Cycloramic Birds-Eye Views of Belize, British Honduras, 1914

This panoramic photograph shows Belize City as it appeared around 1914. “Panoramic” photographs employ a variety of techniques to create a wide angle of view. This panoramic view is comprised of eight photographs spliced together to provide a broader image than would be practical with a single photograph. Belize was the main city and major port of the crown colony of British Honduras. The country changed its name to Belize in 1973 and became fully independent from Britain in 1981.

Map of Central America Including the States of Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua & Costa Rica, the Territories of Belise & Mosquito, with Parts of Mexico, Yucatan & New Granada

John Baily was an Englishman who lived for many years in Central America. He was employed in 1837-38 by the government of Nicaragua to survey a potential canal route from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. This map, published in London in 1850, was accompanied by a book, Central America, published separately, which contained much of the detailed information that Baily gathered to make this map. The map shows four possible canal routes: one surveyed for the government of Costa Rica in 1848 by the Danish engineer Andres Oersted, Baily’s own proposed route of 1837-38, a route across present-day Panama proposed in 1844 by the French engineer Napoleon Garella, and a route across Nicaragua favored by Prince (and later Emperor) Louis Napoleon of France. The drawings at the lower left highlight the engineering challenges posed by building a canal that would have to traverse inland hills and mountains and account for the different sea levels (caused by tides) on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal. Baily’s map and writings frequently were cited in later debates about where and how the canal should be built.

Map of Guatemala: Reduced from the Survey in the Archives of that Country, 1826

On July 1, 1823, a Guatemalan National Constituent Assembly declared that the provinces that made up the Spanish Captaincy General of Guatemala, also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala, “are free and independent of old Spain, of Mexico, and of every other power.” The new country was called the United Provinces of Central America. It included the provinces of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. This 1826 map by Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1826) thus covers the territory of the entire federation and not just Guatemala. Arrowsmith, who based his map on an old survey in the archives in Guatemala City, was a noted London mapmaker and hydrographer to the king. Arrowsmith’s map later was criticized in the United States and Latin America for appearing to favor Britain in its dispute with Guatemala over the territory that became known as British Honduras (present-day Belize). The United Provinces of Central America disbanded in 1838-40, but its constituent countries retained the borders they had had as part of the federation.