall. Colombia, which shares the longest border with Venezuela, at the moment hosts 1.3 million refugees. This is followed by roughly another 800,000 in Peru, 300,000 in Chile, and 260,000 in Ecuador. A number of Caribbean states have a high number of refugees relative to their total population, as well. </p><p>Colombia expects to take in up to 3 million refugees by 2021. Ambassador Francisco Santos recently told reporters, "To be very sincere, if it goes to 3 million, we don't have the money."</p><p>Only a fraction of international assistance has been devoted to the Venezuelan refugee crisis. Indeed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) need an additional $738 million to assist migrant-receptive countries in both Latin America and the Caribbean region.</p><p>The joint UNHCR-IOM special representative for Venezuelan migrants, Eduardo Stein, <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/press/2019/6/5cfa2a4a4/refugees-migrants-venezuela-top-4-million-unhcr-iom.html" target="_blank">recently stated</a>, "We are looking at a complex set of needs for the next two years, even if there is a political solution today." </p><p>The UN has repeatedly put out calls <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-brazil-refugees/u-n-pleads-for-more-help-to-relieve-venezuelan-refugee-crisis-idUSKCN1V80M8" target="_blank">for more funding</a>: "Latin American and Caribbean countries are doing their part to respond to this unprecedented crisis, but they cannot be expected to continue doing it without international help," Stein declared.</p>
Displacement of Venezuelans in Colombia<p>Millions are roving and crossing borders as the days go by. Some estimate that the exodus could, in all, exceed 8 million people. A number of bordering countries have already begun to tighten their entry requirements and put up further barriers. Ecuador, for instance, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-venezuela/ecuador-to-tighten-controls-on-venezuelan-immigrants-after-murder-idUSKCN1PE0X8" target="_blank">upped its requirements</a> — Venezuelans now need to present a passport and a clear criminal record in order to get into the country. So far, both Brazil and Colombia have kept their open border policy.</p><p>A majority of the migrants have stayed in the region. Yet, as the crisis continues, these once open destination countries are becoming less welcoming. Dealing with their own problems of slow economic growth, scare jobs, and overtaxed health and education infrastructures, many of these countries can't support the influx of migrant entrants.</p><p>Recent waves of refugees are poorer than those that had come before. Lack of jobs and unstable environments, historically, lead to exploitation and the rise of crime. Colombia with its 1,400-mile border with Venezuela, is now dealing with disorder on one end of their country and a build up of refugees on its southern border, as Peru and Ecuador increasingly turn more Venezuelans away. </p><p>Brazil has been systematically relocating migrants to the border state of Roraima, where Venezuelans sometimes have been able to work informal jobs and ease labor shortages. The region's capital city, Boa Vista, with a population of 400,000, now has more than 50,000 displaced Venezuelans.</p>
Venezuelan migrants gather at the Colombian Border
Photo credit: Juan David Moreno Gallego / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images<p>As a result of the roiling in the region, there has been a surge of homelessness in many of the towns on the border. "We lost control of the city," says Teresa Surita, the mayor of Boa Vista.</p><p>Colombia's government officials estimate that 0.5 percent of their GDP goes to providing health care, schooling, and other infrastructural services to Venezuelans. Ecuadoran leaders, who <a href="https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/03/11/ecuador-pr1972-imf-executive-board-approves-eff-for-ecuador" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently went to the IMF</a> for increased financial assistance, estimate that their nation spends about $170 million a year — or .16 percent of its GDP — on health and education for Venezuelan migrants with an exceptional humanitarian visa. </p><p>There has also been an increase of negative public sentiment regarding the refugees. Amparo Goyes, a resident of Quito, Ecuador's capital <a href="https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2019/09/12/millions-of-refugees-from-venezuela-are-straining-neighbours-hospitality" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">states</a>, "People used to feel sorry for [Venezuelans], but now there's fear of crime."</p><p>Politicians and citizens are calling for tighter controls on migrants and restrictions on immigration.</p><p>Even so, amidst the changing attitudes and growing crisis, Colombia has been issuing permits that'll allow 700,000 Venezuelans the right to work and receive public services for a minimum of two years. Politicians in Colombia have even signed a pact that they won't stir anti-Venezuelan campaigns in the coming elections.</p><p>The crisis is Latin America seems to have only begun. Those most touched by the events occurring are urging the global community to assist them in coping with this crisis.</p>
"Brasilia, the biggest paper town ever."
