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A Lesson in Mapmaking for All You Globetrotters Out There

June 18, 2014 at 10:32 AM | by | ()

One of the benefits of travel is the firsthand experience you get with geography, including a better understanding of the shape, size, and scope of the world's countries, their borders, and their place within the big picture of our planet. It's not uncommon for travel junkies to have maps hanging on their bedroom walls, or to engage in games that test their knowledge of the globe.

We know that maps created in the past were always taken with a grain of salt due to limited technology, but problems still exist today when it comes to defining borders and labeling landscapes. Technology is obviously no longer a problem, but politics are as influencing as they ever were.

In a recent look into the world of mapmaking, the BBC used the situation in Crimea to explain how the creation and labeling of maps are swayed by political institutions. Not just one, but many. Depending on where you live, the report said, a map can look very different.

“People generally assume that, well, science is just objective, and what we do in cartography is represent the world ‘out there’. But it’s never as clear cut,” Christine Leuenberger, a Cornell University professor who researches politics and cartography, told the BBC. “Maps are always selective. You always have to omit as much as you include. So they’re always political. It’s impossible to construct an apolitical map.”

We thought we'd pass this on as not only an enjoyable and insightful read, but for some perspective on how the shapes and scope of our globe are constantly changing and forever up for debate.

[Photo: BBC]

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