Posts Tagged ‘caribbean’

Socotra, South Sudan, and the Netherlands Antilles (Economist)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

[Editor's note: Grab bag of Natural Earth admin-2 and admin-0 map units in last week's Economist magazine.]

Republished from the Economist.

Socotra: A still-enchanted island
Will Yemen’s magical island manage to stay aloof?

MAROONED in pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa but tied to unruly Yemen 400km (250 miles) away, the archipelago of Socotra has a forbidding look. Scorching summer winds strand ships. So fierce is the constant gale that it has whipped beachfuls of blinding white sand into dunes hundreds of metres high that ride up the cliffs. Even in winter it is blisteringly hot. Rats, the sole occupants of one rocky islet, are so ravenous that seasonal fishermen sleep in their skiffs, afraid to languish ashore.

Yet Socotra, whose main island is the size of Majorca or Long Island, is one of the world’s last enchanted places. The 50,000 native Socotris, speaking four dialects of a singsong ancient language unintelligible to other Yemenis, subsist on fish, goats and not much else. But they inhabit a wildly varied landscape of surreal beauty. The sea teems with giant lobsters, turtles and leaping dolphins. A unique breed of civet cat roams the limestone plateaus that are seamed with gorges carved by rushing streams, and spiked by finger-like granite towers rising to 1,500 metres. The cats are just one among 700 native species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

South Sudan’s biggest ethnic group: On your tractor, if you can
The Dinka will decide whether Africa’s latest state-in-waiting fails or prospers

THE Anglican Bishop of Bor, Nathaniel Garang, sits under the little shade afforded by a thorn tree. His dusty compound has a few mud and straw huts, some plastic chairs, and goats reaching up to bare branches on their hind legs. The bishop is around 70, he guesses, and in reflective mood. He wears a small brass cross given to him by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Entering Canterbury cathedral, he remarks, was a special moment in his life.

Mr Garang is a Dinka, the largest of south Sudan’s tribes. Specifically, he is a Bor Dinka (see map), the first of the Dinka groups to become Christian and be educated. Their historic missionary post, founded just upriver on the Nile in 1905, was burnt down during Sudan’s long civil war between the Arab and Muslim north and the Christian and animist south that ended only five years ago. The cathedral in Bor was also shot up, but still attracts several thousand worshippers.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

The Netherlands Antilles: The joy of six
Curaçao savours the prospect of autonomy

AS independence struggles go, the process of dismantling the federation of the Netherlands Antilles is about as orderly and peaceful as it gets. On 10-10-10 (October 10th 2010) Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius will go their separate ways—but only up to a point. Curaçao and St Maarten will become self-governing territories, following the example of Aruba, a sixth Dutch-speaking island in the Caribbean which broke away in 1986. But all will remain under the Dutch crown. The tiniest three islands—Saba, Bonaire and St Eustatius—will become overseas municipalities, with a similar status to towns in the Netherlands.

The attractions of autonomy are obvious in Curaçao (population: 142,000), the most populous island. It will take over government assets such as a large oil refinery and one of the Caribbean’s biggest dry docks, both in Willemstad, the capital, and the taxes from thriving tourist and offshore-banking industries. Generously, the Dutch will pay off 70% of the federation’s $3.3 billion debt. Local leaders have ambitious plans to develop new port facilities and hotels, and to modernise the dry dock.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

Carto Tourism? St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Mapping Project

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

skn_tracks_all_s sdsc_2838 sdsc_1866

[Editor's note: A friend of mine who works for The Nature Conservancy down in the Caribbean put me onto this web log. With mapping ascending as a cultural meme, why not capitalize on the trend by creating meaningful survey expedition "vacations" that partner GIS and cartography professionals with local project coordinators in beautiful locales? Thanks Ruth!]

A team from TNC travels to St. Kitts and Nevis for ten days to collect field data that will be used to create the country’s first detailed map of marine habitats. This work is being funded by USAID to help protect and restore biodiversity in the Caribbean.

Ten Days to Map 260 Sq Kilometers

Most of the time when I tell someone I am traveling to St. Kitts and Nevis, they say Huh? Where? What did you say? I go on explaining that these two sister islands are located near Antigua and Barbuda and I get more intense blank looks. With only 104 sq kilometers of land area, St Kitts and Nevis is the smallest and youngest country in the western hemisphere, home to only 40,000 people. The land and the population may be small, but the people and the culture more than make up for it with their vibrant Caribbean spirit. However, like other small Caribbean countries, these fragile islands, located in one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, are facing increasing pressures on limited resources, and are coming to an important crossroad in their short history since independence. One road goes down the path of continued unsustainable development, habitat destruction, and overfishing. The other path leads towards a sustainable future and smart growth – complete with well managed and healthy ecosystems, contributing to improvements in human well-being.

Continue reading at St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Mapping blog . . .

Great interactive Caribbean travel map

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

I’m very impressed with this NY Times map that ran last weekend:
http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/travel/28curacao.html
(follow the “click to explore venues” link in their left sidebar)

Caribbean Map – New York Times

On the surface, this map is a Flash-based interactive graphic that makes use of Google maps thru a “mashup” (inside of Flash) enabling the cartographer to use Google for the detailed street and satellite maps to plot features (like travel points of interest) onto. This information is often more detailed than the databases we have and can quickly be deployed. The downside is the “look” is Google and after awhile, every mashup seems to look alike.

But this NY Times example uses custom map icons and mouseOver effects to good use to distinguish itself. And you can’t even tell it’s a mashup at first view. It starts with a regional Caribbean map (custom NY Times cartography) and then zooms into the specific country before fading to the Google mashup.

This map is also well integrated into it’s host page. In-line with each point of interest description in the HTML is a link back to the map. When the user clicks on the “MAP” link, the photo on the top of the page changes to the interactive map, zooms in, and displays that feature, even if the map wasn’t displayed at first.

Excellent interactive!