Showing posts with label americas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label americas. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2021

US State of Mississippi Adopts New Flag

The new official flag of the US state of Mississippi, approved in a popular referendum on November 3, 2020 and formally adopted January 11, 2021. Features a white magnolia flower on a dark blue background, surrounded by 20 white stars topped with a golden star-like symbol. The left and right sides of the flag are red, separated from the blue center by thin golden borders.
Mississippi's new flag, officially adopted January 11, 2021 (public domain graphic).

50 State Flags Again

For the first time since last June, every one of the US's 50 states has its own flag. Last year, Mississippi became the only flagless state after its government voted to withdraw its former banner, controversial for incorporating the battle emblem of 19th Century pro-slavery separatists.

USA: Rhode Island State's Name Change

Map of the State of Rhode Island - formerly the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - from the United States National Atlas
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The island hosting Newport (lower right) is the original "Rhode Island", while "Providence Plantations" referred to the mainland area around Providence (top right). (Public domain map)

Rhode Island Name Change Now in Effect

Tiny Rhode Island has become the first of the 50 US states ever to change its name.

Even many Americans don't realize that Rhode Island, the smallest US state by area, actually had a longer official name until last year: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 

But in a referendum on Nov. 3, the same day as the 2020 US presidential election, the state's voters chose to amend the state constitution and shorten the name to just "State of Rhode Island". 

Monday, November 2, 2020

3 Election Day Referendums that Could Change US Geography (Updated with Results)

Update: All three referendums passed, and as of January 2021 the results of two have gone into effect. Scroll down to the bottom of each section for details of what happened.

Map of the United States, showing the 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC)
The US has 50 states...for now. (Map from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA)
 

US Voters to Decide in Geography-related Referendums

This Tuesday - November 3, 2020 - is election day in the United States. And while presidential rivals Donald Trump and Joe Biden have dominated the news, Americans will also be voting (or have already voted) in thousands of other elections for national, state, and local politicians, plus referendums on state and local issues.

The US has no process for nationwide referendums, but statewide referendums - often known as "ballot measures", "propositions", or just "questions" - are common. They also exist at many lower levels of government, and in territories that aren't part of any state, like the national capital district and overseas dependencies. This Tuesday, there will be 120 statewide referendums, all held within 32 of the country's 50 states, plus 3 referendums at the top level of government for other territories.

While most of these votes are on issues like taxation, election rules, and drug laws, three are of special interest to geography fans:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Puerto Rico: 52nd State of the US? (2020 Referendum - Updated with Results)

In 2012, we reported on Puerto Rico's chances at becoming the a state of the US, after the territory's people sort of voted for that. This is an updated and expanded version of that article, fully revised for next week's new Puerto Rico statehood referendum. 

Continue reading to learn why this time might be different, and why Puerto Rico could become the 52nd state of the US instead of the 51st!

For updates on the results of the referendum, scroll to the bottom of this article.


Puerto Rico Statehood Vote: Different This Time

The US territory of Puerto Rico. (Public domain map from CIA World Factbook)

The US territory of Puerto Rico, made up of one large island and several smaller ones in the Caribbean, doesn't have any say in next week's US presidential election. 

But its people will still have something important to vote on next Tuesday: a referendum on whether to fully join the US as one of the country's states. 

Like in previous votes, the result is non-binding: It can only take effect if approved by the US government. But that doesn't mean it's just a symbolic move.

FAQ: What is Puerto Rico? Is it part of the United States? (Updated)

It's 2020, and Puerto Rico is voting again on whether to become a state of the United States. But what exactly is it now? Is Puerto Rico part of the United States, and can its people vote in US elections? Find all your answers here! 

This is a revised and expanded version of an explainer we originally published in November 2012.

Is Puerto Rico a state of the US? If not, then what is it?

The US territory of Puerto Rico. (Public domain map from CIA World Factbook)
Puerto Rico, a Spanish-speaking island region in the Caribbean, is a United States territory, but not one of the country's 50 states. 

