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Posts Tagged ‘countries’
[Editor’s note: I discovered a dozen or so “countries” working on Natural Earth that exist on the ground but hardly any other nation recognizes. This article from Foreign Policy give you an arm-chair geographer’s guide to several.]
They start by acting like real countries, then hope to become them.
On my most recent visit to the Republic of Abkhazia, a country that does not exist, I interviewed the deputy foreign minister, Maxim Gundjia, about the foreign trade his country doesn’t have with the real countries that surround it on the Black Sea. Near the end of our chat, he paused, looked down at my leg, and asked why I was bleeding on his floor. I told him I had slipped a few hours before and ripped a hole in my shin, down to the bone, about the size of a one-ruble coin. Blood had soaked through the gauze, and I needed stitches. “You can go to our hospital, but you will be shocked by the conditions,” Gundjia said. So he pointed me to the building next door, where in about 20 minutes I had my leg propped up on a dark wooden desk and was wincing at the sting of a vigorous alcohol-swabbing by the health minister himself. I was not accustomed to such personalized government service. Fake countries have to try harder, I thought, and wondered whether it would be pressing my luck to ask for the finance minister to personally refund my vat and for the transportation minister to confirm my bus ticket back to Georgia, which is to say, back to reality.
Abkhazia, along with a dozen or so other quasi-countries teetering on the brink of statehood, is in the international community’s prenatal ward. If present and past suggest the future, most such embryonic countries will end stillborn, but not for lack of trying. The totems of statehood are everywhere in these wannabe states: offices filled with functionaries in neckties, miniature desk flags, stationery with national logos, and, of course, piles of real bureaucratic paperwork — all designed to convince foreign visitors like me that international recognition is deserved and inevitable. Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian separatist enclave within Azerbaijan, issues visas with fancy holograms and difficult-to-forge printing. Somaliland, the comparatively serene republic split from war-wasted Somalia, prints its own official-looking currency, the Somaliland shilling, whose smallest denomination is so worthless that to bring cash to restock their safes, money-changers need to use draft animals.
These quasi-states — which range from decades-old international flashpoints like Palestine, Northern Cyprus, and Taiwan to more obscure enclaves like Transnistria, Western Sahara, Puntland, Iraqi Kurdistan, and South Ossetia — control their own territory and operate at least semifunctional governments, yet lack meaningful recognition. Call them Limbo World.
[Editor’s note: Update your 1st order admin maps! The long simmering feud between northern and southern Sudan was partially arbitrated by The Hague last month. The south will decide in a 2011 referendum the question of seceding from Sudan. Many observers see secession getting the thumbs up. The freshly shaped Abyei state will vote on joining or staying individually while all others in the south proper will vote en mass.]
Republished from The Economist.
Jul 30th 2009 | JUBA AND KHARTOUM
A ruling from The Hague pleases the north and vexes the south
OFFICIALS in Sudan’s government in Khartoum could hardly believe their luck when, on July 22nd, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on the fate of the disputed Abyei state, which sits astride the oil-soaked border between Arab northern Sudan and the ethnically African (and largely Christian) south Sudan. Surprisingly, the court reversed an earlier commission’s ruling and redrew Abyei’s borders, snipping out the lucrative Heglig and Bamboo oilfields (see map) and giving them to the north.
The ownership of these oilfields has soured relations between the north and south Sudanese ever since a peace accord was signed between them in 2005, ending a civil war that had raged on and off for nearly half a century at a cost of some 2m lives. So tense had the situation in Abyei become that last year much of its capital was burned to the ground in fighting between militias from the two sides. Now, however, the north seems to have got what it wanted by law rather than by force.
[Editor’s note: I’ve been researching sovereign state boundary disputes for Natural Earth Vector at the 1:15,000,000 and 1:50,000,000 scales so I read this entry at the StrangeMaps blog last week with some curiosity. Egypt effectively administers their portion of the “disputed” area along the Red Sea and seems to have dropped their claim to the Sudan portion south of the 22nd parallel. This boundary will be shown de facto along the 22nd parallel the Natural Earth Vector dataset. Thanks Laris!]
Republished from Strange Maps. June 28, 209.
The Bir Tawil Triangle is a desert of sand and rocks on the border between Egypt and the Sudan. It is also officially the most undesired territory in the world. Bir Tawil is the only piece of land on Earth (*) that is not claimed by any country – least of all by its neighbours. For either of them to claim the Bir Tawil Triangle would be to relinquish their claim to the Hala’ib Triangle. And while Hala’ib is also mainly rock and sand, it is not only ten times larger than Bir Tawil, but also adjacent to the Red Sea - so rather more interesting.
This bizarre situation started out with what is supposed to be the simplest of borders: a straight line. By the Condominium Treaty of 1899, the British drew the line between Egypt and what was then still known as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan at the 22nd parallel north, resulting in a straight-line border of about 1,240 km (770 miles) from Libya to the Red Sea.
[Editor's note: Knowing the longitude-latitude (latLng) bounding box of a feature gives us a clue as to what map scale or zoom level is required to fit the feature into our display area and thus what base map scale set to draw from. While this image does not provide actual coordinates, it visually establishes what such bounding boxes look like (further refinements can be had with respect to crossing the 180° meridian, note New Zealand). ]
Republished from Berkeley GADM (Global Administrative Areas).
Here is a map of all countries and their bounding boxes (when using a lat/long “projection”), highlighting those countries that cross the international date line, and for which these bounding boxes make little sense (this map is provided for diversion only).