- Why does Brasilia, built in the 1950s, pop up on a 1920s map of South America?
- We put the question out there, and the answers — some more credible than others — came flooding back.
- Thank you, internet hive mind: you've solved a cartographic mystery!
Cartographic mystery<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyMDkxNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODY1NDY2Nn0.9vzclh1WKNs0CSoV_-eqsf0Gii1MEwuUlz6wvv796YE/img.png?width=980" id="e5291" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b698859ecdf6c1e2ad1a5c60569ca3b3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="1920s map of South America, showing Brasilia, which was built only in the 1950s." />
1920s map of South America, showing Brasilia, which was built only in the 1950s.
Image source: Rob Cornelissen<p>Last week, we <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/brasilia-mystery-map" target="_blank">reported</a> on a cartographic mystery that had us baffled: a map of South America, dateable to the 1920s, showing Brasilia — even though work on Brazil's planned capital only started in 1956. Short of plausible answers, we asked you. And fortunately, you're cleverer than us. </p>The answers fall into two categories:<ul><li>The map dates from the 1950s (or thereafter), which explains why Brasilia is on the map. But there are good reasons why the map <em>appears</em> much older.</li><li>The map <em>does</em> date from the 1920s (or thereabouts), but there are good reasons for Brasilia to already be on the map. </li></ul>
Outdated borders<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyMDkxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTM0MTM2Mn0.C_NWMurVvZ-qSmh8JeZqzjyh806ELHhdR3UWidy-jfE/img.jpg?width=980" id="beb11" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7d609238fa4ef8303dfd86d5642bad57" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Neuer Sammel-Atlas, published by the Berliner Morgenpost in 1957, showing Germany's pre-1938 borders." />
Neuer Sammel-Atlas, published by the Berliner Morgenpost in 1957, showing Germany's pre-1938 borders.
Image source: Norbert Adam<p>Let's explore option one first. For starters, the inclusion of Weimar Germany (as a size comparison) in itself is not enough to conclusively link the map to the 1920s. West Germany didn't formally accept the <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/166-neisse-border-if-you-can-get-one" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Oder-Neisse border</a> (i.e. the eastern border of East Germany with Poland) until 1990, so many West German maps continued to show the 1919–37 border well into the 1980s.</p><p>So, if we imagine that the map is post 1956, that would explain why Brasilia is on it. But why the outdated borders throughout South America? </p><p>Theory one: the map is meant as a contemporary map, hence the inclusion of Brasilia, but it uses a much older base map, hence the older borders. Reasons? The publisher was lazy or dishonest; newer material was not available or too expensive. Here is a well-crafted story that merits inclusion in its entirety:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The map was produced after 1960, as a partial update or re-release of an atlas from the 1920s. Perhaps the 'nostalgia' of an older map was a feature, for instance for a coffee-table book. When the intern tasked with preparing the map did a quick skim for major changes or errors, they simply checked for the presence of all the capital cities. Seeing that Brazil's capital was missing, they added it to the map, and sent it off for printing."<br></p>
Suspicious curves<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyMDkyMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDk0MDkwOX0.j_Vk-0BsCiGru9U3EdiMba87c0xp17MaiZIPQ3jgLq8/img.jpg?width=980" id="2e261" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9590a3b19c2f7bf847a1ef62c22328aa" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Excerpt of South America map showing Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro" />
Is there something 'off' about the curvature and typeface of 'Brasilia'?
Image source: Rob Cornelissen<p>I can smell the ink and hear the roar of the presses, can't you? Some convincing-sounding clues for this theory:</p><ul><li>Rio is written in the heavy sans-serif typeface as the other capital cities, suggesting it is indeed still the capital of Brazil.</li><li>The curvature of "Brasilia" is suspicious: it looks like it was added later.</li><li>Compared to other names on the map, the typeface of both "Brasilia" and "Bundesdistr" is a bit off. </li></ul><p>Theory two: the map was an experiment, for scholarly or artistic reasons, to recreate a map of South America as it was in the 1920s — but the mapmakers forgot to erase Brasilia. Thus unwittingly leaving a temporal anomaly on the map for us to wonder over. </p>
Beach Capital<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyMDkyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDA2Nzk4MX0.mU21ZTNlcG30pu7yQIPcVL2xyKrIm_fIE3ncL-zdKlI/img.jpg?width=980" id="69d68" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f1a1f83121e9d0d95f18630cfe848a29" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A view of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s, when Rio de Janeiro was still Brazil's capital." />
A view of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s, when Rio de Janeiro was still Brazil's capital.
