Daily newspapers are constant sources of geographical errors





The Observer, a Sunday paper in England, confessed to a series of geographical blunders:

Crossed consonants: the accidental substitution of an"r" for an"x" led to the incorrect labelling of Paros and Antiparos as"Paxos" and"Antipaxos" in our map of"Greece's Hidden Corners" (Escape, 10 May), thus relocating the latter from the Ionian to the Aegean sea.

And, furthermore, the capital of Turkey is Ankara, not Istanbul, as we said in"'Free holiday' scams abroad will catch out 400,000 Brits" (Cash, last week).

TS Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri, so we were not technically correct in"Revealed: the remarkable tale of TS Eliot's late love affair" (Review, last week) when we described him as having"Mississippi roots", suggesting he hailed from the Magnolia State. However, the Mississippi River meets the Missouri River near St Louis.


In 2007, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette dedicated an editorial to the importance of geography after its" cartographic ignorance" caused an error:

NO WONDER geography needs more emphasis, not less, in Arkansas schools.
We ourselves are an embarrassing case in point: We got our past and current African horrors mixed up in Monday's editorial. Robert Mugabe is the dictator who's presided over the ruination of Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, rather than Rwanda, formerly the Belgian trusteeship of Ruanda-Urundi, the scene of a genocide that preceded the one in Darfur, a region of Sudan, formerly the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.

The error was entirely our own and not that of our geography teacher in grade school or the old Book of Knowledge, the twin and wholly estimable sources of whatever geographical knowledge we still retain. The map of Africa has changed wildly since we had to draw it and memorize all the capitals back in class, which is no excuse for our mistake.

Rather, our cartographic ignorance is one more strong argument for emphasizing geography, along with history, as a separate discipline in elementary school...


This year has already seen a couple notable errors of geography. One favorite is from Slate:

In an April 7"XX Factor" post, E.J. Graff originally wrote that she wanted to run up to Burlington, Vt., to kiss every legislator who voted in favor of gay marriage. Vermont legislators work out of the state capital, Montpelier.

But this one from the Canadian Press is the best of ’09 so far:

The Canadian Press moved a story April 3 that erroneously reported The Wilkins Ice Shelf was originally part of Jamaica. In fact the Ice Shelf, located on the western side of the Antarctic, was originally the size of Jamaica.


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