Monday, July 31, 2006

A cartographic aside

The rekindled open war between Israel and Lebanon has prompted me to spend a lot of time with my nose buried in atlases. I post these from some of my favorite sources to lend geographical context, perhaps as much for my own benefit as the reader's.
These two are produced by the US Central Intelligence Agency for inclusion in their World Factbook publication. They are not produced to the same scale. A few weeks ago, looking out across the landscape, you might have been hard-pressed to figure out where and why one of these countries ends and the other begins. Everywhere, it would be bright and dry, and you would run into people who spoke Arabic or Hebrew, or both. Many would probably be able to chat with you in English. Roads, though ultimately interrupted by fences, gates, and people equipped and willing to kill, connect cities in the one to cities in the other.

This is a great general map of the Middle East produced by the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (back when it was still the National Imagery and Mapping Agency). I find that it draws-in the relationships of places like Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Iraq. Not far beyond the edges of this map are India, Serbia, and Dar Es Salaam.

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