Image source: Werner Haberkorn / public domain<p>However, the majority of opinion — and the weight of historical evidence — points to the second option: the map does date from the 1920s, and there are good reasons for Brasilia to be where it is. Even though at that time Rio was still the nation's capital, and the area now occupied by Brasilia nothing but wilderness. </p><p>Many countries throughout history have planned and constructed new capitals for themselves — from ancient Egypt (Akhetaten, 1346 BCE) to, most recently, the Pacific island nation of Palau (Ngerulmud, 2006). Brazil might be unique in the time it took the nation to build the darn thing. More than a century elapsed between the first mention of Brasilia and its inauguration as the country's new capital. Here's a thumbnail overview:</p><ul><li>In 1763, Rio de Janeiro became the capital of Brazil, then still a Portuguese colony. But already then, tentative suggestions were made to move the capital inland, as a safeguard against seaborne invasion (the British and Dutch being the most likely candidates). </li></ul>
Bosco's vision<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyNDY5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDgxNTk0Nn0.G7aQzCsx43EZuYScAu9xX6cOQeb4N-ttQq-kx-ykaU8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=103%2C118%2C37%2C110&height=700" id="11858" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="504aa75482f9f2e7c9207ead2d9ed410" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Don Bosco had a vision of a city where Brasilia is now. Here, the Don Bosco Sanctuary in Brasilia.
Image source: Claudio Ruiz; CC BY-SA 2.0<ul> <li>In 1813, Hipólito José da Costa — the '"Father of the Brazilian Press" — wrote a number of articles suggesting the capital be moved inland, "next to the river rapids that flow north, south and northeast."</li></ul><ul> <li>In the 1823, José Bonifácio, one of the "patriarchs" of Brazilian independence, first proposed "Brasilia" as the name for the planned inland city. His other suggestion was "Petropolis," after Emperor Pedro I of the newly-independent country. Bonifácio's proposal to the General Assembly came to nothing when the emperor dissolved parliament.</li></ul><ul><li>In 1883, according to legend, Don Bosco — the founder of the Salesian order and later sanctified — <a href="https://hom-ing.me/sonho-visao-de-dom-bosco/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">had a dream</a> in which he foresaw a futuristic city at a location corresponding to that of Brasilia. The legend was eagerly adopted by promotors of the inland capital project. There are references to Bosco throughout Brasilia, and a city parish bears his name. </li></ul>
Quadrilatero Cruls<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyMDk0MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzEyOTU0NX0.Cj_O2ARAnjtvANlXzgZhBpO6kTmevEjJyYoqeqtoBIA/img.png?width=980" id="3e1ed" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b2b5a468c7a27f691bf2831dfdbb23d5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Carta da via\u00e7\u00e3o ferrea do Brazil em 1913" />
The Future Federal District, as shown on a 1913 railway map of Brazil.
Image source: Library of Congress<ul> <li>In 1891, Article 3 of Brazil's first republican constitution stated that "an area of 14,400 square km in the Central Plateau of the Republic is reserved for the Union, and will be demarcated at another opportunity, in order to establish a Future Federal Capital."</li></ul><ul><li>In 1892–3, an expedition led by the Belgian-born astronomer Louis Cruls demarcated an area as prescribed by the constitution, in a perfect rectangle. The "<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Figura-8-Sobreposicao-do-Retangulo-Belcher-do-Quadrilatero-Cruls-e-dos-municipios_fig4_38976961" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quadrilátero Cruls</a>" became synonymous with the "Future Federal District" and appeared on maps under either name.</li></ul>
Foundation stone<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyMDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MjU4MTcyMn0.KrwOcnOvwf10_wQZQb2MltHzDhORCcSs7cqHLlhoDzg/img.jpg?width=980" id="8ad51" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="26d7c14eadc69270d65dd151f9c1bd3f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Pedra Fundamental de Bras\u00edlia, capital do Brasil, no morro do centen\u00e1rio em Planaltina - DF." />
The foundation stone for Brazil's future capital was inaugurated in 1922.
