What makes this story of interest to the geography blogosphere is that the commander of the Nicaraguan troops blamed his actions on Google Maps and it misplacing the border.
|Border comparison in the location where Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica. Google has it wrong while Bing has it right. Image from: Search Engine Land.|
Google in turn is blaming the error on receiving bad map data from the United States State Department. The State Department has not released any statement as of the early morning of November 6, 2010. Meanwhile Google says it is working with the State Department to fix the border.
Such a shame I warned about bad maps being more than simple mistakes but things that could negatively impact diplomatic and military operations.
However, the Nicaraguans are not in the clear. Their own geographic organization recognizes the disputed area as part of Costa Rica.
|Costaricangauzette sent me this map with the red circle showing Nicaragua knows the area of action is Costa Rican.|
Is it also possible that they thought Google Maps was correct and innocently failed to do any further research? Yes. In Iraq I was shown a presentation by an Iraqi geographer who used Google Maps and Microsoft Paint to make his maps. Sometimes it is amateur hour for those who have the guns.