Google Maps Nearly Starts a War

By Jared Keller

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/11/google-maps-nearly-starts-a-war/66451/