Image: Nevinho, CC BY-SA 3.0<ul> <li>On 18 January 1922, President Epitácio Pessoa of Brazil issued Decree 4494, setting aside an area in the east of the state of Goiás for the future federal capital of Brazil.</li></ul><ul> <li>At noon on 7 September 1922 — exactly 100 years after Brazil's independence — a foundation stone ("Pedra Fundamental") for the new capital was inaugurated at what is now known as Morro do Centenario, ("Centennial Hill") on the Serra da Independência, nine km from the town of <a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g3167136-Planaltina_Federal_District-Vacations.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Planaltina</a>. </li></ul><ul><li>The memorial obelisk is engraved as "the Foundation Stone of the Future Capital of the United States of Brazil," but doesn't mention any name for the city. After decades of planning, it was the first actual construction on the site. However, the project stalled for another 34 years. </li></ul>
Made in Brazil<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEyNDc0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjY5ODg0NH0.4TJ7dDp20KOFE1QGNaKoQ2yDRQNmHEJo2CcyxymOdj4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C259%2C0%2C51&height=700" id="bda03" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b10b0454b04a087349771bf86736737a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Brasilia today: a metropolis of four million.
Image: Agência Brasil, CC BY-SA 3.0<ul> <li>In January 1956, straight after his election as president, Juscelino Kubitschek, started with the construction of the capital. He was not only finally fulfilling Article 3 from the 1891 constitution, but also one of his campaign promises. Brasilia would be built about 30 km from the Pedra Fundamental. The remarkable speed in which it was finished is due in no small part to all the planning that had gone before.</li></ul><ul><li>On 21 April 1960, Brasilia was officially proclaimed a city, and the nation's capital. Government officials and foreign ambassadors visiting the city created its first traffic jam. At the time of its inauguration, Brasilia had around 100,000 inhabitants. Today, the agglomeration counts over 4 million inhabitants. </li></ul>It is very likely that the map dates from 1922 or shortly thereafter, when it seemed — for a short while — that the project for Brasilia would finally be taking off. A further indication of this is that the Federal District included on the map is the perfect quadrangle measured by Cruls (and still current at the time), and not the smaller, asymmetric FD as was delineated in the 1950s. <span></span><span></span><br>Including the new capital may have been a way to "future-proof" the map — but it ultimately goes to show that mapmakers should stick to the facts on the ground. As a result of their miscalculation, Brasilia on the 1920s map turned out to be, as one reader suggested, "the biggest <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/643-agloe-the-paper-town-stronger-than-fiction" target="_blank">paper town</a> ever."
Forensic cartography 101: Explain what Brasilia is doing on this map of 1920s South America.
- "Forensic cartography" is dating a map by the age of its borders.
- All evidence points to this undated map of South America to be from the 1920s.
- So why does it feature Brasilia, the new capital of Brazil, which was only built in the 1950s?
An un-German continent<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjUyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTA2NjgyOH0.MXiXiDxwiiNULrQJToMgbhI8uxU3lrw0oEViawoZrQc/img.jpg?width=980" id="4930b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c1696ab58e78cf960e5b2701b1db8308" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="An undated, early 20th-century map of South America, from the German publishers F.A. Brockhaus in Leipzig" />
Old, but just how old? For map nerds, undated maps like these, with lots of obsolete borders, are where the adventure is.
Image: Rob Cornelissen<p>Like all good adventure stories, this one starts with a map. Some time ago, Rob Cornelissen blew the dust off this one in a second-hand bookstore, and something clicked. Immediately, he knew he had to take it home. Even if the adventure the map promised was of a very different kind from the ones that happen to Indiana Jones. Instead of daredevil archaeology, think armchair cartography. In other words, the map <em>is</em> the adventure. </p><p>"It was a beautiful map of South America, by the looks of it from the first half of the 20th century. The reason it caught my eye, was because it was in German. The appearance of this highly un-German continent, covered with geographic names like <em>Feuerland </em>(Tierra del Fuego), <em>Teufels-Insel</em> (Devil's Island, off French Guiana) and <em>Allerheiligen-Bai</em> (All Saints Bay in Brazil, in Portuguese: Baía de Todos os Santos), for some reason made it very appealing to me."</p><p>Certainly adding to the appeal was the undated map's potential as an adventure in itself. Depending on the broadness of the map-reader's historical knowledge and the relative obscurity of the map itself, trying to figure out the exact date of an undated map can be a source of great frustration — and many times great satisfaction.<br></p><p>In the lower right, the map's provenance is indicated as F.A. Brockhaus, Leipzig. One of Germany's most prominent publishers, the company, founded in 1805, is <a href="https://brockhaus.de/info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">still in operation</a>. Since the map is taken from an atlas or encyclopedia rather than published on its own, it is not individually dated. The only way to figure out its year of origin is to examine the evidence on the map itself: Names of cities and countries, and the borders between them, as they have changed throughout history.</p>
How to date a map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjUzOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTQ1Mjg0OH0.Rd-gxRbVSIBSh77-IDGgRFn5EX4Sy7TkAnJBNMSkudc/img.png?width=980" id="252e9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a42e5afdaa7bc46f9b3db124962be8fc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Flow chart for forensic cartography." />
Guide to figuring out the age of an undated world map.
