Nicaragua cites Google Earth to justify ‘invading’ Costa Rica

Costa Rica and Nicaragua are in the midst of a highly tense standoff after Nicaraguan troops crossed into a contested border region and set up camp, taking down a Costa Rican flag. Costa Rica, which has no standing military, has called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States. In a very 21st ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
562404_maps-mistake2.gif
562404_maps-mistake2.gif

Costa Rica and Nicaragua are in the midst of a highly tense standoff after Nicaraguan troops crossed into a contested border region and set up camp, taking down a Costa Rican flag. Costa Rica, which has no standing military, has called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States.

In a very 21st century twist, Costa Rica's La Nacion newspaper reports, it seems that a Google Maps glitch may be to blame. The Seach Engine Land blog (which also created the composite image above) explains:

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. Pastora blames Google Maps in the paper:

Costa Rica and Nicaragua are in the midst of a highly tense standoff after Nicaraguan troops crossed into a contested border region and set up camp, taking down a Costa Rican flag. Costa Rica, which has no standing military, has called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States.

In a very 21st century twist, Costa Rica’s La Nacion newspaper reports, it seems that a Google Maps glitch may be to blame. The Seach Engine Land blog (which also created the composite image above) explains:

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. Pastora blames Google Maps in the paper:

See the satellite photo on Google and there you see the border. In the last 3,000 meters the two sides are from Nicaragua.

The paper points out that Bing Maps shows the correct and officially recognized border.

See FP‘s Geopolitics of Google Earth list for more unintended consequences. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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