Google Maps Nearly Starts a War

For most of modernity, major wars (and frivolous ones) were primarily fought over territorial disputes. Today, Google Maps played the role of belligerent nation-state, nearly setting off an armed conflict in Central America. ABC's Kirit Radia reports:

Last week Nicaraguan forces crossed a disputed border and raised their flag in territory that was long considered part of Costa Rica after the military commander on the scene looked up the area on Google Maps to determine how far he could deploy his troops.

Costa Rica has responded with heavily armed police (the country abolished its army decades ago) and its president has called the move an invasion. Nicaragua so far has refused to withdraw its soldiers.

In a separate incident, Google nearly reignited a years-old border dispute in Northern Africa:

Google Maps mistakenly attributed to Morocco a tiny island (more of a large rock) a few hundred yards off its coast and then changed it, again erroneously, to Spain. The problem is the uninhabited island (save for a few goats), which Spain calls Isla de Perejil ("Parsley Island") and Morocco calls Leila ("Night"), has been a disputed territory for years and the two countries nearly fought over it in 2002.

Read the whole story at The Note.

Presented by

Jared Keller is a journalist based in New York. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and Al Jazeera America, and is a former associate editor for The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Technology

Just In