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Dictionary Project, Volume X: Asia

The Dictionary Project is a post-a-day exploration of The Century Dictionary and Cylopedia, a twelve-volume set printed in New York in 1901. The Project runs from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, and matches volume numbers to calendar months. Volume X is The Atlas, and today is Day 19.

More crunchy name goodness on this, map! It’s fascinating to me how names come and go. Oh, and looky there, the border between Greece and Turkey on this map (and on yesterday’s, I just checked) is so far away from the modern border that I never even noticed it, cutting modern Greece in half that way.

Map of Asia, 1897

I hardly know where to start with this overview of Asia, because there’s so much that’s different now, in both names and borders. The Turkish Empire, in Asia Minor, looks to include swaths of what is now Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, coastal Saudi Arabia, and a corner of modern Yemen. There is not yet a Bahrain, a Kuwait, or a Qatar, and certainly no United Arab Emirates. There is no Iraq, and modern Iran is still called Persia.

The Russian Empire does include Siberia, which along with smaller states like Turkestan, Uralsk, Kamchatka, and Bokhara, is part of Central Asia (now Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgystan). Moving east, we come to yet another empire: the Chinese Empire, comprising (it appears) Tibet, China, Burma, Mongolia, Manchuria, Sungara and East Turkestan.

There is Afghanistan, but it’s much smaller in 1897 than 2014, and Baluchistan has yet to grow and be renamed Pakistan. India, though, looks largely the same.

To the south of China, we still have Siam (now Thailand) and French Indo-China (now Vietnam and Cambodia). Hongkong is the name of an island, but the city on it is called Victoria. Further east, Formosa has yet to be renamed to Taiwan. Japan, island nation, is unchanged, though it’s the same colour as Formosa; Wikipedia tells me that China ceded it to Japan in 1895; Japan surrendered it to ROC military forces at the end of World War II.

This is a map for occupying hours, don’t you think? One other thing that tickles me about this Atlas? The inclusion of the little rectangle of Kansas, for comparative scale. There’s an endearing kind of confidence in the implied assumption that every potential reader would be familiar with Kansas.

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