Google has separated South Sudan from Sudan on Google Maps after the July 9th, 2011 vote in which 99% of the Sudanese population voted in favor of South Sudan becoming an independent, sovereign nation. The United Nations also formally recognized the county on July 14th, 2011. For the past 50 years, Sudan has been the site of a brutal civil war and over a resulting 2 million deaths, in addition to hundreds of thousands displaced refugees. Google’s recent update was due, in part, to the actions of 1,600-strong (1,700 now) petition on Change.org calling for immediate recognition of South Sudan by the major online map service providers. John Tanza Mabusu, a South Sudanese journalist currently residing in Washington, DC, launched the petition. Bing and Yahoo have yet to update their maps to include the newly independent nation. “The inclusion of South Sudan will give the people of that new nation pride and a sense of belonging, as citizens of a sovereign nation on the map,” said Mabusu. “I’m hoping that now that Google has officially recognized South Sudan on their maps, the other major online mapping services will quickly follow suit. The people of South Sudan fought long and hard for their independence and suffered greatly. It’s time these maps reflect their efforts and catch up.” While it is a step in the right direction that Google has updated their maps, other sites need to follow suit and shouldn’t need a petition to make them do so. Bing Maps directs users to a pinpointed location in the general area of South Sudan, but with no borders or no notation of it being a country. Yahoo Maps does not even do this, “South Sudan” directs users to a street in Augusta, Georgia, United States. Many of these sites are attributing this delay to a lack of sufficient data for finalized border information, but is this really a reason to have such a complete lack of recognition of this newly independent nation that has been so long in the making?
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jloren·May 25, 2013