Source and activity 2

Map of Africa

Map of Africa showing Livingstone's routes
Map of South Africa.
[NLS reference: RB.s.972].
View larger map image

This source is a map of South Africa showing the routes of David Livingstone from his book 'Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa'.

Look at the map charting Livingstone's travels. Compare this with modern maps of the southern part of the African continent.

Mapping an uknown world

Think about who created this map. How much detail is missing? Where did the names come from?

Did the mapmaker use African names or English ones? What does this say about the people who made this map?

Now, think about the scale and the distances of his travels. Livingstone didn't have modern transport, communication or reliable maps. Instead, he had a support team of African porters and guides with detailed knowledge of the terrain to help him.

Today we have guidebooks, satnav and detailed maps but how far do you think you could travel without any of these?

Try plotting one of Livingstone's routes on Google Maps. How does it compare with the map on this page? Is there any more detail? Do you think you would be able to do the same journey Livingstone did?


Themes in focus: David Livingstone


Find out more about David Livingstone in NLS collections

David Livingstone is one of a number of authors featured in the John Murray Archive.


The David Livingstone collections are listed under ‘L’ in our Guide to Manuscripts Collections


Search the John Murray Archive catalogue for material relating to David Livingstone.

David Livingstone on the web

Visit Livingstone Online for detailed information about the explorer and to view his letters online.


The Royal Geographical Society website has factsheets, quiz and image gallery on David Livingstone and his travels.

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