The price you pay

It may sometimes seem as though there is a map for everything, but this was decidedly proven when I stumbled upon this unlikely map with the theme of life insurance.

Bartholomew printed an insubstantial, niche reflecting 1,000 copies of Life Insurance Map Showing Extra Premiums for Residence in Various Countries on the 19 June, 1900. It was commissioned by James Chatham (1857-1934), an employee of the then Scottish Life Assurance Company and fellow of both the Faculty of Actuaries and the Institute of Actuaries. Not much information on Chatham survives, but his position as a Council member of the Faculty and his status as a Fellow implies that he was a man of note, occupying the upper echelons of the actuarial profession.

Chatham’s map is pragmatic and unaffected by emotion, a consequence of a profession which aims to rationalise data in order to draw sound conclusions. It therefore does not, indeed cannot hide from that fact that all the world is not made equal. The map is a reflection of the state of the world as Chatham saw it, at that point in time; and the results are not always as might be expected.

Now the playground of many a backpacker, Chatham’s map draws a line across Australia dividing the country into ’safe’ and ‘not quite so safe’ areas. The paper which this map accompanied remains elusive and so no explanation can be found as to why this is. One may favourably conjecture the climate, or unfavourably, the locals.

One area which certainly, and sadly, does conform to expectation is Africa.

Without qualm, Chatham stamps a terrifying dark mark at the heart of his map, a warning for all who dare to venture there, an unemotional judgement on the dangers which might await. Unless, that is, you head for Cape Colony, a jewel in the British Imperial crown.

On a positive note, in his appraisal, the majority of the world comes out quite well, no more or less dangerous than Britain. And when you look, it’s really just that awkward bit between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn where things start to get a bit dicey. Which makes one wonder, just how much have things changed?