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This is N. Sanson's remarkable 1656 map of the northwestern parts of South America , Lake Parima (Parime), and the route to El Dorado. Cartographically this map is loosely based upon cartographic conventions established by De Laet, however, Sanson introduced some interesting new ideas, including some of the first fixed political borders in this region. The map covers fro Isla Margarita and the Orinoco Delta eastward as far as Tampico and southwards as far as the mouth of the Amazon River. This part of South America generated considerable European interest in the early 17th century following the publication of Sir Walter Raleigh's fascinating Discovery of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful EMPIRE Of GUIANA . Raleigh's expedition traveled down the Orinoco River in search of the Kingdom of El Dorado. Today we know that El Dorado did not exist, but was rather an amalgam of very real tribal traditions and the European lust for gold. Nonetheless, in the 16th century, tales of El Dorado were common conversation along the port cities of the Spanish Main. Having explored a considerable distance down the Orinoco, Raleigh's expedition found itself mired in a remote tribal village at the onset of the rainy season. While the rainy season prevented Raleigh from moving forward, for the Manoa it had the opposite effect, for it inundated the vast Parima flood plain creating a great inland sea, consequently opening an important trade connection between the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. In drawing this important line, Sanson sets firm limits to Spanish dominance in the region. West of this line are the known lands of Nova Andalusia, but to the east, the indigenous Caribes, Muckikeri, and Harritianhans reign supreme. Curiously Sanson chooses to ignore known Dutch settlements along the Surinam and Essekebe Rivers. By leaving out the Dutch lands, Sanson may have been seeking favor with the French crown.
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