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Google Maps ignites Dutch border dispute

The Local · 21 Feb 2011, 10:41

Published: 21 Feb 2011 10:41 GMT+01:00

The online mapping program shows that much of the Lower Saxon port city of Emden’s waters belong to the neighbouring Netherlands, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.

For more than a year, the Emden city council has been trying to get back its harbour, most of which Google Maps places under Dutch sovereignty.

The German officials claim the border between the two countries should run through the Dollart – a bay between the northern Netherlands and Germany on the west side of the Ems River estuary. The exact location of the border running through these waters has been disputed for centuries, but even these differing perceptions grant Emden its harbour.

However, Google’s borders grant the entire Dollart and much of the Emden harbour to the Dutch.

Across the bay in Delfzijl the Dutch responded coyly to the paper’s inquiries, saying that the border is disputed and will likely remain so in the future, a situation that Emden city spokesman Eduard Dinkela told the paper was "exceedingly awkward."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung said it was likely little solace that Google Maps competitor, Microsoft's Bing, favours the German perspective on the border, cutting the Dollart in half and granting Emden its harbour.

Google has not responded to Emden’s pleas for adjusting the border online.

“We haven’t had a single reaction,” Dinkela said. “Google is one of the largest communications platforms online, but if one has a concern, they get no answer.”

In his best “diplomatic German,” Google spokesman Stefan Keuchel told Süddeutsche Zeitung that the company tries to create the most accurate maps possible by consulting a wide variety of sources.

“We’re working on it,” he said.

The company created a similar kerfuffle some 10,000 miles away between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in October 2010, when Nicaraguan troops occupied the Isla Calero because Google Maps showed it was within its borders.

Story continues below…

Costa Rica accused Nicaragua of invading its territory, but the neighbouring country has claimed that the Google Maps border gives them the right to remain.

The Hague is set to hand down a decision on the Central American dispute this March.

But such an escalation is unlikely between the Dutch and the Germans thanks to a 1960 agreement to handle the ongoing difference of opinion over the border “in the spirit of good neighbours,” the paper said.

The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:22 February 21, 2011 by ovalle3.14
Another said "mistake" with the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua already caused a Nicaraguan invasion of Costa Rican land. Maybe Google IS the devil.
12:22 February 21, 2011 by thor2748
Google is indeed a great provider of services to all on this planet. However, I think any "COUNTRY" that would use Google as their source for starting an international incident or stand on the brink of armed conflict because "Google Said" , is a country that needs better leadership.
14:38 February 21, 2011 by LiberalGuy
Maybe Nicaragua just Googled Costa Rica and found out they don't have an army and decided to go for it.
17:10 February 21, 2011 by hanskarl
Anther reason to keep ones guard up regarding such organisations as Google.
19:14 February 21, 2011 by lordkorner
No worries ,Dr googleberg will sort it out.
01:26 February 22, 2011 by lenny van
I am sooo glad I saw this tonight. Those waters belong to me!!!
07:12 February 22, 2011 by ColoSlim
And the Dutch didn't even need a Panzer tank or a warship to claim it.
10:14 February 22, 2011 by wenddiver
I would bet a US Navy Ship could get the Nicaraquans to realise their mistake and go home. In the 1980s they got lost and started wandering into Honduras, until the US built a large US Army base there and started shooting trespassers. Message sent and recieved.
10:43 February 22, 2011 by mixxim
Can we expect to see it reclaimed for the german people?
10:50 February 22, 2011 by auniquecorn
I don´t care who it really belongs to, I just want the people of the Netherlands to give my Mother her bicycle back.
12:35 February 22, 2011 by Fruitkok
auniquecorn: I assume you mean the other way around?
23:50 February 25, 2011 by kkiwi54
A lot of the German borders need to be redefined. I'm not even German but it annoys me that Poland occupies a large part of Germany - now that the Soviet Union is no more, the Russians should give the stolen land back to the Poles so that the Poles can give back the real eastern Germany.
02:50 February 26, 2011 by EinWolf
@kkiwi ... I think former eastern Poland is now in Belarus. And I doubt that Poland will give up Danzig (Gdansk).
18:47 May 2, 2012 by coffeelover
A surveyor can end this dispute, or do the locals need the dispute?
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