“Plano del Pueblo y Rio de Suipacha situado en la Probincia de Chichas” By Manuel Pantosa y Moreno

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 11.09.37 PMMapping Alto Peru

A Spanish cartographer was responsible for Plano del Pueblo y Rio de Suipacha situado en la Probincia de Chichas or “Plan of the city and river of Suipacha situated in the province of Chichas.”  Suipacha is a small town in Bolivia, then known as Alto Peru.  It is located in a river valley and can be seen on the Google Earth image here. The two river valleys can be seen cutting through the mountain of both the historical and modern map as well as the flood valley in the lower portion of the map.

Translating from the Spanish

The map contains two boxes of text written in Spanish.  The one on the left labels different elements on the map.  They are (rough translation):

  1. Church and Plaza of Suipacha, where the principal population can be found

  2. Posta House, House of Posta

  3. Ranch that they call…(unknown)

  4. Ranches that form the…(unknown)

  5. Low (situating the barranca) Barranca (area outside of the city) formed by the avenues of the Quebrada. This barranca goes far enough in.

     6.   Quebrada y barranca where Camino (path) to Santiago by Mochara and Ramada is directed

     7.   Bados del Rio

     8.   Capilla de Nazareno, Chapel of Nazareno

     9.   Camino R.l.p.a Mojos towards JuJui, R.l.p.a Mojos Road

    10.  Camino R.l.à Fupiza, R.l.à Fupiza Road

    11.  Angortura

The second provides a reflection on how to best use the river as a defense against any invading forces.  It is loosely translated by Rosalia Romero as follows:

“The location of Suipacha is naturally favorable to impede the way of the river when it is very impassable or high enough that only the horses can cross and by no means can the infantry nor the mounted artillery, because then with such few people it is possible to cross the passage: out of this case/situation and when the river can be crossed from all sides, the enemy could cross it from any which way within the reach of the 9 thousand “varas” that the riverbank has opposite of the reach of the plane, precisely for hindering a good number of Batallions and Squadrons: Even then an order so stretched out would be risky for the defenders, because the enemy, supposing that with equal force could hide on one side, and attack in continuous columns from the center or suddenly/unexpectedly by one of the furthest areas, cutting off part of the “Cuerpos de Falina” that is 8 leagues distant from S.O., There is a path to Fupiza: Likewise, there is a path by Yavi to cross the river 8 or 10 leagues deeper in Libilibi, and after by Cinti walk by Vitichi, and Fuctapari to Potosi, beside both ways to the side to Suipacha.”

 The Battle of Suipacha

Created in 1814, it is thought that this map was produced as a reaction to the Battle of Suipacha.  The battle occurred in November of 1810 shortly after rebel forces from Buenos Aires became nervous because of political upheaval in Spain.  The Junta of Spain and the Indies was taking heavy casualties from Napoleon’s troops.  Feeling that the Spanish were no longer capable of protecting interests in South America, rebel forces began a campaign for independence through Alto Peru.  By April of 1811 most of the area was freed from Spanish rule.  By November, the forces from Buenos Aires had defeated the Spanish and pushed them from the Suipacha river valley.  General Castelli, of the rebel troops, lacked the leadership qualities necessary to control the area and Spanish forces regained control sometime between 1812 and 1813.  Not wanting to lose the region of Suipacha, the Spanish surveyed the area for natural defenses.  This map is a visual compilation of that survey.  Each label on the map explains a way in which a river or building could be used as a defense against rebel forces. Despite these efforts, Bolivia gained complete independence from Spain in 1825.


Campbell, John. A Compleat History of the Spanish America. Sabin Americana 1500-1926 10232. Sabin Americana, 2012. E-book.Carrera, Magali M. Traveling from New Spain to Mexico: Mapping Practices of Nineteenth Century Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. Ebook.

Klein, Herbert S. A Concise History of Bolivia. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Romero, Rosalia. Translation of “Pueblo del Pueblo y Rio de Suipacha situado en la Probincia de Chichas.”

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