Mapmakers at Odds Over Where To Put Crimea

Activism Russia
Rory Moulton
Mar 20, 2014

Something of a cold war is brewing amongst mapmakers over what to do with Crimea.

After Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula was “validated” by voters Sunday but not recognized by most of the international community, mapmakers are stuck in a conundrum about whether to include the territory in the Russian Federation, keep it in Ukraine, or denote it as disputed.

On Wednesday, the National Geographic Society made the first move, announcing future maps will include Crimea as part of Russia. José Valdés, geographer and director of editorial and research for National Geographic Maps, told U.S. News:

“We map de facto, in other words we map the world as it is, not as people would like it to be. As you can only surmise, sometimes our maps are not received in a positive light by some individuals who want to see the world in a different light.”

Meanwhile, Rand McNally, maker of educational maps found in classrooms throughout the US, stated they will keep Crimea in Ukraine, citing the US State Department as the ultimate authority on territorial boundaries. On the digital front, Google Maps recently updated their rendering of the peninsula with a red dotted line, meant to convey the area’s ownership is in dispute.

What do you think — should mapmakers move Crimea into the Russian Federation?

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