A History of the World's Conflicts, as Mapped by Google

By Jared Keller

A new website, Conflict History, overlays information from Wikipedia on Google Maps to create a comprehensive look at conflict

ConflictHistory.jpg

It's a sad fact of life that the history of war is inherent in humanity itself. Though Cicero defined war simply as "contending by force," armed conflicts have permeated the globe for so long that "world peace" remains a theory rather than an foreseeable moment of planetary non-violence.

While students of history often focus on single conflicts, a new website illustrates how isolated battles overlap and entwine into a never-ending strand of conflict. Conflict History is a Google Maps timeline that spotlights the course of wars across human history by scraping information from Wikipedia and Freebase.

Conflict History is remarkably comprehensive. Above, a search for wars between 1955 and 1957 reveals 17 ongoing conflicts, from the global (the Cold War) to the local (the Balochistan conflict between the government of Pakistan and Blaloch nationalists) to the idiosyncratic, like the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Year's War, which, fought between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly and legally extended by the absence of a peace treaty from 1651 to 1986, is simultaneously one of the world's longest wars and one with the least casualties.

The website is sure to be an enjoyable distraction for fans of specialized Google Maps, but with recent interest from institutions in tracking the historical conditions of global conflicts -- such as weather patterns and climate -- Conflict History might prove a useful tool for future research by academics.

Image: Conflict History.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/a-history-of-the-worlds-conflicts-as-mapped-by-google/244499/