Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’

Nicaraguan Invasion? Blame Google Maps

08 Nov

An embarrassing error on Google Maps has been blamed for Nicaragua’s accidental invasion of Costa Rica. Last week, Nicaraguan troops crossed the border, took down a Costa Rican flag and defiantly raised their own flag on Costa Rican turf.

But the troops’ commander, Eden Pastora, told a Costa Rican newspaper, La Nacion, that his invasion was not his fault, because Google Maps mistakenly said the territory belonged to Nicaragua. Government officials in Nicaragua have also blamed a “bug in Google” for the error.

Now, the Organization of American States and UN Security Council are being called in to mediate the dispute, and find a solution to the problem caused by Google. “Costa Rica is seeing its dignity smeared and there is a sense of great national urgency,” said Costa Rica’s excellently-named President Laura Chinchilla.

The search giant has owned up and admitted to its mistake, saying that an error, by up to 2.7 kilometers, arose in the compilation of the border source data with the US Department of State. It has now received correct and accurate data, and is working on updating the map.

“Cartography is a complex undertaking, and borders are always changing” said Charlie Hale, geopolicy analyst at Google. Indeed, this particular border is a hotly contested issue, with dispute over who owns land around the San Juan River dating back to the mid-19th century.

It’s not the first time that Google’s messed up its maps. Earlier this year, Cambodia hit out against Google’s representation of the Thai-Cambodia border. And in September, Google completely misplaced the Florida town of Sunrise, frustrating local businesses and council officials.

Perhaps the most embarrassing thing for Google, though, is that competitor Microsoft has the border definition right on its maps. If Nicaraguan commander Pastora had used Bing Maps, the entire red-faced incident might never have happened.

Illo: Google

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