Nicaraguan raid blamed on Google Maps

Posted by Emma Woollacott

El Salvador and Honduras famously went to war in the 1960s over a game of football. And now those their southern neighbors, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, are squaring up to each other across the border - and it's all the fault of Google Maps.

According to La Nacion, Nicaraguan commander Eden Pastora used an error in Google maps to justify a raid onto Costa Rican soil, where his forces set up camps and erected the Nicaraguan national flag.

At issue is Calero Island, a small island in the middle of the San Juan river. See the satellite photo on Google and there you see the border. In the last 3,000 meters, both sides are Nicaraguan," Pastora argued.

"From there to El Castillo, the border itself is the right bank - it's clear."

Susana Pavón, communications manager for Google for Central America, Colombia and the Caribbean, told the paper that she didn't know where
the company had found the map it used, which seems to have failed to take account of two nineteenth century treaties.

Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla has appealed for calm.

"Dear Costa Ricans: never before have we had to be united when the aggression and provocation test us," she told the nation on television. "Let us be calm and firm, amid the outrage that these events provoke within us."

Indeed, staying calm may be the only option, as the country abolished its military altogether in 1948.

A grumpy Costa Rican deputy foreign minister Carlos Roverssi says he's asked Google to update its maps. Apparently those on Bing are more accurate.