Charles Marie De La Condamine, a French geographer, born in Paris, Jan. 28, 1701, died there, Feb. 4, 1774. He was educated at the university of his native city, and in 1719 entered the army, and accompanied his uncle the chevelier de Cources to the siege of Rosas, where he showed that contempt of danger and spirit of enterprise which in after life was exhibited in another field. He soon abandoned the military profession, and joined an expedition which was proceeding to the Mediterranean to explore the coasts of Asia and Africa.
During his absence he visited the Troad, Cyprus, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. In 1735 the academy of sciences sent him with Bouguer and others to Peru, to measure an arc of the meridian, for the purpose of more accurately determining the dimensions and figure of the earth. He returned to France in 1743, and prepared accounts of the voyage, travels, and labors of the commission. His Relation abregee d'un voyage fait dans l'interieur de l' Amerique Meridionale appeared in 1745, and La figure de la terre determinee par les observations de MM. de la Condamine et Bouguer in 1749. While in South America he made observations on the manufacture of articles of caoutchouc by the natives, and published in 1751 an account of an elastic resin, giving a description of several trees yielding caoutchouc, and to him is ascribed the introduction of the article into Europe. In 1748 he was made a fellow of the royal society of London, and in 1760 a member of the academy of sciences in Paris. He labored to promote in France the practice of inoculation for smallpox which was then followed in England. He left a number of treatises on geography, natural history, and physics, and in his day had some reputation as a writer of verses.
The discovery by which he is best known is that the deflection of a plumb line by a mountain is large enough to be measured.