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Juan Valdes

Juan José Valdés is The Geographer and National Geographic Maps' Director of Editorial and Research. He guides and assists the Map Policy Committee in setting border representations, disputed territories, and naming conventions for National Geographic. As NG Map's Director of Editorial and Research, he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of its maps and map products.

2013 — A Cartographic Recap

It’s that time of year—a time to reflect on how our world has changed over the past 365 days. There are many ways to gauge such changes, but none more tangible than comparing National Geographic maps published in 2012 to those published this year. Changes have been many: from the renaming of the west African…

Updating Place-Names for Our New 10th Edition Atlas of the World

For over 125 years the National Geographic Society has fulfilled its missions in many ways—one of the most visual has been through the publication of its atlases. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of our first edition Atlas of the World, NG’s Map Librarian, Michael Fry, addressed the many physical and geopolitical changes that have…

25th Annual National Geographic Bee, May 20–22, 2013

25th Annual National Geographic Bee, May 20–22, 2013 This year marks the 25th anniversary of the National Geographic Bee. As in 1989, the Geo Bee—as it is affectionately known around the Society—is part of the Society’s overall mission to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” and “to inspire people to care about our planet.” Since its…

Sandy Island (Île de Sable or Île de Sables): The Island That Never Was

 National Geographic’s 1921 Sovereignty and Mandate Boundary Lines of the Islands of the Pacific map During the week of Thanksgiving, news sites around the world began carrying the story of  Sandy Island (Île de Sable or Île de Sables)—a phantom island situated in the Coral Sea, some 1,200 kilometers (648 nautical miles) east of Queensland,…

GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK – NOVEMBER 11-17, 2012: Being a National Geographic Cartographer

Geography Awareness Week is celebrated in the United States every third week of November. This year’s theme—Declare Your Interdependence—is intended to explore the idea that we are all connected through the decisions we make on a daily basis, including what foods we eat and which products we buy.   As part of this year’s celebration,…

Cartographic Diligence

One of the greatest advantages of living in the digital age is that geopolitical events, regardless of what remote corner of the planet they occur, are posted on the web within minutes if not hours after they happen. Sometimes pivotal events occur in little-known places (to most Americans) such as Abbottabad, Pakistan—the site of the…

Of National Geographic Maps and Urban Legends

Rarely a year goes by that I am not asked the following question: “Is it true that, for copyright purposes, National Geographic cartographers always embed an error or two on their maps?“ I always respond with an emphatic NO! Quite the opposite is true of maps published by National Geographic. National Geographic cartographers strive for…

Where scale permits

As is frequently the case, National Geographic mapmakers―for that matter, mapmakers worldwide―often face the problem of having to fit too much cartographic information into too little cartographic space. Scale, which defines the mathematical relationship between linear measurement on a map to that on the Earth’s surface, ultimately determines how much information can be portrayed on…

2012 National Geographic Geo Bee: How do you pronounce that?

Since 1989, the National Geographic has encouraged teachers to spark student interest in geography through the National Geographic Bee. As outlined on the Study Corner page of the Geo Bee site, there are many things that students should do to prepare for this contest. But little is known as to what it takes for the…

Cyrenaica, Libya: Part II

Map of the Countries Bordering the Mediterranean Supplement, January 1912 A year ago, a blog titled Cyrenaica, Libya  was posted on the NGM Blog Central site. It was spurred by a number of letters received about the meaning of this geographic term and how it is portrayed on our maps. Much has happened in Libya…

Cyrenaica, Libya: Part I

    NG Maps knows that many of our readers are curious about place-names on our maps because of the number of letters we receive. But it’s during times of political upheaval that our maps are more closely scrutinized, and we brace ourselves for receiving many more letters. For example, since the start of the…

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S CARTOGRAPHIC TYPEFACES

Our maps have long been known for their distinctive typefaces. But few outside the Society know little of the history that lies behind them. Until the early 1930s, most of our maps were hand-  lettered—a slow and tedious process requiring great patience and even greater skill. An alternate process—that of setting names in movable type,…

2011—A CARTOGRAPHIC RECAP

Although nothing compared to what we mapmakers experienced during the heady days following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, National Geographic maps have kept pace with–and portrayed–all of the major and minor geopolitical events of 2011. Notably among these: January CUBA: Cuba officially creates two new provinces on New Year’s Day–Artemisa…

Recollections of a National Geographic Maps Intern

  Harry Bergmann and Kayla Surrey, NG Maps’ Research and Editorial Interns (Fall 2011), editing the Society’s new map of Southeast Asia. My name is Harry Bergmann, a senior at the George Washington University majoring in geography and philosophy. I have dreamed about working at National Geographic for as long as I can remember. After…