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Over 65 files have changed in version 1.4 of Natural Earth. The most significant edits reflect the July 2011 independence of South Sudan. That country’s administrative level-1 units have also been refreshed, and the disputed area of Abyei is retained.
Mea culpa: A major correction fixes a coding error introduced in version 1.3 that incorrectly merged Panama and Papua New Guinea into a super country in some admin-0 files. Version 1.4 reestablishes them as separate countries.
Because of South Sudan, the admin-0 (sovereign, country, map units, map subunits, scale ranks, scale ranks with minor islands), boundary lines land, disputed areas and boundaries, etc. have all been updated in the 10m, 50m, 110m scale sets.
50m admin-1 states and provinces now includes a version with the lakes punched out, like the 10m has enjoyed since version 1.3.
The 10m admin-1 file now includes a “scale rank” exploded version that will import into a wider range of GIS and CAD software packages that cannot import polygons over a certain vertex count.
Other changes and corrections are detailed below and credited to the correction request author.