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The Iran-Pakistan Border Barrier

Google Earth Image of Iran-Pakistan Barrier

One of the world’s most heavily fortified borders stretches between Iran and Pakistan. The Iran-Pakistan Barrier, currently under construction by the Iranian government, features a three-foot thick (.91 meters), ten-foot high (3.05 meter) concrete wall extending across 700 kilometers of forbidding desert terrain. The actual wall, however, is merely one part of an elaborate system – Read More

International Land Borders, Hard and Soft

Map of the variety of international land borders

On the standard world political map, all boundaries between sovereign states are the same, simple lines separating one country from another. In actuality, borders vary tremendously. The four-kilometer-wide “demilitarized zone”— sandwiched between two hyper-militarized zones—that splits North from South Koreas does not even remotely resemble the stroll-over border between Germany and France. Such border disparities – Read More

Ivory Coast: Divided and Reunited

Map of the main political/ethnic blocks in Ivory Coast

According to most reports, Ivory Coast is slowly returning to normal. On May 6, 2011, Alassane Ouattara was sworn into office by Constitutional Council President Paul Yao N’Dre, a close associate of deposed leader Laurent Gbagbo. N’Dre, not surprisingly, called for national reconciliation. Although he was heckled at times, the event generally proceeded smoothly. A – Read More

The Demographic Dimensions of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

Map of population density in West Africa, 1960

Migration has played a major role in Ivory Coast’s recent troubles. As immigrants from neighboring countries have moved in, Ivorian nativists have reacted by seeking to exclude foreigners—and their children—from citizenship. Such anti-immigrant attitudes and resulting policies have in turn provoked both migrant communities and members of related ethnic groups living in northern Ivory Coast – Read More

Global Inequality: Where is it Found?

Poverty and inequality are contentious topics whose geography is often oversimplified. When many people think of extreme poverty and aid, they often focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, but global inequality and poverty are much more complex issues. Overall, it is increasingly apparent that a country-based framework that generalizes levels of income over entire national territories – Read More

Ethnic Dimensions of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

Map of Ethnic Groups in Ivory Coast

Careful map analysis reveals that the conflict in Ivory Coast cannot be reduced to a split between the Muslim north and Christian south, as is routinely suggested in the press. But it is structured around ethnic differences that have religious aspects. Today’s post seeks to demonstrate the struggle’s cultural parameters by comparing maps of electoral – Read More

Disparate Interpretations—and Misinterpretations—of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

Map of the Division of Ivory Coast in 2007

Understandings of the recent conflict in Ivory Coast (officially, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire) vary significantly among different sectors of the news media. Mainstream sources in the United States often mention the Ivorian Civil War of 2002-07 that effectively divided the country in two (see map), but they focus primarily on the presidential election of 2010 – Read More

Mapping Forms of Government in the 18th Century and Today

Forms of government in 18th century Europe

As we have seen, maps from the 18th century typically subdivide Europe in a different manner from historical maps produced today, focusing much less on sovereignty. Cartographers typically divided the region into a dozen or so “countries,” some of which were independent kingdoms and others dependent lands, and one of which was a supranational organization – Read More