Since it was taken from Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Puerto Rico has been an overseas territory of the United States (known in US legal jargon as an "insular area").  

Sunday, July 12, 2020

NAFTA Replaced With USMCA/CUSMA

CUSMA/USMCA replaces NAFTA as the new free trade area made up of Mexico, the US, and Canada. Map by Wikimedia user Heraldry (source; CC BY-SA)

NAFTA is No More

On July 1, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - a much-talked-about free trade area including Mexico, the United States, and Canada - was formally retired. The arrangement, in place since 1994, has been replaced by a similar deal, technically called the "Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada". The change was agreed upon last year, but didn't take effect until this month.

USMCA or CUSMA?

The short name of the deal depends on who you ask. In the US, it's called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but in Canada it's the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). In French (Canada's other official language) the acronym is ACEUM - also placing "Canada" first - and in Mexico it's known by the Spanish acronym T-MEC (placing "Mexico" first).

Sunday, July 5, 2020

US State of Mississippi Now Has No Flag

Update: On November 3, 2020, Mississippi voted to approve a replacement flag, which was then officially adopted on January 11, 2021.


The second flag of the US state of Mississippi, stripped of official status on June 30, 2020
Former official flag of Mississippi state (2001-2020)

The Mississippi Flag is No More

Last Tuesday the elected governor of Mississippi, one of the 50 states of the United States of America, signed a new law stripping official status from the state's controversial flag.

Mississippi's was the only remaining state flag to include the Confederate battle emblem, a symbol of the separatist Confederate States of America who fought to preserve slavery in the country's 1860s civil war.

Though citizens are not banned from flying the flag - a right protected by the US Constitution - it has been taken down from both the state government building and the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Several city governments and universities in Mississippi had already stopped flying the state flag.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The USA is Still a WHO Member

Update: On July 7, 2020, the US government under President Donald Trump officially began the one-year process of withdrawing from the WHO. However, the next US president, Joe Biden, then canceled the process on January 20, 2021, almost six months before the country would have actually left. The US never officially stopped being a member of the WHO, and is no longer planning to leave.

The World Health Organization includes almost every country in the world, coordinated by six different regional offices (public domain map; source).

Is the US leaving the WHO?

Last weekend US president Donald Trump made a statement that seemed to imply the country was withdrawing from membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).

Citing accusations that the body is overly influenced by China, the US president said "We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization".

Bu what exactly does that mean?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Update: Belize vs. Guatemala Dispute

A PolGeoNow News Brief

Guatemala-Belize territorial dispute: Approximate map of what parts of Belize are claimed by Guatemala.
One interpretation of Guatemala's territorial claims. The precise lines of the dispute will be laid out as the court case continues. (Wikimedia map by Janitoalevic and Bettyreategui; CC BY-SA)
Editor's Note: This article has been updated on April 29, 2020 to reflect corrections to the timeline - the details of Guatemala's claims will likely not be publicly available until mid-2024, even later than we had previously implied.

Last year, we reported that Belize and Guatemala were going to the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) to finally resolve their longstanding border dispute, which involves Guatemala claiming much of the land governed by neighboring Belize. So what's going on with that now?

So far, both countries are still preparing their cases. The next step is for Guatemala to submit its "memorial" to the court - a report laying out its position on the issues at stake. That document should be pretty interesting, because it will clarify exactly which land and sea areas Guatemala is claiming the rights to, and by extension, where exactly the lines of the two countries' territorial dispute lie.

For now, Guatemala's claims are a little bit vague, with some interpretations concluding that the country claims more than half of the land now controlled by Belize (see map at right). But we'll have to wait awhile yet to get the details - the deadline for Guatemala to submit its memorial was originally going to be June 8 of this year, but because of delays Guatemala says are related to the coronavirus pandemic, the court has agreed to extend the deadline by one year, to June 2021.