Image: XKCD<p>Subjecting a map to such forensic examination may never have occurred to you, but as a pastime it's popular enough to have generated this obsessive and half whimsical flow chart to help you determine the date of a world map, but also to distinguish it from breadboxes, cats and seagulls. Some more relevant determinants:</p><ul><li>Is that big city on the Bosporus called Constantinople or Istanbul?</li><li>Are there one or two Germanys on the map? One or two Yemens? One or two Vietnams? One or two Sudans?</li><li>Is Bolivia landlocked or not? (we'll get back to that one later...)</li></ul><p>While we keep waiting for the good people over at XKCD to turn this into the top-grossing board game of the Christmas season, let's return to South America. </p><p>Make yourself a cup of tea while you find your magnifying glass and settle in for a cartographic autopsy that will produce a map mystery to baffle you. If not, maybe that's because you have the answer to the question… <br></p>
Post Versailles, pre Anschluss<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMjkyODYxNH0.5M_dKmUhDF2wEy0no0WCXk8N9cDgr1YCdlOB0j2vaHE/img.png?width=980" id="328f7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="81919effd62d7597b7f8357990599258" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A map of Germany after the Treaty of Versailles (1919), but before the Anschluss of Austria (1938)." />
The second-and-a-half Reich, between WWI and WWII.
Image: Rob Cornelissen<p>We ease into the job at hand thanks to the stamp-sized map of Germany in the top right corner. Placed there for the sake of size comparison, it also quickly and clearly puts outer age boundaries on the map. It can't be older than 1919, Mr. Cornelissen argues, because "the borders shown are clearly those determined by the Versailles Treaty of 1919." </p><p>Having lost the First World War, Germany was forced to cede territory to its neighbors. "The old possessions in Poland, France and Belgium are still shown behind a dotted line, as if it is hoped the loss of the territories might be a temporary condition."</p><p>The country's post-WWI borders would essentially stay the same until March of 1938, when Germany annexed Austria (the so-called <em>Anschluss</em>) and later that same year Sudetenland (the German-speaking border regions of Czechoslovakia). Neither of those changes is shown on the map, which with some confidence may be said to date from some time between 1919 and 1938.<br></p>
The War of Thirst<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjU5NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTE0NTIwOH0.NUfQqw3v2vYgRYDxvD6PM7wHhTn8s7GkLFFptuckwco/img.png?width=980" id="304f3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0b856348330e7079f1738ceac6462b2d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Map of South America showing the borders before the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay." />
Oil was one of the motives of the war between Bolivia and Paraguay over possession of the Gran Chaco.
Image source: Rob Cornelissen<p>Dating a map within two decades on just one clue is pretty good; fortunately (for us), South America's current borders are the result of "a bucketload of minor and major border conflicts and resulting border changes, well into the 20th century," says Mr. Cornelissen. </p><p>"Take Paraguay, for instance. It is a lot smaller than it is now, indicating that the useless Chaco War (1932–35) with the Bolivians had not ended yet."</p><p>Also called <em>The War of Thirst</em> ("La Guerra de la Sed") because it was fought in the semi-arid Gran Chaco region, the Chaco War was the bloodiest conflict in South America in the 20th century, killing more than 100,000. Paraguay won, and obtained most of the disputed region in the peace settlement. The Chaco's presumed oil riches were one of the main drivers for the war. However, the first commercially viable reserves of oil in the region were discovered only in 2012. <br></p>
The Leticia Incident<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwNjc4NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDY0MDA1MX0.EssOWvQ2t0pvudITWgtmPatxobpzd7_REloahLnmhVw/img.png?width=1245&coordinates=32%2C61%2C64%2C428&height=700" id="a06a3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fff83bdb190722691c8ffa441b20834c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Map of border area between Peru, Brazil and Colombia before the Leticia Incident.
