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'We map the world as it is:' National Geographic maps Crimea as part of Russia

Published time: March 19, 2014 08:43
Edited time: March 20, 2014 12:26
A map showing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation was briefly showcased Tuesday on Wikipedia's English-language entry for Russia. (image from

A map showing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation was briefly showcased Tuesday on Wikipedia's English-language entry for Russia. (image from

“We map the world as it is – not as people would like it to be,” National Geographic’s map-making authority says, as the educational entertainment giant prepares to mark Crimea as part of Russia after the parliament officially ratifies the measure.

Juan Jose Valdes, NatGeo’s geographer, chief editor and research director for the map-making division, emerged from a meeting with the magazine’s editorial, legal and cartographic authorities on Tuesday, where the decision was made to give the area a temporary special shading (like the Gaza Strip or the West Bank), until permanent coloring after the Russian parliament approves the treaty signed by President Putin and the Crimean authorities.

When the parliamentary vote takes place later in the week, “the document will be revised to indicate that the change has officially occurred and Crimea is officially part of Russia, then we will identify Crimea with the Russian boundary tint,” Valdes told the U.S. News.

“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,” the director explained, which is not the case with other map makers. Rand McNally, another leader in atlas and map production, will not be making any changes to its maps.

The company spokesperson, Amy Krouse said “we take our direction from the State Department.”

This latest opposition between the camps is yet another brick in the political standoff that has gripped Russian-Western relations after the latter’s refusal to recognize Crimea’s joining Russia. In the run-up to the referendum on secession, many, including Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have denounced it as illegal. The US, EU, Japan and Canada have imposed sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials.

Meanwhile, the map war is already in full swing. While policies are still being worked out, there was a situation this morning on Wikipedia’s English-language page for Russia. Several hours ago, the map reflected the new agreement, but was later changed back to depicting Crimea as a territory outside Russia.

Google has continued to show Crimea as part of Ukraine.

But Russian search giant Yandex has had the most original solution so far - to display Crimea's belonging in a fashion appropriate to the geographical area from which Yandex Maps is viewed. This will be done, as is currently on different websites, by recognizing the user's IP address.

At the time this news was published, National Geographic has not yet introduced the proposed changes.

Comments (90)


Nikola Jakov 31.03.2014 18:48

Kelan McGivney 21.03.2014 07:05

I like how Kosovo is omitted from this map. Thems some nice double standards.


Michael Johnathen 21.03.2014 03:11

Su re, Because invasions of Russia have gone soooo smoothly in the past for Europe!


Kosovo was not legal recognized as a sovereign state hence it does not appear on maps. It is still to this day occupied by NATO troops. Know your history before you post.


Hana M 28.03.2014 04:23

its about time putin shows obama the job how its done.
well even putin play omama with open eye.
so sad how he play obama. evin we africans we are poor . we dont like obama . his noting but san of lusfer. becuse his gay polcies. any how. all i can say is will done putin. take care of your pepole. forget the west. you have proffn to the west.


Adam Ben-Yoel 22.03.2014 07:49

Funily enough, National Geographic doesn't show East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or even the former Israeli-Jordanian no-man's land around the Latrun Salient as being part of Israel. All of those areas were annexed by Israel decades ago. They weren't even recognized previously as the sovereign territory of another country.

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