Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Libya Changes Official Name

Map of rebel campaigns during the last stage of Libya's 2011 civil war
Map of the last stage of Libya's 2011 civil war (click to see full map and original article). Map by Evan Centanni, based on public domain map from Wikipedia (source).
State of Libya
Last month, the North African country of Libya changed its official long-form name to "State of Libya" (Arabic: Dawlat Libya). This comes as part of Libya's governmental transition following its 2011 civil war, in which a rebel coalition defeated the regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Over the last year, the country's formal name had not been clearly defined, with the country referred to in most documents simply as "Libya". The rebel National Transitional Council had only made a point of ceasing to use the Gaddafi-era name.

During the last decades of Gaddafi's reign, the country was known in long form as the "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya". The word "jamahiriya" was coined by Gaddafi by combining the Arabic words for "republic" (jumhuriya) and "the masses" (jamahir).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Catalonia: Europe’s Newest Nation?

Even relatively stable Europe hosts its share of geopolitical tensions: Catalonia, a major region of Spain which has long claimed a unique national identity, may now be on the path towards independence. Read on for a profile of what could become one of the world's newest countries.

Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Omar Alkhalili

What is Catalonia?

Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain. It holds the official status of a nationality within the Spanish parliamentary monarchy. Regions of Spain with this status are considered to be something similar to countries within the larger Spanish nation, allowing for their own separateness from Spanish mainstream culture without actually being considered independent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Political Geography of Chocolate - A Valentine's Day Special

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you thought you were getting a break from geography for sweets and smooching, think again! Political Geography Now presents an introduction to chocolate-based global intergovernmental organizations...

World map showing membership in chocolate-related intergovernmental organizations, the Alliance of Cocoa Producing Countries (COPAL) and the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO)
Map by Evan Centanni, starting from public domain blank world map (source).
International Chocolate Organizations
You've heard of the U.N., the E.U., and the WTO - but those are only some of the most well-known (i.e. boring!) global intergovernmental organizations. This Valentine's Day, you can take a few minutes to learn about the political geography of chocolate - we'll look at two organizations built around the global trade in cocoa beans, the raw ingredient used in making our favorite sweets.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Central African Republic Rebels Join Government (February 2013)

Map of rebel control in the Central African Republic, updated for the reported occupation of Dimbi and Kembe towns after the January 2013 ceasefire
Updated Central African Republic rebel control map. Fact-checked and modified by Evan Centanni from this map by Wikimedia user Keitsist. License: CC BY-SA
Unity Government Announced
After taking control of much of the country in December and January, rebels in the Central African Republic have been given a place in a new unity government that was announced last Sunday. The formation of this government will officially end the country's period of division between the old administration and the "Séléka" rebel coalition.

However, it remains to be seen whether the Central African Republic will truly be reunited in terms of the facts on the ground. Insecurity and chaos has continued at reduced levels since the ceasefire of January 11, with one band of rebels even attacking two more towns during the interim (see updated map at right).

For the full story of Séléka's lighting-fast campaign to control the country, see our previous article Central African Republic: Map of Rebel Control.

Updated Map: Central African Republic - Map of Rebel Control (March 2013)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Partner Project: Range of Taiwan's Missiles

Map of Taiwan's missile capabilities, created for Taiwan in Perspective (https://michalthim.wordpress.com)
Click to see at full size on Taiwan in Perspective blog.
Map by Evan Centanni (all rights reserved).
Michal Thim from Taiwan in Perspective recently asked Political Geography Now to help him make a map depicting Taiwan's current and future missile capabilities in its standoff with China. For anyone who's interested, here's the finished product (click on the map to see it at full size on Michal's site). The main sources for the missile information was this article from Defense News, and the locations of China's military assets come from the U.S. Department of Defense's 2012 annual report on China.

If you want to learn more about the complex political situation in Taiwan, Wikipedia has a decent outline of the basics. Political Geography Now also hopes to publish maps and articles covering Taiwan in the future.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mali Conflict Map: French Take Kidal, Other Towns (February 2013)

There are newer versions of this map available. To see them, view all Mali maps.  

This is an update of our Mali conflict map - for the original story, see Mali Map: Islamist Control & French Intervention.

Updated map of fighting and territorial control in Mali during the January-February 2013 French intervention against the Islamist extremist rebel groups Ansar Dine and MUJAO. Reflects the situation as of February 2, when Kidal and other towns have been captured by French and African forces.
Updated map of territorial control and airstrikes in Mali, as of Feb. 2, 2013. Map by Evan Centanni, modified from Wikimedia map by Orionist, using images by Carport and NordNordWest (source). License: CC BY-SA.
French Troops Secure Kidal
After taking the two largest cities in Mali's north over the last week, the French military by Thursday had also secured Kidal, the last of the area's three major regional centers. The religious extremist rebels of Ansar Dine had apparently already fled the city, which was instead occupied by two moderate rebel organizations, the MIA and the MNLA, the latter of which originally took over the north last spring before being driven out by religious extremist groups.