(Okay, I’m mentioning Google a lot lately because I’m using it at work to build a community space type thing and I’m also making a map for all the participants in a big program for this Fall. )

I am so naive.  I have just assumed that any county’s basic information … you know, cities? major roads? … could be found in Google Maps.  Now, I knew GMaps has limited information about certain areas because I thought I lived in one of them.  Now I know better.

One of my current projects is to make a map for the place where I work of all the libraries where librarians have participated in our programs.  Easy enough, yes?  We have the library addresses, look them up online, save the markers to “My Maps” and … voila… we’ll have a searchable, zoomable map in no time.

Oh ho ho.

I started alphabetically by country – Argentina.  Buenos Aires, to be exact.  So I type “Buenos Aires, Argentina” in Google Maps and what do I find?  An empty grey blob where a metropolitan area of 13 million people should be, one of the top 20 metro areas by population.  (This is in Map view, mind you.)  I zoom out … the entire country of Argentina is an empty grey blob.
40 million people?

Bolivia and Peru don’t have any roads marked either, but at least they have a few cities.  Argentina – along with Paraguay, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana – has nada.  Zilch. I think the emptiness of these countries is particularly shocking because of the way Brazil is so nicely filled in with highways, roads, and towns.  Zoom in on Rio de Janeiro and you see all sorts of detail.  Add to that weirdness — Google has a domain for Argentina at www.google.com.ar … but in the Argentinian equivalent of “More services” (click on “Más” at the top of the screen) Maps is noticebly absent.

So (in Google Maps) I zoomed out to see the whole world then went in closer region by region and found that, according to Google, there is absolutely nothing of interest in the following countries:


Google Maps

Dominican Republic
Equatorial Guinea
French Guiana
North Korea
South Korea
Western Sahara

It’s bad enough they’re using something like a Mercator projection, which shows Greenland almost equivalent to Africa in land mass when Africa is 14 times larger.  But why would these countries be absolutely blank? According to Wikipedia, there are about 220 countries.  Some of Google’s missing countries are ranked in the top 50 countries by population:  South Korea (#25), North Korea (#47)  and, as I said, Argentina (#30).