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‘South Sudan map is a lie’

UK: Collins Geo, a publisher of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World, decided to include South Sudan map in its next edition of the atlas. About the map, Mick Ashworth, consultant cartographic editor for Collins Geo, said, “The map is a lie but we strive to incorporate as much truth and as much neutrality in it as possible.”
In Glasgow, British cartographers, experts in geopolitical policy, and members of the Collins Geo division of Harper Collins, congregated to define South Sudan’s borders for a new issue of the atlas to be published in September. The first question for debate was whether to include South Sudan in the new map at all. “A key visual confirmation that a country has been accepted into the global order it is its presence on a map,” opined Mick Ashworth, consultant cartographic editor for Collins Geo.
Ashworth added, “In the case of South Sudan, there was a risk that the [declaration of] independence could have been postponed or cancelled after we went to print. We also had to figure out whether South Sudan would become a truly independent country. Many regions around the world, such as South Ossetia, declare their independence and function fairly independently, but aren’t recognised internationally as a country.”
“It was a difficult balance. We did not want the atlas coming out in September, with everybody knowing about the new country, but the atlas not showing that new country. We wanted to be one of the first atlases out there to depict [South Sudan] as it really is, so we had to take a chance.”
These decisions would not only have had consequences for the atlas’s sales figures. The atlas and its related products are used as key reference tools by governments, the United Nations, the World Bank, aid agencies and classrooms across the globe, according to Ashworth.
To achieve that level of accuracy, Ashworth and the committee rely on a team of around six news-gatherers to monitor constantly the geopolitical developments to help to inform their decisions, and ultimately, the authoritative depiction of nations. They carefully examine the projections of the UN, international governments, aid agencies, geopolitical experts on the ground, and specialist academic institutions such as the International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University.
Despite this vast amount of fact-finding, Peter Barber, head of maps at the British Library, once said that a map is, essentially, a lie. “Unless you have a scale of one-to-one, every map is subjective, and always will be,” he explained. 
Source: The Independent