Map error causes military invasion

No, this isn’t a plot from a political satire but it’s a bona fide news story:

An error on Google Maps has caused an international conflict in Central America.

A Nicaraguan military commander, relying on Google Maps, moved troops into an area near San Juan Lake along the border between his country and Costa Rica.* The troops are accused of setting up camp there, taking down a Costa Rican flag and raising the Nicaraguan flag, doing work to clean up a nearby river, and dumping the sediment in Costa Rican territory.

La Nacion — the largest newspaper in Costa Rica — says the Nicaraguan commander, Eden Pastora, used Google Maps to “justify” the incursion even though the official maps used by both countries indicate the territory belongs to Costa Rica.

The area is correctly mapped by Microsoft.

* Other reports are that Google was consulted only after the troops got to the location, being then used to establish which side of the boundary the troops were actually on.

Hat-tip: Campaign Reboot

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One Comment

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 16th Nov '10 - 9:01am

    I’ve always had some scepticism about Google maps, since I found that it places our local Methodist Church at the wrong end of the street that runs along the side of it. Also about OS maps, since I had one of Norwich that had a blank in the area of the airport – presumably at the time the map the map was compiled, it was a sensitive military site. Or about the A-Z when visitors consulting it for our then address ended up two miles away.
    Top level maps are very useful and a good starting point, but if the detail is important, it needs checking at local level.

    Perhaps there is a Liberal lesson here for those who think national governments always know best!

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