And the court doesn't usually release the written memorials to the public until hearings begin, which means we'll have to wait until after Belize responds, and likely until each country has responded once more, before actually seeing the details of Guatemala's memorial (thanks to Bordermap Consulting for that correction). Belize, for its part, thought Guatemala should only get a two-month extension, but the court decided let Guatemala have the extra time. Once Guatemala's memorial is submitted, Belize will have one more year - until June 2022 - to submit its own "counter-memorial", a report on its own official positions and responses to Guatemala's claims.

Taking all this into account, it's likely that hearings in the case won't start until mid-2024, meaning we still have to wait four more years to learn the details of Guatemala's claims, and even longer to find out how the court will settle the dispute.

Want to check for updates to our coverage of this case? View all ICJ articles on PolGeoNow to see the latest!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Belize and Guatemala Go to Court

You can view all ICJ articles on PolGeoNow for updates to this case.

Map: Where is Belize and where is Guatemala? Location in Central America.
Guatemala and Belize's location in Central America
(Wikimedia map by DO56, Rei-artur, and Vardion; CC BY-SA)
 
A PolGeoNow News Brief

Guatemala-Belize territorial dispute: Approximate map of what parts of Belize are claimed by Guatemala.
One interpretation of Guatemala's territorial claims. The precise lines of the dispute will be laid out as the court case continues. (Wikimedia map by Janitoalevic and Bettyreategui; CC BY-SA)
The Central American republic of Guatemala has claimed much of the land governed by neighboring Belize ever since the mid-1800s, at some times even claiming the whole country as Guatemalan territory. Now, the two neighbors have finally agreed to settle the dispute once and for all by taking it to the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The two countries officially registered their case with the court last month, after both countries' people voted in favor of the move in nationwide referendums. Of the 27% of Guatemalans who voted, 96% were in favor of going court. In Belize, voter turnout was 65%, of which 55% voted in favor.

Belize has vigorously denied Guatemala's claims for over a century, but in exchange for putting the issue to rest, it's agreed to let the court redraw its borders if the justices decide in favor of Guatemala. The two countries have also agreed to let the court draw the boundary between their respective territories and economic zones at sea.

What exactly does Guatemala claim today? It's actually not completely clear. By some interpretations, Belize's current area could be cut in half if the court sided with Guatemala. But the exact lines of Guatemala's claims should be clarified soon as both countries bring their official arguments to the court...

Want to see more PolGeoNow coverage as this case unfolds? Let us know with a comment on Twitter or Facebook!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Taiwan Loses "Recognition" from El Salvador (Map)

You can always find the latest version of this map, and a list of all related articles, on our Which Countries Recognize Taiwan? page.

Map of who recognizes Taiwan (what countries recognize the Republic of China) in August 2018. Marks countries that have cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan (withdrawn recognition) in the last ten years: El Salvador, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Gambia. Also answers question: Where is Republic of China located? (Colorblind accessible)
Click to enlarge. By Evan Centanni, modified from public domain blank world map.
Contact us for permission to use this map.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Map: Costa Rica & Nicaragua Settle Border Dispute in Court

Conflicto Isla Portillos - mapa 2018. Map of Costa Rica and Nicaragua's post-2015 territorial dispute on Isla Portillos at the mouth of Rio San Juan, showing the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of February 2018, based on the case filed in 2017. Includes key features such as Harbor Head Lagoon, the Nicaraguan military camp, the disputed territory along the beach, and the small water channels used to argue Nicaragua's case. Colorblind accessible.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on materials submitted to the court. Contact for usage permissions.

World Court Rules on Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua

What happens when two countries draw their border along a river, then the river changes course? The world got to find out yesterday, as the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) released its judgement on a border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Though the court's ruling was dominated by a related request to define the two countries' borders at sea, it also involved a tiny sliver of land in a temperamental river delta.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Panama Recognizes China, Stops Recognizing Taiwan (Map)

There are newer versions of this map available. You can always find the latest version, and a list of all related articles, on our Which Countries Recognize Taiwan? page.