Image: Rob Cornelissen<p>"Even better, the border between Colombia and Peru is from before the conclusion of the Leticia Incident of 1932–1933."</p><p>Also called the Leticia War or the Colombia-Peru War, this nine-month, low-intensity territorial conflict claimed about 200 lives on either side, mostly from jungle diseases. Colombia sailed its navy up the Amazon to repel a Peruvian occupation of what it considered its territory. The Peruvians eventually withdrew undefeated. </p><p>Both countries reaffirmed an older treaty, which established Leticia as Colombia's southernmost city. It's not on this map, but it's right next to the Brazilian city of Tabatinga, still shown bordering only Peruvian territory on this map. <br></p>
The Saltpeter War<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjYxNC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTIxNDExM30.qH0YxkPtt1oVgAUPd-0ZQ1-nuyYyHmijbRM7PhumUDM/img.png?width=980" id="4a529" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3ce143663ce1da1f4200f44de6cb6408" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Map of South America showing the border area beteween Peru, Bolivia and Chile." />
Image source: Rob Cornelissen<p>"And even better still is the fact that on this map, the city of Tacna still belongs to Chile," Mr. Cornelissen enthuses. "The Chileans gained it from Peru in 1883 following the War of the Pacific but returned it to Peru with the Treaty of Lima in 1929 — making their country slightly less elongated."</p><p>Also known as the Saltpeter War, the War of the Pacific (1879–84) saw Chile defeat a Bolivian-Peruvian alliance and annex mineral-rich coastal territories from both countries, in the process land-locking Bolivia. The 1929 treaty gave Tacna back to Peru, while Chile got to keep Arica.</p><p>Despite concessions granting Bolivia access to the coast via Chile, the loss of sovereignty over its coastal area has left a deep and lasting scar on the Bolivian psyche.<br></p>
Time-travel paradox<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjYxNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTU5NTA4OX0.6Ka-qXIGnjdgiC7KEJPKdvnNs3azdESvYjVtvJ_22i8/img.png?width=980" id="d2f53" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="229fe59f64e8b72f8605398c384e0032" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Map of South America showing part of Brazil, its Federal District and the capital, Brazil." />
City out of time? A map of 1920s South America, showing Brazil's new capital Brasilia, which was built only from 1956.
Image source: Rob Cornelissen<p>So, the return of Tacna narrows down the time frame for this map to the decade from 1919 to 1929. A nice piece of map sleuthing so far, but nothing out of the ordinary. Until you focus on the Brazilian state of "Goyaz" (an older spelling; current name is "Goias"). It is perforated by a rectangular zone, labelled <em>Bundesdistrikt</em> ('Federal District'). Contained within it is a fairly large city, called Brasilia. </p><p>Yes of course, you might think: that's the correct location and name of the capital of Brazil. But, as Mr. Cornelissen accurately points out: "That city was only founded in… 1956!"</p><p>From 1763 until 1960, Brazil's capital was Rio de Janeiro, a coastal metropolis. Being a port city was beneficial for trade, but it also meant that Rio was far away from the country's huge interior. From as early as the mid-19th century, the idea arose to build a new capital, at a more central location inland. But those plans only came to fruition in the mid-20th century. </p><p>Fulfilling a campaign promise, president Juscelino Kubitschek – known colloquially as 'JK' – ordered a contest for the design of Brasilia in 1956. Construction started the same year and was completed in a mere 41 months. Brasilia was declared the nation's new capital in 1960. </p><p>"In the 1920s, Brasilia certainly wasn't "under construction" for Brockhaus to already put it on their maps — and certainly not as a major city, marked with a dot as big as Rio, Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires!" At that time, JK's push to finally find the exact spot and the right design for Brasilia was still decades in the future. </p><p>"So… What is going on with this map? What am I missing? Either the location and name of Brasilia was known a lot earlier than is common knowledge these days, or" — Mr. Cornelissen suggests, "there is some weirder cause."</p><p>Although the idea of a planned capital is much older than Brasilia, this map suggests that its exact location — and that of its Federal District — were already established decades ahead of its actual construction. In which case the dot on this map would have marked not a city, but forests or fields. </p><p>Alternatively, Brasilia is a city with magical qualities, and it can travel through time. Or is there another explanation? To quote Arthur Conan Doyle, by way of Sherlock Holmes: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."<br></p><p>If you can solve the mystery, let me know at <a href="mailto:email@example.com" rel="noopener noreferrer">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Plausible and/or interesting theories will be published below!</p>