Naming and Re-naming on Formosa: The Toponymic Legacies of the VOC Cartographies on the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Western Maps

  • Peter KangEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


This paper examines the toponymic legacies of the seventeenth-century maps associated with the Dutch East India Company (VOC) on eighteenth and nineteenth-century European and North American cartographic works by looking at the case of the island of Formosa. The VOC produced the first maps of Formosa depicting not only the coastal contour of the entire island after a rough nautical survey, but also the inland details concerning the Austronesian settlements, when the island was partly under Dutch political and economic dominance. After the retreat of the VOC from Formosa in the mid-seventeenth century, the European map-makers relied on either the obsolete Dutch sources or their contemporary French Jesuit geographical knowledge sent back from the Manchu Empire for their cartographical works of the island. The predicament finally reached an end when the British Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty published their latest survey around the island in the mid-nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the map created by the Admiralty still employed some VOC toponyms, even though the French Jesuits had updated the geographical knowledge long before, in the previous century. Thus, the VOC toponymic legacies continued to survive, even side by side with the latest geographical information on a single map, on some cartographic works in the second half of the nineteenth century until the Japanese Empire took over the island and launched its island-wide reconnaissance.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Donghwa UniversityHualien CountyTaiwan

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