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Creating a Nation: The Chorographic Commission of Colombia 1850-1859

From 1850 to roughly 1859, the Chorographic Commission led by Agustín Codazzi and Manuel Ancizar mapped the individual regions of Colombia in the hopes of creating a physical representation of a nation. This website explores the national narrative created to unify internal borders within Colombia by comparing the Andean Highlands and the Eastern Plains.

Coffee grows on hillsides overlooking the village of Jardín, Colombia. Federico Rios Escobar for The New York Times.

The Andean Highlands

The Andean highlands for centuries have been known for advanced and homogenous civilizations, a narrative that holds true today. Click the link to see how the Chorographic Commission represented the region.

Manuel María Paz, Provincia de Casanare. Vista jeneral de “Los Llanos.” Ca. 1856.
Watercolor, 23.8 × 30.5 cm. Biblioteca Nacional, Bogotá..

The Eastern Plains

In contrast to the Andean Region, the Eastern Plains were presented as uninhabited and undeveloped. Click the link to see how the Chorographic Commission represented the region.

Agustín Codazzi, Mapa corográfico de la provincia de Casanare. Levantado de orden del gobierno por el General Agustín Codazzi. 1856. Manuscript. 143 × 240 cm. Archivo General de la Nación de Colombia, Bogotá.

Making a National Narrative

In addition to mapping the regions, the Commission recorded ethnographic and cultural data. Using the observations of the Commission, a national narrative began to unify the different regions into a single country.

Project created for Professor Picone’s Class: Borders and Frontiers in Modern Latin America. For more information on the authors and for access to the bibliography, click the links below.

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