The Navy League map


The Navy League Map of 1901 shows the world on Mercator’s projection with the British Isles and the empire coloured in red. Smaller strategic points, such as Gibraltar, the Cape of Good Hope, Suez, Panamas and hundreds of islands, are underlined in red.

Around the edge and in the spaces in between are tables and statistics recalling Britain’s proud naval heritage (beginning in 1588 with the defeat of the Spanish Armada), its naval strength and its financial yield. These traits enable the map to support a vision of British imperial authority in the world, with the British Isles positioned firmly in the middle confirming the natural providence of Pax Britannia.

Full title:
The Navy League map, illustrating British naval history
1901, London
W. & A.K. Johnston (cartographers)
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Maps 950.(136.)

Full catalogue details

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The map of the world in the 20th century

Article by:
Tom Harper

The British Library’s map curator Tom Harper details the evolution of the map of the world in the 20th century, from the Navy League map of 1901 to a digital world view a century later.