Fine example of Daniel Lizars' 4 sheet map of Africa, which shows the extent of European knowledge of the continent in stark visual detail.
When the present map was issued around 1825, European knowledge of Africa was still quite limited. While the coastal outline of the continent was well understood, and in some cases scientifically mapped, the map shows that much of the interior remained a complete enigma.
The only notable forays into the interior regions are evident, being in South Africa (Dutch and British expeditions), Mozambique, Angola and the Congo (Portuguese explorations), the Lower Nile Valley (French and British expeditions) and fleetingly, in West Africa.
The efforts to penetrate the interior of the West Africa were the most recent and interesting. The Africa Association, formed in London in 1788, sponsored numerous expeditions to ascend the Niger and Gambia rivers, in the hopes of reaching Timbuktu, the great trading city of lore. The most notable endeavors to date were the expeditions of Mungo Park who, from 1795 to 1806, was responsible for filling in the crescent of detail which cuts across the empty space through West Africa on the map. In spite of the valiant efforts of the British, it would be French explorers working for the Société de Géographie, most notably René Caillié, who would reach Timbuktu and would consolidate French hegemony over the interior of West Africa.