Although nothing compared to what we mapmakers experienced during the heady days following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, National Geographic maps have kept pace with–and portrayed–all of the major and minor geopolitical events of 2011. Notably among these:


CUBA: Cuba officially creates two new provinces on New Year’s Day–Artemisa and Mayabeque–by dividing La Habana province.

NGS Cuba Classic map, July

SOUTHERN SUDAN: From January 9 through January 15, the people of Southern Sudan hold a referendum to determine whether to remain part of a united Sudan or to form a new independent nation. The referendum shows that nearly 99 percent of voters are in favor of dividing Africa’s largest country.

NGS Africa Classic, enlarged map, March

REPUBLIC OF FIJI: The name Republic of the Fiji Islands, as formally slated in that country’s 1997 constitution, changes to Republic of Fiji.

NGS World Classic, last 2010 printing (top) and Executive Poster maps, October (bottom)


ABBOTTABAD, PAKISTAN: The May 2 raid on bin Laden’s compound brings the little known (to westerners) Pakistani town of Abbottabad to the spotlight.

NGS 9th Edition Atlas of the World, Plate 82, Afghanistan & Pakistan


SOUTH SUDAN: On July 9, South Sudan becomes the world’s 195th independent nation.

NGS Africa Classic map, September


LIBYA: The conventional long form name for Libya—Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya—no longer applies. Libya, becomes the country’s formal conventional name.


INDIA: On November 1, India’s parliament approves a bill effectively changing the name of the state of Orissa (which accounts for nearly 5 percent of India’s total area) to Odisha.


CHALLENGER DEEP: Sonar mapping of the Mariana Trench, conducted by the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, determines that the Challenger Deepthe deepest point on Earthhas a new maximum depth of       -10,994 m (-36,070 ft).

National Geographic’s cartographic staff  anxiously awaits 2012.

Happy New Year to all!

Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps


Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Juan José Valdés is The Geographer and National Geographic Maps' Director of Editorial and Research. He guides and assists the Map Policy Committee in setting border representations, disputed territories, and naming conventions for National Geographic. As NG Map's Director of Editorial and Research, he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of its maps and map products.