Map of who recognizes Taiwan (what countries recognize the Republic of China) in June 2017. Marks countries that have cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan (withdrawn recognition) in the last ten years: Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Gambia. Also answers question: Where is Republic of China located? (Colorblind accessible)
Click to enlarge. By Evan Centanni, modified from public domain blank world map.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Map: Which Countries Recognize Palestine as Independent in 2016?

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Map of countries that recognize the State of Palestine as an independent country, updated for February 2016 with recent addition Saint Lucia highlighted
Click to enlarge. Palestine in magenta (circled). Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Paraguay's Subtle Flag Change

Sometimes geopolitical changes make headlines, but other times they slip quietly under the radar. In particular, small modifications to national flags often fail to make the news. To make sure you don't miss anything, here's a report on one such flag change that even we discovered only recently.

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Flag of Paraguay, obverse (front) side, 2013-present
Flag of Paraguay, 2013-present (front)

Flag of Paraguay, reverse (back) side, 2013-present
Flag of Paraguay, 2013-present (back)

Changes to the Coat of Arms of Paraguay made in 2013, with a comparison of the National Seal and Seal of the Treasury as seen on the Paraguayan flag before and after its changes under the administration of President Federico Franco.
The Coat of Arms of Paraguay
(CC BY-SA; source graphics)
By Olga Rodriguez-Walmisley

2013 Flag Change
On July 15, 2013, Federico Franco, at that time the President of Paraguay, announced that the official seals on both sides of the Paraguayan flag would undergo changes in order to better represent the symbols first chosen for it in 1842. These two seals together make up the national coat of arms of Paraguay.

Franco said the modifications were the result of a long debate and “a consensus that is not often achieved among historians”. There had already been several changes to the seals in the past, especially after the Paraguayan War of 1864-1870, which pitted the country against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Changes made to the National Seal
One of the biggest of the 2013 changes was to the ring around the star, where it says “Rep├║blica del Paraguay”. This ring has been red since about 1988, when it was changed under the rule dictator Alfredo Stroessner, whose political party was represented by that color. It is now white. The blue background behind the yellow star has also disappeared, and the text of the phrase “Rep├║blica del Paraguay” has changed from yellow to black.

Changes made to the Seal of the Treasury
On the reverse side of the flag, the roaring lion is now a light ochre (golden) color instead of yellow, the spear behind the lion is brown, while the cap on top of the spear, which according to tradition symbolizes liberty, continues to be red. The inscription “Paz y Justicia” (Peace and Justice) is now black instead of yellow, and the banner behind the inscription has gone from red to white.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Map: ALBA Has 2 New Member Countries

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Map of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), showing full member countries, including new members Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as special guest members (colorblind accessible).
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). Map by Evan Centanni.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Map: Peru & Chile's Sea Dispute Settled in Court

Two weeks ago, the International Court of Justice released a long-awaited ruling on Peru and Chile's disputed maritime boundary. Many headlines claimed that Peru "won" the case, but in fact it was not a full victory for either country. Below is our detailed map of Peru and Chile's seas and of the dispute, followed by an easy-to-understand summary of the case. 

Map of Chile and Peru's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), plus the details of their territorial dispute at sea and disagreement of the land border. Shows the results of the Jan. 27, 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settling the dispute.
Map by Evan Centanni (country coastlines and land borders from Natural Earth)
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Article by Evan Centanni


Disputed Territory
Chile and Peru have just settled a decades-long dispute over the location of their maritime boundary (the border between their sea zones). A large wedge of sea off the countries' coast was claimed by both sides, in part because of its high value for the fishing industry. In 2008, Peru took Chile to court over the dispute. Their disagreements would be resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a United Nations body in the Hague founded for the purpose of settling differences between U.N. member countries.